Thursday, July 31, 2008

~ dragons, pandas and shipping containers

On the front page of The Age today there are some indistinct pirated images of rehearsals for the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. One of them appears to show an enormous stack of rectangular white boxes.

Could it be that the hyper-sensitive, deeply paranoid nation of China has shrugged its profound humorlessness?

Do these boxes represent shipping containers?

The universal instruments of trade which would so accurately typify China’s relationship with the rest of the world.

A vista of anonymous oblongs, reaching to the horizon …

Bursting open, theatrically, before a global audience, to reveal cheaply manufactured goods of almost infinite variety …

The irresistible current of plastic gew-gaws and gaw-gews which serves to make our lives in the Western World so comfortable, so cheap, so unsustainable …

What could be more appropriate at this ceremony? What better to symbolise China’s victorious exploitation of our greed?

Indeed, the likeness of a shipping container would not be out of place on the Chinese national flag. Forget dragon dancers, peonies and giant pandas, in this modern age the shipping container trumps them all.

The image above immediately brings to mind a dockland scene. Every large port in the world has stacks of shipping containers which look like this. Mind you, these ones, though of the correct proportions, are standing on their heads, but there could be a million explanations for that… [to make them look less like shipping containers, perhaps?]

If these boxes are indeed containers - and, sadly, I doubt they are - wouldn’t it be a great leap forward for this somewhat retarded global citizen - stressed by gigantism, delusions of grandeur, issues of trust, behaviour and perceived inferiority – to portray itself to the world with some genuine wit?

PS: I’ve recently finished reading William Gibson’s 'Spook Country', so it could be I’ve got shipping containers on the mind.

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