Beijing is two cities. One is of power and of money. People don’t care who their neighbors are; they don’t trust you. The other city is one of desperation. I see people on public buses, and I see their eyes, and I see they hold no hope. They can’t even imagine that they’ll be able to buy a house. They come from very poor villages where they’ve never seen electricity or toilet paper.
Every year millions come to Beijing to build its bridges, roads, and houses. Each year they build a Beijing equal to the size of the city in 1949. They are Beijing’s slaves. They squat in illegal structures, which Beijing destroys as it keeps expanding. Who owns houses? Those who belong to the government, the coal bosses, the heads of big enterprises. They come to Beijing to give gifts—and the restaurants and karaoke parlors and saunas are very rich as a result.
You will see hospitals where they give patients stitches—and when they find the patients don’t have any money, they pull the stitches out. It’s a city of violence.
My ordeal [interrogated for two months] made me understand that on this fabric, there are many hidden spots where they put people without identity. With no name, just a number. They don’t care where you go, what crime you committed. They see you or they don’t see you, it doesn’t make the slightest difference. There are thousands of spots like that. Only your family is crying out that you’re missing. But you can’t get answers from the street communities or officials, or even at the highest levels, the court or the police or the head of the nation. My wife has been writing these kinds of petitions every day, making phone calls to the police station every day. Where is my husband? Just tell me where my husband is. There is no paper, no information.
The strongest character of those spaces is that they’re completely cut off from your memory or anything you’re familiar with. You’re in total isolation. And you don’t know how long you’re going to be there, but you truly believe they can do anything to you. There’s no way to even question it. You’re not protected by anything. Why am I here? Your mind is very uncertain of time. You become like mad. It’s very hard for anyone. Even for people who have strong beliefs.
This city is not about other people or buildings or streets but about your mental structure. If we remember what Kafka writes about his Castle, we get a sense of it. Cities really are mental conditions. Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare.
Ai Weiwei, political activist in China who was held in custody without reason (dique ‘economic crimes’) for two months.
In a meeting with librarians and officials from Iran’s book industry on Wednesday, Khamenei spoke out against books “with a cultural appe arance but with specific political hidden motives.
[…] In his speech, the 72-year-old Khamenei, whose pronouncements are often interpreted as official guidelines, refused to give more details on which books he deemed “harmful”. However, titles ranging from uncensored version of Plato’s Symposium to Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s Journey to the End of the Night and works by James Joyce, Gabriel García Márquez, Kurt Vonnegut and Paulo Coelho have been banned in recent years by Iran’s ministry of culture and Islamic guidance which vets all books before publication.
[…] “Like poisonous, dangerous and addictive drugs which are not available for everyone without restrictions … as a publisher, librarian or an official in the book industry, we don’t have the right to make [such books] available to those without knowledge,” he said. “We should provide them with healthy and good books.”
[…]Hassan Homayoun, a journalist and poet who has monitored censorship in Iran has published on his blog a series of comments made by censors. According to Homayoun, in review of a poetry book, a censor commented that it lacked appropriate rhythm. With regard to a book by Gholam-Hossein Saedi, the censor said it contained sexually-provocative material and was too ambiguous and allegorical. In review of a book written by celebrated writer Mahmoud Dolatabadi, a censor said that it was too depressing.
“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” - Oscar Wilde
Personally, if you ban a book, it’s just going to make me want to read it more.