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Stateside: Not yer Missile Crisis

Stateside with Rosalea

Not yer Missile Crisis

Just in case you thought I was a few paua short of a pattie with last week's little hom-ily about huiaroha, I'd like to confirm that. Oops! I mean elaborate. I hope you'll stick with a couple of paragraphs of technical bits up front.

Ye olde hippies will no doubt remember the I Ching, the ancient Chinese "oracle of change". Well, another way of visualising huiaroha, instead of as a sea creature, is to think of the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching arranged in an 8 by 8 grid, encircled by a single row of hexagrams.

By hexagram I don't mean the geometric figure that is a six-pointed star, but a block of six lines, some of the lines whole and some broken in the middle. Because the bro-ken/unbroken lines can represent the on/off states that are the basis for computing, and because this grid-within-a-circle image can represent internal and external func-tions, this traditional arrangement of the hexagrams is used in teaching researchers about cellular neural networks.

One of the ways to consult the I Ching is to use ye olde universal decider of on/off states, the coin toss. I won't go into the details here, because there is an added dimen-sion decided by the fall of the three coins you toss - that is, whether they are yin or yang lines - but you toss the coins six times and create the hexagram from the bottom up.

Let's take T'ai, which is the sovereign hexagram of the first month of the ancient Chi-nese calendar. (Hey! That's now, right? Happy New Year, land of the ram.) T'ai has three unbroken lines on the bottom and three broken ones on top. As the year pro-gresses, the number of unbroken lines increases from the bottom up (think graphic equaliser) so that summer is all unbroken lines and winter is all broken ones. Which nicely reflects the relative strengths of yin and yang through the seasons.

But wait, there's more! The hexagrams aren't to do with northern hemisphere calen-dars so much as decision making and what is the best course of action to take in a certain situation. Emporers consulted the I Ching when contemplating war, and would be met with an interpretation such as this one for the first line of T'ai: "The city wall has fallen into the moat. This is not the time to go to war, but to present the situation clearly to the townspeople. Advancing in a forceful manner will lead to re-gret."

Well, obviously an ancient Chinese emporer wouldn't have got an interpretation like that, since it's from Alfred Douglas's 'How to Consult the I Ching', published by Pen-guin in 1971. But maybe Colin Powell looked it up before he trotted off to the UN with his audiovisuals. Let's hope he noted that "T'ai" is called "Peace" in the same edition.

Which brings me back to the huiaroha of the present time: the ability of every indi-vidual, according to where their mindset is - and as a vital cell in that great central nervous system we call the human race - to influence the direction humanity takes. By strengthening the T'ai call for peace in that inner square, as it were, we're strength-ening the T'ai out on the leading edge (the circular fin that propels human endeav-our).

Lost you, did I? Ah well, nothing like a bit of flummoxy old philosophising for a Sunday morning. Just make sure you get the hell out there and demonstrate for peace this weekend, and don't let yourself be stampeded over to some other hexagram that gives strength to the war-wagerers. And I bet this week will see some nasty tricks coming out of the bag to create just that effect.

On a lighter note, one of the funnier things that happened last week was recounted by a friend who was listening to Colin Powell's speech on the radio at work and in the middle of it her phone rang. The caller identified himself as a special agent for the Department of Defense, and her first thought was that they were doing a phone poll on how the speech was going! He was actually doing an employment/security check on someone who'd applied for a job at the DoD. Even funnier, the special agent had a Russian accent.

Who'd have thunk such a thing possible back in October 1962 during the missile cri-sis? Consulters of the I Ching, perhaps.


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