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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Laoshan, at the Mountain

 

Laoshan, or Mount Lao as shan means mountain in Chinese, is a mountain located around 30 km from Qingdao on the shore of Yellow Sea , China.  It is the highest coastal mountain in China and the second highest mountain in Shandong, with the highest peak (Jufeng) reaching 1,132 metres. High in the east with cliffs near the sea, and gentle in the west with rolling hills. From the heights of the mountain we can view the blue sea giving this mountain the title of "the most famous mountain on the sea". 

Laoshan is surrounded by sea on three sides and carries rivers on its flat back. Its special geomorphic environment with mountains meeting the sea has created marvelous view with the sky, clouds, mist and glowing sunlight often forming a variety of images. Laoshan has a typical granite glacial landform. The granite peaks and hills in Laoshan are rich in pictorial stones with all kinds of strange postures under the effect of water erosion and weathering. 

The mountain is also inhabited with various tall ancient trees, which impressed Deng Xiaoping and said when he visited Laoshan: "This place is very good. With such a few large ancient trees alone, it can attract a lot of people. So it has conditions to arrange for opening up and the development of tourism”.  

The place is now named Laoshan Scenic Area, a national forest park with the largest and most complete protection of natural forest ecosystems of larches and pine trees in China's cool zone. 

There are 230 ancient trees of 39 species. The 2,100-year-old Han Dynasty Cypress (Cloud-reaching Han cypress) in Taiqing Palace with three trees growing in symbiosis, is regarded as a sacred tree by the locals. The 1,000-year-old Tang Dynasty Elm  is a peculiarly shaped tree that is one of the most ancient elm trees in northern China. It is also known as the "Dragon Head Elm" because its trunk is curved like a dragon's head. 

We can view this beautiful scenery of Laoshan by riding a cable car to the mountain peak, and we can view the granite rock mountain with pine trees and various kind of trees.

 

THE END

 Source:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Lao

http://www.laoshan.gov.cn/n15555905/n15558115/n15558396/201204155729315806.html

 

 



Saturday, May 28, 2022

Laoshan, at Taiqing Gong Temple


After seeing the Laoshan coast we head to the Taiqing Gong temple which is not far from the beach on the southern slope of this mountain. Between the temple and the beach there is a large square, the name of which is Taiqing Square of course, which is also a stop for buses to go up and down the mountain. At the sides of the Square there are food stalls and there are also ice cream sellers, there we tried for the first time an Ice Cream wafer from Russia, it tastes so good, with a thick milk taste. 

Taiqing Gong is the oldest and largest Taoist temple in Laoshan Mountain, it is simple, ancient and solemn. According to legend, its founder, Zhang Lianfu, wandered to Laoshan Mountain in 140 BC, and found a serene spot under Laojun Peak.  He chose to build a secluded temple at this location, and gave the disciples to worship, laying the foundation of Taoism in Laoshan. Due to its long affiliation with Taoism it is often regarded as one of the “cradles of Taoism”. 

Qing Dynasty writer Pu Songling visited Laoshan Mountain in 1672, and lived in the Taiqing Gong temple, but he couldn't afford to live in the wing because of poverty. He could only lay the floor at night. When writing, he used a wooden board as a desk. The candlelight on the table at night was the best lighting. Pu Songling only visited the two famous mountains of Taishan and Laoshan in his life, but two visits to Laoshan have left a story of the ages.  One of his classical stories is ‘The Taoist Priest of Laoshan’ reflects the mysteries and magical practice adapted by the Taoist priests there.  A wall which is said to be the prototype of the wall the Taoist passes through (in magical way) in Pu Songling's novel is still visible in Taiqing Palace. 

Taoism (also known as Daoism) is a Chinese philosophy attributed to Lao Tzu (c. 500 BCE), it emphasizes doing what is natural and "going with the flow" a cosmic force which flows through all things and binds and releases them. This flow of harmony is called Tao, or “the way.” In the 81 poetic verses that make up the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu outlined the Tao for individual lives as well as leaders and ways of governance. The philosophy grew from an observance of the natural world, and the religion developed out of a belief in cosmic balance maintained and regulated by the Tao. The original belief may or may not have included practices such as ancestor and spirit worship but both of these principles are observed by many Taoists today and have been for centuries. 

Following 108 stair steps, under the Laojun Peak, stands a huge statue of Lao Tzu. Its height is 36 meters and width 28 meters at the base. The statue was built according to the painting of Lao Tzu by the famous painter Wu Daozi in the Tang Dynasty period. Lao Tzu is pointing to the sky with his left hand and the earth with his right hand, which means "from heaven to earth, there’s only the Tao".

