Archive for Lamma Island

Workout 8 Feb 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 8, 2013 by spinoza1111

Sorry, no workout on 7 Feb 2013. Had high levels of morning pain chased away with morphine syrup and my sister’s et al.’s company.

This afternoon did 20 minutes physio on the antique rowing machine. Then had (was given) a nice bath with green tea soap and oil to follow like a civilized man. Then a dear friend’s helper paid my Internet bills and came to me for reimbursement, bringing dim sum, and a Marks and Spencer feedbag. The dim sum caused me to skip dinner completely and I want to give some of the box juices, crackers etc. to further visitors.

Be careful what you ask for. I am afraid to say I need thus and so on Facebook because I don’t want others to go through expense and botheration on my account. That theater participation over the last year or so (Glengarry Glen Ross, Forget Herostratus) has certainly “paid off” although one doesn’t tread the boards to win friends and influence others.

I mean, (tee hee), I am scared that if I plug the wonderful Lamma Grill, with its chicken sandwich like a message from the chicken herself saying please eat me, its classic American hamburger, and its coils of sausage, they’ll send me a free burger and I certainly don’t want that. No no no…

Oops. Oh well. I just did plug it. But I’m happy to spend money at this joint at their dishes although I might focus on healthier treats such as Mozarella wings, fish and chips. “It’s all good”, as they say, and located close to home so when I return I can struggle over: one does have to be careful on the hill and steps.

My butt hurts but here as in my own chair on Lamma I can sit up straight in the common room to ease this pain which has been my close confidante, like a rather unpleasant partner in an enclosed and overheated, old-fashioned, European, train compartment. Boy oh boy, that was a hackneyed simile if ever was one: and yeah, right, Max von Sydow plays the aging Lutheran doctor and the traveling companion is Death. Out the window, on the platform, sheltered from the rain, a choir sings Christ Lag and to conceal his emotions Max turns his face towards the window in the night. In the window we sees Death’s sardonic grin for Death does not know that even to the atheist, death, unlike pain and sickness which can seem never ending, dies when it triumphs.

The Incomprehensible Maestro

…conducted an Easter Festival with Christ Lag and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. We then took Max and Moritz the following week to hear their first Parzival but cleverly fed them chocs before the performance to still any complaints of boredom; filled with chocsthey both were sound asleep by the time the witch crash-lands into the Grail-laager. Wagner’s opera, like a double chocolate cake but not in Adorno’s “culinary” sense in the slightest (where the first duty of music is to “satisfy” the audience’s “taste”, where the very words are taken from the praxis of the kitchen) is rich food indeed and takes a lifetime, as does any great work of music.

Indeed, as the Incomprehensible Maestro complained to me over cigars, one should try despite the impossibility of completely replacing the culinary register (one that may relate to savage scenes of human sacrifice and even cannibalism accompanying the first dramatic or musical performances) to urge aesthetic language of barbarism. For example, a “piece” of music is like a piece of meat (carved out of the soloist and thrown to the ravening audience, as Glenn Gould might say) whereas a work of music puts the performer’s or composers labor in the center where it belongs.

We were privileged to smoke two of the finest Havanas, which caused Max undt Moritz to flee the room, green with nausea, but they failed to make it, and the IM fondly comforted them after cleaning up their voluminous and intermingled vomitus.


Workout Log 18 Aug 2012

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 18, 2012 by spinoza1111

Lamma Forest at Dawn 14 August 2012

Black and White Prospect of Lamma Island from Queen Mary Hospital, July 2012

20 minute free dance with weights to Journey to the Line and without weights to Glenn Gould playing Sweeinck. Developed a new move with weights that’s more aerobic including a stress-free plie and a rapid circular motion with the weight.

The Banyan Believes in God

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on July 2, 2012 by spinoza1111

Third day of exceptionally fine weather ending in a walk under a shimmering moon. Best vegetarian curry with Naan I’ve ever had at this joint: I don’t ordinarily plug things on this Serious blog but I shall make an exception here. On Lamma, there are a number of excellent restaurants such as Bookworm and the Szechuan joint but this joint is something very special. It’s next to the public toilet in a guesthouse where there used to be a bakery.

…and, of course, hanging out with friends. An end to my long isolation. Mom and Dad might have thought they were riff raff so shy and indeed innocent Mom and Dad were. But I am not innocent and I am riff or raff or both.

I think I have surgery tomorrow, I have an appointment at which the results of the PET scan will probably be known. I am prepared emotionally. Indeed, getting a bit too used to the drill: take lots to read, pen and notebook, don’t bother with laptop, it’s too heavy and many wards are shielded from wireless signals especially scanner wards.

