Nobel laureate in literature visits CERN

Gao Xingjian, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2000, was invited to visit CERN as part of European Researchers’ Night. During his visit to the Laboratory, he took time out to give us a dose of his optimism.


Gao Xingjian in IdeaSquare's bus during his visit to CERN.


“The idea of bringing scientists and artists together is wonderful!” An enthusiastic first-time visitor to the Laboratory, Gao Xingjian regaled his audience with his thoughts on human reality at the conference 'Made of Shadow and Light', in which he took part on 24 September, alongside Sergio Bertolucci, CERN’s Director for Research and Computing.

Interested in science since his childhood (his marks in physics and maths at school were excellent, he explains with a smile), he draws an interesting parallel between human consciousness and dark matter: “The concept of dark matter makes complete sense to me,” he explains. “The human consciousness and subconscious share the same characteristics: they are not visible, but they certainly exist.”

Asked about the rumours of the end of the world that have been circulating on the Internet for the last few weeks, he answers with a humorous reference to the medium-length film After the Flood, which he produced in 2008: “What happens after the flood? There’s still a future, even if it is uncertain.”

Seven texts by Gao Xingjian translated for CERN

“Made of shadows and light” is an anthology of seven short texts, written by Gao Xingjian in Chinese between 1990 and 2012, and extracted from a work entitled “Youshen Yu Xuansi” (Earthbound Spirit and Meditative Thought).

The texts have been translated for the first time, exclusively for CERN, into French, English, Spanish and Italian in the framework of POPScience for the 2015 European Researchers' Night. The e-book format, which is the first digital publication for the Nobel Prize winner, is distributed worldwide by POPScience Poetry. Download the e-book by clicking here (e-book reading software required).

A video showing a selection of Xingjian’s works was specifically created in celebration of his public conference organized by POPScience Poetry at the University of Geneva. The video will be part of the artist’s permanent exhibition “The awakening of consciousness” at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, until 26 February 2020.

You can find Gao Xingjian’s biography and bibliography on the Nobel Prize website.

by Anaïs Schaeffer