TINA HE | Castle of the Contagious

“If you can bring this to the States…” He kept his voice low, trying not to make a fuss, but he could not dim the shine in his eyes. Four weeks ago, I probed into the underground art market in China, where insiders trade information with hungry artists trying to exhibit their pieces abroad. The market was lively: drunk art dealers from Europe were laughing hysterically and handing each other different flavors of vapor cig, girls wearing night-club mini skirts were ordering cocktails with incomprehensible names that sounded like the Chinese translation of random German words, and a kid was screaming an “F” word embroidered on a shirt and asked his mom what it means. It was loud and dreamy, and the air was infused with everything that was supposed and not supposed to be there. So when he kept his voice low, I could barely hear what he said.

THE WORLD AROUND YU | Culture Is Dying: Welcome to the New Dark Ages

Every so often, I like to play this game called “Be the Intellectual.” It’s a game fueled by high pretension; sometimes leading me into an art museum, in which I will pretend to muse at artworks (of which I know nothing about) and stand there, gazing— waiting for the art to speak to me! — gleaming a few extra seconds if the display card to the left mentions an artist that strikes a chord of recognition. Oh Andy Warhol, hon hon hon! Other times, this game takes me to a local bookstore, where I’ll peruse titles. If I see one I like, perhaps I’ll buy it on the romantic premise of “Wow this book is totally gonna add to my intellect and make a better person!”, or at least make me seem like I’m really __cool/ smart/ cultured__ (pick one).