Thoughts on 1 July 2020

The Best China


On 1 July 2020, Liu Shuyong (劉樹勇, 1962-), a Beijing-based artist known by the nom de plume Lao Shu 老樹, published the following eloquent meditation. We offer it here as a chapter in two interrelated series produced by China Heritage: ‘The Best China’ and ‘Viral Alarm’.

Previously we featured Lao Shu’s work when introducing Making a Case for Humanity Over Banditry 《人間不是匪幫》, a collection of essays on China’s forever crisis by Xu Zhangrun 許章潤. The inscription on the Lao Shu painting that we selected read:

‘As autumn winds rustle amber leaves I lock myself away to read while others busy themselves in the world. In the fall all flowers lose their petals.’


At that time, we also quoted Xu Zhangrun. His words bear repeating here:

‘The human heart will not long tolerate oppressive burdens, nor will human nature accept suffocating confinement forever. The heart-mind longs for indulgent release; it is tireless in its quest to break free.’


— Geremie R. Barmé
Editor, China Heritage
1 July 2020

Lao Shu 老樹, 1 July 2020

Half the year’s gone and I’ve got nothing to show for it.
Apart from trying to sleep through it all, oblivious
The only thing I’ve had to contend with is eating my fill.
Occasionally, I’d take a look at what’s on the news
But that only confirmed how fucked up things are.
People are no better than wild beasts,
There are no depths to which they will not sink.
The way the world is going leaves me in despair;
The future is unimaginable.

— Lao Shu
in the Summer
of Gengzi 2020

trans. GRB