analytical Q May-Aug 2000 Sept-Dec 2000 Jan-Apr 2001 Discussion

The Diary
Anne Ku

7 April 2001 Saturday

These few days media here are talking about art thru a guest Mr Gao who arrived here from Paris to deliver his speeches. He has won the 2000 Nobel literature prize. His books, including the Nobel winning novel "Soul Mountain," did not sell well here in past years until he won the prize. However, even many of those who read his novels actually cannot fully understand what he interpreted. Some could not finish his books. As a self-exiled man of letters, he has lived in Paris with his common-law wife or girl friend, also a writer. He said he actually makes a living by painting abstract Chinese paintings. He said he used income from his paintings to support him writing novels and plays which sold poorly. so his novels and plays are his avocation. It sounds he devoted himself to art and writing (novels and plays) to run away from politics on mainland china before he exiled himself. So art and writing are his haven.




My academic friend reflected upon the trade-off between remuneration and control. He complained about the additional administrative tasks levied by his department. This meant more control, but no higher pay.

In pursuit of flexibility, I am really in pursuit of freedom. I want to be able to decide when and where I go. I want to be able to choose who I work with. This kind of control over my own professional life is the price I pay. I would gladly give up annual bonuses and other perks for this kind of freedom.

Such freedom to pursuit one's interest to one's heart content is the mark of true artists and scientists. They pursue it not for want of commercial gain. Art for art's sake. Music for music's sake. Love for love's sake. Wasn't it Elizabeth Barrett Browning who wrote, "If thou must love me, let it be for naught Except for love's sake only."

Perhaps that's why I admire professional artists and musicians so much. The price of freedom is what they give up, to pursue their art and music. But they hardly think so, for they are doing what they enjoy. Their work is play. It's the multi-talented and multi-skilled that have to choose which work or which play. Jack of all trades, but master of none - ah - is it better to be good in one thing and thus never have the trade-off to consider?

From my father 2 Feb:
For a novelist or writer, freedom means academic freedom, political freedom, which means government or party authorities are liberal enough to let everybody write, paint, create and publish so a hundred flowers can blossom. You won't feel the lack of this freedom because you enjoy it fully. Not those living in some countries today, including Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba and China, Iraq, Iran. However, things can change, sooner or later. China has already changed a lot. in their heydays, Mao's wife and her Gang of Four could never dream of what Shanghai has turned out to be today. yet academic freedom is still restricted there.