Thursday, April 17, 2014

Theme: China

  • While China prepared for the 2008 Olympics, the artist Ai Weiwei was busy collaborating with the Swiss architectural firm, Herzog & de Meuron, on the Bird’s Nest stadium. Gradually, Ai began to experience a deep sense of disgust: “I was so involved in architecture that it opened my eyes to society, dealing with bureaucracy, policies and workers,” Ai observes, “and then you start to realise why they are building, and how they are using it. It is a very political act.”Read more
  • Obituaries for the avant-garde proliferate. Critics, academics and cultural observers in the so-called Western world have told us for decades that the avant-garde has declined, fallen, imploded, capitulated and blunt its edge; that it has become creatively exhausted, ideologically reified, historically irrelevant. The avant-garde is past, gone, dead. But not always, and not everywhere.Read more
  • I have no intention of rehearsing yet another diatribe against the Swedish Academy’s Nobel committee in Stockholm, which, as is well known in US publishing circles, hasn’t awarded its prize in literature to an American writer since 1993. A few years back, Horace Engdahl, a member of the academy, justified the rejection by stating—famously—that Americans are “too isolated, too insular,” and that we “don’t really participate in the big dialogue of literature.”Read more
  • For nearly two decades after the 1950 Chinese takeover of Tibet, the CIA ran a covert operation designed to train Tibetan insurgents and gather intelligence about the Chinese, as part of its efforts to contain the spread of communism around the world. Read more
  • When I look back over the years I see myself, a little child of scarcely four years of age, walking in front of my nurse, in a green English lane, and listening to her tell another of her kind that my mother is Chinese. “Oh Lord!” exclaims the informed. She turns around and scans me curiously from head to foot. Then the two women whisper together.Read more
  • Award-winning investigative reporter Ahmet Sik is no stranger to danger. In 1998, he was hospitalized after a pro-police mob, furious about a murder conviction against several cops in a torture case, attacked the victim’s lawyers, the prosecutor, and journalists.Read more
  • A dynasty that is so degenerate that it massacres children and tortures the truth—such a dynasty’s days are numbered. Yet the shrewd tyrant Deng Xiaoping resorted to a trick: in the spring of 1992, he made a historical trip to Shenzhen in the South, where he announced the opening of China to foreign investment and the global market in order to save his party from a political crisis.Read more
  • A visual poem by Su Hui that can be read forward or backwards, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Read more
  • Katrien Jacobs, a conference speaker from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, studies what she calls porn activism. In People's Pornography: Sex and Surveillance on the Chinese Internet (Intellect, 2012), she discusses the recent flourishing of that culture's pent-up desire for porn manifesting itself in a range of new outlets, and she sees in this phenomenon the seeds of popular counterauthoritarianism.Read more
  • Until recently it has been said that the Chinese do not have a word for loneliness. China remains the promised land of the group. Family, classmates or colleagues, the village, and other more or less involuntary groups are the decision makers for who one is and how one should behave.Read more
  • China shines by keeping its industrial production and service industries in perfect tandem with the technological frontier. Like the Red Queen, it runs as fast as possible in order to remain at the cusp of the global technology frontier, while not actually advancing the frontier itself.Read more
  • Loretta Napoleoni on Chinese economic growth, the collapse of capitalism and growth of communism with a profit motive.Read more
  • This February marked the 350th anniversary of an important but forgotten war: the Sino-Dutch War of 1661-1662. The Dutch, who’d defeated the British, the Portuguese and the Spanish, whose guns and military practices were famous throughout Europe, found themselves outfought, out-led and outmaneuvered by a Chinese warlord named Koxinga, son of a pirate.Read more
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