Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blocked Chi at MPH

Saturday's MPH Writer's Circle was ... all a bit sad really. What do you do when almost no-one turns up for an author talk and you're moderating it?

Jason Fong was talking about his new book Feng Shui in the City, published by Marshall Cavendish. He had brought along one old friend who had studied Feng Shui with him, who came with his wife (whom we had to wake up before we began). Then there was Julia from MPH and later blogger BP wandered in. (He has captured the whole thing very well on his blog.)

Anyway, I kept the thing going by playing devil's advocate and asking Jason the most difficult questions about feng-shui I could think of, and he to his credit, had a good stab at answering them with talk of ions and radon gas and ground water. (But oh, I would have liked something more convincingly scientific!)

But I actually think Feng-Shui is good stuff, provided that you don't prod underneath the surface too much.

Who doesn't want a nice living environment? Things like trees and water and the flow of air undoubtedly affect us and we undoubtedly feel better when there are elements of the environment that we feel we can control.

I told Fong that I had a lot of fun playing feng-shui expert for my neighbours after reading two books by fellow Malaysian feng-shui expert Lilian Too, telling them off if they had the wrong number of fish in their pond ("Only eight? And you must add one black one to take away the bad luck") and trying to give away a stray cat's ginger kittens, telling them "Your house is very yin. Cats add a yang element, and this gold colour is very lucky".

These guys weren't too impressed with Lillian Too's books, especially with her emphasis on putting little animal statues around the house to bring luck of different kinds. (Ducks in the bedroom for marital harmony, that sort of thing.) "If you do that, your house will become like animal farm ... or like a zoo," Jason and his friend agreed.

If you want a taste of the book, do check out Jason's blog. It's also worth buying as a record of the ugly concrete excrescence that is the Klang Valley's suburban sprawl.

I wonder though if some of the house owners whose properties are photographed might be a little unhappy having their bad feng-shui recorded in a book? It won't do much for their house prices!

I think this is my last Writer's Circle for a while. It used to be a very useful monthly event where folks could come and learn about the ins and outs of publishing. Now it seems to have completely lost focus and frankly, I can think of more useful things to do on those Saturday mornings.


Madcap Machinist said...

So that's why you didn't pick up my call.

Was on the way to amir's proofreading do, and in a blonde moment, forgot to note down where it was supposed to be. The only person I could think of to ask was you... then I stopped outside a starbucks and logged on to facebook!

So sorry to hear nobody turned up for the event... maybe nobody's actually that interested in fengshui after all? I would have loved to hear that bit about Radon gas actually...

Greenbottle said...

ducks in the bedroom ?...that's the funniest thing i heard since well, yesterday....

bibliobibuli said...

sorry machinist. i made rather a mess of saturday. didn't have the energy in the end to proofread for amir or go to raja ahamd's reading. i felt very deflated after this.

ducks? yes greenbottle. or statues of. a male and a female. not a male and a male or a female and a female or who knows what quacky things they may encourage you to get up to. and not one duck on its own. and not a whole collection of ducks (which i've seen in one friend's house)

bookseller said...

I agree that perhaps feng shui is not what the regulars for Writers Circle are inclined towards. I mean check out the condemnations Borders received when WOFS was operating at the Time Square store, until they finally moved out.

Maybe MPH needs to pump some excitement into the Writers Circle, do something different, find a new edge. It'd be a waste to lose one of the few regular literary events in the city/country. Yeah, yeah, easy to say, but there have been past successes...

Anonymous said...

It's actually quite easy to get people to come to these events. Free food! Or better, limited free food served. Show a photo of sate Kajang in the flyer and you'd have your audience.

anything free would work actually.