Friday, April 19, 2013

Douglas Jaffe Presents Fantastic Fantasy - Chinese Culture, Fables, Folk Religion, Dragons, Oh My!

Chinese dragon, symbol of Chinese culture and ...
Chinese dragon, symbol of Chinese culture and Chinese folk religion. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Chinese dragon, symbol of Chinese culture and ...
Chinese dragon, symbol of Chinese culture and Chinese folk religion. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Chi Wen focused on the largest of the structures
where the local magistrate had lived with his
extended family. He had been a thoughtful,
intelligent man and genuinely cared about the farming
province over which he had been sent to govern. He
had died some years ago from an infection and Chi
Wen missed him. They had shared a meal together once
when Chi Wen had taken the form of a traveling
scholar visiting from the capital. It was a memorable
evening and the first time Chi Wen had appeared as a
human being. He grinned as he thought back to his
initial awkwardness. Language, dress and customs
were easily mimicked, but the art of being human
was the more difficult skill to master.

Chasing Dragons

By Douglas A. Jaffe

There is much to learn from Douglas Jaffe if you take the time to  consider the choices of the two main characters, Sebastian and Chloe, a couple who fall in love at first sight...

Sebastian is originally from the States but moves to Hong Kong, led by his feelings for that land, its people. He now owns a bookstore with a lovely woman who manages it for him. I enjoyed their interaction and dialogue!

Sebastian also does something very interesting--he talks and listens to people...but there is no mention that he is a trained counselor... Still people come and they pay...
So, if you take the time to ponder over what people are talking to him about, you may find the session covering a topic for which you need advice! LOL... I especially enjoyed the father who had just found a new love after being divorced a number of years and thinking how his son, with whom he already had problems, would react...

The drama starts when two friends of his, documentary film makers, come to visit and seek his help during the development of a film on how dragons are part of the Chinese Culture.

Although I had never thought about it, there is indeed, as is discovered during that activity, that there is much the western and eastern feelings and opinions about dragons! While the West writes stories about slaying the dragon to save our princess, there is a reverence, a concept for good that surrounds them in the east.

Hence, the year of the dragon is celebrated and many hope to have their children born during that time so that good luck will be with them. Jaffe takes readers on a journey of those dragons as his shifting narrative moves to the lives of Chi Wen and Zhao Chen, two dragons who were at war in the distant past...

"Many Chinese families hope to have a child born
in the year of the dragon so as to acquire some of
the creature's more favorable traits. Famous
dragons in history includes Bruce Lee, Dr. Seuss,
Friedrich Nietzsche, Florence Nightingale, Deng
Xiaoping, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Helen Keller
and Salvador Dali.
As I read the various myths and stories about these
fantastic creatures, it occurred to me that Jim and
Lydia were probably looking at these creatures in
a symbolic or historical context. Their projects
tended to be grounded examples of the real world.
in all its grit and grime. They have produced films
on the homeless, landmine victims, migrant workers,
massacre reconciliation tribunals and other topics
sufficiently capable with a healthy dose of guilt.
An X-files worthy expose on a secret cable of
omnipotent dragons ruling Asia was unlikely
to be there theme of choice..."

Indeed it is during the documentary activity, readers will meet individuals and hear folk tales about how dragons affect the lives of the Chinese people and their fears, but hopes, that their children will not allow these stories to fade away...

At one particular interview, Sebastian is caught off guard as an older woman takes a close look at him, and then gives him a card to call her. When they meet, she talks of how she "adopts" favorite or unique people and she sees in him someone she would like to know better. Later, she sends him a very valuable green dragon pendant...

But it had been before that time that it had started. It had also been before they had started working on the documentary... Sebastian had been dreaming--dreaming of dragons, of scenarios where he watched as dragons  lived. Was he becoming insane? And then an event occurred--was it a dream--where he had seen a number of youth beating much younger children. He watched and later saw all of the teens dead, lying on the ground with their throats torn...

When he saw the news in the paper, he had to realize, to admit to himself, that he had somehow killed them, although he could not remember doing so...

Fear for his mind led him to continue going through his recent past, trying to determine when all this had started. And then he knew--it had started when he met Chloe...

Jaffe could have ended his novel in at least two ways. I believe he chose the right way and did so to guide readers in what the moral in the story of Chinese culture might teach us... Are you game to read and choose what you would do? Highly recommended...


Douglas Jaffe

CEO at Solution Access Ltd Hong Kong
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