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What’s Your AQ?

Ah Q Spirit or low AQ? (image: Sweet Briar College Gallery)

Ah Q and his low AQ
(art:Sweet Briar College Galleries)

When I first heard about AQ, it was in China, and I thought it was somehow related to the story of Ah-Q, by the father of modern Chinese literature, Lu Xun. In “The Real Story of Ah Q”, the title character is a coward and petty thief, who is frequently getting beat up by everyone including other thieves. Yet Ah Q believes that he is superior to all of his tormentors, and that every time he loses, he wins. Though this story was written in the 1920’s, there was a popular book recently in China about the “Ah-Q Spirit”, which suggested that Ah-Q’s way of thinking actually helped him to survive, first by taking the route of surrender against superior odds, and by creating a positive self-image of that motivated him to face his miserable existence.

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