Monday, June 25, 2007

Lao Tzu and the third cod war


T
here's a lot of disagreement among scholars as to the circumstances under which the Tao Te Ching was first recorded.

I am fortunate to know the real story.

It was November 11th 1975, just outside the Icelandic port of Seyðisfjörður. Lao Tzu, a very old man, decided to die in the sea, somewhere between Iceland and Great Britain, commenting quite profoundly on the senselessness of the third cod war.

At one point, he was spotted in the middle of a graceful backstroke alongside a lengthy fishing trawler with 81 people aboard.

The people all lined up along the starboard side to see this ancient bearded Chinese man swimming effortlessly in force nine gale winds.

To each crew member he issued personal and relevant wisdom.

To the eleventh person lined up against the guardrail on the starboard side of the ship, he recited the following passage:


Thirty spokes will converge
In the hub of a wheel;
But the use of the cart
Will depend on the part
Of the hub that is void.

With a wall all around
A clay bowl is molded;
But the use of the bowl
Will depend on the part
Of the bowl that is void.

Cut out windows and doors
In the house as you build;
But the use of the house
Will depend on the space
In the walls that is void.

So advantage is had
From whatever is there;
But usefulness rises
From whatever is not.






When he had spoken briefly with all 81 members of the crew, he swam further into the ocean and died. The third cod war ended soon afterwards.

1 comment:

Matias Hannecke said...

The boat is coocoo nuts man. i thought it was a photograph at first. Your illustrations are awesome and pretty expressive of what your saying, that takes a long time to learn especially when dealing with abstract things such as dreams. awesome. goddamit, take illustration! you'll rock everyone and all their fathers.