Found this in a back lane as I travelled in Borneo.
Linked to: Beck’s Blue and square challenge
Found this in a back lane as I travelled in Borneo.
Linked to: Beck’s Blue and square challenge
She never knew his actual age in an enigmatic bygone life
A somewhat suave soft-spoken man with poetry deep set in his eyes
Are you the poet? She asked when their eyes first locked
Seeing him standing out from the mundane lot
Why, his pupils like deep water reflecting hers
Why are you selfieing my eyes?
And what is that shinning in your palm?
Beg your pardon, lass, raising his right arm
Nothing in his open palm indeed
A magician that’s who you are, she exclaims
No, lass, you do not know who I am
Then tell me who you really are sir, she insists
No need, lass, you will know as you persist
Why, sir, why? She sees the gleaming hand again
I am looking for the poet they say who paints
His smiling eyes saddens shaking his head in pain
No, poets don’t paint, they dance
I am no poet but I too dance, she laughs
Show me your dance steps then and I’ll show you mine
Thus starts the story of two strangers, a poet and a lass who both love poetry and dance
O how they could dance
And soon both have palms that gleam and glow in the night sky
As beautiful words make their light formation on high
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
I have been thinking about the prevailing issue of self-contradiction and confusion of many individuals who are supposed to be thinkers and visionaries. I decided to post this random online data on a book (which was made into a movie) by Paul Theroux. I was very young when I first read the book and I was increasingly disillusioned as I stepped into the hero’s son’s shoes. What is one man’s utopia is another man’s hell. Today I find the same issue of utopia emerges and is making such loud and discorded noises in the Western world. Ironically it is the reversed that is being clambered now as masses from the third world are straining to gate crash into the Western world, which to them means paradise.
Allie Fox is a genius, a fool, a loving father, a madman, a dreamer, and a selfish… (by a reviewer)
In a breathtaking adventure story, the paranoid and brilliant inventor Allie Fox takes his family to live in the Honduran jungle, determined to build a civilization better than the one they’ve left. Fleeing from an America he sees as mired in materialism and conformity, he hopes to rediscover a purer life. But his utopian experiment takes a dark turn when his obsessions lead the family toward unimaginable danger. (Goodreads)
Once he has arrived in the jungle, Fox, a Harvard dropout, father of four, and an amateur inventor with an intense disgust for the state of his original nation, his vision are slowly corrupted and he becomes a cult leader, like the preacher he despises. The black migrant workers who follow him to Mosquitia even address Fox as “father.”
Spellbinding adventure story of a family that rejects its homeland and tries to find a happier and simpler life in the jungles of Central America. The motivation comes from the father, Allie Fox, who is a character in the classic American mold. A cantankerous inventor, he is articulate, shrewd, scornful, funny, very angry, and slightly cracked. An individualist, Fox sees modern American culture as a despicable combination of the wasteful, the immoral, and the messy. Uprooting his family from their Massachusetts farm home, he takes them off to a primitive world in order to escape what he considers the imminent breakdown of civilization.
The Mosquito Coast has the fascination of an ironic version of Robinson Crusoe or a sardonic Swiss Family Robinson, along with the deeper levels akin to those of The Lord of the Flies. As a sheer teller of tales Theroux is at the top of his form, but he also succeeds as a moralist with a subtle fable in mind.
The story is told with fresh innocence by the fourteen year old Charlie, who observes his father with a mixture of love, horror, and astonishment. He describes the voyage, the trip into the interior, his father’s invention of a giant ice-making machine (which is supposed to bring a new era to the jungle), and all of the adventures that ensue. Charlie watches as his father becomes ever more obsessive, evermore lost to reality.
The Mosquito Coast Quotes
Fox says to his son: “Look around you, Charlie. This place is a toilet.”
“I’m the last man,” Fox tells Charlie.
