Two years ago on Round and Square (20 June 2011)—Endings: Never in Anger
|[a] Yinyang (five-phase) cosmology RF|
Now, though, we are going to start punctuating that prolixity with some more "punchy" segments that will, in their very brevity, dig into the subterranean implications of their very concatenation.
|[b] Yinyang (eight trigrams) RF|
Yes, that is precisely what I mean. By the very brevity of these lists of five (which I will present on all sorts of topics) you will get a chance to argue, reflect, be annoyed, and learn something each day about how Chinese cosmology lumps all sorts of things together into "fives" and almost magically makes them into wholes. This may sound crazy, but there is conceptual power beneath all of them 'thar lumps of ideas.
Let's try out an example to start.
It works something like this: one-two-three-four-five...totality. You list five things, and they resemble (really, become) another thing. In early Chinese cosmology, the five directions were east, south, center, west, and north. Combined, they were direction. The five colors were green, red, yellow, white, and black. Combined, they were color. It goes on-and-on, with hundreds, arguably even thousands, of combinations.
Nope? Not yet?
|[c] Five RF|
As I suspected, this concept takes a little bit of time to register. Don't despair, though. It took me more than a decade to get what I like to think of as an intuitive feel for it. It's called yin-yang, five-phase (陰陽五行) cosmology, and it is at the heart of just about every idea that graced the noggins of Chinese intellectuals for two thousand years. The following posts are the clearest introductions to the concept that I have ever read. Yes, that is giving myself a great deal of credit, but many historians of China just can't seem to explain it very well. It's not perfect, but you'll see a little bit of what will be going on in these posts (click on the links below).
If you are intrigued by this idea of explicating a concept in five little moves, you owe it to yourself to read on. Take your time. Be patient.
You didn't read them, did you? I suspected as much.
If you skipped this fairly formidable reading load, you will probably not "get" it the way you should. Still, let me move on and use the power of "five-listing" to give you just a little glimpse into how it goes (this is the remedial course).
The idea is this, if you remember from several paragraphs above:
 List five things
 Make them
 Those five things
|[d] Inevitable kitten pose RF|
O.k., even if it doesn't (yet), I'll guarantee you this. Once I actually start posting lists of five (movies, fast foods, Tour de France champions, Olympic venues, and pop stars), you'll have an opinion. You bet you will. Then maybe you'll go back to the links above* and come to understand that, for the last 2,500 years or so, Chinese thinkers have been grouping fives and expressing totality.
*My apologies to those of you who have really already read the links.
And we "[post-] moderns" can, too.
If you really think about these posts, and perhaps search either of the following two key phrases (see below), you will learn something so deep, so abiding, and so lasting...that you will understand the world in new ways. You will be forever changed. This is deep conceptualization...but only if you get it right.
Search the following items, in English or Chinese:
The rest will be in the individual posts. And, boy, do I want some comments. In the entire history of this blog (almost a thousand posts, and with readers in 130 countries), almost no one comments. Maybe this will get y'all adding a comment or two. Please.
Add your own "five-lists."
And let's get some discussion going.
|[e] Not exactly...(five is right, though RF|