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I wonder if they did this deliberately or that is was a consequence of the tools they used. Carving in bone, hard material, makes it hard to make round figures. The nature of the material makes the carvings stylized. I think.lindsay said:"The shell-and-bone characters represented writing in the true sense of the word. They were not pictures. Many of their shapes had evolved out of earlier pictographic designs, but the symbols themselves were no longer pictorial in nature. Indeed, Shang scribes seem to have deliberately distorted the shapes to produce a stylized effect.
Although I agree 100% with what the writer says, he also says that the characters were representations of concrete objects - in other words, pictures. The examples he gives are pictures of a scorpion, a winnowing basket and wheat. In other words, originally Chinese characters were pictures. But we should not always read them as such, the meaning of the character is not always found in the object that it originally represents. "The character depicts a scorpion, therefore it means 'scorpion'"- that would be a fallacy. Nevertheless, it is a picture of a scorpion.It was easy enough to write a single horizontal line to represent "one", or two lines to represent "two"; but how could a scribe record the number "ten thousand"? The solution that the Chinese hit upon was the use the stylized drawing of an insect much like a scorpion, because their word for this insect sounded like their word for "ten thousand" (now pronounced wan4 in Peking dialect). Thus, in an account book a picture of a scorpion indicated in rebuslike fashion the number that was meant. The word for "that" (qi2) sounded very similar to the word for "winnowing basket" (ji1) so that a schematic drawing of a basket could suffice for both; the graph for "to come" (lai2) was derived from the drawing of the near-homonym, "(a stalk of) wheat". This kind of rebus association is the principle that underlies the structure of the majority of Chinese characters.
I can understand that, and I agree that you should never read a character (only) as its OBI predecessor, but nevertheless the picture approach is sometimes the only way you have to shed new light on a character. For instance, the character of hexagram 2, kun 坤, only appears in the Yijing. We have no other books from the same time era as the Yijing which use this character, all other books which use this character do it with a reference to the Yijing. Now, the whole interpretation and meaning of this character comes form much later ages, and if I want to find out if the character might have other earlier meanings as well, I have only one way left: look at it as if it were a picture of something, be it abstract or concrete. After all, I do not have other references to cling to, so what else can I do? But it should be a last resort, if you have nothing else which helps you further.The "let's look at the picture" approach is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the birth of the Chinese written language.
Yes, I gave an example of that recently on my weblog ( http://www.i-tjingcentrum.nl/serendipity/archives/89-The-remarkable-deductions-in-xiangshu-explanations.html ). Ah well, let them play along. After all, in the process of divination these correlations can prove helpful.lindsay said:Now there is a great deal of "potted" etymology in the I Ching world, derivations of meaning based on the pictorial value of character-components which - surprise! surprise! - always seem to illustrate what the author thinks the character meant all along. How convenient! It reminds me of the intellectual contortions that sometimes occur when people try to reconcile the trigram system with the hexagram texts. People refuse to believe these are two entirely different symbol systems, invented at different times for different reasons. They can complement each other, but they always remain separate and (in some degree) incompatible.
Something like this?My advice is to take most discussions of Chinese etymology in I Ching books with "a bag of salt" - no, "a freight-container of salt" - no, better make that "a super-tanker full of salt".
When one moves to what is the SAME across us all, one moves to the level of the species where there is no 'east vs west' difference. At that level meaning is all blending, bonding, bounding, and binding ;-) - all sourced in our neurology and so blind to local contexts.lindsay said:The whole "Eastern v. Western way of thinking" bit is a red herring. Nine times out of ten it is simply an excuse to evade serious discussion. Lindsay
No - something far far more precise than the traditional material, transcending 10th century BC thinking since we have envolved a bit and so we can move the IC into the 21st century AD. ;-)bruce_g said:chuckling to myself here..
Just for fun, try to imagine what a western authored Book of Changes might look like. Then compare it to the Yijing as we know it. Bit more than a red herring, me thinks.
My IDM material comes out of the neurology - not the IC. I use the IC as an example of that neurological dynamic. If the IC wasnt around I would still be working with such specialisations as the MBTI, Mathematics, categories of human emotions, categories of socioeconomic patterns etc etc etc and the overall focus on recursion. The XOR material etc comes from the methodology, not the IC, and so applies to the MBTI categories etc as it does to the IC.bruce_g said:OMG, Chris, I’m shocked that you would say that!
But I wonder, Chris, where would your I Ching Plus and IDM material be if there was no such thing as traditional I Ching, first?
I do not think it makes any real difference in the practice of divination. The text or system that you use will be applied and will work, it does not really matter what it is or where it stems from. Everything can serve as an oracle. You only have to be able to read its answers. So, if you use a text which talks about elephants, and you find that text valuable in divination, then that text will be meaningful to you. It hardly matters if it has to do with the original Yijing; the text that you use will work for you.hilary said:All sounds reasonable to me. Does it make any difference to divination?