But…an evening with friends has eliminated any pain from sciatica and some of the numbness. I have to confirm this in the next couple of days by halving the pain meds and then eliminating them. Basically, I have either pain or a little nausea insofar as I maintain my patterns of isolation.

I still believe that I need about a fifty-fifty balance of hospitals and science on the one hand, and holism on the other. But in hospitals I just endure whereas tonight was positively enjoyable in a way that you’d think would be illegal these days. As I said in 2009 in “A Note on the Mercy of the Night” I’m supposed as a divorced old guy to be a miserable son of a bitch. But I said “f*k that shit” then and I say it now.

Oooohhh I may never run again. So what? One door closes another opens.

I reason, Earth is short —
And Anguish — absolute —
And many hurt,
But, what of that?

I reason, we could die —
The best Vitality
Cannot excel Decay,
But, what of that?

I reason, that in Heaven —
Somehow, it will be even —
Some new Equation, given —
But, what of that?

Emily Dickinson

The poet’s asking a radical question. She saying that as far as we’re concerned, in our box of space and time, Raum undt Zeit, we are the decider like George Bush said he was. Even if we have it all spelled out for us we have to know how to read it. Moses had to get another copy of the Commandments because in his anger at the Golden Calf he smashed the first one. That must have been rather embarrassing for Moses: “uh, God, can you give me another copy?”. But the myth expresses the truth of writing. It’s not the same as getting it engraved on our hearts so that it makes a difference.

We have to answer Emily’s question, “what of that?”. Conventionally religious people expect us to answer in a certain way just like sports fans expect us to wear team regalia. But Dietrich Boehnhoffer and Karl Jaspers knew that our answer might really anger people, as do the characters in the 2009 Klaus Guth dramatized Messiah.

That an experience such as being in the towers of Sep 11 or merely getting a raw Diagnosis that we do not want to get might be transformative in a way that will make other people reject us. That we might be not very nice to be around. Of course, I do want to be nice to be around, and the last thing I’d want to do is God-wallop anyone. For one thing, my experience has had nothing to do with “religion” as ordinarily understood. Quite the opposite.

Emily was anti-religious even more so than Emerson:

“Faith” is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see—
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency

…as are PET scans. I can’t believe I was unwilling to get one. But I did and now the docs have far more information than they would have even as recently as 1990.

I shall also have to pay for the recommended hormone therapy and will do so cheerfully since it ain’t radiation or chemo. Gee, the worst side effect may be a set of tits and not needing to shave? Bring it on…

I have confidently asserted in classes that “all natural trees are mathematical trees” because I believed that no branch of any tree would grow back into the branch from which it sprouted, or a sub-branch of the branch from which it sprouted.

This is false. For today I discovered that the Banyan tree’s root system is what mathematicians call “a general graph”, one with “arcs” that lead to “nodes” that lead back into the originating node and arc!

Edward G. Nilges, “To the Unknown Helper, Installation 1 July 2012”. Drawing, pencil, pen, computer-added colours, aged with sun and rain at Lamma Island chicken wire advertisement wall. Copyright 2012 by Edward G. Nilges. Moral rights asserted.

Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment: in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. The trumpet shall sound, and we shall all be changed, be changed incorruptible. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

Change Record

23 August 2013 Corrected the link to the Guth Messiah music-drama, replacing the broken link

Walking lessons

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on June 5, 2012 by spinoza1111

Stripes, a Moron Movie of 1981:

Sgt Hulka: HUP two three four…
Harold Ramis: Hey! We’re walking!

First of all I mostly feel grateful for thirty years of running all over the world if my running is at an end; if the sciatica is linked to my cancer it may be (it is not known to be at this time). It is like Chief Dan George, in that old film Little Big Man: thank you great spirit (Welt Geist in “St Louis Hegelianism” a real if forgotten American school of philosophy): here is part of a prayer of thanksgiving from the Haudosaunee:

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

In the scene of Old Lodge Skins (played by Dan George) in Little Big Man, he thanks the four winds, the sky and the ground. He then proceeds to die but cannot. So he and Little Big Man go down the mountain (in a possible reference to Abraham and Isaac, who went down a mountain?) and Old Lodge Skins says, do you want to eat.

Moral: don’t count your chickens.

Now, my left leg is gimpy. Apart from the pain, which characteristic of sciatica starts in the lumbar, chomps on the piniformis in your ass, then smacks the great muscle that fronts the great Femur, and, for shits and giggles, hits your hip joint, with in the worst cases causes a bit of referred pain in the other hip joint (which may just want to join in the fun, although I do not know how the pain goes through equine cauda), the constant, unlike the pain which comes and goes, is the surface numbness connected with a deeper difficulty in keeping the left foot in tune with the right.

