Killing off Kipling

By Elliiot, Michael | Newsweek, December 29, 1997 | Go to article overview

Killing off Kipling


Elliiot, Michael, Newsweek


'East is East, and West is West,' wrote an English poet a century ago. He was wrong. A new fusion is changing the world.

WHERE 61ST STREET crosses Madison Avenue on Manhattan's Upper East Side, two stores face each other. On one side of the street stands Barneys --cool, restrained, the place where New York's fund managers buy their Donna Karan power suits. Across the street is Shanghai Tang, the city's hot new store, a riot of lime green and tangerine, selling padded suits in velvet and cheongsams in embroidered silk. Not much in common, on the surface--except that one store is already owned by a Hong Kong Chinese entrepreneur, and one store soon may be. Dickson Poon, who made his money from boutiques in Asia, is trying to take control of Barneys. Shanghai Tang is the brainchild of David Tang, flamboyant, cigar at the ready, with an English accent that would impress a duchess. In the United States today, says Tang, "there's a tremendous acceptance of China and things Chinese."

Not just Chinese, either. Look anywhere in New York this year, and you could see an Asian influence on culture, fashion, food-- even, during those fall days when everyone wanted to know the level of the Hang Seng index, the conversation of cabdrivers.

Video stores stock manga and kung fu; Nobu, a downtown restaurant serving Japanese food, is stuffed with celebrities, and Michelle Yeoh, Malaysian martial-arts star of the new James Bond movie, "Tomorrow Never Dies" (and ex-wife of Poon), does her "don't mess with me" look from billboards.

Yet explore this a little, and the picture changes. This isn't the pure Asia. Nobu's food is really a blend of styles from Japan, South America and the United States. Yeoh's movie has its roots in a mixture of British novels and Hollywood spectacle. David Tang's clothes may proudly say they are MADE BY CHINESE, but it's not clear how many Chinese wear them. "If I walked into Chinatown now," he says, "they'd think I was an alien." Dress designer Vivienne Tam, a Hong Kong-born New Yorker, puts it simply. "Everyone is influencing each other," she says. "Of course we are interested in Asia, but what ultimately comes out is a cross-cultural esthetic."

Cross-cultural estheticism: sounds like a nice way to end a year, century or millennium. Never has Rudyard Kipling's old line about East and West seemed more wrong. The sporadic contacts that started when Chinese silks made their way across the steppes to turn up, mysteriously, in ancient Rome have become an interpenetration so constant it is hardly noticed. Moving in one direction, Indian novelists like Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie rejuvenate English; Chinese director John Woo and Ang Lee, and stars like Gong Li make films in America. The West, meanwhile, takes its own sensibilities to the East, bringing barbecue to Beijing rap to Bajasthan. And it's a truism that economies have become more integrated--that widows and orphans in the United States have investments in Indonesia, or that workers in Valenciennes, France, might be employed by a Japanese company.

On the surface, there's a nice equality about the trade. At even the most symbol-laden events, it's hard to figure out who is dominant, and who subservient. Take perhaps 199Ts most dramatic moment: the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China at midnight on June 80. The flag came down on the British Empire. ("Seven hundred million people in 1947 to 700,000 in 1997," muses David Tang. "That's quite a collapse.") Prince Charles and the colony's last governor sailed away as fireworks showered the harbor, and China rid its territory of the official successors of those barbarians who had once forced "unequal treaties" and opium down its throat.

And yet... take a look at Hong Kong. The city's skyline owes everything to Western styles. The limousines shuffling Chinese officials up and down the Peak, wrecking their transmissions, have their roots in 19th-century European technology. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Killing off Kipling
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.