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46 A TIME OF UNCERTAINTY AND SETBACKS (1962-65 * AGE 68~71) cally, Mao nursed his revenge. Liu Shao-chi, his normally circumspect and seemingly obliging No. 2, had ambushed and outsmarted him at the Conference of the Seven Thousand in January 1962. Under the collec- tive pressure of virtually the whole Chinese establishment, Mao had been forced to abandon his lethal policies. Mao was not going to let Liu or anyone who sympathized with Liu get away with thwarting him Mao started clearing the ground for a big purge from the moment the famine abated, He put the brakes on liberal measures such as letting peas- ants lease some land, and rehabilitating political victims, and he steadily fueled his personality cult. Eulogies of Mao increasingly dominated school texts, publications, the media and every sphere that affected people's minds, so that wherever anyone’s eye fell there were slogans hailing him, and whenever a song was heard it was in the vein of the one called “Father is close, Mother is close, but neither is as close as Chairman Mao.” Mao was making everything more thoroughly politicized than ever, ina context where only adulation of him was permitted to exist. He opened with novels, saying sarcastically to a Party audience in September 1962: “Aren't there a lot of novels and publications at the moment? Using novels to carry out anti-Party activities is a big inven- tion.” Mao later laid into all books: “The more books you read, the more stupid you become.” “You can read a little,” he would say, “but reading too much ruins you, really ruins you.” This was unashamedly cynical, as he himself was well-read, and loved reading. His beds were tailor-made to be extra large, with enough space for loads of books to be piled on one side (and sloping, so that the books would not topple over onto him), and his favorite hobby was reading in bed. But he wanted the Chinese people to be ignorant. He told his inner circle that “We need the policy of ‘keep people stupid, * In spring 1963, Mao turned his attention to traditional Chinese opera. [: THE YEARS after 1962, while China was recovering economi-