Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Master Li told me to head for the Eye of Tranquility, which is not my favorite place. It's a small round lake set aside for old sinners who are grabbing for salvation at the last moment, and the conversation is not exactly inspiring. For some reason, the codgers confuse sanctity with senility, and the dialogue consists of "goo-goo-goo," accompanied by drooling and coy little glances toward Heaven. I think they're trying to prove how harmless they are. They also follow the example of saintly Chiang Taikung and sit on the banks with fishing poles, carefully keeping the hooks three feet above water. (Chiang Taikung loved to fish but refused to take life, and he said that if a fish wanted to leap up and commit suicide, it was the fish's business.) Vendors do a brisk business with worms. The old rogues buy bucketfuls and cast more coy glances toward Heaven as they ostentatiously set them free. Frankly, the place gives me goosbumps.
-Shi tou chi, Barry Hughart