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December 16, 2010


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"Gypsy Leathers" are the black leather biker gear (jackets, chaps, etc…) worn by motorcycle gangs: think Hell's Angels. I imagine it alludes to the outsider, nomadic lifestyle of the "old school" biker gangs & the practice of painting (usually skull related & quite decorative) designs on their biker jackets.

You were thinking of revolution--and so was I, the moment I saw your title, because the words evoked in me the I Ching hexagram called Fire in the Lake, which is revolution. My first time to your site, and this post is a nice omen.

Hi Arsen,

Thank you for reading and for your comment! I have been enjoying Your Blog a lot! We share an interest in Dante as well as Henry Corbin! (Unfortunately, I cannot recall where I read this but I seem to remember reading that the eagle of the roman empire (which was adopted on the US dollar bill) was taken from Minerva/Eagle (symbol of wisdom, but also poetry and of warriors?)

And, yes, Hexagram 49 (which is the url address for this post, of course) is interestingly followed by hexagram 50 (bronze tripod). Revolution remains an unfortunate translation and yet maybe we don't have a better approximation in English...


I kind of like the song. The bridge lyrics are campy, very campy. But I like it overall.

Sometimes you run toward something to get away from something else. Does anyone ever run away from something to run toward something else? That sounds like a cousin to "tying oneself to the mast," but I can't think of a good mythical example. That's your specialty.

Very thought-provoking, Leanne. Here's a footnote for you: the original meaning of the pictograph "革" was "a horned animal flayed by two hands" then as a verb, "to skin; to strip away the skin of an animal." So 革命 would mean literally "to strip away the mandate," wouldn't it? In the Song Dynasty novel "The Water Margin," Song Jiang's band of outlaws justified their revolutionary activities as "替天行道" (implementing the True Way on behalf of Heaven). If we sympathize with revolutionaries, we describe their actions as "起義" (righteous uprising); if we disapprove, we call it "造反" (mutinous rebellion).

Yes, to alter or strip away the mandate. But, I think beyond the expressions of historical interpretations (起義等) what is to my mind interesting is that the Chinese case had a time component "built in" to its concept of power. That is, that 天命 by definition includes change or 革命 and hence, it is unique. Compare that to almost any other concept of power where power is determined by natural law or bloodlines there is not this sense of "things will change and that is how it should be." (although Marxism has an idea of evolutionary transformation, I believe...)

My own interest in the Imperial Collection for example often leads right back to this point. Why did CKS lug around a 5 ton bronze ding? Because that was regalia. The Romans too had this concept that when Heavens were pleased with virtuous rule that bronzes would be found-- Greek bronzes that harkened back to a Golden Age. It was auspicious sign and therefore politically significant. It is also maybe illumimating in my own situation? That there is a tension between Revolution/Intent and Going with the flow... My friend Daniel says, in Chinese you cannot translate 自然体 as going with the flow... and often in Japanese, you will see 無為 explained in terms of 自然体--not as "no action" with because if you think about it, in a similar way that 革命 is not revolution, 為 is not necessarily "action" in terms of agency in the way it has been presented in the European philosophical tradition... This interests me and it also bolsters me too....xoxoxo

I usually translate 無為 as "non-ado", 無為而為 as "doing without ado", and 無為而無不為 as "non-ado with nothing left undone". :-)

" . . . it was always in their interest to put forth proof of heaven
's favor as well as displays of their own moral virtue." That's still applicable today among our modern politicians. The more things change the more they stay the same. I've occasionally dreamed of flying too, but none of mine comes close to your bird's eye view of Istanbul. Thanks for sharing that. As always, an intriguing post.

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