The iconic “clash of civilizations” that has been used to describe the relationship between the West and the Middle East for over a decade has, upon closer examination, really morphed into a clash of civilizations, not -between- the West and the Middle East but rather between civilizations -within- the Middle East itself, with the West taking proxy positions of support for one Middle Eastern civilization or the other.
This is not without historical precedent. Even going back to ancient times, there have existed three major cultural civilizations in the region, each in conflict and competition for dominance or control over whatever major source of capital might be ascendant at the moment. Today the capital is oil. Tomorrow it will be water. In the recent past, it was Islam. In ancient times, it was gold, silver, slaves and incense. The three great civilizations battling for control over the capital of the time were the Arab civilizations, the Persian civilizations and the Turkish civilizations. Throughout history, these three great civilizations battled for control over gold, slaves, land, Islam, oil and water, with history providing each with its moment of glory and collapse. What we see today in the economic, political and social turmoil of the region is merely the replaying of this cultural drama.
You can make a lake out of drops.
This ambiguity perhaps represents the dilemma of lifestyle, or, more specifically, -style-: while style can be devoid of politics, it can also represent a space of education, or serve as a platform for political mobilization.
The transformation of the -symbols- and -image- of a movement of resistance into marketable commodities can but does not necessarily indicate the commodification of the counterculture itself.
But with traditional materials and techniques abandoned, is the work still Chinese? Xu argued that it is. “My method cannot be applied to Western works,” he explained, “because those are done in oil paints and do not show the same use of shadow, which is attributed to the difference between Chinese and Western paintings in terms of their relationships to nature.”