2013年4月28日 星期日

Return to Tung Lung Island (重回東龍島)

I used to live at a part of Hong Kong island which overlooked Tung Lung Island. For a really long time, I would gaze from the balcony of my flat at that island rising above the sea of gold glittering with diamonds in the morning sun or during holidays, at sunset and sometimes even during typhoons and I formed the notion that one day I really must go down there to see what's on it. I didn't find out how to go there until a couple of years ago. Since then, whenever I got the time, I would trek along the steep coast there just to see the waves crashing upon the shores and to listen to the sloshing sound they make as they do so, waves after waves , something which seem to have a wonderfully calming effect upon my mind.  I went there again Sunday. It was not sunny. But having no sun is not all bad: I don't have to wash a stinky towel after a couple of hours there.

This must be the new passenger liner terminal in the mist, seen from the back of the ferry to the island. I don't recall having seen this the last time I took the ferry.

The ferry pier

The sea weeds washed upon the shore to one side of the ferry pier.

Gentle waves coming in to bathe the sea weeds

On the way, I found plenty of this kind of flower, called variegated Shell Ginger (花葉艷山薑) (thanks to Pok Lok)

I have never seen their buds open. Ah, now I know what they look like when they do!

Another one such flower as it opens up

But I know that this one is called hibiscus

I also found lots and lots of these tiny star-shaped flowers on the way to the cliffs

An also these rose Myrtles (桃金娘/崗稔).(thanks to Pok Lok again) which were dotting the hillside everywhere

Outside of the stall at an intersection of the mountain paths, I found this strange looking flower. The stall owner told me that even he did not know what it name was!

This is a most peculiar flower. At the lower end of its stem, I discovered this tiny yellow flower-let, completely different from that at the top.

My first view of one of the headllands. The sea was shrouded in mist. One couldn't tell where the sky actually met the horizon of the sea.

A Spanish family on the way to the headland

The waves are coming in

Waves crashing against some reefs, sending a little shower skyward

Waves breaking over the reefs, all force spent.

More waves breaking over the reef

Sprays over the reefs

More sprays

You can feel the power of the waves as they swish and slosh around the edges of the rocks

Waves breaking over the shore

You can see the line formed by the wave head

See how high they shoot into the air

Some waves break before they reach shore

There were some fairly deep  sea caves

There were also wave pools close to the shore

One of the coves

When one goes higher up the hill, one gets a panoramic view of the way by which one came

In the distance, you can see the Clear Water Bay Club just across the narrow strait. The orange spot to the left of the photo is a young man edging his way as close as possible to the rim of the stiff cliff face but was so afraid that he had to do so crawling on his belly.

High up on the hill, I found this thistle

On the way down, I found this orange mushroom

The hillsides were also lined with these white flowers, Hundred of them on every tree: the profligacy of Nature! How many of them will survive to bear seeds?

A close up of one of them. So slender!

An arbor on the path. When shall I walk the same round the island trail again? The Indian philosophers, the Egyptians, the Stoics and Nietzsche all say that in an infinitely long time, everything which has happened is bound sooner or later to repeat itself in some form again and hence there'll be an "eternal return" of the same, like the waves of the ocean. But the recently deceased contemporary French philosopher Gilles Deleuze would say "yes, but the "eternal return" will relate, not to repetition of the same" but the eternal recurrence or repetition of "difference": difference between one thing, one phenomenon, one event and another and even difference within the same thing, phenomenon etc within itself in time, in place and in nature. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who is closer to the truth? What truth? Whose truth? Where? When? Which?

