On 19 October 2014, the People’s Daily published an article titled ‘Ten Insightful One-Liners by Big Daddy Xi on the Arts’ 习大大的10句文艺妙语, a guide to the great leader’s thinking on culture. They are translated below:
Vulgar is not the same as popular, desire doesn’t represent hope and purely sensual entertainment is not equal to spiritual happiness.
Art must not be a slave to the market; it mustn’t stink of money.
Art is the clarion call to an age to advance; it is the most representative face of an age, and is most able to guide the manners of an age.
Art must not lose its way amongst the tides of the market economy, or its perspective on account of personal concerns and biases, or it will have no vitality.
If literature and art workers wish to succeed, they must seek to breathe as one with the People, sharing their destiny, heart-to-heart, made happy by the People’s joys and troubled by their concerns, becoming like an ox that can be led by a child. This latter phrase is taken from a poem by the famous writer Lu Xun 鲁迅. It was further immortalised by Chairman Mao when he made reference to it in the concluding section of his 1942 speech ‘Talks at the Yan’an Forum on Literature and Art’.
The People are the wellspring of artistic creativity. If art separates itself from the People, it becomes a rootless, whining, soulless shell.
There are hundreds of ways to do art, even thousands, but the most essential, the most key, the most reliable method is that which is rooted in the People and life.
Art is the engineering that constructs the human soul; literature and art workers are the engineers of the human soul. Good art should be like sunshine in a blue sky or a clear breeze in springtime, able to inspire thought, calm the mind, bring contentment and eliminate degeneracy and dejection.
We should respect the creative character and creative labour of workers in literature and art, strong political faith, enthusiastic support for creativity and the establishment of an environment in which the creative arts can thrive.
Our writers and artists should be the first to understand the nature of the age, they should be pioneers and advocates, producing works of ever greater strength, morality and passion that record the worthy practices of the People, the progressive demands of the age and highlight the beauty of faith and nobility.