“One of the sicknesses of the twentieth century? I’ll tell you the worst one. People can’t stand to be alone. Can’t tolerate it! So they go to the movies, get drive-in hamburgers, put their home telephone numbers in the crapsheets and say ‘Please call me up!’ It’s sick. People hate their own company — they cry when they see themselves in mirrors. It scares them, the way their faces look. Maybe that’s a clue to the whole thing…”
“I guessed it was a migratory bird, too innocent to be wary of the spiders in the jungle grass. It worried be to think that we were a little like that bird”
“Why do things get weaker and worse? Why don’t they get better? Because we accept that they fall apart! But they don’t have to — they could last forever. Why do things get more expensive? Any fool can see that they should get cheaper as technology gets more efficient. It’s despair to accept the senility of obsolescence…”
“And father said “I never wanted this. I’m sick of everyone pretending to be old Dan Beavers in his L. L. Bean moccasins, and his Dubbelwares, and his Japanese bucksaw — all these fake frontiersmen with their chuck wagons full of Twinkies and Wonderbread and aerosol cheese spread. Get out the Duraflame log and the plastic cracker barrel, Dan, and let’s talk self-sufficiency!”
“Nature is crooked. I wanted right angles and straight lines. Ice! Oh, why do they all drip? You cut yourself opening a can of tuna fish and you die. One puncture in your foot and your life leaks out through your toe. What are they for, moose antlers? Get down on all fours and live. You’re protected on your hands and knees. It’s either that or wings.”
“The world is plain rotten. People are mean, they’re cruel, they’re fake, they always pretend to be something their not. They’re weak. They take advantage. A cruddy little man who sees God in a snake, or the devil in thunder, will take you prisoner if he gets the drop on you. Give anyone half a chance and he’ll make you a slave; he’ll tell you the most awful lies. I’ve seen them, running around bollocky, playing God. And our friends… they’ll be lonely out there. They’ll be scared. Because the world stinks.”
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
“He used the word savages with affection, as if he liked them a little for it. In his nature was a respect for wildness. He saw it as a personal challenge, something that could be put right with an idea or a machine. He felt he had the answer to most problems, if anyone cared to listen.”
The Mosquito Coast begins in contemporary suburban
America. Allie Fox is brilliantly clever with his hands and
his head is full of ideas. But he hates the modern world.
His children have no television or toys, they wear old
clothes and they don’t go to school. He hates his boss,
Mr Polski, who, Allie thinks, is only interested in making
money and doesn’t care about the future.
One day Allie decides to get out. He puts his wife and
children in his van and drives them away from their old
life. They travel by ship to Honduras. At La Ceiba, on the
Honduran coast, his bewildered family watches as he buys
a place called Jeronimo, a small town on a river in the
Background and themes
Travelling: Paul Theroux is a traveller. The nature of
travelling means that you move on. Moving on, leaving
things behind and looking for new experiences, is an
important theme in The Mosquito Coast. Allie Fox doesn’t
like what he sees in America. His solution is not to stay
and try to change it, but to walk away. When things don’t
work out at various places in Honduras, he makes his
family move on and start again.
Obsession: The Mosquito Coast is a character study of a
man who develops a paranoid obsession – of a man who
thinks the whole world is against him and only he can save
the world. He lives in a state of high tension, never resting
in his attacks on America and western civilization. He
fights against the current of modern life. He thinks he is
the last real man in the world.
Control: In Allie’s attempts to create a new world in the
jungle, he tries to control everyone and everything around
him. He makes everyone see things his way. When he
feels threatened, he reacts aggressively and violently.
Father/son relationship: The novel also examines the
relationship between father and son. Theroux elicits
warm feeling towards Allie by telling the story through
the eyes of his loyal son, Charlie Fox. We feel sorry for
Charlie as he comes to understand his father’s failings and
to lose his belief in him.
The natural world versus the modern world: Theroux
sets up an interesting paradox as the basis of the novel.
All the time that Allie is searching for a simple paradise,
he is planning how to change it and tame it. In fact it is
the children who learn better to live with nature – eating
wild plants, protecting themselves against insects with
leaf juices, building a simple shelter from materials in the
jungle. Allie, meanwhile, plants western crops in neat
rows, puts up elaborate mosquito nets and builds an
Paul Edward Theroux is an American travel writer and novelist, whose best known work is The Great Railway Bazaar (1975), a travelogue about a trip he made by train from Great Britain through Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, through South Asia, then South-East Asia, up through East Asia, as far east as Japan, and then back across Russia to his point of origin. Although perhaps best known as a travelogue writer, Theroux has also published numerous works of fiction, some of which were made into feature films. He was awarded the 1981 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel The Mosquito Coast.
