Hong Kong is perhaps the city with the strongest claim to being a bridge between Eastern and Western cultures. Negotiating between competing British and Chinese influences, it is no wonder Hong Kong at times seems schizophrenic in its approach to governance, and life.
But there is a great conflict playing out on neon-drenched streets of Hong Kong, greater than the one playing out between the occidental and the oriental. Once filled with uniquely syncretic cultural traditions, the city is now flooded with the harbingers of postmodernity, skyscrapers and concrete galore.
Gone are the fortune tellers of yore, providing forecasts of the future. The theatres which once put on vibrant operatic performances are all but extinct, with the remaining ones playing host to many withered opening-night flower bouquets, but not many customers.
The masters of kung fu are well-nigh forgotten, their hermetic studios a casualty of dwindling student numbers. And calligraphy, now resigned to its 15 minutes of fame each time Chinese New Year rolls around.
“How do these traditions battle or adapt in the face of the inexorable march of time?”
The traditions which adapt to survive, and indeed thrive, are the far more interesting specimens. The oftentimes idiosyncratic ways in which these centuries-old traditions adapt to strange new circumstances while retaining their *sui generis* character are the foci of the pieces you’re about to read. Please join us on this exploration of four facets of Hong Kong tradition: fortune telling, kung fu, calligraphy, and opera.