Showing posts from March, 2019

Dreaming of Butterflies

I recorded this for a student who was unable to get to a particular lecture on Taoist philosophy, but thought it might also interest some other people as well. If any Chinese people happen to listen to this, I apologise in advance for my godawful attempts at pronouncing certain names and words!

The original lecture was much longer and included some material on Mohism, which I will be recording for the student - but might also upload here, if it seems of interest on reflection (and if any listeners request to hear it).

The Dream of the Butterfly is a famous story (almost an anecdote, it's so short) told by Zhuangzi or Chuang Tzu in the book named after him. The philosopher dreams that he is a butterfly, which leads to musing about the nature of reality. For something so short, it has a lot of philosophical and metaphysical implications - some of which are explored in this podcast. Others will have found far more depth within the Dream than is presented here.

Satyr tails

This is a short story of the beautiful satyr Ampelos, his romance with Dionysus and how the Lord of
Partying eventually acquired governance of the grapevine and all the wonderful things that can be done with it. There are numerous stories in Greece mythology in which various people undergo botanical metamorphosis. There is doubtless some profound mystical significance to such stories, but as I am about to fall asleep at any minute the contemplation of the meaning will have to wait till some other time.

On a less taxing note, I'm contemplating reincarnating as a goat-footed son of Pan when the time comes - I can live in a book-lined cave and eat buttered crumpets, play the pipes, and generally avoid the appearance of small and annoyingly middle-class children from wardrobes. In the meantime I shall be honouring the spirit of Ampelos with a glass or two of Mavrodaphne of Patras which may well have been blessed by the satyrs of the Peloponnese.