ABOUT THIS I CHING PROJECT
In the 1980’s, I devoted myself to the study of chance, fascinated by all things random. I experimented with several artistic and written chance experiments (like word bag poetry.)
It was during this time that I became acquainted with the I Ching and decided to conduct a chance experiment before I studied and became more familiar with the I Ching symbols. My hope was that my naiveté and ignorance of the meanings of the hexagrams might confirm or disprove the cosmic nature and oracular capabilities of the book.
In 1985 I began Experiment 42, a kind of reverse I Ching in which I was the randomizing agent. The idea was to randomly pick a pair of hexagrams and replicate them with some dyed and stained homemade paper. I recorded thoughts and situations surrounding the event of the consulting. My intention was that after I had gone through all the symbols, I would review the I Ching and compare the text with my journal and see how well they matched up, if at all.
While this was not an entirely random way of selecting hexagrams, it was at least as random as the yarrow stick method, which itself is statistically biased toward certain answers.
The journal has not survived, having been burnt in a fire, but the hexagrams remain. I got through 58 hexagrams and put the project down for twenty years. In 2006 I decided to finish the project and began working on it until completion.
In the first 58 hexagrams there were 9 repeaters (hexagrams that were chosen twice). Since the project had been put down for 20 years and I didn’t want to start from scratch with new bias, I made a list of the remaining unused or unselected 15 hexagrams and randomly chose from these to complete the project. This is the reason I ended up with a total of 73 hexagrams instead of 64.
Of the original 58 hexagrams, there were 7 repeaters: 61, 43, 11,16,62,53 and 17 (using the Wilhem numbers); there were 2 triples (hexagrams that were chosen 3 times): 11 and 53.
Starting in March of 2006, I began to choose at random from the pool of 15 unused hexagrams to finish the project. Of the 15 unused in the original 58, 4 hexagrams contained the K’un trigram (3 broken lines) in the upper trigram, perhaps suggesting a disposition to the Ch’ien trigram (3 unbroken lines.)
One interesting coincidence is that my number 27 is the Wilhelm number 27.
Without the corresponding journal, a dimension of interpretation is missing from the experiment. However, the decoration and designs of the hexagrams create a mood and a feeling (as does any piece of artwork) and I leave much of the interpretation up to the viewer to compare the hexagrams with the interpretive text of your choice and discover your own synchronistic experience.