Past Mo Tat Wan, the black butterflies and fragrant white flowers…

Past Mo Tat Wan, the black butterflies and fragrant white flowers, it gets SERIOUSLY beautiful on Lamma Island. Hot, brilliant (33 centigrade) day, silence, Tung O Wan (bay), with no shops, just a few indigenous houses, a curve of beach and a view of the open South China Sea. Then, humping back over the ridge line past Mt Stenhouse (山地塘 Shan Tei Tong).

Shan Tei Tong is the highest mountain on Lamma Island. I climbed it a few years ago with a British mate and at the top we blundered about a bit in the heavy brush.

Reflecting that Shakespeare’s Henry V called the revolt of Cambridge, Scroop and Grey “another fall of man”. That’s what the BP spill seems like to me.

I plan to run next to Tung O, not walk, have made it running only to Mo Tat Wan. Then explore the two branching southern Peninsulas.

Frequent hydration with water and a Japanese electrolyte drink with the weird name of Pocari Sweat.

“The student asked, when speech and silence are both inadmissible, how can one pass without error?– the master replied: I always remember Kiangsu in March– The cry of the partridge, The mass of fragrant flowers.”

from Alan Watts- The Way of Zen

“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don’t need someone to share it with or tell it to. When that happens– that letting go– you let go because you can. The world will always be there– while you sleep it will be there– when you wake it will be there as well. So you can sleep and there is a reason to wake.”

“A dead hydrangea is as intricate and lovely as one in bloom. Bleak sky as seductive as sunshine, minature orange trees without blossom or fruit are not defective, they are that. So the windows of the greenhouse can be opened and the weather let in. The latch on the door can be left unhooked, the muslin removed, for the soldier ants are beautiful too and whatever they do will be part of it.”

Toni Morrison- Tar Baby

Picture credits

Drawing by Ed Nilges 30 June 2010: detail of a study for For the Unknown Helper
Photo (changed to monochrome) from
Quote is from Alan Watts, “The Way of Zen”


One Response to “Past Mo Tat Wan, the black butterflies and fragrant white flowers…”

  1. spinoza1111 Says:

    A note on my use of black and white.

    Adorno’s insight into Mahler was that form, while supremely important, cannot do justice to an actual experience. People are sometimes put off when, in Mahler, a “triumphant” passage is followed by sarcasm or “weakness”.

    But that’s true to life!

    We try to fit ourselves into Concepts when we narrate to ourselves the story of our lives, like surfers struggling into those wet suits which make you look Hot by simultaneously showing the truth (you have a six pack) and hiding it (after a workout, even fit people look a bit fatter since their body is relaxed).

    But ultimately it is barbaric to confuse the Concept with the reality, like Henry VIII falling in love with a miniature only to find out (in the words of the History Boys) that she had a face in reality like a camel’s turd…or telling people that they can’t where Speedos or cutoffs because Calvin Swine’s (retouched, Photoshopped) models are some damned sort of Post modern gods or goddesses.

    Therefore, Leonard Bernstein, I believe, deliberately directed the brass in his version of Mahler’s Symphony #3 to play scordatura, out of tune.

    The serious consequence of the shift from Plato to Aristotle is that there are concepts, but they are “thrown” into reality and are unseparable from reality. People go through a lot of pain when they don’t realize this: the “perfect” vacation is “ruined”.

    My son amusingly blogged about witnessing an Evanston couple bickering about how to best care for a beautiful kid, without perhaps realizing that the Bickersons were my former wife and I when he was a little kid. My wife and I were discovering that not only was life not like TV, it was also not like the movies, nor even a superficial reading of Shakespeare. There was no best way, but only the search for it.

    A cheesy photo on a travel site is not going to do justice to Tung O Wan, and how it looked today. How it “looked” was I was covered in sweat and wondering whether I’d been wise not to buy sunblock, and in sudden awe to find “so much water so close to home”.

    Furthermore, to get to Tung O Wan, I had to pay dues: two previous hikes last weekend in the rain, with a grey sea. The first got to the black butterflies just past Mo Tat Wan, the second to the mass of fragrant flowers and a rest room.

    When I was a kid, Important men and ideas were black and white: Edward R. Murrow and Bertrand Russell. They were also smokers, but das ist ein Anders.

    We were nonetheless fascinated by early analog black and white TV, since it brought a world of romance and mystery into the fairly dreary US midwest.

    The 1964 film I Am Cuba shows palm trees as almost white in the Caribbean sun, and that is something I noticed while sailing off Key West: the colors are so brilliant that you remember them, seconds later, in black and white.

    The art press Phaidon published Serious monographs with excellent black and white reproductions, since in the 1960s, color printing was too expensive for their price point. Skira would “tip in” color reproductions printed by a specialist firm. Phaidon made the point that even a mere painting is NOT the image it gives to the retina. It is a thing and an experience: an ancient stretched canvas and several layers of paint in many instances, the fact that you’re feet are hurting and the Louvre is closing, the coffee afterward.

    In my drawing, assembled from a pencil study for The Unknown Helper (a planned painting) the intensity of the Angel’s gaze needs to stand up to the beach. So, when in Microsoft Picture Viewer I scrolled to zero saturation, it blew me away. I hope you, the viewer, likes it too.

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