Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Occasions
What’s the last great book you read?
The last great book I read was “Permanent Record” by Edward Snowden.
Are there any classic novels that you recently read for the first time?
I stopped reading classic novels before I was 24 years old.
Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).
My ideal reading experience was when I was in exile with my father Ai Qing in a detention center during the Cultural Revolution. At that time, we burned all of his books to avoid further political persecution. I was not yet 10 years old; I think it was 1967.
It confirmed in me how powerful those words printed on paper and the images in between could be. My sister helped me when I asked her to bring me more books. She sent me books like “Imperialism, the highest level of capitalism” by Vladimir Lenin and “The Communist Manifesto” by Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx. I’ve completely disconnected from the concepts in these books, but I can still feel the power of the language and the structure of logic.
What’s your favorite book that no one has heard of?
I have a book called “Yingzao Fashi,” an assembly guide from the Song Dynasty that was originally written 1,000 years ago.
Which book influenced your decision to become a visual artist the most or contributed to your artistic development?
I would say the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Franz Kafka were influential, and if you include artists, [Marcel] Duchamp’s letter too. There are only a few, but bright intellectual heads.
That’s it for this briefing. Until next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected].
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