Friday, October 28, 2011

My I Ching Venetian Blind

The sun continues to beam unusually brightly for October, and as I sit, tucked up snug inside my sheepskin boiler suit, I feel aglow with the very best of the world’s radiance.

My only complaint is that the glare — reflected from every surface of my study, including the sheep’s eyeballs — makes typing at my laptop almost impossible and my descent into Typo Central as inevitable as the shrieking of hapless angels kidnapped by demons and thrust into the bowels of Hdaes.

Normally, of course, I’d draw the curtains and throw a necessary shroud over my workspace, but since Girly of Whirly has taken them down to run up into a ball gown, I’ve had to crack out the I Ching venitian blind from the attic, where it has resided for the past twenty-five years alongside boxes of clutter and old bicycles — and the remains of some woman who claimed to be a long-lost aunt who I was (sadly) forced to club to death after an altercation.

I originally purchased the blind in 1985 when uncertainty about my future had reached fever pitch.  The I Ching, as you’re probably aware, is a kind of divination device you can use in the absence of being bossed about the place by a mad dictator or having any clue about what to do with your gift of free will.  Rendered in venetian blind form, it can also serve as a handy means of moderating the degree of light available to rooms (and, in my case, partial concealment for an attic corpse).

The idea is very simple.  Every time you adjust the slats, one of the sixty-four I Ching hexagrams is displayed at random.  For tasteless design buffs, such blinds are a great addition to living rooms bursting with crap, but to seekers of the truth such as I was in 1985, they’re perfect for posing philosophical conundrums while dealing with the realities of night and day.

It’s up now, and I can more or less see to type.  A gentle breeze blows from the open window, causing the blind's plastic slats to chitter like the legs of distant beetles, and as I sit, wrestling with the sub-plot of a spurious story, I’m minded to check in to an I Ching divination website to seek counsel about what to have later for lunch.

First, I must formulate a question, some item of purest ponderousness upon which the oracle can “make like a sage”.

And the question I choose is: Should I finish off the curry from last night or make a fresh cheese and tomato sandwich?

A hexagram appears on the slats, tugged into being by the pull cord which I now see has a withered ear dangling from it.

According to, this is hexagram 49.  Named ‘KO’, possibly after one of the Teletubbies’ parents, it’s composed of two parts, namely ‘The Joyous’ and ‘The Clinging’, and embodies the idea of moulting or shedding.  According to Chin Chin Wee (who runs this particular site from the privacy of his weirdo bandana), the idea here is that just as animals’ pelts and religious and political movements come and go with the seasons, so it is with the subject matter of my question.  More specifically, Wee says,

Fire in the lake: the image of REVOLUTION
Thus the superior man
Sets the calendar in order
And makes the seasons clear.

In terms of imagery, this makes some kind of sense.  If there were ever a fire in the lake here at Whirl Towers, it would scare the bejesus out of half the neighbourhood in a way guaranteed to make heads revolve, and if the cyclic changes Wee describes are inevitable, it makes sense to have a timetable for predicting their comings and goings to which one can refer.

But what does this mean for my lunch?

My curry, though more revolutionary than a cheese and tomato sandwich in terms of spiciness and potential for inducing gastric tornadoes, is nonetheless an old curry — ‘yesterday’s pelt’, if you like.

Conversely, my cheese and tomato sandwich is the more revolutionary of the two by virtue of the simple fact that I haven’t made it yet.  The cheese remains unsliced, the tomato unmachetied, and nothing short of a revolution of matter is required to change this.  Plus, being from Belgium, the cheese has a 'pelt' of mould.

So I’ve decided to eat both.

I shall reheat the curry and dip my sandwich into it naan-style, cross-legged in my study chair like an eastern potentate, as the shadow of KO plays upon my sheepskin.  Philosophically speaking, it’s the worst kind of cop-out, but I’m an unrepentant foodie and I don’t care.

Feel free to check in to the comments trail with your Friday lunchtime treat, especially if you decide to consult the oracle about it first.


Sydneylk said...

I did not have to consult an oracle for my lunch decision. It was made for me by the cooks at work as it is every day I am at work. They cook it and then throw it into the lunch room for us all to fight and squabble over.

Today we had fajitas and rice.

Whirlochre said...

Fajitas and rice sounds perfect for squabbling over. At least if things turn to hand-to-hand combat, everyone has a chance of walking away with something.