Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Heart of Stone

Stones - Torrente Torre, Italy, 2012
"Transform yourself into living philosophical stones!", exclaims Medieval Alchemist Gerhard Dorn in his precious 16th century manuscript Theatrum Chemicum. Again, he reports in Artis Auriferae that just as in the aurum philosophicum (gold) the four elements are contained in equal proportions, so the lapis (stone) also is from the four elements (quaternity symbolizes perfection); as such, the alchemists compared the Stone to gold in value and importance. Stone was identified by the medieval alchemists as roundness, simplicity and, thus, perfection. The stone has always been considered as a living entity; from the alchemical nigredo (darkness) arising - alchemically speaking - from the female element that takes the male element into itself (darkness is a female element), issues the Stone, symbol of the immortality of the Self. 
Is there anything as lasting as stone?
The greatest world cathedrals are made of stone and they will still be still standing out and high when all our modern skyscrapers are crumbling and collapsing.
The first Harry Potter book, The Sorcerer's Stone, has this precious element in its title and plot. How many of those who have read the book or saw the movie noticed the presence of the Stone in it? How many asked themselves what a sorcerer is? How many of us have wondered what relation there is between stones and sorcery?

I realize that more information than we can actually digest has been tossed into this article. The intent, though, was not to explain each quotation, but to create a mood, to stir fascination, to build a scenario and inject its senses-tickling impact through the skin of my three or four readers, transporting them into a forgotten and magical dimension.

There's no need to analyze quotations and tomes to see that stones have always been considered, in all eras, a living, dynamic and firm human element.
Lie down near the bank of a river and look around yourself. Stones, pebbles, rocks of all shapes and sizes, angular and round, smooth and crusty. Think of this: they have been there for millions of years, unmoved, unmovable, immortal but breakable, solid but malleable. Touch one stone, kiss it, and you become the stone. Carl Gustav Jung, as a young child, used to wonder, while sitting on his favourite stone in his house's garden, "What if, in truth, I am the stone and the stone is me?".

Am I of stone? Am I?
I am, we all are!

What is the practical scope of all this philosophizing, many might ask?
Are philosophers looking for answers when they do so?
Maybe, but I believe that the starting point should not to find solutions; it should be feeling the magic of this ancient dimension and merge into that long-lost inclination at wonderment and fascination for the small and the universal that videogames, Tv-series, and iPads have stripped away from the majority of us.

I can truly say that I have a heart of stone.

Do you?


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Nine Dragons Strike

Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong - 2012
Even the strictest and most fastidious person, one rare time in life breaks at the depth of one exceptional experience. When it happens, that force - call it enthusiasm and call it love - which has remained dormant in the person for long, long years, suddenly bursts out. As it does, a world of marvels reveals itself and the person, who is still poked in the side by the last thorn of rationality, rebels and finally, for once, lets himself go with beauty, poetry, tradition and love. At the question, "What if it's all a dream"?, he will reply, "Then, it's the most beautiful of all dreams, and the saddest one upon waking."

Hong Kong overshadowed with its bamboo strength and glass-modern charm the beauty of all the places I've visited and lived in so far, except, naturally, for my beloved home country. New York itself, which represented to me an ideal urban inspiration, has become, after Hong Kong, a dull and dark metropolis, dirty and obscure, opaque, slow, vulgar and lacking in luster.

As the airporter pulled into the city towards Causeway Bay, Hong Kong's blend of antique and modern was spellbinding. Thick and fascinating bamboo scaffolding sustained the fancy designs of some of the most modern skyscrapers in the world. A backdrop of green small mountains patched that limb of Pacific Ocean and, among them, after about an hour of ferry, stood fierce Lantau Island, with its giant Buddha sitting in the mist and Tai O, the fishermen village with its stilt houses. Opposite Hong Kong, Kowloon and Mong Kok, in its raw beauty that smells of local markets, temple streets and the last vestiges of antique shops with none but a few sei Gweilos walking around, lost in that tangle of Cantonese sounds which I couldn't help falling for.

But the grumpy and picky one, if he softens at the Stanley shoreline or the taste of pineapple buns, like bamboo still won't break: it's his heart that needs to be pierced.
Love, he needs.
She's in Kowloon, Nine Dragons.
Love is there too. 

The soft breeze rippling hair at the Tsim Sha Tsui pier wouldn't have meant the world without her hand in mine. Lantau and Stanley, the museum and the temples, the Chinese inscriptions, Hong Kong Park and the Siu Long Bao, yes, the Siu Long Bao, wouldn't have meant the world without her presence, her voice and her words surrounding me.

I quickly realized it was her beauty, her kindness and smile I saw reflected in the water of the bay. Her gentleness and frailty were the green of the mountains, her soft traits the breeze at the pier. Her charm the sacred inscriptions, her voice the beautiful sounds.
All I can do, now, is love her back just as intensely.

Mgoi, 唔 該, my Carman.