If I sit by this river of waiting
and you won’t come
while this whirlpool keeps churning
my heart turning buttery white
a catbird would whine
like last summer’s sigh
on a lonesome winsome night
“The shape of your heart” you murmured
one day looking at our sky
“fluffy white with tender blue stripes”
seeping your compliment I smiled
It is your poem I miss
and words won’t come
three moons adrift
with no mail in sight
So my sorrow would pine
for our lost midsummer’s ride
“Because I only write”*
* this last line is quoted from Anne Lee Tzu Pheng’s ‘Because I only write’)
Securing a second page to restart
running this cold steel ruler to mark
a boundary, a demarcation so hard yet tender
in souls that had been torn asunder
cutting heart to heart
If you gaze enough
upward and beyond this gentle
starry night, you will see this river by which every poem must part
glistening as ever
blue as steel
… the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.- T.S.Eliot
The sound mind man’s rather personal three years’ travel in review in fifteen random realms as follows:
1. weather experienced: extreme heat (over 40 degrees C to extreme cold (thick snow on the way) but blessed with moderate weather mostly.
2. ocean: Pacific from end to end.
3. work: two medium size books completed.
4. natural hair color: turned mysteriously from dark to medium and now light brown with specks of gold(?) (LOL).
5. eye sight: complete change of lens inside. now 20/20.
6. belief: Christian.
7. computers: one Dell crashed (physically) on arrival in backwater place; now e and q and caps lock on the left side of keyboard refuse to behave. purchased one Samsung as backup for USD100. Finally I received a gift of a 2016 MacBook Pro!
7. cell phone: received a gift of a good-as-new Samsung Note III (?).
8. geography: from drought and flood-prone land-locked flat land at sea level or below (?) to mountains of an altitude of 8000ft.
9. blogs: tried new ways and perspectives in different blogs. not enough time to do better. LOL. Just maintaining from time to time hopefully for various reader-interest groups.
10. photography: second to writing. some monotony sets in. Alas.
11. relationship: nothing to declare.
12. 2017 assignment: continues to be stuck to the computer(s) and various related technological tools now for at least another year doing translation.
13. hobbies: basically i like writing fictions and non-fictions (memoirs) and thinking about life (in different realms). interest in both art and science. a generalist. Multitasks practitioner.
14. travel class: only as appropriate. economy. But not as courageous as backpackers.
15. love: faithfulness and compassion.
2017 resolution: Be the one who finds the gold. Be Resilient .
the blue snow picture was taken by the other dear lone traveler using her cell phone.
the other picture was also sent to me by her (uncredited)
a Nostalgia for vintage cars of another era.
It is hard to describe how one feels about old cars. These are from the 1950s. A 1953 CHEVROLET Model: Corvette, made popular by John Wayne, and a 1954 Kaiser-Darrin. One thing that is striking about these two is the cream colored exaggerated bonnet. These were taken from the car museum and I was merely a traveler visitor using a Samsung mobile phone camera. I like the cream color. Somehow it reminds me of another much smaller car I used to own. Alas, I do not have a photo of it. Nostalgic memories often associate with a good time. Yes, I did enjoy driving the tiny machine. In fact I liked that car so much that I owned two of the same model at two different times. I finally grew out of it and set my heart on bigger vehicles. But over the years, having changed my favor many times I now park myself in the middle-range driving a medium foreign made with supposedly best performance, best re-sale value and reportedly most economical in terms of gas consumption and maintenance. How my taste and priority have changed.
my front yard’s sunset floating
I took this photo on 20151229 again in a hurry one evening in California. The place is a must see site because of its famous reflection of beautiful and colorful houses on water. The panoramic view did not turn out well as I was using an older Samsung then. But the static single shots were good. This one is my favorite. Will I want to live in one of these mirrored watery homes? My answer is, “No, thank you.” I still love my own little park with the trees mirroring my life as they stretch upward towards the blue sky where eagles soar.
minding our business
looping comes from flying tram
motion froze in frame
I took this shot at a train station. The two “photographers” appeared suddenly while we were waiting for the train to continue to the next stop. While they were setting up their gears on ground I took this photo. I never knew what they were preparing to shoot. But it is a reflection of life. Whilst we are busy making art (or substitute any word you want) we become the art (do likewise) itself.