Like for instance the time I was reading for a father about his daughter, who has cerebral palsy. The answer contained hexagram 16, and I talked about elephants in my interpretation. Afterwards, he told me that when he does her stretching exercises with her, he says 'tell the elephants to let go of your legs' - this is a family in-joke.
I think not. There are too many characters in which the meaning of the sound part does not seem to be related to the meaning of the character as a whole. Nevertheless I myself always try to find out if the sound part not only gives the sound but also adds meaning to the character. The fact that a component represents the sound does not necessarily imply that it does not add meaning.1) Is the pictographic element of characters a reliable guide to their meaning in general?
Ah, but diviners (like you) are trained in seeing patterns in the answers and in the text. It would not benefit your job as a diviner if you would discard the patterns that you discover. You work with what you get, and what you get is important to you, and that enables you to see patterns. But seeing patterns is an entirely subjective matter. It is all in the eye of the beholder.2) Is it part of the fabric of meaning of the Yijing text?
(I reckon it is. At least, as an interpreter of texts I never assume that vivid patterns I can perceive should be discarded because an authority tells me that they can't really be there.
Yes, they can be very helpful in the practice of divination. When it comes to divination there are hardly limits. Anything that can give you the flash of awareness can and may be applied - it does not matter if it is etymological or historical correct. Ritsema & Karcher's book is an example of this. Many meanings they give of a character are not meanings in the true sense of the word but merely interpretations (gou 姤, hexagram 44, does not mean 'magnetism', in no Chinese book is it ever used with this meaning. But it fits the general view that most people have of hexagram 44). From a translator's perspective I find it awful, from a diviner's perspective it might come in handy.3) Can the pictographic elements be part of the meaning in and experience of divination?
If you mean that we don't have a manual like the Ten Wings which tells about the trigrams and the lines, then it will be very difficult. Then it is just a bunch of lines. Only if someone comes up with a systemization, then it will become meaningful.A fourth question could be: how serious can we take the hexagrams, those 6 lines?
Can we say what a hexagram means, based on its structure, without studying the text?
So, why use Yi at all? Why not read tea leaves or the clouds in the sky, if there’s no correlation in lines, trigrams or even hexagrams? Why be concerned if a text is accurate or just a of menagerie of speculative conjectures? Or is this Lindsay’s point?hmesker said:I do not think it makes any real difference in the practice of divination. The text or system that you use will be applied and will work, it does not really matter what it is or where it stems from. Everything can serve as an oracle. You only have to be able to read its answers. Harmen.
(1) I have some book somewhere that links the IC to original work done in Persia, so....!martin said:Looks Egyptian, Chris!
Perhaps rotate it a bit to suggest depth, a path? (line 1 nearby, line 6 far away)
Because the Yijing is connected to a philosophy which gives it all meaning. Yin & Yang, change and how these interact, the Chinese culture and values that we find in the text, that is what makes the Yijing such a good oracle. It is not just a bunch of random chapters; the hexagrams can help us to find patterns in the book, and these patterns can be related to our own life. The images that the Yijing applies are vivid, they sparkle your imagination, more then any other mantic method, as far as I'm concerned.bruce_g said:So, why use Yi at all?
There is a system that correlates lines, trigrams and hexagrams, in the Ten Wings this is all mentioned. Personally I am not 100% sure if this is a later invention or from the beginning meant to be incorporated in the system of the Yijing. But that does not really matter. The Ten Wings gives us tools to work with the hexagrams. But I do not believe there is a link between the words of the text and the (components of) the hexagrams.Why not read tea leaves or the clouds in the sky, if there’s no correlation in lines, trigrams or even hexagrams?
If you are not concerned with the Yijing: use what fits you. But if you want to use the Yijing I assume you want to use that version of the book that comes closest to the original, instead of a weak derivation of it. Then you want to know if the text is accurate. But for the practice of divination this is not really important.Why be concerned if a text is accurate or just a of menagerie of speculative conjectures?
I don't think that 'literalism' is important in using the Yijing. I mean, look at the people who use The I Ching Workbook by Wing, or, even worse, I Ching in Ten Minutes by Kaser. Especially the latter hardly has anything to do with the Yijing, but the people who use these books do get meaningful answers. They believe they are using the Yijing, but from my point of view they aren't. Which brings up another question: what defines the Yijing for you? For me a book can only be called the Yijing if it contains 1. the hexagrams, and 2. (a proper translation of) the Zhouyi. If one of these two is lacking I do not consider it a Yijing. To me the many interpretations that exist are not Yijings, they are only an author's personal view of the Yijing.I dunno, gang, it seems that there should be an intelligent balance of literalism and creative cognition, when using the Yijing. One extreme or the other falls into an abyss, imo.
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