April 16, 2011

Freedom Is Not Free

Freedom is something beautiful and sound, but not "free". It requires independency, a high price that many people are incapable to pay.

Sometime it is easier to die codependently than live independently.

April 13, 2011

Differences vs. Discrimination

An African-American child at a segregated drin...Image via WikipediaDifferences (which factually exist among us) do not necessarily lead to discrimination, but arrogance does. "I am different from you" is not a biased statement, but "I am superior" is.
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April 10, 2011

"Dumb" or "Smart"?

Get SmartImage via WikipediaThere are some people mix up "kindness" and "dumbness", confuse about "intelligence" with "treacherousness", or "guile". The reasons for such idea might be either they are not smart enough to be guileful, or, they are smart but choose to be dishonest in favor of their utilitarian life style.

I further believe, that honesty is a choice, intelligence (and smartness) is not. There is a distinguish line between intelligence and smartness, also a big difference between the honesty by choosing or by "force".

April 9, 2011

Harry's Law

I was not much in TV shows but since my chronic health problems prevented me from more "meaningful" activities, I have to "condescend" myself to watch some and found them very entertaining. One of them is "Harry's Law".

Cathy Bates is my all time favorite actress. In this show, she plays the leading role Harriet Korn, a lawyer who is fired and starts her own law firm ("Harry's Law") in a very dangerous neighborhood. By several "interesting" accidents she encounters several "interesting" people and unwillingly hires them to work together. Each episode is about some different individual cases they deal with.

I am not that into law business. Personally I even had quite unhappy experience with lawyers, so I did not really count too much on this show, but Cathy Bates made it different. She is always so natural, cordial and intellectually funny, even in this boring lawyers' business. What also made me like this show even more is that this show reveals a fact/problem which I found is so true in this country, or elsewhere, that there is no "justice" in justice system (of course MUCH better than in China).

It's a good show. I have only watched a few episodes but already hooked.

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April 6, 2011

"Art" - A Decoration of The "Glorious Era" of China

AAi Weiwei during documenta 12 (2007) WikipediaThese couple of days I just heard two important things happened in Chinese art circle: 1, Ai, Weiwei, a famous artist has disappeared, most likely in custody; 2, the new world record of auction sale of Zhang, Xiaogang's painting "Love that lives forever" (my own translation) was sold for over $10 millions.

Just a while ago I had some thoughts about the difference between artists and thinkers. What initiated that thought mostly was this modern Chinese art market - so unbelievably "prosperous' that somebody even compared it with Renaissance in European history. I know there is not much comparable in between these two different art periods, because among modern Chinese artists, we rarely see sincerity, the pure passion in art creativity (I am not say there is none, but indeed it is rare, especially compare with the population of artists in China). Most contemporary Chinese artists produce massive amount of works just for money and fame. And they are all very successful, maybe more successful than any time in history and anywhere in the world.

I have no right to judge Zhang, Xiaogang's art. Zhang is a good artist with excellent skills, but he is also a very shrewd "businessman" when in handling art market. If we consider Chinese art market is nothing more than a huge complicated interpersonal network, Zhang is the one at the axis of this network. Around him, there are many art critics and artists who pursue "success". I am sure there are some sincere artists among them but most of them, just like Zhang, know very well what/when to paint, what not to (not only they will not offend Chinese government, they also know very well how to please art dealers, or western art critics). And when get famous, they know what to say, what not to.

Ai, Weiwei is one of different persons. He seems to care about something. I don't know him as much I know Zhang, but based on what I read online, he seems to be a honest person, which is rare within artists circles. And of course this "caring spirit" gave him trouble.

China is at her peak time in economy, and many people consider this period as her most glorious time in history (the signs of "glorious era" flash everywhere in China), as economy is only thing matter to many Chinese people. And art, both the art with and without quotation marks, seems to be a perfect decoration to this "glorious time" - when everybody is happily slaved!

Who said that art is not practical?
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April 5, 2011

Dear Theo - letters of Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh age eighteenImage via WikipediaI finished reading Irvine Stone's Lust for Life within one day like finishing a page turner, but I finished reading Dear Theo - letters of Van Gogh after a long time reading - each time I turned the page, I heard myself saying: slow down, take time, and digest every word slowly, as if the sooner I finished reading, the quicker the joy of being with him would vanish.

Van Gogh struck the world with his paintings, he also touched my heart with his words. If we take language as a vehicle of thoughts, Van Gogh deserved to be remembered as a great thinker. Through his words, I saw a man with deep contemplation, a soul that had a close connection with nature by every visible detail: trees, mountains, sky, even every inch of crop field.

If Van Gogh instilled his passion in all his art works, he recorded his thoughts in his words. We see frenzy colors in his paintings, but we will meet a lucid mind in his writings. He was not crazy, like many his contemporaries believed, he was just a special being with some simple needs which the world failed to satisfy. In other words, the world was/is sick, not Van Gogh. Yet he offered to the world a tremendous amount of treasure. The world gave him grief, but he returned with the brilliance of Sunshine.

It has been over 25 years when I read this book. Dear Theo was one of my precious collection, and it shaped my view on art and life: an artist has to be true to him/herself before to be "great". By my opinion, Van Gogh may not be the most "skillful" (from traditional view) artist in history, but he was the most talented, and the first one who depicted himself without any "decoration" - such as techniques or concepts. He was completely “naked” in his works.
And I believe, the world would be different if we were all “naked” like he was.

April 4, 2011

Whispers and Lies

Cover of "Whispers and Lies"Cover of Whispers and LiesHow am I going to put this? A little strange yet extreme alluring story about a "boring" life of a middle aged woman? No. The first thing I would tell you about this book is: You are not going to believe what you get at the end! Never ever a book shocked me like that!

Whispers and Lies (by Joy Fielding) tells a story about a single middle aged nurse Terry Painter, who rents her cottage to an attractive young woman Alison Simms. After the young lady moves in, Terry's life changes, from a monotone daily routine into some seemingly exciting social events, one after another, even followed by a possible perfect love affair, which she has not dared to dream for for long time. But, things do not go like what she expected, she soon finds herself losing control of all these "excitements".

The beginning chapter is extremely captive (at least to me), but the first 80% of book requires some patience, then, you will get a real treat, finding yourself on a roller-coaster, experiencing something absolutely breathtaking!

The story is more than just murder. The psychological twists in this book reveal a very dark side of family relationship. It probably is the darkest I have ever seen among all mystery fictions I've read, among real life stories as well.

I have read many murder mysteries and forgot many of them, but this one (along with several other favorites) remain unforgotten, both the story and the shocking moments. It is indeed a bit strange yet extremely well composed suspense novel.

April 1, 2011

Rebecca - An Immortal Masterpiece of Mystery

Young Daphne du Maurier (about 1930) WikipediaIf there is a book that I could read again and again, it is Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier. I was obsessed with this book over 20 years ago, always wanted to write a review, but never get a chance. Now it's the time.

Rebecca is a story about a young lady who by chance marries a wealthy man, Maxim de Winter, the owner of a stately estate known as "Manderley". "Rebecca" is the name of ex-wife of Mr. de Winter, who died mysteriously prior to story starts. Most of story is about happenings taking place during the young lady's new life in Manderly.

Rebecca is a mystery, for the mysterious death of Rebecca. Rebecca is died, yet is still "alive" among people who know her. Her extreme beauty, aristocratic manner, sophisticate social skill, and her tremendous influence to people - from servants to high class circles, inflict new mistress' daily life. The young lady faces incredible challenge, both from the hostility of household - who still holds loyalty toward the ex-mistress, and her lack of confidence about her poor family background.

Many people believe that this book is all about Rebecca - a ghostly figure who affects lives, but I totally disagree. Rebecca is all about the young lady (narrator) herself - how she from a naive student, a "Cinderella" like poor girl, becomes a mature, confidence and courageous Mrs. de Winter.

The story was told by narrator, occasionally jumps between past and present. The depiction is extremely beautiful and contemplative, naturally draws you into the nightmarish past, sharing the narrator's amazing psychological adventure - how she eventually gains confidence, conquers her inner fear by strength of love.

Yes, Rebecca is a mystery, but not mystery of death, nor of a murder, it's a mystery of life, a life of reborn. For me, it is an immortal masterpiece of mystery ever created.
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