Monday, February 2, 2009

Today's World: I Ching or Economy?

#chinese #mandarin #hanzi #japanese #kanji .
[ See also Tomorrow's Chinese/Japanese Radical(s) ]

I am a man of honor keeping my promises, so here is something easy:

It is easy: change + scripture = Book of Change = "I Ching" or Yìjīng as preferred in China. The simplified character for "easy/change" is a sun. On top of .... rays? An animal? Since it's not so far removed from the character for pig - 豕 - it would be possible to assign the label piglet to it, but Heisig has gone one step further and views it as the curly tail of the pig/piglet. Suggested story: It's easy to change a huge pig to a small piglet - or even nothing but a tiny piggy tail - when you put it under the hot, shrinking sun. 'Nuff said.

Let's dig deeper into Chinese tradition:

The Yin/Yang ☯ duality is probably even more CHINA than I Ching, for many of us living in the west. The Female Principle vs. the Masculine Principle, some would say. Sun vs. Moon (as in the simplified characters above) , Day vs. Night, Light vs. Darkness ... Darkness? Yes, if we look at the traditional characters the YANG principle is dominated by the top Sun, but all those strokes to the right in YIN is actually telling us that it's in the SHADE, and what's more refreshing after too much sun than to get into the shade? (阝 = some sort of hill/pinnacle).

From the world of Chinese thought to the ups and downs of the Brave New World we're living in : economy:

It's just like it should be. In the combination of the characters easy/change and sutra/scripture we got The Book of Change. OK, the character to the right above has many more meanings apart from "cross (a river)", like aid, relieve, help, be of help, benefit but it is still a stretch to arrive at Economy. That' is, if the ancients were clever enough to predict that the economy in the future - our time - would be "a religion/philosophy in need of help"??

See: I am making this easy, not getting deep down into any character details. Until now. I can't help getting very fascinated by how these characters have traveled through the ages, from China to contries like Korea, Japan and Vietnam. When you think about it, it's really amazing that there hasn't been more "corruption" of the originals.

Here are three versions of sutra (WikiPedia):

The component for thread 糸 is the same in all three versions, apart from the three strokes at the bottom reduced to a single one in the simplified character, as usual. The old character/component 巠 presents some familiar items like 一 (one - yī) and 工 (work - gōng) with sandwiched <<< style="font-weight: bold;">

Update: This project follow the technique/method of James W Heisig ("Remembering the Kanji" and Remembering the Hanzi"). It's nothing more than doing exactly what's been done here: break down the characters to smaller "atoms" (radicals/primitives/components) and turn them into actors in a story to help you remember the character. In Heisig speak the two components ス + 工 in 经 are a spool. In my own mental image the entire character is a Tibetan Prayer Wheel (Wiki) where prayers - sutras! - are sent rotating on threads from the center spool. Click image from WikiPedia below to enlarge.

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