Hold It All


Category: China

Liz, Here’s Another Work to Add to the Wisdom Literature List

But the whole teaching, the “way” contained in these anecdotes, poems, and meditations, is characteristic of a certain mentality found everywhere in the world, a certain taste for simplicity, for humility, self-effacement, silence, and in general a refusal to take seriously the aggressivity, the ambition, the push, and the self-importance which one must display in order to get along in society.
Thomas Merton, The Way of Chuang Tzu

How Sha Concluded Her E-Mail

Thank you for being here
or anywhere else
with grateful heart to have connection with people
I wish you enjoy every moment of your life

–Sha Li was a delightful student in my Humanities and Western Culture class. She is from Guangzhou.

Training Everyday

For a true gentleman [junzi], learning is a matter of working on oneself. When slander and praise, glory and disgrace come, not only is his mind unmoved by such things, but he uses them as an occasion to refine and polish himself. Therefore, wherever a true gentleman goes, he is self-possessed, precisely because wherever he goes, he is learning.

–Wang Yang-Ming, in  J. C. Cleary’s Worldly Wisdom: Confucian Teachings of the Ming Dynasty

Scribbled after Reading Weinberger’s “New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry”

Take the vows
Follow the precepts
Study the sutras
Honor my teachers
Keep quiet
Be relentless

–from novel-in-=progress, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris

Sunday Afternoon

Sitting outside at Stella and Bella’s Cafe
The Presidential debate two hours away
Reading Su Tung-P’o’s bamboo poem
Will Clinton deliver the knock-out blow?
On my ballot, I’ll write in: Chuang Tzu

–from novel-in-progress, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris


Source: Burton Watson, Selected Poems of Su Tung-P’o, p. 114 (Copper Canyon Press, 1994).



Summer Reading, 2009

I recently found this in an old file…



Annping Chin, The Authentic Confucius: A Life of Thought and Politics
David Hinton, Selected Poems of Wang Wei
D.C. Lau, trans. Mencius
Andrew Plaks, trans., Chung Yung
Ivan Morris, Madly Singing in the Mountains: An Appreciation and Anthology of Arthur Waley
Stephen Ruppenthal, The Path of Direct Awakening
Simon Winchester, The Man Who Loved China
Mao Zedong, Little Red Book


Noam Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins
Noam Chomsky, What We Say Goes: Conversations on U.S. Power in a Changing World–Interviews with David Barsamian
Donaldo Macedo, ed., Chomsky on Mis-Education
Peter Mitchell and John Schoeffel, eds., Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky
Assaf Khoury, ed. Inside Lebanon: Journey to a Shattered Land with Noam and Carol Chomsky Read the rest of this entry »


Later I became very involved in writing. I really enjoyed that moment of writing. People would pass around my sentences. That was a feeling I never had before.  It was like a bullet out of the gun.

I always have an attitude. Even if there are no plans, I have an attitude. Perhaps I answered imprecisely before, saying that I am just a person. I am actually a person with an attitude.

Expressing oneself is like a drug. I’m so addicted to it.

I don’t really care that much about if I want to be more successful or less successful in art, because I never think life and art should be separate. What’s life if you don’t have conversation and joy and anger? Read the rest of this entry »

Mao’s Revolution

Yet a Maoist doctrine that played so vital  role during the revolutionary years, bringing about a historically necessary revolution in the social state of China, paradoxically had disastrous human and political consequences when it was received in the post-revolutionary era. Mao Zedong’s removal of Marxian restraints on the revolutionary will in the late 1950s opened the way for the catastrophic consequences of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. It was not Mao’s so-called “hardline Marxism” that was responsible for the debacles, but, in a sense, his lack of Marxism, or more precisely, his “utopian” departures from Marxian teachings on the imperatives of history. The inevitable failures of the Great Leap and the Cultural Revolution ensured that China’s historical development would not, for the foreseeable future, proceed beyond bourgeois limits. The massive process of capitalist development in the decades since Mao’s death, perhaps the most dynamic process of capitalist development in world history, is thus both the product of Mao’s revolution and its negation, a capitalism that is at once the logical outcome of the Revolution that Mao Zedong led in an economically backward land and a capitalism that mocks his socialist claims and aspirations.

–Maurice Meisner, Mao Zedong: A Political and Intellectual Portrait


For K. L.

After his own New York show in 1988, his work dried up. He moved many times and every time he moved he dumped what little work he had produced. But he didn’t stop thinking of himself as an artist. The abiding lesson he took from Duchamp was that being an artist was about living as an artist, rather than producing some product, some work of art for a gallery, or even for oneself.

–Barnaby Martin, Hanging Man: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei Arrest

An Hour for Ai Weiwei

After meeting with Marty, J’Ann, and Suzanne, I offered to propose something for a gathering of old and new friends Thursday 1 October at Hartford Coffee on Hartford from 4:30-5:30.

I want us to discuss Ai Weiwei! He is at the creative intersection of art, activism, and accountability. He said, I am always trying to find how to get the message through. [In Munich] we custom-made five-thousand backpacks like the ones of these students [who died in Sichuan] to construct a simple sentence [spoken by the] mother of a dead student. It was: “She has been happily living in this world for seven years.”

If you have 12 minutes, check out his Ted Talk.

If you have 15 minutes, read the Weiwei-isms I’m compiled from one of his books, below (sort of his answer to the Quotations of Chairman Mao). Note the ones that grabbed you.

If you have 20 minutes, visit his web site.

If you have 90 minutes, watch the documentary available at Netflix streaming, Never Sorry.

Look forward to being with those able and interested to make it,



Weiwei-isms, by Ai Weiwei, edited by Larry Warsh

Liberty is about our rights to question everything.

My favorite word? It’s “act.” Read the rest of this entry »