Sunday, November 16, 2014

At the Bottom of the Night..suicide beckons

Every life lost in the modernisation of China is so sad, so needless, so futile - one such life lost is that of the young poet;-  Xu Lizhi (1990-2014). 

I would like to extend my sincere condolences to his family and friends and also to thank the friends of the Nao project for the translations of poems by Xu Lizhi (许立志)

Here below his death poem together with commentary, background and links to the full article and more of his work.

“On My Deathbed”

I want to take another look at the ocean, 

behold the vastness of tears from half a lifetime
I want to climb another mountain, 
try to call back the soul that I’ve lost
I want to touch the sky, 
feel that blueness so light
But I can’t do any of this, 
so I'm leaving this world
Everyone who’s heard of me
Shouldn't be surprised at my leaving
Even less should you sigh or grieve
I was fine when I came...
and fine when I left.

-- Xu Lizhi, 30 September 2014




-- Xu Lizhi, 30 September 2014


For those 'employed / indentured slaves', in emerging economies there may seem to be little alternative. Is a return to the poverty / humility / simplicity of a rural backwater so bad?

Tens of thousands of the young in China are sold the illusion of a better future, glamour enhanced by photoshop in magazines, actors in roles all painted up on television and in film... much of it fantasy, lies and illusion.. sleight of mind. 

Aided and abetted by their American counterparts the Chinese company executives consuming all in their path. The wealthy international corporations engaging in abject dishonesty, studiously avoiding the images and news of the deaths of workers - workers who are treated like dogs at the end of an ornate supply chain.

The reality is that the capitalist system is built on dishonesty, greed and ever increasing consumption, for the majority of workers it is impossible to defeat the system;-

  • you will be paid a fraction of what is ever fair
  • you will work extra hours without pay
  • you will be removed / abused if you complain
  • increasing taxation will dilute your earnings
  • you can easily waste the best years of your life

This is not unique to emerging economies, all over the world people give their lives in an attempt to gain more money to gain more things.. to gain more money to gain more things.

We do not need more consumers consuming and perpetuating the nightmare of rampant consumption; we need more artists and philosophers and writers and poets...  happy to live simply without consumerist trappings. Only then will we get a reset of a system being destroyed by its own greed.


Xu Lizhi (许立志) was a Foxconn worker who committed suicide on 30 September 2014, at the age of 24, in Shenzhen, China. The full article also includes an obituary and explanatory notes.

Please read the full article on entitled ;-

 The poetry and brief life of a Foxconn worker: Xu Lizhi (1990-2014)

Xu's departing poem 

by Li Fei and Zhang Xiaoqi
10 October, 2014


“On My Deathbed”


I want to take another look at the ocean, behold the vastness of tears from half a lifetime
I want to climb another mountain, try to call back the soul that I’ve lost
I want to touch the sky, feel that blueness so light
But I can’t do any of this, so I’m leaving this world
Everyone who’s heard of me
Shouldn’t be surprised at my leaving
Even less should you sigh or grieve
I was fine when I came, and fine when I left.

-- Xu Lizhi, 30 September 2014

Shy, quiet, introverted, solitary

In 2010, Xu Lizhi went [from his home in rural Jieyang, Guangdong] to work at [a] Foxconn [electronics factory in Shenzhen], beginning life on the assembly line. From 2012 until February of this year [2014], over 30 of his writings were published in Foxconn’s internal newspaper Foxconn People (富士康人), including poems, essays, film reviews, and news commentaries {…} Xu posted the titles of these writings on his blog in a post called “The Maturation Given to Me by a Newspaper,” indicating his gratitude for this platform for his literary aspirations. The first time his friend Zheng (pseudonym) read Xu’s poetry, he was astonished to discover that this young man could be so talented. Henceforth, Zheng always looked for Xu’s writings in the newspaper.
Zheng’s impression was that Xu was a shy boy, “of few words, but not silent.” “Xu asserted his convictions, but he seemed quite solitary – very much the air of a poet.” When Zheng heard of Xu’s suicide, his entire [week-long] break for [China’s] National Day was shrouded in grief. He could not go outside for days.

Turning feelings into poems; fearing they'd be read by family

Most of Xu’s early poems were descriptions of life on the assembly line. In “Workshop, My Youth Was Stranded Here,” he described his conditions at the time: “Beside the assembly line, tens of thousands of workers [dagongzhe]1 line up like words on a page/ 'Faster, hurry up!'/ Standing among them, I hear the supervisor bark.” He felt that “Once you’ve entered the workshop/ The only choice is submission,” and that his youth was coldly slipping away, so he could only “Watch it being ground away day and night/ Pressed, polished, molded/ Into a few measly bills, so-called wages.”

At first Xu Lizhi found it difficult to adapt to the constant switching between dayshifts and nightshifts. In another poem, he described himself by the assembly line “standing straight like iron, hands like flight,” “How many days, how many nights/ Did I – just like that – standing, fall asleep?” He described his working life as exhausting, “Flowing through my veins, finally reaching the tip of my pen/ Taking root in the paper/ These words can be read only by the hearts of migrant workers."

Xu once said that he never showed his poetry to his parents or other relatives, "because it's something painful; I don't want them to see that."