Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dragons and Other Fantastic Creatures

Brian

Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges's Book of Imaginary Beings offers a helpful guide to dragons:
The Chinese Dragon, the lung, is one of the four magic animals. (The others are the unicorn, the phoenix, and the tortoise.) At best, the Western Dragon spreads terror; at worst, it is a figure of fun. The lung of Chinese myth, however, is divine and is like an angel that is also a lion. We read in the Historical Record of Ssu-ma Ch'ien that Confucius went to consult the archivist or librarian Lao-tzu, and after his visit said: Birds fly, fish swim, animals run. The running animal can be caught in a trap, the swimmer in a net, and the flyer by an arrow. But there is the Dragon; I don't know how it rides on the wind or how it reaches the heavens.
Link. His knowledge might come in handy in discerning what precisely in depicted in this photo taken from a plane above the Himalayas:


The Epoch Times, anyway, thinks that we're seeing the rear ends of dragons:
Looking at the photo, these two objects appear to have the characteristics of crawling creatures: The bodies seem to be covered by scales, the backs have spine-like protuberances, and also they have gradually thinning rear ends. Although the photo caught only a portion of the entire scene, it was sufficient to create the appearance of two gigantic dragons flying in the clouds.
Link. But maybe we won't have to call up the late Borges for this one. At least a couple people are convinced these dragon tails are just glaciers:

Dragons or glaciers, take your pick. Either way, it seems like we're seeing a lot fewer of them these days.

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Image credits: (1) The Chinese Dragon by students at the Vakalo School of Art and Design in Athens, available at the Book of Imaginary Beings, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes; (2) Above the Himalayas, courtesy Epoch Times, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes; (3) Glaciers from above, courtesy Digital Globe, available at solid07, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.