03 October 2012

Why I Love Reading the I Ching

After the huge Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life by Todd Oldham (the book is 17.7 inches by 12.6 inches and 2 inches thick)--which I finally broke down and bought*--and Envisioning Information by Edward Tufte, the book I check out most from the library is The Original I Ching Oracle by Rudolf Ritsema and Shantena Augusto Sabbadini:
The "I Ching" sitting in all its glory on a table.

I do not like the actual book much, so I was pondering why I keep checking it out. Here are the reasons I came up with.
  1. The actual title just begs respect for its simultaneous antiquity and epical nature: "The Original I Ching Oracle: The Pure and Complete Texts with Concordance, Translated under the auspices of the Eranos Foundation". How can I resist a title with "oracle," "concordances" AND "auspices" in it?
  2. The sheer thickness of the book. While Amazon.com reports an original copy to be 2.5 inches thick, I think the library copy has matured to a full 3 inches. A book that thick demands the respect of everyone in the vicinity.
  3. The giant Chinese character on the front. I generally get two reactions from people after they have comprehended the thickness of the book and the prominent Chinese characters on the front: "I am so sorry that you have to read that. What class are you reading it for so I can make sure to never take it?" or "Are you learning Chinese?" Sometimes when I get the first response, if I am feeling particularly mischievous, I tell them it is for the Capstone class (a class that, in theory, each graduate has to take after the first two years of schooling).
  4. The inside is filled with even more Chinese characters.
  5. Running through an I Ching with someone is fun, if not informative. (For those who do not know, as I did not know when I first checked the book out: you roll three coins, or other two sided objects, three times and based on the combination of heads and tails the I Ching gives a fortune. You can read more about it on Wikipedia.)
  6. I Ching fortunes can be fun to read and piece together. Fortune may be too strong of a word, they are more of guiding phrases and less of "fortunes" in the Fortune Cookie sense.
  7. Reading a lot of wise I Ching phrases allows one to then spout those exact or similar phrases back like, "white noise can bring both clarity and confusion" or "feed to hungry tiger before it finds a new master", thus sounding both profound and wise while not actually having said anything of substance.
  8. The I Ching brings me a bit of culture that I rather enjoy.
While I would not recommend this book for reading, I would suggest it for browsing. It is fun to flip through its pages and read the bits of wisdom scatter throughout it.

* On having bought Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life by Todd Oldham: I was going to include this in the body, but it got way too long. I guess it shows, in part, how much I love this book: I actually bought a slightly smaller copy, 12 inches by 8.5 inches by 1.5 inches, which i deemed more reasonable for the portability my nearby transient lifestyle currently requires. I bought it shortly before graduation, before I knew where I would be living after I graduated and after realizing that I did not know if my next library would have a copy of this amazing book and noting that I had nearly, single handedly, filled up the return date card.

No comments:

Post a Comment