 

THE END

  

Sources:

http://www.chinatoday.com.cn/ctenglish/2018/tourism/201802/t20180207_800116961.html

https://www.worldhistory.org/Taoism/


Monday, May 2, 2022

Laoshan Coastal Mountain

 

I did not expect that in this area of Qingdao, a busy city with many shipyards and factories, there is a tall mountain near the seaside. A green area with forests towering over the shores of the rippling blue sea. This place is a shelter for weary city people, looking for a calm and peaceful atmosphere. 

The mountain is Laoshan, or Mount Lao (since "shan" means mountain), linked with the sea, with the coastal line winding around the mountain with various rocks, islets and bays staggered.  Mountain and Water are the two key features in Fengshui. From its perspective Mountain is static and stable thus associated with power and support, while Water represents flow, dynamic, thus associated with progress. The presence and balance of Mountain and Water make for good feng shui, and are ideal features for a country. 

Overlooking the sea, the mountain is characterized by imposing canyons, undulating peaks and shrouding mists. With a peak of over 1000 meters Laoshan Mountain is the highest mountain along China’s coastline. With a view not only on the sea to the east and on the land to the west, but also on beautiful Jiaozhou Bay to the southwest it explains the honorable name “No. 1 Coastal Mountain” given to Mount Laoshan. 

Mount Laoshan consists of numerous mountains, including Mount Fu, Mount Zao'er, Mount Shuangfeng, Mount Dading, and Mount Taizi, and it is home to 13 bays and coves, dotted with 18 islets.

It is also known for its ancient trees, its crystal-clear springs, odd=shaped boulders and rock outcroppings. Among the smooth boulders and stone outcropping farther up the mountain grow densely packed pine trees, and in the few green clearings where trees do not grow, sprout seas of flowers that blossom in a myriad of colors each spring and early summer.

 

THE END

 

Source:

http://www.china.org.cn/english/travel/87510.htm

 







Monday, April 4, 2022

An Interview with Samuel

 

Photo: Wikimedia

“What can I talk with Samuel, this absurdist writer?” that was my reaction to stenote, the publisher, when he first asked me to interview Samuel. “He wrote this book titled ‘Texts for Nothing’, what can one expect to discuss about nothing? He even wrote this in the book ‘He thinks words fail him, he thinks because words fail him he's on his way to my speechlessness, to being speechless with my speechlessness, he would like it to be my fault that words fail him, of course words fail him’. What can we talk with such words, they are so obscure. I heard from Charles Juliet that he is quite capable of meeting somebody and sitting for two hours without uttering a word.”

My publisher said: ”No, not really, he is not such a reclusive person, he likes to drink quite heavily, hopping with friends from one bar to another, enjoys chatting about cricket, actually he played cricket for Dublin University, and he had won medals for swimming and boxing. He also played golf and tennis. So, to start the conversation with him, try bringing a bottle of wine and talk about sport.”

Encouraged by my publisher, I flew to Paris and made appointment with Samuel to meet at Îles Marquises restaurant in Monparnasse. I brought with me a bottle of Lacrima Christi which he took delightedly. But, his tall, gaunt and archaic presence made him seemed aloof from the cozy surrounding.

 

I started:

“Sam, who is your favourite cricket player?”       

 

Samuel glowed with pleasure and responded:

“Frank Woolley, I had admired as a boy. You know, I saw him in the bar at Lord's cricket ground. He was escorting the legendary 84-year-old Wilfred Rhodes, perhaps the greatest England cricketer ever. By that time, Rhodes was totally blind.”

Then he stared and pointed out on the wall above our table photographs of the great boxers: Joe Louis,Georges Carpentier and Jack Dempsey.

  

I said:

“My first thought, sport seems out of place in your world. Your characters emerge as homeless people, down-and-outs, tramps, failures, and you wrote ‘Fail again, fail better’ in your ‘Worstward Ho’ story.”

  

Samuel:

“Actually, I wrote ‘All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

  

I said:

“ You achieved your own gold in 1969 for Nobel Prize in Literature. How did you feel?”

  

Samuel:

“My publisher, told me in a telegram ‘Dear Sam and Suzanne. In spite of everything, they have given you the Nobel Prize. I advise you to go into hiding.’ We anticipated a spike in publicity and people trying to reach them.”

 

 I said:

“You were right, the Swedish Television asked for an interview”.

  

Samuel:

“I agreed only with the stipulation that the interviewer couldn’t ask any questions. “

  

I said:

“Thus you created a bizarre ‘mute’ interview and sent the video clip to them showing yourself in silent in nature, with background of the sound of wave from the beach, and the sound of bird chirping. And you didn’t attend the award, you sent your publisher to take the award, while you and your wife Suzanne travelled to Tunisia to avoid publicity.”

