Sense and Sensibility in Hong Kong

By James

Science, to a certain extent, holds a possession of inexplicable power in depleting the natural flow of human’s most genuine, cordial emotion. I am always doubtful – very sceptical – whether he – a best and old friend of mine – has really vanquished redundant sensation or it is just his sensibility which has dominated his mind. So he now falls victim to the present materialistic world, and can never run off from the banal, corruptive logic that is established upon irrational, addictive assumption.

If he sheds dazzling light on the soil, I shall spread dark shadow along the meadow. Often I regret why emotion takes the rein of my body, my spirit without enquiring my rationality in advance. A night and gentle saunter along Nathan Road under little shower was once my best active read of poetry, and he, however, would advise me to hold an umbrella lest I suffer a cold, be he in my company; unbearable to how miserable my darling felt, I booked in no time an air ticket and travelled thousands of miles afar to visit her, and he, however, gave the most deafening laugh I had ever heard after I confessed to him the whole story, for to him, such impulsiveness never fits in what he calls the cost benefit.

One day, still in the aftermath of “Midnight at Paris” (a romantic fantasy film in which Gil Pender the protagonist travelled back in time each night at midnight and encountered famous painters and writers such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso), I suddenly switched on my fantasy machine to full power and asked him with entire eagerness:

“If you could slip in any time back, which era would you prefer?” I can still recall how pureness and innocence had been written on my face.

“Why such a question?” He frowned with a wry face. But he probably had not understood my question, I thought, so I told frankly how deeply moved I had been after the movie appreciation.

His logic never fails me, and works as surprisingly well as it used to be. “You fool! Imagine what it would be like to live in times without Internet or smartphones. We get the fidgets even though we leave our phones at home and go out for shopping, let alone live in somewhere with no televisions, no wi-fi and Internet for the rest of our lives! You can’t even communicate with your girlfriend or your wife in case you have to work faraway. That’s just crazy!”

Though bewildered, I endeavoured to retort, howsoever timidly, “But…but don’t you think it’s romantic to exchange letters with your beloved? How jittery it would be to wait for her reply, but how sprightly to receive one, and how you would be in a flutter while trying to open that envelope.”

“Not for me at least,” he said bluntly, blandly, emotionlessly, “maybe you can live back in the late nineteenth century, Aaron, but I just can’t. We’re all living in contemporary times. It’s just impossible to change the way we are in now. Never.”

His eyes, I saw, were adamant behind his silver-framed glasses. On the same night, I dreamt of him, studying at a biochemistry laboratory as a research student, who was on spur of moment being haunted by two monsters: one was a soul-eating dark beast and had already engulfed six million and eighty-nine hundred thousand souls of the netizens. Another resembled human, was in formal attire but with a mask of wolf. Holding a bloody red flag onto which five black stars were engraved, while demolishing all skyscrapers around his laboratory, it consoled his dreadfully frightening soul by saying in Mandarin:

“Don’t worry. Your way of living won’t be changed. Dance the way you are just as horses gallop the way they are now. (舞照跳,馬照跑)”

[Featured image taken on 5th November, 2013 somewhere in Hong Kong]


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