Translated by Lucas Klein
All products of modernity aside, the Tang didn’t have, well, let’s count: in the Tang there wasn’t this, in the Tang there wasn’t that, uh, in the Tang there weren’t any Thinkers! In the Tang there were emperors and beautiful ladies and palaces and armies and officials, there were astrologers and the moon and the clouds and poets and minstrels and dancers, there were drunkards and hookers and revolts and stray dogs and wilderness and ice storms, there were the poor and the illiterate and national exams and nepotism… but in the Tang there were no Thinkers. How could that be? With no Thinkers, there could be jade and gold splendors; without Thinkers, everyone was worry free, especially the Emperor. Free to play. In the Tang, they played up the great Tang, poets played up their great poems (only after the middle of the dynasty did poets start to furrow their brows). There were so many poets in the Tang, it was like there hadn’t been any before the Tang! Not that in the Tang they thought that poets could take the place of Thinkers, but just that in the Tang there really weren’t any Thinkers. For anyone now who dreams of taking us back, let me just warn you: prepare your thoughts — either give us a second Tang dynasty without any Thinkers, or else give us something that isn’t the Tang.