Showing posts with label Thoughts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thoughts. Show all posts

Monday, November 4, 2019

Steps With Trees in Xuzhou

On some days it is much easier to appreciate the obstacles in one's path . . .

stone steps with spaces for trees to grow through them on a hill
Zifang Hill (子房山) in Xuzhou

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Time Rex

pedestal missing most of a once-attached stone sculpture of an animal

Yesterday I was thinking about putting together a picture-heavy post about a temple I had recently visited in Jiangmen, Guangdong. I thought it could make for a good change of pace from previous posts.

Then I took a look at Twitter.

My reentrance into that world happened to be shortly after the first reports of Donald Trump firing the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. I quickly got sucked into the drama of various people trying to put the pieces together and figure out what it all meant.

I use the word "drama" because, admittedly, that's a large part of what kept my attention. Yes, the news was quite important. But ultimately, if I hadn't learned about the details for another day or two, there wouldn't be any negative effects for me. There was no likely decision I was going to make during that time which could have been impacted by it. If anything, it would be beneficial to wait. As news breaks typically some of the information is wrong and many relevant pieces are missing.

Sure, it could have been different if I desired to contribute to the discussion. But in this case, I wasn't planning to.

I followed along on Twitter nonetheless. I clicked links to stories that quickly became outdated as new information came out. Watching it all play out was stimulating.

Once I pulled myself away, there was too little time left to put together a post.

So, in the end, Rex Tillerson was still gone. And a chunk of time I could have used more productively was also gone.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hengyang Contrasts: Different States of Being Solid

I initially focused on the stark differences between the activities the statues depict at two parks in Hengyang, but lately I have pondered how they may sometimes be connected.

statues of scholars on a large rock in Shigu Park, Hengyang
Scholars in Shigu Park

statues of soldiers in Yueping Park, Hengyang
Soldiers in Yueping Park

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Black, White, & Green in Changde

Now that I finally have a functioning laptop and access to the Internet with a VPN once again, here is a black, white, & green scene from Binhu Park in Changde, Hunan province.

lily pads in a lake with apartment buildings in the background at Binhu Park in Changde, Hunan

I pondered much as I walked around the park on Tuesday earlier this week. However, I did not ponder that soon my laptop's video card would suddenly stop doing what a video card should do, that I would not be allowed to use the computers at local Internet cafes, that flooding would cancel a night train I had no idea I would book later that night, nor much else related to several days of unexpected "fun" during which I was unable to post here.

More on those stories and some of what they say later.

In the meantime, I will take a few more moments to ponder my pondering at a now far away lake.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ephemeral Laughs from Yue Minjun and Roger Angell

the laughing head of one of Yue Minjun's steel sculptures named "The Laugh that can be Laughed is not the Eternal Laugh"

Earlier today I saw the steel sculptures of laughing people created in 2009 by Chinese artist Yue Minjun now outside the Macao Museum of Art. After briefly considering them, I read an informational card and learned they share the title "The Laugh that can be Laughed is not the Eternal Laugh".

After a few moments pondering the possible meaning of the title, I found humor in it and laughed. Then, listening to my laughter, I broke into a louder laugh finding humor in the idea that my laugh could not be an "Eternal Laugh".

I suddenly went silent. Recursion. Absurdity. Eternity. For a seemingly timeless period, my mind floated.

And then I walked away to find something to eat.

Due to an unrelated recommendation, in the evening I read "This Old Man" by American essayist Roger Angell in The New Yorker. The topic of laughter appeared again, this time in Angell's personal reflections on life, death, and growing old:
I get along. Now and then it comes to me that I appear to have more energy and hope than some of my coevals, but I take no credit for this. I don’t belong to a book club or a bridge club; I’m not taking up Mandarin or practicing the viola. In a sporadic effort to keep my brain from moldering, I’ve begun to memorize shorter poems—by Auden, Donne, Ogden Nash, and more—which I recite to myself some nights while walking my dog, Harry’s successor fox terrier, Andy. I’ve also become a blogger, and enjoy the ease and freedom of the form: it’s a bit like making a paper airplane and then watching it take wing below your window. But shouldn’t I have something more scholarly or complex than this put away by now—late paragraphs of accomplishments, good works, some weightier op cits? I’m afraid not. The thoughts of age are short, short thoughts. I don’t read Scripture and cling to no life precepts, except perhaps to Walter Cronkite’s rules for old men, which he did not deliver over the air: Never trust a fart. Never pass up a drink. Never ignore an erection.

