As a champion of May Fourth enlightenment and a critic of Chinese tradition, Lu Xun is less understood as a prescient critic of the myth of science and technological rationality. Walter Benjamin invoked the utopian reconciliation of humans and nature from premodern culture in critiques of modernity. Similarly, Lu Xun conjured up images of the ancient world where rural folks lived in reciprocity with nature, worshiped supernatural beings, and observed time-honored rituals. Lu Xun linked the myth of progress and technology to a destructive chorus of “malevolent voices” by a hypocritical gentry, a technocratic elite that sought power, status, and profit in the name of enlightenment and rationality. He proclaimed that it is urgent to “rid of ourselves of this hypocrite gentry; ‘superstition’ may remain.” Invoking Benjamin's insight and affinity with Lu Xun, this article explores the Chinese writer's recovery of the mythical and ecological images from the past in the critique of modernity. Confronted with the fetishism of progress and technology in China's early modernization, Lu Xun sought to uncover and redeem primordial images from archaic traditions.

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