Tripping the Light Fantastic: An Interview with Pan Haitian

What do you think it really means to be “Chinese?” How is it different from being, say, “American?”

Obviously, it’s more than just cheongsam dresses, the limestone karst scenery of Guilin, the canal cities of the Yangtze delta like Wuzhen, conical hats, Lao-tzu and the Tao Te Ching, kung fu and all these symbols. Because Americans use the same symbols when they film movies like Transformers or Mission Impossible in Shanghai. As I understand it, to be Chinese you have to include the contemporary ideology of China today—Chinese people’s way of thinking, their philosophical outlook on life, their way of looking at the world. More specifically, it appears in the choices that characters make in a work, in their attitude towards new things. It can affect the entire thrust of a story.

attached to: Pan Haitian


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