Amid the lawsuits and budget wrangling, Asheville City Council elections are approaching. There’s something clearly missing in the media speculation about who will run and win: electronic versions of ancient Chinese prophecy. Specifically, it’s time to consult the I Ching about our fair city’s elections.
Now the I Ching’s an incredibly old system of symbols, 64 hexagrams that represent archetypal situations, changes and potential courses of action. If well translated, it’s subtle and often beautifully poetic. But since flipping coins and carefully poring over a good translation takes time, and this is in the interest of bringing some humor to city politics, I’m going to rely on an I Ching app I recently downloaded on my phone.
This uses a hoary 1899 translation by James Legge, now in the public domain, so it’s way too literal and carries plenty of the prejudices of its time. On top of that, it’s riddled with more references to “firm correctness” than you can shake a stick at, and shoves agricultural and marital tips into its more general advice.
For fairness’ sake, I took whichever reading the app spit out first; I didn’t pick and choose these for increased drama. Blame the hexagrams and my phone.
So here we go. While random, this will probably make more sense than most punditry you hear this week.
The Asheville City Council elections in general
The elections are represented by Hexagram 16, Enthusiasm. “Feudal princes may be set up, and the hosts put in motion, with advantage.” This changes into Hexagram 45, or Gathering Together. “The king will repair to his ancestral temple… the use of great victims will conduce to good fortune.” To be fair, ancient warfare-style hostage taking (“great victims”) is one strategy the city has yet to try in its struggle with the state legislature.
The source of all this change will apparently be “one with a chronic complaint, but who lives on without dying.”
Esther Manheimer’s mayoral campaign
Hexagram 35, Progress
“We see a prince who secures the tranquility of the people presented on that account with numerous horses, and three times a day received at interviews.”
John Miall’s mayoral campaign
Hexagram 52 Keeping Still or the Mountain
“When one’s resting is like that of the back, and he loses all consciousness of self, when he walks in his courtyard, and does not see any people in it, there will be no error.”
But, there’s more: “the situation is perilous and the heart glows with suppressed excitement.” In the future, this turns into Hexagram 20, Contemplation, due to someone associated with the campaign “keeping his jawbones at rest, so that his words are orderly.”
Cecil Bothwell’s Council campaign
Hexagram 44, Coming to Meet
This hexagram “shows a female who is bold and strong. It will not be good to marry such a female.” (yes, this translation can be quite misogynistic at times. Damn Victorians.)
The campaign’s future is Hexagram 31, Wooing, “there will be free course and success. Its advantageousness will depend on being firm and correct, as in marrying a young lady. There will be good fortune.”
Presently, the campaign will “receive others on his horns,” with “occasion for regret” but out of it all Council member Bothwell emerges with “a wallet of fish.” The future “shows one moving his jaws and tongue,” and “moving the calves of his leg. There will be evil. If he abide quietly, there will be good fortune.”
Gordon Smith’s Council campaign
Hexagram 20, Contemplation
The candidate “should be like the worshipper who has washed his hands, but not yet presented his offerings; with sincerity and an appearance of dignity.” This develops into Hexgram 23, Development (or Gradual Progress), spurred by “one looking at the course of his own life, to advance or recede accordingly” and somewhere in all this “the marriage of a young lady, and good fortune.”
The future is more ominous, however, as the campaign “gradually advances to the dry plains” where “there will be evil.” Despite all this tribulation, the end results “might be advantageous in resisting plunderers.”
Gwen Wisler’s Council campaign
Hexagram 57, the Gentle or the Penetrating Wind
This hexagram “intimates that there will be some little attainment and progress. There will be advantage in movement onward in whatever direction. It will be advantageous to see a great man.”
In the future, this changes into Hexagram 20, Contemplation, which seems to be popular this election season. To get there, the campaign will break through “only by violent and repeated efforts. There will be occasion for regret” as well as lying “beneath a couch, and employing diviners and exorcists in a way bordering on confusion.” But “there will be good fortune” and in the future, “one peeping out from a door. It would be advantageous if it were the firm correctness of a female.”
In the interest of full disclosure (and because my editor’s gleefully waiting to see what doom is in store for me), I turned the power of the I Ching app on myself and Xpress’ election coverage.
David Forbes and the Mountain Xpress
Hexagram 50, the Cauldron.
This hexagram “gives the intimation of great progress and success.”
Well, that’s a relief: I wouldn’t know how to function if the phone app told me I had bad fortune in store. But things change into Hexgram 56, the Wanderer, where “there may be some little attainment or progress. If the stranger or traveler be firm and correct as he ought to be, there will be good fortune.”
Hm, I hope that bodes well. Apparently things will turn out for the better if I can say “My enemy dislikes me, but he cannot approach me.“ So I should probably block more of our local loud-mouths on Twitter.