Learning Mandarin isn’t spiritual in itself

Learning Mandarin is often described as something deeply cultural or spiritual. Yes, it’s interesting that the character for home/family (家) originates from a pig underneath a roof, because livestock used to be in every home, or that 目 (eye) coupled the water radical becomes 泪 (tear). But it’s pure trivia, just as interesting as that […]

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Goblins & Howard Roark

As a teenager, I loved both The Hobbit and The Fountainhead. But while I never confused Tolkien’s Middle Earth with reality, I did so with Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. Perhaps it’s because I’d never held Bilbo’s cowardliness and dislike of travel in such high esteem anyway, but more likely it’s because The Fountainhead — a […]

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Hate flows downwards

The simplified narrative often goes like “Younger generations have trouble buying houses because they spend money on coffee”, instead of “… because salaries haven’t kept up with housing prices”. Too often, ordinary people are being guilt-tripped by *facts* like that you need 7600 liters of water to make one pair of jeans — or that […]

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Fudan’s Mini-MBA in Chinese Business

Why is so much education, even in 2019, still held in classrooms and not on screens? You could take the world’s best teachers on any subject, pay them like a rockstar, and simply record seminars. The quality (in theory) should be much higher, always available across the world. Maybe the first law of thermodynamics applies […]

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Magazines around paperweights

For Freunde von Freunden I was asked to interview workers in a clothing factory, three hours outside of Shanghai. First I had to shoo away the manager who was looking over my shoulder — because it made the workers nervous and all the answers fabricated: “I love my job, and my boss is very good […]

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Holterbroek

The city of Zwolle is the juncture for all kinds of villages in the East of the Netherlands, all the villagers drawn to what the big city has and the villages do not: offices, high school, shopping malls, and cinemas. Nine long years I went to what is spoken of as Zwolle’s drain: Holterbroek. The […]

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Hengshan & Huaihai Road

Hengshan Road Patrick from Historic Shanghai tells a story about the American School, which was located on Hengshan Road from 1923 to 1941. On its 100th anniversary, some years ago, 6 ‘boys’ and 6 ‘girls’ — now aged in their 80s or 90s — visited the location again in which they had grown up. And […]

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You cannot see yourself

My world is larger than the tight borders of my country — but for long I thought I had an open and unbiased view across them, proudly seeing myself as a world citizen. Yet now I see that term for what it really is: impossible — and I see that the lens I thought to […]

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SIVA/DeTao

That was 9 weeks of teaching at the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts & DeTao Academy. Up until the last day, teaching made me feel honored (“Wow, they asked me for this”), but at the same time feel nervous and inadequate (“Who the hell do you think you are, teach branding?”). The students were nice, […]

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Tonglu town

A basketball pitch used for drying crops, an empty clothing factory, a low-tide hydro lake, a Buddist temple among hostels and farms, and koi fish in the river. The village of Tonglu is made of many layers, each concealing something else.

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