not knowing one day
life’s spotlight finds him so fine
Often we do not see the narrowness in which we confine ourselves. Building design is one example. today I put up two photos of buildings from two parts of the world sharing a similar theme. The architects probably considered the cost of space in the cities. Strange to say they both look quite beautiful despite the “narrowness” to a person who is used to open space. I actually like the style these two presented when taking the pictures. Looking at them now I discover I can accept them from a distance. Of course I run back to my own private open space as soon as I can. When searching through my stock of photographs I discover that I have at least a hundred times more open spaces than buildings! It just shows. Photographs are like portraits of the photographers. We bare our souls when we take a print of others. A rather frightening thought!
I decided to select this photo which I took in 2014 to depict another form of narrowness. Sometimes narrowness is not a choice. This chair is an example. It perches on a narrow balcony on a tree house in a tiny village resort in the third world. Narrow but quite beautiful really in its simplicity.
I decided to include more photos of the vintage car show. Except for the 1921 Rolls Royce and the 1949 Jaguar which are of a distinct class of their own, the rest of the vehicles seem to look similar. But you will see the difference if you look closer at the details.
needing no rainfall
adopted by ocean full
true refuge to all
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~When a flower has a name of a grass, confusion takes place. But it does not really matter. The flower is still a flower. Regardless what others call or name it. If I had not read this little glass introduction I would not have looked at the surfgrass. I would not have even known of its existence. But does it matter? The flowering plant continues to thrive underwater, providing shelter to many tiny creatures in the life-giving ecological chain designed by the Creator. Awesome how little things count in making our lives well and whole. Yet we do not know.
I did not manage to take a photo of the underwater blossom. The attached blossom picture below is taken from the internet.
Surf grass is home to juvenile lobsters, and reefs provide refuge for kelp, algae, fish and invertebrates.
Phyllospadix scouleri, or Scouler’s surfgrass, is a flowering marine plant in the family Zosteraceae. It is native to the coastline of western North America from the Alaskan panhandle to Baja California.
This slender, vivid green plant has long, flat blades. It grows in large clumps or beds exposed during low tide and submerged at high tide. It is found attached to rocks in the middle to low intertidal zones to a depth of about 40–50 ft.
3 For I will pour out water to quench your thirst
and to irrigate your parched fields.
And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants,
and my blessing on your children.
4 They will thrive like watered grass,
like willows on a riverbank.
Autumn left her heart
such fine masterpiece of art
half done half adieu
Fall is a beautiful mellow and tender season like my favorite watercolor art. This year’s fall tried to linger but could not bear the early arrival of the cold. It was ironical that I liked the leaves to turn into richer colors while at the same time I hoped that they would not fall. I did not expect the loss of photography opportunity so soon. A few gems did appear out of the hasty work.
~~~~~~~~~~~~Wise sayings from a wise king about the late autumn of a man’s life:
Remember Him—before the silver cord is severed,
and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
(traveler’s view through a car window)
missing a rabbit
he saw this one following
she said it’s a pig
“Memory can make a thing seem to have been much more than it was.” ― Marilynne Robinson,
“I wish I could leave you certain of the images in my mind, because they are so beautiful that I hate to think they will be extinguished when I am. Well, but again, this life has its own mortal loveliness. And memory is not strictly mortal in its nature, either. It is a strange thing, after all, to be able to return to a moment, when it can hardly be said to have any reality at all, even in its passing. A moment is such a slight thing. I mean, that its abiding is a most gracious reprieve.” ― Marilynne Robinson,
Traveler turns around
Pursuing the still small voice
Look, an eagle soars.
Wherefore he comes round
Stirring waves of rushing sound
Cloud to cloud ahoy.
Swift as light he glides
Azure coast to coast he dives
Leaving jet behind.
Reading some wise words from several Nobel Literature Laureates, I list these below to remind myself during my momentary attempts at haiku, often after taking an interesting picture.
Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. (T. S. Eliot)
Literature is a state of culture, poetry is a state of grace. (Juan Ramon)
I don’t think poetry comes from an education…I think that it comes from God. (Joseph Brodsky)
The experience of a poem is the experience both of a moment and of a lifetime. (T. S. Eliot)
I do not go in search of poetry. I wait for poetry to visit me. (Eugenio Montale)
a whole new fresh world revealed
small things do matter
‘First’ is a word commonly associated with performance superiority. Where an individual considers a thing of positive value to him, he wants to be first, to gain an advantageous position, and it means acting before all others. In a competitive environment he wants to be the winning one when compared to others in the same arena. The competition may be real or imagined on the part of the person who is required to perform, often with a stated corporate goal (with his own personal agenda) within stated corporate parameters. In a modern competitive economy based on scarce and limited resources, there is no way anyone who wants a reasonable and sustainable living without being measured by parameters set for performance in a corporate society.
In summary, often we (earth dwellers) want to be first only when there is a competition for scarce resources. There is a finite limit no matter how advanced we may currently are in ‘creative’ technology and science. The resources of the earth are finite. Parameters set by human and enforced by those with authority and power can restrain mankind from harmful ‘excessive consumption’ within the known and predicted limits of time and space and power. Increasingly the ‘war’ to control resources will intensify in quantity and frequency.
Enough for the discussion of physical natural ‘doom’. How can Christians be hopeful for exemption from this inevitable natural constraint for all earth-bound mankind? For the spiritual (supernatural) Christian, the word ‘first’ could mean quite opposite in the spiritual dictionary. The focus makes a paradigm shift to a set of limitless parameters. Parameters not bound by scarcity of resources. Let us read some positive meanings of ‘first’:
First thing first: Whom we believe (limitless and preeminent -above all)
Here is traveler’s rest
right spot right foot at its best
shady cozy nest
Today we sail and navigate through the word ‘poetry’ (a collection of poems).
Here are some definitions by various conventional dictionaries on the word ‘poem’: At one end of the spectrum a ‘poem’ is defined as a piece of writing in which the words are chosen for their sound and the images they suggest, not just for their obvious meanings. The words are arranged in separate lines, usually with a repeated rhythm, and often the lines rhyme at the end. In summary it can bear the following characteristics:
no words can utter
how much the traveler miss home
on such a fine eve
The evening is just too beautiful and makes one think of home sweet home.
not in a desert
he saw camels marching by
at a casual glance
More secrets unfold as one looks higher and further. Sometimes we need to linger for awhile and not be in a hurry to go away. Ironically, the speed of communication activities enhanced by modern digital gadgets has slowed down man’s organic and dynamic perceptive power.
“We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
not knowing who will spend it.” (King David, Psalm 39:6)
Sometimes we take the sky for granted. We do not look up unless it looks like it’s going to rain. When it rains we pay more attention to the wetness of the water-soaked ground or the forgotten laundry in the backyard. We do not look at the sky or the rain. We look at things affected by the wetness. We also think about the inconvenience like the expected traffic jam on our way home after work or after school when all cars slow down due to the slippery roads or due to other more trivial reasons.
We look at our watches. We think about the possible lateness in appointment, the potential missed opportunity of pleasing someone dear or important to us, the probable mishap that might occur due to the delay, pros and cons of profits and losses in terms of resources spent or not-spent due to the delay in the traffic jam etc.
We think of loved ones waiting with disappointments and perhaps anxieties.
We think of the cold dishes we would have to force ourselves to eat when we eventually reach home. We think of the shower we badly need. We think of the bed…
It could be unpleasant to be caught in a traffic jam in heavy rain.
On the other hand there are a few who feel comforted by the rain. They look at the weeping sky. They see things that others do not see. They see an opening of the storehouses of water. Unseen hands unlocking and pouring. Unseen faces smeared with tears. Unseen eyes swollen with crying…with them as they cry in the cars or at the windows somewhere away from home or having none to return to.
There are also a few who like being in the rain. To them, walking in the rain is like taking a nice, cool, long shower. They enjoy the touch of the water droplets on their faces. They love the music of the wind and rain orchestra. They stroll leisurely and unhurriedly. They watch the others stuck in the cars, anxious and bored faces watching them in return. Sometimes they sing and dance along with the raindrops.
The sky is neutral. We put labels on it whenever it suits us. The sky weeps. The sky smiles. The sky is friendly. The sky is hostile. The sky is foreboding. The sky is welcoming…labels.
Today when you happen to be near the sky look up and see what you want to see.