Well, I know that running will cause agony. My last run was fine during the run but caused pain later. Comments from runners are welcome on this issue, since as gradually over the years at Power Station Beach, as I turned from the initial start into the first stretch, I could feel the left leg’s slight unwillingness to get on parade, to get with the program. I also stumbled on it during my dance performance last December.

But the left leg was always able to get on parade and then the overall “high” made me forget its weakness.

I have since 26 March (my son’s birthday) stopped all running to replace running with the equivalent time spent dancing with weights, working out with “Badass” Billy Blank in his Ripped Extreme Tae-Bo workout and swimming or dancing in the water. This and a radically improved diet gives me “negative” love handles where the flesh retreats from the hip slightly and visible abs, both of which I am very vain. “Positive” love handles are a male bane, simply because we have narrower hips.

Yes, all is vanity. But Creation should be celebrated and not scorned. To TS Eliot, and “that which is only living can only die”, I say this is wrong, and “love that well which thou may leave ere long.”

Walking with weights is reasonably aerobic, I need to do it more.

Steps are great because your gait is far more manageable yet they are almost as aerobic as running. I was most delighted to climb Queen Mary’s stairs during my stay last week. There is a set of steps that rises above Sok Kyu Wan on Lamma Island and leads to the rather remote beach of Tung O Wan, where there are black flowers and white butterflies in June.

I need to watch food intake. The pain causes depression, and my own vegetarian cooking in this Dawn of Man needs to be doused in hot sauce to be at all palatable since it’s raw vegetables in a commercial soup base. So I eat light. But last night, at a great vegetarian restaurant in Wanchai I couldn’t stop eating different delicious bits and forgetting to use serving chopsticks. But that’s probably OK because one good thing about cancer is that it isn’t contagious, and your friends do not shun you.

At this point my lifetime thinness is not implicated in the health problem. Indeed, it has probably delayed onset of cancer, and has helped me to avoid common illnesses.

The Dawn of Man, or The Uses of Adversity

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 3, 2012 by spinoza1111

Note: do not treat any of this as the sagacity of a guru, please. I am no authority in particular on eating right to defeat cancer. These notes, rather, are those of one who for years has eaten in restaurants a Western diet and at home just some weird ass bachelor shit such as microwaved “grilled” cheese but who is open to advice.

Indeed, this is like that old diorama in the Field Museum of Natural History. The Dawn of Man. Some hairy apeman crouching in a cave discovering fire.

Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head:

Shakespeare As You Like It

Canned soup as a base, uncooked raw veggies tossed in, the lot doused with chili garlic sauce, whole wheat bread from Just Green, and The Midsummer Night’s Dream on DVD. Must defeat cancer.

I have been compulsively watching ER from the 1990s to “deprogram” my narration of my medical problem as something happening in the 1940s, where they could do nothing for Bette Davis in Dark Victory.

I’ve never seen ER! I note the professionalism and Enlightened science of the Cloonster and Dr. Benton with hope. Romano is a prick! And Kerry reminded me of more than one pain in the ass manager in Chicago, yet they develop her character as she turns out to be as much a victim of the system of no-funding as the rest of the team.

Good stuff: but the (very powerful) scene in Season Five with the kid burned to death upset me. We cannot hide from reality but need our little Anodynes.

So first I tried watching Men’s Moron Movies to relax in the evening: The Hangover and Idiocracy and Dodgeball. I also like hairy chested movies about men on boats sailing about the world and locking up the ladies’ room: Bounty with Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson, and Taipan about the early days in Hong Kong.

But now I’ve switched to watching every Shakespeare play in my collection of BBC and others, starting with Dame Helen Mirren in The Midsummer Night’s Dream. I eat, take a pain pill, and chill.

The manager of a very good health food store (Bookworm on Lamma Island: try it if you are ever in Hong Kong) suggests using the rice cooker to steam vegetables including the parts Westerners throw away.

I am cool with everything as long as I can douse the lot in hot sauce. Yeah, I know I should probably use fresh hot peppers; the fundamental idea here is that if it is a named commodity in a package, even in a health food store, it may kill you. Capitalism is collapsing since for repeat business it all tends to need to addict you to its secret sauces, and they can cause cancer, whereas we have thousands of years of experience with fresh raw food! The package of cigarettes, so round, so firm, so fully packed is but a sort of pole or end point.

Coca-Cola was originally peddled as a health elixir and it was for the very good reason that in part due to scarcity of water known to be potable, many Americans were flat on their ass drunk by ten AM (cf Rorabaugh THE ALCOHOLIC REPUBLIC). Jean Nicot thought that tobacco leaves were a miracle cure and they were in a relative sense, in the sense that in Derrida’s Plato, the pharmakon is both poison and cure.

