23 July 2009

Total Eclipse of the Mind 理性的日全蝕


The local news report last night covered the solar eclipse that has captured the imagination of millions in China and India. The news report ended with snippets on the annual Hong Kong Book Fair and an update on the drawn-out courtroom battle over the family fortune of Nina Wang (龔如心), the late chairlady of the Chinachem Group and the richest woman in Asia at the time of her death. The three news stories left me with a curious question: what do they all have in common? Then it dawned on me that each of the stories, unrelated as they may seem, provides a window on how superstition still figures prominently in our everyday life. A decade into the new millennium, some 200 years after the birth of Charles Darwin and four decades since Apollo 11 landed on the moon, folk beliefs and practices have shown no signs of backing down here in Hong Kong.





We begin with the fascinating tale of the pigtailed billionaire Nina Wang...

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Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, on Amazon and at Blacksmith Books.




17 comments:

  1. rita veronica leungJuly 23, 2009 at 4:41 PM

    ahhh, it is so well written, i love the title so much and the inside of the story flowed smoothly in details , and i love the picture of the lift showing the numbers of the floors, its very nice if u can add one or two more pictures in it and a personal touch to this wonderful piece!!!

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  2. Very good article, and of course, interesting !!. Superstition happens in every culture around the globe.

    Alex

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  3. I agree with Alex. Superstition happens everywhere. The first time I saw an apartment without a 13th floor was in Toronto.

    It may also puzzle you, Jason. 4, 14, 24 etc with 4 are actually consider lucky numbers in Chiu Chau (潮州). So it is not universal that all Chinese will consider 4 as unlucky.

    As for the Book Fair, it is all about marketing. It also shows how "brainless" some Hong Kong people are!!!

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  4. Ignorance leads to superstition.

    Nicole

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  5. What one man looks on a superstition is another man's religion. If one is ignorant, can you say the same of the second?

    Senthil

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  6. All,

    I hope my readers don't think I am equating superstition with ignorance. That shouldn't be the takeaway from my article. That's why I wrote, "[i]n Asia, where folklore, tradition and religion merge into one, superstitious beliefs are part of a social code to be followed out of respect and consideration."

    Jason

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  7. Jason, thanks for your whole point of this article. I think that ignorance leads to superstition. Due to the solar eclipse is nature phenomenon, some people think that the solar eclipse is an unlucky omen.

    Nicole

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  8. I see Jason's point. I know well educated people who understand and can explain the natural phenomenon who still consider it an unlucky omen!

    Senthil

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  9. This universe is an infinity still hav a lot to discover, what is superstition or what is tradition depends, like if there is God or if there r not, its according to personal experience the individual not according to educated or not and its not even a age problem.

    Everything in this world and every matter is a trigger leads to another, there is good or bad, no one has the judging power except when that matter really affects u!

    Kilua

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  10. Jason is an artist like all columists, his writing illustrates and links up incidents in beautiful language and photos expressive enough which provokes people's thinking and awareness according to what is actually happening in this world but without adding his personal opinions to it, this is a kind of expression different from painters, poets and other form of pure arts, remember he is a journalist and he is good to report things in a way like yoga which balance is the most important , neither black nor white, yin or yeung.

    Kilua

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  11. What she said ^. :)

    On a separate note, did you have the opportunity to see the solar eclipse yourself?

    Olivera

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  12. Olivera,

    I looked up at the sky right at 9:26am, but the sun was too bright and I didn't have one of those special spectacles (the ones that look like 3D-glasses). So it was just a big glare for me...

    Jason

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  13. 或者是我詞彙太少, "Ignorance" 我只想表達盲目的相信、不理解的相信導致人們有迷信行為。

    我認為境由心生:即一切都是你想出來的。你想好,就好;你想壞,就壞。 好與壞是操縱於自己的想法。

    我不希望迷信會影響人們的行為和生活習慣,甚至會影響經濟、交通意外死亡率、墮胎率和病發死亡率等事情;總之迷信會害人。

    Nicole

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  14. The Nina Wang's case is just too complicated for me. At times, the people justified in court are not telling the truth, going back and forth... it's annoying. Hope it settles down soon.

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  15. Jason,

    Really appreciate your article, and very well-written as usual. Ignorance, superstition, religion, etiquette, where to draw the line? Especially when we cross cultures as a given code of action in one may be the taboo in another.

    Guess psychology comes into play as well as you said very rightly, even very knowledgeable people engage in lots of practices to hedge their bets, "in case" something happens. I had better not direct any adverse comments against anyone for fear of a libel claim, much as we scoff at the unscrupulous practices of some feng shui (or rather, self-proclaimed feng shui or psuedo feng shui ) masters, some of the old, traditional feng shui practices do have a basis in ancient China. Such as not aligning one's bed to face the door for fear of the night winds getting in through the crevice under the door and inflicting people with pneumonia etc has led to the feng shui practice of how to place one's bed. Just that times and technology have changed and perhaps our mentality and reason haven't caught up at the same pace.

    Christine

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  16. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Christine. You were right on the money when you pointed out the blurred lines between "ignorance, superstition, religion, etiquette." That's one of the main points I was trying to make.

    Jason

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  17. Perceptive parallelism. As always, you provide an interesting read, Jason.

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