An Evening of Exhilaration (亢奮之夜)

It was a wonderful experience to be at the Cultural Centre last Saturday. We had works from three different composers all sharing in one common feature: youthful vigor and joy. The occasion was the HKP"s Donor's Concert of 2013 orchestrated to thank its various sponsors and patrons. Leading the event was Indonesian-born conductor Jahja Ling, the musical director of the San Diego Symphony for the past 9 years, who gave us first three very lively pieces from Bedriich Smetana (1824-1884), an ardent promoter of Czech music and a participant in the revolution of 1848 in Prague (when the greater part of Europe was ablaze with revolutionary fervour with uprisings in France, Germany, Poland, Italy, and the Austrian Empire etc) and a composer of revolutionary songs. But that's not what we had. Instead we had three short dances from his opera the Bartered Bride which had since become independent orchestral pieces: Polka, Furiant and Skocna(aka The Dance of Comedians). These are very energetic pieces, based upon Czech folk dance forms and melodies. The first is full of life, the second fury, the third speed but all of them were joyful. The Bartered Bride is an opera about how a Czech girl succeeded in fighting against the scheming ploys of a marriage broker and won true liberation for herself.

The second piece was the Cello Concerto in B minor by Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) played for us by the iconoclastic British cellist Steven Isserlis who appeared on the stage with a head of frizzy hair radiating like the soft spines of the dandelion. The 1865 piece, written when he was just 23 was dedicated to his friend cellist Ludwig Peer and featured almost continuous playing by the cellist. On this occasion, it's obvious that Isserlis threw himself into it and throughout the piece, we see him using his entire body to add to the impact of the music and even when he was not playing as in the long introduction, he would sway his dandellion-like head of hair from left to right in line with the rhythm and flow of the music and when he was playing, we could see that dandelion bob up and down as if swept by gusts of wind. The version of played has been so substantially revised for us by Gunther Raphael after the manuscript was rediscovered in 1925 so that we really don't know whose work it is. But whatever the truth may be, it was a riveting performance. As encore, he played for us what must have been a contemporary composition more like European jazz than traditional classical music.

Then we had Brahm's (1833-1897) Symphony No. 2 in D (Allegro non troppo, Adagio non troppo, Allegretto grazioso, Allegro con spiritu ) written by him within a couple of weeks in 1877,  in contrast with his first, which took him some 20 years.  It was as he said to his friends and critic Eduard Hanslck, a "cheerful" and "lovely" symphony and one of his friends described it as all "rippling streams, blue sky, sunshine and cool green shadows.". Like the other pieces of the evening, it was all fire, gusto, joyful energy, and for Brahms, romance, something which Jahja Ling fully brought out from the HKPO. To me, the different sections and the structure of the different melodic motifs of symphony stood out so clearly that I jokingly remarked to my friends that it was like hearing a high-energy version of Celibadache conducting.  Needless to say, the mood when I left the concert hall was all exhilaration and joy.  

2013年4月27日 星期六

Saturday Fun (週末歡樂)

Philosophers are a rare kind of animals. They fancy themselves rational and strive to ensure that every thought, every concept and every proposition is concise, precise and TRUE(WHATEVER THAT FIVE LETTER WORD MAY MEAN).  Some even delude themselves that they have succeeded: Plato, Descartes, Kant, Hegel etc. Do philosophers who think that they think clearly really "express" themselves so "clearly" that they succeed ONLY in baffling  instead of clearing the minds of the "layman"  of what the philosophers think of as "illusions" or "errors"?  What do I mean?

1. To a layman, a hooker is one who can be hired to engage in sexual intercourse. To a philosopher, a hooker is one who thinks that "if A, then B" is logically equivalent (in some sense) to "either not-A, or B"; someone who can be hired to tutor undergraduates, and costs much less.

2. To a layman, "utilitarian" means almost precisely cubical and made of concrete, probably a multi-storey car park but to a philosopher, it means one who believes that the morally right action is the one with the best consequences, so far as the distribution of happiness is concerned; a creature generally believed to be endowed with the propensity to ignore their own drowning children in order to push buttons which will cause mild sexual gratification in a warehouse full of rabbits.

3. To a lay man, "personal identity" means the subject of self-help books and those modern Broadway songs which involve the use of a spotlight but to a philosopher, it means that by virtue of which I am the same person I was yesterday.

