Decline to minuteness

JUNE 5 03 – Today I received trigraph #29 from the Lingqijing, 'Decline to minuteness', which probably explains why I don't have much to say, but apparently I will resurge like melon vines stretching and extending, gradually ascending upwards. You can see it in the trigraph, a single yang stands at the bottom, fresh and exuberant, a live and vigorous root, but blocked by four weary yin covering it over in the middle. But the yin can only pass, there is nowhere else for it to go now, it cannot sustain its position, which will let the yang flourish and rise up. It is like the wild sweetpeas in the garden, as tiny unrecognisable seedlings they were pulled up with the weeds growing around them, they are growing entirely out of cracks in the paving stones, yet now they are growing at a furious pace, climbing up a wigwam of canes rising up like triffids.

(Incidentally, someone asked me about the name of the oracle, realising that 'ling' is the Chinese word for 'magic'. Lingqijing means 'The Magical Chesspieces Classic', a Daoist oracle. Chinese chesspieces are flat disks like draughts pieces. The Lingqijing has no relation to actual Chinese chess (Xiangqi), it is just that the 'magical tokens' used to consult it resemble Chinese chesspieces. I appear to be the only person talking about the Lingqijing on the web, I'd certainly be interested in hearing from anyone else who consults it. I think it's a beautiful work. There are only two books on it in English, the best being Ling Ch'I Ching by Ralph D Sawyer and Mei-chün Lee Sawyer. The other is 'Spirit Tokens of the Ling Qi Jing' by Ivan Kashiwa.) [UPDATE: See my article on the Lingqijing.]

In the verse of #29 I am dreaming of ascending a moonlit path up a sacred mountain. Oddly enough, I'm reading Dai Sijie's 'Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress' at the moment, a love story set during the Cultural Revolution about two guys sent for 're-education' in the countryside where they have to carry buckets of shit on their backs up and down mountain paths, the shit sloshing about just behind their ears. The daughter of the local tailor proves a welcome distraction. A theme of the tale is about how gorgeous literature is when you have been starved of it.


I had a chat with my new next-door neighbour this evening over the fence and learnt an idiom I hadn't heard before. After noting that the sparrows didn't seem much interested in his stocking-filler of sunflower seeds hanging from the rose bush, I started talking about the woman who kept a birdtable somewhat obsessively a few gardens down, who has moved now.

'Upton Park was she?' my neighbour said.

'Upton Park? I don't know that one. Is it rhyming slang?'

'Two stops short of Barking.'