Warp, Weft, and Way

Chinese and Comparative Philosophy 中國哲學與比較哲學

Zhuangzi in the Reserve

Some Zhuangzi in this quote and a bit of Zen at the end:

Bee-eating Wasps… feed their larvae on Hive-bees, whom they catch on the flowers while gathering pollen and honey.  If the Wasp who has made a capture feels that her Bee is swollen with honey, she never fails, before stinging her, to squeeze her crop, either on the way or at the entrance of the dwelling, so as to make her disgorge the delicious syrup, which she drinks by licking the tongue which her unfortunate victim, in her death-agony, sticks out of her mouth at full length…. At the moment of some such horrible banquet, I have seen the Wasp, with her prey, seized by the Mantis: the bandit was rifled by another bandit.  And here is an awful detail: while the Mantis held her transfixed under the points of the double saw and was already munching her belly, the Wasp continued to lick the honey of her Bee.   (J. Henri Fabre, The Insect World of J. Henri Fabre, p. 57)

Whenever I read something from a scientist that so intriguingly echoes a passage from early China, it gets me wondering about the powers of observation in the early writers.  Did Zhuangzi spend extended periods of time just observing, as did Fabre?  Fabre was a self-taught entomologist in the nineteenth century famous for staking out insects and reporting on their behavior.  Although an acute observer, he is not averse to a bit of anthropomorphizing and even has a nice literary appeal (at least in the translation of Alexander Teixeira de Mattos).

August 4th, 2014 Posted by | Chinese philosophy - 中國哲學 - 中国哲学 | no comments

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