The Sunday Times
Lifestyle Section - Bookends
9th January 2011
By Shairah Thoufeekh Ahamed
-- PHOTO: COURTESY OF MICHAEL LEE (Sunday Times)
Who: Michael Lee has a short attention span when it comes to reading books. The 38-year-old visual artist finds it difficult to stick to one book at a time, let alone the same chapter in a single book.
'I get bored very quickly. I think I end up benefiting in terms of breadth but suffering in terms of depth,' he says.
The self-professed book-hoarder, who is also a part-time lecturer at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, will be showing his latest work at this month's interactive art tour Open House.
Titled The Eulogist, his work features personal eulogies written by the owners of the households themselves and will take place in four HDB flats in Marine Parade. The Open House tours take place today and next weekend. For details, go to http://www.ohopenhouse.com/
What are you reading now?
I am now split between 6 Memos For The Next Millennium by Italo Calvino, Lives Of The Artists by Giorgio Vasari and Ideas That Changed The World by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto.
The first is a series of lectures delivered at Harvard University from 1985 to 1986, about what Calvino felt were important literary values, which are lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility and multiplicity.
Lives Of The Artists was partly responsible for heralding the Early and High Renaissance, a period of artistic flourishing in the West during the 15th and 16th centuries.
Vasari was championing the trades of painting, sculpture and architecture, which were previously considered more craft than art. I hope one day I can do the same for Singapore, if not for the world.
The last book is an excellent mini- encyclopaedia with illustrated pages of the evolution of human thought.
All these books feature beautiful prose, even if they are considered non-fiction. More importantly, I like that they challenge conventional ideas.
If your house were burning down, which book would you save?
Human, All Too Human by Friedrich Nietzsche. It keeps me sane by reminding me that a lot of so-called human virtues such as morality and loyalty are nonsense, and are ways of preventing people from realising their fullest potential.
The bottom line is that anyone who wants to be really free needs to have this book on his reading list.
6 Memos For The Next Millennium (Penguin, 2009, $29.43),
Lives Of The Artists (Oxford, 2008, $25.95),
Human, All Too Human (Prometheus, 2008, $25.72)
are available from Books Kinokuniya. Ideas
That Changed The World (DK, 2007, $13.92)
is available at Amazon.com
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