As Chinese writer Wang Anyi's novel The Song of Everlasting Sorrow describes, the lichen is Shanghai’s special tenderness. In the 21st century, the lichen and abstract patterns are found in alleys next to the demolition place. They represent the faces of the former residents, their memories, and the changing seasons. These paintings were all made by nature and without any artificial effects, which can be traced back to the spirit of Taoism in the 4th century.
“Once, Zhuang Zhou dreamed he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering about, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know that he was Zhuang Zhou. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuang Zhou. But he didn't know if he was Zhuang Zhou who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming that he was Zhuang Zhou. Between Zhuang Zhou and the butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.”
—From a tale in the book Zhuangzi