Monday, June 15, 2015

A philosophical reminiscence from Zhang Yue (founder of Broad Group)

Zhang Yue is the founder of The Broad Group, a fascinating Chinese construction company. This report from the BBC shows how the company erected a skyscraper in just 19 days. In the BBC piece, Zhang, who majored in fine art, talks about his old paintings and muses on his early life as an artist. Here is what he had to say about the painting pictured above:

That was the best time.
All we had were fantasies.
We only had ourselves to think of.
Now we have to think of the whole world's problems.
It's different now.
If you only think about yourself, it's relaxing.
I was so relaxed then.

There is much to ponder here. We have the idea of the past as a simpler time, which seems to be a widely held belief that gains in strength as as people grow older. I have no view on whether this sense is good or bad because, but I do think a mental distortion is at play here, a kind of selective memory which has perhaps grown from a few seeds of truth. Perhaps it is both good and bad in the sense that a wider sense of burden and responsibility may be good for the species but not necessarily for the individual. It is a slippery mind eel, for sure. And there is also the idea that the world of fantasies can be highly fulfilling (dreams vs reality), but again, how much of this is a rose-tinted reflection, a distorted product of the spectacles of selective memory?

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