Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sea Adventures

Yesterday I was intrigued by a book - 'Sea Adventures' written by Henry De Monfried set in 1913. It seems to be a fascinating look at an attempt to set up a pearling industry on what is now known as the Farasan Islands in the Red Sea. It is quite interesting that only 93 years ago you had a completely different world with slaves, eunuchs and pirates, quite like one of these little bubbles of ancient civilisations that still exist today.

The Farasan Islands are now one of the gems of the Red Sea, their coral reefs are amazing and I managed to find this picture of one of the beaches on these islands and it makes you think what life must have been like 93 years ago:

The book starts:

"The liner was six days out from Djibouti. The Mediterranean was greenish under a rainy sky, the wind was cold and penetrably damp, and the sun died by inches as we got farther from the Equator.
I had been parked among a horde of Malagasys, who huddled together in sheltered corners, getting every day more morose, like sick beasts. I wondered what the poor devils would think of the mud and snow of the trenches."

Somehow the writer seemed to escape the war by getting injured and being 'allowed' to travel to the Red Sea to start a pearling business. I'm not sure entirely how he did this but the picture above does seem preferable to the trenches.

I found the following article about de Monfreid.

Sounds like he lived a pretty interesting life (and I have quite a rare book!)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Strange dream

I want to tell you all about a very strange dream that I had. I was going through some of my old books. There is a certain bookcase in my Mums house that has all the books I had as a child. I found a book about Japanese poetry. I thought to myself ‘why did I never read this?’ As it turned out, the book was an electronic learning device. I had to insert different kinds of batteries into the back, I had all except one.

Then on each page there was a poem with a number of lights. One light was lit – the sun. You had to press the buttons on the poem that you thought had the most beautiful lines and when you did this three lights would shine out of the page!

Very strange. It was a very real dream too, I woke up thinking where is this book, I have to get it and go into town to get that battery.

Typical of me to dream about a book, if anybody knows about this book, it would be good if you could tell me!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Join the spokes together to make a wheel. A wheel is full of openness ... non-being. But it is necessary.

Spin wet clay to shape a cooking pot. A cooking pot is empty ... Full of non-being. But it is necessary.

Work a saw to cut out door and windows. Door and windows are holes ... non-being. But they are necessary.

To have being is good. But also it is necessary to have non-being ... nothingness.

[The Way of Virtue]