Thoth


Mi and I first met Thoth a few weeks back in Central Park. He was just setting up shop. A couple of women tourists were talking to him enthusiastically, asking for his autograph, and taking turns posing pictures next to him. A few others were flipping through a scrapbook he placed at the beginning of his line of paraphernalia. I poked my head in and read a few clippings. He called himself Thoth, and he was one of the top 20 famous faces of New York City selected by a well-known magazine. According to those newspaper and magazine clippings, he was quite a celebrity with the media, and a fixture in the Park. Many photographers have taken pictures of him. He displayed them all in the book.

Mi and I were curious to hear his music. We walked around the proximity waiting for the tourists to disperse so Thoth could start his performance. Finally he was left alone. He took his sweet time to prepare himself and the surroundings. Kneeling on the floor the Japanese fashion, he settled on reading a small book. From afar the color theme of the book reminded me of Tibet. His sincerity indicated it was the beginning of his ritual. It was followed by meditation and praying. We were standing around, watching him. He stood up, lighted incense one by one, while walking in some kind of dance steps. Finally he picked up his violin, stood up erect, silently he waved the bow around him, eyes closed, mouthing some soundless phrases as if calling the spirits to gather around.

When the music finally bursting out from the violin, it felt like a joyful eruption of a lively volcano. The music sounded Irish and cultic, he danced while playing, and suddenly his beautiful singing voice joined in. His red silk cape, his extravagant feathered headdress, and now his singing all reminded me of Farinelli. Mi started circling him like a lion circling its prey, taking pictures. That day I was assigned Mi¡¯s Leica M6. So I shoot a few frames as well. The location was a underpass with ruined wall paintings, resembled a ruined temple. The sound affect was lovely. For a few moments, one could be fooled to believe it was a real concert hall from ancient times. And we were privileged to witness a god singing.

When the music stopped, people started walking up dropping their dollar bills in his small bowl. He settled back to his sitting cushion and started making notes on that same small book he was reading at the beginning, completely oblivion of these by-standers coming and going. As I walked up to surrender my dollars, he suddenly turned to me, looked at me straight in the eyes and said, ¡°Thank you!¡± I was so shocked and all I could manage was a smile before fleeting the scene. Later I was a little shamed of myself, when would I ever gain the courage to converse with strangers?

Mi went back in the following two weekends, hoping to find him there. The past Sunday Thoth finally showed up at the right time when the late afternoon sunlight was still beautiful. Among the series, I liked the cover the best. Thoth¡¯s torso formed a human arrow, half guiding half inviting the audience to see the light, to hear the higher being, through Thoth¡¯s body language, through Thoth¡¯s music. The frontal view resembled a face with his breasts as eyes. Shiny metal chains that Thoth wore as decorations resembled a kind of ¡°headdress¡±. It strongly recalled an image impressed upon me during my childhood. It was from an ancient Chinese legend. A general was killed brutally, his fellow general who was also a music lover decided to revenge his friend’s death. During the fight, he lost his head, refusing to fall, his breasts formed eyes, his belly button formed a mouth, his torso became a new head, he continued his battle cry, and he continued to fight.

There is something very similar between Thoth and that Chinese ancient general. And Mi¡¯s photo vividly says it.

More photos of Thoth by Mi: Thoth
The Story of Xing-tian ÐÌÌì(in Chinese): ɽº£¾­(Ê®)ÎÞÍ·¾ÞÈËÐÌÌì

11 thoughts on “Thoth

  1. This reminds me an European movie, about a violinist in subway. Can’t recall the movie title now.
    The plot is simple, he is obsessed only in music. His life ups and downs, usually down. Some affair comes from nowhere and goes no end. It is just common and poor for a subway people. The main theme and brightness is the music.
    Plenty of violin solos in the movie impressed me. So beautiful. The thin face is so glorious and sweet. Breathless while listening, just as those people occasionally pass the subway station in the movie did.

  2. Okay, now you’ve done it! I’m now all curious about this movie! what is it what is it? what is its name? I wanna see I wanna see! 🙂

  3. Haha…I win!

    Emmm, actually I never know the name… I just jumped into that movie in midway on TV, and is totally attracted by the violin solo.
    Well, I will try to find it, but the hint is so limited, you know, there is almost no special fiction to clarify it… 🙁

  4. Can you tell which country it is from? Any special sounding name of people of places? You are sure it is an European movie? I tried googling “subway violin movie” without much success. 🙁

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  6. I dont remember any name, seems people in the movie have no name…
    Maybe the director thought it is not important who they are. People dont talk too much in it and dont call each other by name. Violin talks the most.
    I also take it as European movie for granted. As you see, the story style is the symbol. Not sure, either.

  7. It sounds so much like New York! 🙂 But i guess Paris also has a pretty elaborate underground tunneling system.

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  9. Thank you, Jean! I like the story and the photographs. The book I write in is a journal about the prayformance. I use stillness and quiet to give motion and sound meaning.

    abacadacaba

    Jean’s Reply:
    Wow! Thoth! This is way cool! 🙂
    Thank you for stopping by and I’m glad you liked the Chinese story.

    Oh£¬and I really love this line by you: “I seek a balance between stillness and motion to connect the collective unconscious. The shore and the river together reach the ocean.” Beautiful.

    btw, in case you haven’t seen them, more photos of you by Zhou Mi can be found here:
    http://dancingmind.net/thoth.html

  10. So cool!
    ˵²Ü²Ù£¬²Ü²Ùµ½£¡ßõßõ£¡

    Jean:
    I know! I couldn’t believe it myself! 🙂 Internet is cooooooooool!

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