Green Wall: Nursery by Zhang Xiaogang, 2009; stainless steel plate, silkscreen prints, oil and silver pen, 150×200 cm

Green Wall: Nursery by Zhang Xiaogang, 2009;
stainless steel plate, silkscreen prints, oil and silver pen, 150×200 cm

August 18th, Sunny and cloudy, a little humid

Today my friend L. came to visit, we talked about topics such as literature, history and films. We have two mutual literary icons in common: one is the miraculous Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the other is the equally miraculous, eccentric person, Franz Kafka. From the latter’s inimitable narrative ability we talked about another one of my favorite writers, Garcia Marquez. He thinks that the exquisiteness of Marquez’s works lies in his ideation which is great, but this can be achieved through study. Yet both Dostoevsky and Kafka are very hard to surpass, due to the essential temperaments that these two individuals possess. When I heard this, I thought it made sense. Then we talked about a writer that once said: “The real literature is written for nothingness”, simply marvelous. It’s a shame that today’s world upholds the significance of success in a sociological sense , many writers choose the latter when they are faced with the option of nothingness or abundance. That is because loneliness and minority are considered as unacceptable methods of survival nowadays, especially when literature and films are jointly make profits. Thus, we can only speak of novels these days but rarely “literature”? I don’t know if choosing some sort of “integration” (high brow art being commercialized or commercialization being artistic) in this fast changing world is a symbol of wisdom or is it representing a certain helplessness and lamentable sadness? Maybe nowadays we don’t need a divided, contradictory, and “extreme” survival method, just like all those luxurious cities we are working so hard to build. Let the divided thoughts be forever left to Van Gogh; let those weird balderdashes be forever left to Kafka; let those souls and thoughts that believe in loneliness be forever left to those poets; let those thoughts about exile be forever left to Chopin and Sergei Rachmaninoff; and let those feelings of feeling lost and tiny be left to Pink Floyd; …

Perhaps thinking about these questions itself is worthy of a quest? After with this wild life backdrop, the first thing that it teaches us is to abandon thinking, to renounce memory and not to believe in history too much. We should happily sit down to watch a T.V. drama series on an historical topic, or read a memoir that has been edited numerous times. Think about it, if I were a writer, or if I wanted to become a writer, what would I desire the most? Is it to publish a book with a nice publishing house (of course it’s better if this book could be a best seller), yet this “nice” publishing house generally imposes strict editing and supervision. If this is the case, in what way should I write, and what kind of book should I write in order to realize my dream? This should be very clear to me, should it not?

I have received the news today: the Security Administration of Czech Republic (?) has recently deciphered a secret letter written by Milan Kundera! It is said that this letter caused Milan Kundera’s teacher to be jailed for three years. Could this be true? Nobody knows. If this is true, then it would be another tragedy for intellectuals! — For some survival reason, we betray, but in the end we would become a victim just the same. This reminded me of being interviewed by a journalist during my exhibition in Prague last year: “How do you view Milan Kundera?” The reply is: “We all love him, but does he love us?” …

Courtesy of Zhang Xiaogang and all rights reserved.


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