Taipei in four acts: Scene I

by on Thursday, 22 April 2010 6429 hits Comments
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I - The typhoon

The city, asleep behind a curtain of rain; I wanted to feel the air of Asia, I tried to spur the magic in the small antic streets, I, ready for some exotic discoveries; my heart, ready for tortuous trees amid sweating concrete walls, smoke from beneath the street, food stands vanishing in the air, like some genies from an old tale.

But it was dark, all human sounds flushed by the heavy rain, each drop splashing the ground as if a giant drummer was releasing deep scents at every beat – all odors splashed to the ground like on a giant keyboard, it has no beginning and no end – I knew there was a city, there, into the heart of the island, I couldn’t see it, merely the tallest skyscrapers emerging from the chaos, some lost ambassadors born out of desolation and fear. Would they crumble already, just today? But I was nowhere; the island itself was nowhere, heart of a beating monster hidden in the rain. Nature, nature all around. How would I have known?

You don’t know where you are, all beauty is hidden, you feel the first poetry of a place you can’t call a city yet, before everything else appears; feel the thin line between this place and any other place, somehow hidden, somehow abstract, but so wide and powerful it will follow you in your dreams for a long time; you don’t even know it, not yet, you can’t stare at the future, this storm won’t let you focus, lack of sleep, oh the noise, the Earth groaning.

That’s the bass poetry, the one you won’t ever see, made of history and geography, the raw Reason behind all those walls and streets, all those buildings and parks, why they were born exactly there - you know, the same feeling as when you stand on a observatory, watching the streets, the horizon blinded by high walls, and you feel: “what’s this place? What would there be if mankind hadn’t come here?”. You watch the place again, you see a flat area, maybe some trees, some rivers, a forest here, and it’s flat, flat, empty. Suddenly you understand; this river, where someone thought he might drink, those mountains around, that would protect from the storms, this plain, where the winds would blow unabated and whisper the story of the gods, those flat lands would become the root of their dream, the very soil where they would stand, human without a destination on the island, where everything would live and grow, year after year, maybe welcome citizens of the world and maybe turn into the wild capital of some obscure poets, in this small land of nothing where one breathes so freely, even if it is nothing, even if it grows ugly, no matter what cracks and hopes time will insidiously wrinkle everywhere; this will be our land and from there we shall spread and fight, fight for those who dream and fight for those who will love it, the Neverland they’ve been looking for, I can imagine this, they would name the hills and summon elephants, leopards and lions; O nature, let us settle here and grow our history humbly, far from the powerful and far from greed, a land so insignificant everyone shall be welcome and it shall warm thy heart.

Sitting on a sword when one side is the raw desolation of Reality and the other the sweet power of dreams; the city, at its very core, will be a deep hole where time is suspended before something happens, it’s there but no one ever mentions it.

The rain stops, the curtain open, rays of light, fuming dragons, the city awakes, like a giant eye on top of a beast, beloved dragon, son of a millenary history, jaws full of blood, deeply wounded though, Taipei. Did I dream?

(Photo: B. Girardot, Taipei, 2008

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Last modified on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 17:34
Benoît Girardot

I'm Benoit, a French guy, arrived in Taiwan around 5 years ago, and it's already hard to remember what I did in my old life! Maybe I lived in Germany? I used to have a weird job, selling breast implants all around Asia, but I quit and am now learning Chinese. I love Taiwan, and I don't really have any words to describe why Taipei is such a cool city... so I'm taking pictures instead.

I have a blog about Taiwan, the idea is to get a deeper understanding of Taiwan-as a foreigner, with language barrier and all kinds of pre-conceived ideas, it is not always an easy task! I post a mic of pictures, videos, articles about the cool people and things I meet on the island! You're welcome to come have a look by yourself!


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