13/12/2016 7:11:49 PM
To the question: Why eight lines? (“Why an octo-gram?”) –I would answer that, after using the Zhou Yi for meditation or other purposes for some time you will find the beautifully suggestive figures represent a closed or “circular” world (a closed landscape). Thus, even if a random process allows you to generate the hexagrams, you are bound to find again and again the same figure appearing for very different situations. There is no doubt the figures admit unlimited interpretations, given their universal meanings and combinations. A poetic mind will not feel hampered by the repeating “scenes” of this landscape. After all, human life and nature itself are circular at several scales of observation. Nevertheless, there is also a cultural-historical aspect of the “circularity” observed, which is quite extraneous in the current globalised post-cultural world. We are forced to interpret the same condensed symbolism for close as well as distant scenarios, for personal as well as impersonal questions. For sure, this circularity and economy of symbolism may be overcome by means of even finer and more imaginative thought, where the hexagrams represented new and diverse situations never seen before; but there seems to be no reason to exclude other approaches. For example, by art of combination set a new series of numbers which (without distancing itself too much from the Chinese Classics) represented such a large set of possibilities which would out-range a human life. Indeed, while a base 2 count on the hexagram format allows for 64 figures , and while Yang Xiong’s base-3 count generates 81 tetra-grams, the suggested base-4 octo-gram directly implies 65536 figures (from “00000000” to “33333333”). Simultaneously, while achieving such a large range of figures, the octograms still maintain an intriguing resemblance to the “images” or “landscapes” painted by the hexagrams of the Book of Changes and the tetragrams of the Han Dynasty philosopher. Yang Xiong (揚雄, 53 BCE to 18 CE) was the author of the “Tai Xuan Jing” or “Canon of Supreme Mystery.” There is an English translation by Michael Nylan, published in 1993 by State University of New York Press.