A frequent online user for keeping in touch with family and friends and conducting searches about this and that, I rediscovered an old love when I left the screen.
Begorrah! How could I have ignored real, paperbound, richly illustrated/photographed coffee books? The kind that attracts the eye. And attracts the nose with that print smell. Perfect for perusing. Dreaming. Drooling.
In the World Atlas of Mysteries, I stumbled on a forgotten section about dragons. Little did I know dragons turn up everywhere. Author Francis Hitching points out it’s hard to find a society that has not included a dragon in its legendary history.
So, is there a basis in physical reality to believe in the existence of dragons? Most learned texts say no.
However, in his book about World Mysteries, Hitching disputes that statement. To begin with, he notes there is a remarkable resemblance between dinosaurs and the dragon.
He suggests this hypothesis: could it be that up to a few thousand years BCE, with 90 percent of the Earth’s surface uninhabited by man, a few of these dragon-like beasts were living millions of years beyond their time?
He writes how classical scholars like Aristotle believed dragons were based on observations of nature, rather than imagination. If so, Hitching proposes, then lizards are the probable dragon prototypes.
He points out a species of small Indo-Malayan lizards which ‘fly’ through the air on webbed wings. Their generic name is Draco.
While wintering in Progreso, Mexico, I used to watch fascinated as small, almost transparent, lizards/geckos ran up and down the window panes. They reminded me of mini dragons. So did our son’s pet iguana, called incidentally, Drako.
And then there is Komodo Island. When travelling in Indonesia, we missed a visit to the giant lizards of that island. These ‘dragons’ attract hordes of tourists.
When Hitching writes about dragons, he includes sky watching.
In ancient times---as today---people were fascinated with starry, starry nights. (Long ago, mankind didn’t have to compete with ambient light from artificial sources.)
Watching closely on a clear night, we see a star-studded sky rife with action. Our forefathers held the same night-time skies in awe. Planets and stars were revered as deities.
Anything unusual that interrupted the flow of a night sky pattern--- a comet, an eclipse, the conjunction of two planets---was believed to directly affect life on Earth.
Thus, it was probably an unusual set of natural events that set off the dragon myth in the sky, concludes Hitching.
He suggests an impressed writer in 12th century CE, described “a star of marvelous bigness, stretching forth… in the likeness of a dragon…” A streaking comet.
The Big Question
So, are dragons fact or fable? This calls for more research.
I must go online.
The Eiffel Tower to be specific. The iconic symbol of Paris.
One of my rediscoveries during no screens were the marvelous images in the coffee table book Paris Magnum. Came across the famous photo, Tour Eiffel,1954, by Magnum member, Marc Riboud. His amazing shot of a painter balancing on the Tower’s beams high above the city first appeared in Life Magazine in 1953.
I studied this photo for a long time. Kept returning to the same questions. Where was photographer Riboud when he took this photo? He had to be at the same height, didn’t he? And who was the painter? What is the story behind the photo?
To find out, I quickly clicked on the computer to do an online search.
Unfortunately, in this case, I found… nothing.
However, while looking for an answer to my photo questions, I stumbled on other interesting tidbits about the Eiffel Tower.
There’s a secret apartment at the top.
Gustave Eiffel did not design the tower.
The Eiffel Tower was supposed to be torn down after 20 years.
Hitler ordered the Eiffel Tower to be destroyed.
So, while enjoying our considerable selection of coffee table books, I realized it helps to have the best of both worlds:
I rekindled my love affair with books.
I learned to stop worrying and accept the screen.
Got a few more minutes? Check out our son! I mean, his artistic endeavours! www.perryrath.com