 

Samuel, citing the opening of Texts for Nothing 4:

“Where would I go, if I could go, who would I be, if I could be, what would I say, if I had a voice, who says this, saying it's me?”

 

I said:

“When your play ‘Waiting for Godot’ premiered at Théâtre de Babylone in Paris, it is reported that many audience members walked out of the theater, perhaps because of the unconventional form of the show, there is no plot, the characters are not revealed, the dialogues are random and ridiculous. Two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon, are waiting to meet someone named Godot, who eventually does not turn up. But some of the critics liked it, some critics said that pointlessness is its very point in this kind of theatre.  

Martin Esslin called it The Theatre of the Absurd, in his book with same title, depicting ‘sense of metaphysical anguish at the absurdity of the human condition’. And this type of theatre has been associated with your name.”

 

Samuel:

“The early success of Waiting for Godot was based on a fundamental misunderstanding, that critics and public alike insisted on interpreting in allegorical or symbolic terms a play which was striving all the time to avoid definition.”

 

I said:

“The greater part of Waiting for Godot's success came down to the fact that it was open to a variety of readings and that this was not necessarily a bad thing.”

 

Samuel:

“Why people have to complicate a thing so simple I can't make out. It's all symbiosis; it's symbiosis”.

 

I said:

“Then, may I ask you who or what is Godot?”

 

Samuel:

“I don't know who Godot is. I don't even know, above all don't know, if he exists. And I don't know if they believe in him or not – those two who are waiting for him.”

 

I said:

“Godot’s messenger boy tells Vladimir that Mr.Godot has sheep and goats, and the boy tends the goat is not beaten by Godot, while the boy’s brother who tends the sheep is beaten by Godot. This seems to be the reversal of the Bible story in which Christ separates the sheep, representing people who will be saved, from the goats, representing people who will be damned.

In the play Vladimir asks if Estragon has ever read the Bible. Estragon says all he remembers are some colored maps of the holy land. Vladimir tells Estragon about the two thieves crucified along with Jesus. One of the gospels says that one of the thieves was saved, but Vladimir wonders if this is true.”

 

Samuel:

“St Augustine’s reflection on this story is ‘Do not despair, one of the thieves was saved: do not presume, one of the thieves was damned.”


I said:

“I reckoned that perhaps the theme of the story is the two who are waiting for Godot, rather than Godot.”

 

Samuel:

“An inmate of Lüttringhausen Prison near Remscheid in Germany, stage the play in German and after that wrote to me: ’You will be surprised to be receiving a letter about your play Waiting for Godot, from a prison where so many thieves, forgers, toughs, homos, crazy men and killers spend this bitch of a life waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting. Waiting for what? Godot? Perhaps.”

 

I said:

“During the World War II in 1941 you and Suzanne joined the French resistance unit Gloria SMH, an information network, but in 1942 the group was betrayed by a double agent, members of your group had been arrested by the Gestapo. You had to flee Paris, heading for the Unoccupied Zone in the south of France. It took almost six weeks, sometimes alone, sometimes with other refugees, to cross into the free zone at Chalon-sur-Saône in Burgundy; you made your way by hiding in barns and sheds and sometimes behind trees, inside haystacks and down in ditches.”

  

Samuel:

“I can remember waiting in a barn, there were ten of us, until it got dark, then being led by a passeur over streams; we could see a German sentinel in the moonlight. Then I remember passing a French post on the other side of the line. The Germans were on the road so we went across fields. Some of the girls were taken over in the boot of a car.”

  

I said:

“You also witnessed the aftermath of bombing of St-Lô in 1944. The town located in Normandy bombed by the American, as it served as a strategic crossroads. It caused heavy damage, most of the city was destroyed, and a high number of casualties, which you reported as ‘The Capital of Ruins’, you witnessed real devastation and misery, people in desperate need of food and clothing, yet clinging desperately to life.”

  

Samuel:

“St.-Lô is just a heap of rubble, la Capitale des Ruines as they call it in France. Of 2600 buildings 2000 completely wiped out. . . . It all happened in the night of the 5th to 6th June. It has been raining hard for the last few days and the place is a sea of mud. What it will be like in winter is hard to imagine.”

 

I said:

“After the War, a lengthy clean-up began, literally by hand including the corpses of residents and soldiers, which lasted about six months. However, officials hesitated to rebuild Saint-Lô, some were willing to leave the ruins as a testament to the martyrdom of the city. The population declined, preferring to reinhabit its city. You volunteered to join the Irish Red Cross to build a provisional hospital in this town”                       

  

Samuel:

“The new hospital was designed to be provisional. But ‘provisional’, is not the term it was, in this universe become provisional.”

  

THE END

 This is an imaginary interview in memory of Samuel Beckett.

 

 

Sources: