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THE SOUTHERN ROUTE
From the series "Zaoshen on diet"
I wanted this week to create a new shock of civilizations, not for rancor and bitterness to blossom in the hearts, but to show the beauty of each way to exist and the only way to live. Yesterday was New York city, filled with glass acute angles and iron irony; today it's Dhazai, a wobbly wooden village, located in Southern China. I've walked 6 hours to come here (not an obligation: there is a more direct road, by the bus), through valleys and balcony paths, amid some of the most amazing sceneries you could find. Then appeared the village, coiled in a warm valley amid the rice terraces. Of course the architecture is distinct from the Manhattan's skyscrapers, but both have the same utility: to protect from the night and provide a human lair. Both are respectable, none are to be denigrated.
What I like here is the ethnogeography, my first study domain in photography 15 years ago. It's the harmony between men and their environments. How we adapt at the place where we were born. The imperfect fitting of the planks has a charm where the immaculate iron construction is a beauty. Usually charm is enhanced by the time going by, while the beauty fades with wrinkles. Charm is a timeless bliss, beauty a marvelous singularity. You enter this village as you enter Brigadoon. Seconds are superfluous since you are in an ageless world. Time is slowing down. It's because the charm is obvious and everlasting. And you realize that this charm is without cult of perfection. The flaw is not only accepted, but venerated. Nobody is perfect. This village is not uncompromising, even the reverse. It's human. It's forgiving. You live with the seasons, the seasons live with you. The walls age with your skin as they aged with your great-great-great-grandparents. It's like coming back in a cradle where songs were lullabies and not mp3.
Again, it's not better, just different. That's the bliss of mankind.