In terms of culture, the CP should be credited for being the first to coin the phrase “to build an advanced culture soaked with national identity,” which almost all of its instruction quote. Given the context of Vietnam, such is really a creative idea, or, to borrow their words, “a creative statement”. Why do I say so? Because of the undeniable truth that before the CP, none has ever thought of Vietnam’s national identity. I am strongly convinced that none of the previous reigns, no matter Nguyen, Le, Tran, or Ly, thought of “building an advanced culture soaked with national identity.” Such concept of “national identity” had never entered their mind. They did not, I guess, ever compare Vietnamese culture with its neighbouring one of the north to see whether we had any distinguished characteristics.
So however ridiculous the concept might be, we have to glorify the CP’s merit. No matter what others may say, I will always think of the CP’s reign as the most liberal and progressive dynasty in Vietnam history.
Anyway, when we come to “national identity”, it is a bit hard for us to find some distinguished identity of Vietnam. This is especially true in the case of arts, religion, and philosophy. These, however, are not burning issues, and it takes time to discuss on them, so we will talk about “identity in Vietnam arts” another time. This time, I am in the mood to write on music.
Some will think me mad if I say I believe Vietnam music does have identity. I believe so and my belief is growing firm with proofs. However, as I said once, all definitions are incomprehensible if they are presented just in words. The best way to catch the meaning of anything should be an access to it through examples. So if any of you does not believe in the identity of Vietnam music, just spend time listening to songs written by Pham Duy, one of the many faces that provide examples of this identity.
(to be continued)