On Reading

Last Sunday afternoon I met with a group of talented young people (thanks Yolanda for organizing the salon). We talked about reading, John Rawl’s theory of justice, the democratic development in China, and some recent public affairs. Liu told us her experience in Liang Wendao (梁文道)’s lectures, which did enlighten me on the method and outcome of reading. Liang used a beautifully and precisely constructed metaphor to answer Liu’s question about how he takes in what he reads. He firstly divided reading into two basic categories, intensive reading and extensive reading. For him, his mental knowledge is a large ‘house’; in the ‘house’, there are windows, tables, chairs, shelves, cabinets, drawers, and every bit of knowledge is in good order, placed in the space they belong to. Intensive reading is what helps him build up the overarching structure of the ‘house’, the roof, the walls, the pillars; extensive reading is what fills in the vacant space in the ‘house’. Being a diligent and perseverant reader, Liang spents two to three hours reading every day.

Several books are also recommended to me by our group, on social sciences, on media, on literature, etc. I am pretty new to the area of social sciences, though I touched on some theories from Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Thomas Robert Malthus, and John Stuart Mill. I look forward to the new experience of reading more about this field. In addition, I am currently interested in quantum physics. With Stephen Hawking’s new book The Grand Design and a filmy Chinese translation of his Theory of Everything: the Origin and Fate of the Universe I occasionally found in Branden’s bathroom, the interest just grow stronger and stronger. Science is also poetic and philosophical, isn’t it?

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