Yes, so here they are, Han Shan and Shr Di Laughing at the moon. The images came from R.L. Wing's I Ching. The words came from the same source, the lines for two hexagrams. I find these two fellows very comforting. They appear in The Story of the Stone, or The Dream of the Red Chamber, a fine novel set in the gardens of a Ching or Ming Dynasty literati family. They have a friend in the spirit world--a stone, "the cornerstone that the builders rejected." In Buddhist mythology, the stone was once a piece of heaven, but it was left unfinished. This stone became a great memorial tablet, its words obscured by time, and then a rock that collected moisture to feed the orchid growing beneath it. The two monks decide to send it to earth, and so Bao Yue (homonyms of precious treasure and wrapped jade), the protagonist of the book, is born with a piece of jade in his mouth. He is raised in the women's quarters and his frail good friend is the orchid incarnate. All of the women are counterparts of flowers in the other world, and the physical and spiritual worlds keep shifting throughout the novel. The Taoist Priest and the Buddhist Monk periodically appear, in coincidence with the worldly shifts.

after Kuniyoshi, watercolor on Chinese paperboard © 1994

...and here they are again, the Buddhist and Taoist spiritual travelling companions. Here they are looking at the landscape, gesturing, and the Taoist gestures with a brush in his hand, writing on the air, which becomes flat and, as it turns flat, the characters he's written turn into birds. They are standing on the edge of a lake and a precipice both. They are standing just at the doorway of a hole in reality, just where reality shifts. A fisherman, unaware of this, climbs the other side of the bluff, just his head, shoulders, and fishing pole visible. Just below an improbable intersecting of bodies of earth (land), a child tries to attract the attention of his mother. He is the only person who can see the two travellers.

If you look carefully and closely at the bushes outside this temple in the fog on Mt. Ali in Taiwan, you can see that the bushes are taking the shapes of Buddhist and Taoist monks on holiday.

Do you see the four figures to the left forming and waving their arms in appreciation of the handiwork on the temple roof? It's another of the "Holes in Reality" Series. That's also why the painting is called,

"The Immortals Visit Alishan"
© Alison McMahon 1994

This is the image that, years ago, started me thinking about holes in reality. It's an old woodcut in the style of or from the time before people could read, before moveable type.