I count on jokes, even jokes about death.
Angell follows with a joke he's been told 4th graders will appreciate, and then he shares another joke:
A man and his wife tried and tried to have a baby, but without success. Years went by and they went on trying, but no luck. They liked each other, so the work was always a pleasure, but they grew a bit sad along the way. Finally, she got pregnant, was very careful, and gave birth to a beautiful eight-pound-two-ounce baby boy. The couple were beside themselves with happiness. At the hospital that night, she told her husband to stop by the local newspaper and arrange for a birth announcement, to tell all their friends the good news. First thing next morning, she asked if he’d done the errand.

“Yes, I did,” he said, “but I had no idea those little notices in the paper were so expensive.”

“Expensive?” she said. “How much was it?”

“It was eight hundred and thirty-seven dollars. I have the receipt.”

“Eight hundred and thirty-seven dollars!” she cried. “But that’s impossible. You must have made some mistake. Tell me exactly what happened.”

“There was a young lady behind a counter at the paper, who gave me the form to fill out,” he said. “I put in your name and my name and little Teddy’s name and weight, and when we’d be home again and, you know, ready to see friends. I handed it back to her and she counted up the words and said, ‘How many insertions?’ I said twice a week for fourteen years, and she gave me the bill. O.K.?”
As Angel reacted when he first heard the joke more than fifty years ago, I laughed and was surprised to hear the joke in the particular context it was shared.

What does Angell, at the age of 93, believing jokes to be so important mean? What does the "The Laugh that can be Laughed is not the Eternal Laugh" mean? I'm still not sure, but where these questions lead and how they relate fascinates me.

And that I noticed a connection between Yue Minjun's sculptures in Macau and Roger Angell's essay from New York City ...

... makes part of me laugh.

the laughing head of one of Yue Minjun's steel sculptures named "The Laugh that can be Laughed is not the Eternal Laugh"

Monday, February 10, 2014

Where I Was Going With "Where Are You Going?"

Dots on a pedestrian bridge window

Several recent posts shared a similar format: a questioning title followed by a single photo of a scene from Hong Kong. When I first looked at the photo of a ship with an ancient Chinese design sailing towards modern buildings, "Where are you going today?" immediately came to mind. This usually straightforward question now seemed to be asking something deeper. I also found it striking that the photo's effect on me was so different from experiencing the scene in person. Perhaps some of the feelings the boat's design evokes can be dampened by the sound of the boat's motor. Similarly, more mundane events occurring nearby may provide a grounding context. And heightened awareness that the boat is likely providing a very local tour could take one's imagination away from distant places or times.

The photo of a winding High Street in the second post brought to mind the same question but with a different spin. In this case, the potential destinations appear more restricted, though the two levels of roads suggests a significant choice was made earlier. There's also an added sense of mystery with the elevated road disappearing between the buildings. A video by Anil Maharjan reveals where the elevated road leads. Based on the video's perspective and it ending at a bus stop, I would guess it was taken from an upper-level front seat of a double decker bus--rather appropriate for what some describe as a double decker road. Even if you don't care where the road leads, the video provides a good ride:

Hill Road Bypass in Hong Kong from Anil Maharjan.

The third post asked a slightly different question--"Where do you want to go?" For me, this question was implicit in the earlier posts, and the scene of a man sitting alone on a large rock provided a setting to raise the question explicitly. I don't really know what the man was thinking about at the time, though. He may already be exactly where he wants to be.

The most recent post asked "Where do you want to play tennis today?" and included a scene from one of Hong Kong's many residential complexes. It mostly resulted from a bit of humor & self-mockery. But like the other posts, many different interpretations are possible.

The different interpretations possible for all of the posts are part of the reason I didn't say any of this before. I didn't want to lead people's experience of the photos any more than I already had. We often have our own places to go. Even now, new thoughts arise when I look at the photos. It reminds me that you don't need to move a single inch to see something different. Sometimes all it takes is a change of focus.

View of Kwai Cheong Road in Kwai Chung, Hong Kong, through a pedestrian bridge window with dots

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Most Beautiful Scene

Now that the first polls are closing in the U.S., I will share a photo of a sign with a message some might believe is relevant to the election.

sign in Changsha reading: 文明是最美的风景 Civilization is the most beautiful scene.

I saw it at Changsha's Tangerine Island Scenic Area. Signs with the word "文明" (wénmíng) are rather common in China. The word can be translated to "civilization" as in the sign above. I suspect the deeper meanings and implications of signs such as this one in China could be worthy of a dissertation or two (if someone hasn't written one already). On that note, I'd be curious to hear your own thoughts about the above message.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Youthful Directions

What matters more...

little girl on tiled ground covered with numerous arrows
 Doing what a kid does best -- Shenzhen, China

where you are or where you plan to go?

And when do we begin to ask such questions?