The Dual Nature of Literature


I recently finished reading a book called "A New Day" by the late Xu Lizhi.

Xu Lizhi started writing poetry in 2010 and died by jumping off a building in 2014. In just four years, he worked on various assembly lines and wrote over a hundred poems. This collection of poems organizes most of his poems in chronological order, allowing us to glimpse into the hardships of a laborer and the loneliness within his heart.

I previously wrote an article 1 introducing him, and I can empathize with his experience working at Foxconn 2. Reading his writings again this time, I have gained some new insights.

To be honest, most of these "poems" he wrote can hardly be considered true poetry, but their value lies in their authenticity. From these lines, I can genuinely feel his passion for poetry, which is rare. Unfortunately, poets are often melancholic. If he could have made literature his spiritual nourishment, perhaps he would have had hope for the future, perhaps he wouldn't have been crushed by reality, and perhaps he wouldn't have jumped off that building.

He reminds me of a recent news story about a migrant worker named Chen Zhi (pseudonym) who loves philosophy and translated "Heidegger's Introduction," sparking a heated discussion online. Their backgrounds and experiences are similar, but their spiritual worlds are completely different. One is deeply tormented, unable to see the sunlight; the other is full of hope, with a spiritual anchor. Looking at Chen Zhi's experience, his work is also mundane, even akin to being a walking corpse, but when he returns to his rented room and picks up philosophy, it's as if he's reborn.

Perhaps, this is the duality of literature, it can bring light, but it can also bring destruction.


  1. Xu Lizhi:

  2. My Impression of Foxconn:

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