Posted by: glue | September 1, 2008


As part of the invention of word metaphysics, Aristotle appropriated the Greek spatial concept “topos” for use as a rhetorical structure. The commonplace method for storing and retrieving textual information developed by means of “topics.” Electrate rhetoric frames the literate topical system with another Greek category of space, chora (region). The invention of a choral operation for storing and retrieving data is in progress (here). A relay for this invention is the I Ching, the Chinese oracle known as the Book of Changes, which is the most highly evolved demonstration of how an image metaphysics functions. The heuretic rule is not to copy the I Ching, but to discover an equivalent for our own apparatus.



The I Ching is a kind of collective memory palace. The ground of “places” of memory is a generic “Mountain-Water” (landscape), abstracted into eight features (expressed in trigrams of open or closed lines) — Heaven, Thunder, Water, Mountain, Earth, Wind, Sun, Lake (the names of the features vary).

Image Category

Image Category

The Landscape is in motion, passing through seasonal time. The time-space of the seasons serves as interface for a collection of other cultural and natural systems, including the human body, family kinship, the political system, the historical dynasties, along with a range of qualities of experience. These discourses in turn are coordinated with the worldview of the civilization, emblematized in the Tai Chi, manifested as Yin and Yang, the interacting forces of the universe whose waxing and waning is the motor of all events and relationships. To consult the oracle (by flipping the coins for example) is to receive a snapshot of the propensity of things in one’s situation at that moment: the tendency or direction of energies, the attractors at work. The final layer interfaced with the landscape is a syncretic correlation with the wisdom traditions of China — Taoist, Confucian, Buddhist.

Leibniz, learning of the I Ching from some Jesuit friends, praised the Chinese for having developed a knowledge of practical reason (relevant to ethics and politics) that exceeded anything to be found in the West. The oracle is a decision engine, connecting individuals and their quotidian problems with the collective learning of the civilization, as gathered by the sages over hundreds of years. The heuretic principle is “to seek what they sought” — to find for our apparatus a holistic imaging system supporting decision-making, the deliberative reason of an Internet public sphere. Operation Superfund is a prototype for the kind of observational experiment needed to do the work of the sages for our own epoch. The position of sage now is distributed, a wiki-sagacity.


  1. Since Cha-Ching and Ka-Ching are already out on the table as proposed names for the electrate analogue to the I Ching, it seems worth mentioning that there already exists a Ch’a Ching [The Classic of Tea].

    “In the eighth century a stuttering poet named Lu Yu composed the great classic of tea, the Ch’a Ching. This was the book translated a thousand years later under George Williamson. The Ch’a Ching was a three-volume work that covered every aspect of T’ang tea culture: botany, cultivation, grading, descriptions of the implements used in preparation and brewing, and anecdotes about famous tea drinkers. The Ch’a Ching became the bible of tea. Lu Yu was said to be able to identify not only any tea he was offered but also the source of the water in which it was boiled. His skill was tested by the emperor himself. Lu Yu was always a disappointment to his father, because he had embraced Confucianism instead of Buddhism.”

    [Pharmako/Dynamis 52]

    Perhaps Lu Yu’s famed ability to identify not only tea but also the water source in which it was boiled is somehow relevant to Operation Superfund?

  2. I, pronounced “E,” a Puncept

    Thanks for that reminder about the Book of Tea. A good resource, given its contribution to the Classical aesthetics of wabi-sabi. The puncept with KaChing calls attention also to the pointer of the “I” in I Ching (following the choral linguistics of Finnegans Wake). “Ching” means “book,” and “I” means “change.” However, it also means “permanence,” making it one of those naturally philosophical words recommended by Hegel and Freud, among others.

    The puncept is with the first-person subject (I, yo, je, Ich), signalling the landscape avatar. The letter “i” signifies “imaginary number” in mathematics. The proliferation of the “i” in software names (Mac iWorks) is part of the cluster forming relevant to our image category.

    There are numerous websites that allow you to consult the I Ching.

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