4. A lay soldier would way, "Logic dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, Captain" but a philosopher would say that it involves upside-down "A's "and reversed "E's".

5. To a lay man, "existential" means a quantifier, an angst-ridden statistician but to a philosopher, it means  a "reversed E" (see above)

6. To a lay man, "a posteriori " means things you think of when you're sitting down but to a philosopher it means knowledge which is the result of and is based upon experience of some kind.

7. To a lay man, "a priori" means something you've thought of to head your "things to do" list but to a philosopher, it means things you think of when you're sitting down, in an armchair, usually with a snifter of brandy in one hand.

8. To a lay man, "Platonic" means the sort of love which is all very well in its way but to a philosopher, it means a philosophical position which posits abstract objects almost palpable enough to trip over.

9 To a lay man, " Quine" means an alternative spelling of the Old Scottish word "quean", a synonym for "strumpet" which one might just get away with using in a game of Scrabble; indeed, which one often has to resort to using if all of the U's are already on the board but to philosopher, it means a contemporary philosopher of formidable reputation who I've never actually met, and whose beard I am told does not exist, but who I imagine has quite an impressive snort.

10. To a lay man, "Locke" means " thatte whyche prevents rogues and arrant knaves from burgling Ye Olde English Tea Shoppe" but to a philosopher, it means  "a dead philosopher of politics, language and mind."
11. To a lay man, "t" means a letter of the alphabet but to a philosopher it means a moment in time.
 12. To a lay man, "modal" is something to do with different tonal centres and flattened leading notes, as in "Scarborough Fair" but to a philosopher it means that the phrase "possible worlds" is going to be mentioned any second now.
13. To a lay man, "possible world" means  "a phrase which I seem to recall was used as a lyric in a recent animated movie from the Walt Disney studios" but to a philosopher, it means  either the biggest spatio-temporally connected thing of which we are all part, in which case there is only one; or some sort of weird abstraction, in which case there are uncountably many; but for a different view see "Lewis".

14. To a lay man , "Lewis" means  the author of books about Narnia but to a philosopher it means  a contemporary philosopher with a formidable reputation and a truly colossal beard.

15. To a lay man, "realist" means hard-headed but to a philosopher, it means someone who believes in the existence of trees; usually hard-headed, but if you mean "realist about everything", then you're decidedly soft-headed.

16. To a lay man, "idealist" means tree-hugging but to a philosopher, it means one who doesn't actually disbelieve in trees, but who thinks that they can't be bumped into, take up no space, and are in constant danger of winking out of existence if they are not properly attended to.

17. To a lay man, "pragmatist" means as hard-headed as they come but to a philosopher, it means someone whose belief in the existence of trees depends on their belief in the disposition of scientifically-minded angels to believe in trees.

18. To a lay man, "metaphysics" means  somewhere between "crystal healing" and "tree hugging" in the Dewey decimal system  but the philosopher would say, "No! How many times do I have to tell you? Nothing whatever to do with this New Age stuff! Now move my book away from the stand containing Shirley MacLaine, or I shall be very upset."

Is it any wonder that Socrates was forced to take hemlock by his fellow citizens for corrupting the minds of the youths of Athens? Philosophy does have a strange way of getting into the way of our having a wonderful weekend !

2013年4月26日 星期五

Doubts in White (白色的疑惑)

Perhaps because to the Chinese, pure white is usually connected to death, there were not very many white flowers at the Flower Show. But that doesn't mean that they were entirely absent though the "white flowers" were very often mixed with other colors.

A white chrysanthemum with a yellow heart

A white rose tinged with red edges and a yellow heart

Some white orchid with a purple heart

Some white flowers with a black heart

A cactus flower

Some white orchids

Some white lilies with yellow heart

Some white orchids with a green heart

A close up of one of them

Some white bells with purple dots

A close up of some of them

A dotted white pansy

A string of white orchids with purplish-pink heart

A dotted white "mushroom"

A heart of white full of colors: pink, red green and yellow!