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You can picture it in your mind. The 9th century, a tiny beehive hut of stone on the rocky coast of Ireland, inside a young monk and his white cat. In between his prayers, his studies, and his work translating older texts, the monk found time to write a poem about his relationship with his small companion.

This is how the poem begins:
Messe agus Pangur Bán,
cechtar nathar fria saindán
bíth a menma-sam fri seilgg,
mu menma céin im saincheirdd

The poem tells of the monk and his cat both working on their individual crafts; the cat hunting for mice, the monk hunting for the right words. They’re each good at their work, they each find their task rewarding. They each find the company of the other to be agreeable. They’re each learning.

This cat, lying comfortably alert in a Shanghai alleyway halfway around the world from Ireland, is practicing the same craft as Pangur Bán did twelve hundred years earlier. This photographer, like that long-dead Irish monk, seeks to an artful way to speak to the wider world. A monk in Ireland, a photographer in China, two cats. So little in common, so much in common. You can picture it in your mind.

This is how the poem ends:
Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light

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