Coffee and Divination

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I’m back in China for a brief visit, to attend the Third World Yijing Summit Forum in the city of Wuxi. It is the second time I have attended the forum. The last one was a curious affair, a melange of scholars, geomancers, diviners, financial speculators, religious practitioners and (for some reason) flamenco singers and dancers. This time, I’m hoping for more of the same. And I’ll also be talking about my novel-of-sorts, Sixty-Four Chance Pieces: A Book of Changes, and about the Yijing as a peculiarly effective tool for invention.

In some ways, I’m amazed that I get invited to these things at all, given that I have described the Yijing in print (in the book mentioned above) as ‘a magnet for the deranged and misguided’. But for all this, the Yijing remains a strangely fascinating book, a book that impresses me, more than anything else, on account of its mutability (and, of course, the Yi of Yijing 易經, amongst other things, can mean ‘change’ or ‘changing’). Hence my concern with the Yijing not as a repository of truths or wisdom (which I really think it isn’t at all) but instead as a means of spurring the person who consults it to new, creative ideas and solutions.

I arrived into Shanghai yesterday. Later this morning, I’m being picked up to head to the conference. So having time on my hands, I’m drinking coffee in the old town of Xinchang, near where I’m staying. I’m in recovery from a bout of flu, which has made the travelling not particularly pleasant. But I’m also coffee-deprived, and suspecting that least 50% of my residual flu symptoms may be related to caffeine withdrawal, I’ve come out to the small courtyard coffee shop pictured above to self medicate with a mug of something hot and bitter.

I’ll post more about the conference over the next few days either here or – if there is anything more substantive to say – over on my philosophy blog WaywardPhilosophy.com.

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