for 8. 4. 2012

‘It looks as if it could be a gorgeous day, except for a bit of wind,’ a voice said.

A reply framed itself but went unsaid: ‘What a baffling qualification. A bit of wind makes a merely lovely day perfect.’

Not a popular idea.

To the bookshelf, then, to commune with a long dead fellow-connoisseur of all the astonishing variations in the movement of air across a landscape – which can be entrancing in spring, every bit as pleasurable as the soft, caressing warmth and return of the light.

A philosopher Tsu Chi and his disciple Yen Cheng Tsu Yu converse:

‘In the mountain forest, deep and fearsome, there are huge trees a hundred arm spans around, with gaps and hollows like nostrils, mouths, and ears, like gouges, goblets, and mortars, and like muddy pools and dirty puddles. The sounds rush out like water, whistle like arrows, scold, suck, shout, wail, moan, and howl. The leading notes are hissing sounds followed by a roaring chorus. Gentle breezes make a small harmony, fierce winds a great one. When the violent gusts subside, all the hollows become quiet. Have you ever seen the shaking and trembling of branches and leaves?’

Tsu Yu said, ‘The earth’s music is the sound from those hollows. Man’s music comes from the hollow reed. May I ask about the music of heaven?’

Tsu Chi said, ‘When the wind blows through the ten thousand different hollows, they all make their own sounds. Why should there be anything that causes the sound?’

Chuang-Tzŭ (Zhuangzi), Inner Chapters, 4th century BCE

trans.: Gia-fu Feng and Jane English ]

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