Imagine being a world famous artist. Imagine designing national monuments. Imagine thinking that you are invulnerable to repression. Imagine speaking out against human rights abuses at your country’s Olympics (Olympics for which you designed stadiums). Imagine being warned to shut your fat trap. Imagine you keep talking. Imagine that a few months later they come to arrest you and lock you away for 81 days. Imagine you come back with the strict warning that if you continue to make an international media spectacle damaging to the regime which is buttering your bread, you will go away not for three months but forever.
If your imagination is rich, you will have just lived the three years of artist Ai Weiwei’s life who for many years had a blessed position as Lear’s fool in Beijing. His nonsense answers and ironic commentary on the regime probably even amused the higher party bosses. A useful fool.