Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Professor Gray and His Garland

In The Jade Owl, Professor Rowden Gray refers to gathering the rosebuds as ye may, gathering them onto a garland — a garland which constitutes a complete strand of logical facts that can be analyzed and codified into a scholarly article for The Harvard Journal of Asian Studies. Funny thing that, because during the entire Jade Owl Legacy Series, the more rosebuds that the good Professor tacks onto the garland, the more the strand remains unresolved. In fact, after the journey that The Jade Owl’s first book reveals, Professor Gray knows as much about The Jade Owl as he did at the beginning of the tale. Of course, the wonderment of this little green devil is unraveled in the other books and also in the companion series, Southern Swallow (first book, The Academician coming in March). The logic behind its operation is not the kind that any scientist would readily understand. Rowden Gray being a scholar, even a Sinological one, he cannot perceive the truth of the matter until he, like the reader, suspends believe and basks in the full mystical legacy of Chinese spirituality, folk lore and that metaphysical property known as ch’i – a power that Lucas called the force, but the Chinese have for five millennium called spirit breath. Nonetheless, Professor Rowden Gray continues to weave this long rope of logic until it makes less sense at the end than at the beginning. His boon companion, Nick, however, views The Jade Owl and its purpose from a different perspective and is enlightened.

The garland of Rowden Gray is a notion that we all weave, like Wagner’s Norns, yielding precise measurements for life and time. However, this is a western notion. The Chinese have no such measurement. Time is illusive, and even death is a mere wall between two states. Therefore, the real challenge for Professor Gray as he leads the various followers, first in The Jade Owl and subsequently in The Third Peregrination, is to cut the stringency of the garland and let the rosebuds fly as they may. Not until he immerses himself in the randomness of it all does he come to understand the true nature of The Jade Owl and the triad that it forms with elemental nature and a curious set of earth events that other characters will study to the geologic and paleontologic depths, discovering the tick-tockings of this most curious bird.

As an aside, I chose the rosebud/gather ye reference as a homage to my own gene pool — how egoist is that? My grandmother was Hilda Herrick, a direct descendant of Robert Herrick, my ancestor who crafted that line as advice to virgins. Go figure.

The Jade Owl http://www.amazon.com/dp/1440447977
The Third Peregrination http://www.amazon.com/dp/1441456724

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