But only pure Nature is a miracle cure, the rest is pharmakon. I am blessed to live a short way from the beach. On my walk to the beach, an aged Chinese farmer lays out neat rows of celery and kale which reminds me of how Mom taught us how to plant things. The water isn’t the cleanest in the world, but it’s the Ocean and in it I can run, I can still run through the awful grace of God, for there is no impact.

This is pretty scary in the sense of the Kantian sublime, for Power Station Beach puts me in mind of the Time Traveler in HG Wells’ novel, as he goes forward into the far future to arrive at a beach, with things returning to the ocean.

But it is also the Dawn of Man, scratching my ass on the beach.

Note: if you’re in shorts and you sit on a rock in a subtropical monsoon forest, a bug will bite you in the balls sooner or later. 99% of them are harmless. The remaining 1%? The Giant Hairy Lamma Centipede. If it bites you you must go to the clinic. Fast.

Peter’s Crazy Aunt (Completed): This and Better May Do, This and Worse Will Never Do

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2012 by spinoza1111

Listen to Clifton Chenier, the King of the Bayou!
Listen to Glenn Gould who will not let thee go save thou bless him!

Edward G. Nilges, “Peter’s Crazy Aunt Dances on the Strand to the Music of Bach, and the Sweet Zy-Deco Sounds of Clifton Chenier, the King of the Bayou”, acrylic on canvas, 20 * 60 cm, January 29 2012 AMDG

Note: if the painting is truncated, click above on “Spinoza’s Blog” to see the post with other posts. I haven’t mastered how WordPress treats pix, nor how Apple handles them on a Powerbook.

I have decided to declare victory: this painting is done, and, as the Scots say, “this and better may do, this and worse will ne’er do”. The figure is colorful and this rather large (60 * 80 cm) canvas lights up the room with the way she leaps as an hart.

The numerous deficiencies cannot obscure the life in this thing nor its evocation of the bell-like tones of Poussin. Particularly noble is the twisting motion of the abdomen.

I am not bullshitting here. I like this painting and would pay big money for it if I were a collector. This artist, dammit, has thought about the play of light even if he manages to preserve every single mistake he makes, and he makes a lot, by means of translucent paint and cartoon transfer.

Besides, making art makes me feel good. Pity I didn’t put my foot down and do what I had to do years ago but there’s no point in crying over the past. Peter’s Crazy Aunt certainly doesn’t.

Zey vill laff at me at zee Zalon undt der Royal Academy but I shall show zem!

My next project is “Mama Kanumba del Cucamonga takes the Children to Power Station Beach” because I want to see the profile I drew realized in paint. I need to do more plein aire work on Lamma to get a better feel for our wonderful if abused natural environment, which is something I could only imagine when I was a kid in the Midwest, sketching maps of places, anywhere but around Lake Michigan, carved, unlike Lake Michigan, into all sorts of hidden coves and mysterious mountains.

Basically, the geologic youth of the Great Lakes isn’t their fault. They are big melting ice cubes from the recent past, whereas Lamma Island is the forbidden and mysterious peak of a great Mountain that used to oversee a Plain.

I like Peter’s Crazy Aunt’s expression, it isn’t crabby like the expression on my nude which I won’t post online…it is similar to PCA but naked, same overall colors, crabby expression. That’s because I was working full time when I painted on Dance of Victory.

I went dancing last night to an annual festival put on by a fellow Chicagoan. It was hard at first to foot it featly here and there like Ariel in the Tempest because I was on a wooden plank which moved slightly, it was cool (about 17 centigrade) and my feet were seizing up.

But o the power of music to move Helen, as William Kennedy wrote of Helen, in Ironweed, when she gets enough money for a hotel room and can play the Ninth symphony.

There was quite a large crowd of people and a bunch of Lamma kids who also danced. After the dance, three strangers congratulated my “performance” which surprised me because it wasn’t intended to be such, but, I was close to the band (Black Mariah). It gave them felicity which is the whole purpose of art. That was cool.

As I left I was cold and stiff. I started to walk down the steps like an old man but a far older man needed assistance. This always happens to me. On the MTR, a little girl gave me her seat last year but as soon as I, a weary Old Lo-Shih Teacher, took it, the Three Immortals, three really old Chinese guys, got on the train.

THAT is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

WB Yeats

Mama Kanumba 2011: Chiaroscuro Study

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 12, 2011 by spinoza1111

Edward G. Nilges, “Mama Kanumba 2011, Chiaroscuro Study”. Pencil, pen and Gimp, A4 size.


…it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,

The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light…

Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill