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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Raise High the Ridgepole, Architects*

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:40 PM

A post suggested by remarks of J. D. Salinger in 
The New Yorker  of November 19, 1955 —

Wikipedia:  Taiji (philosophy)

Etymology

The word 太極 comes from I Ching : "易有太極,是生兩儀,兩儀生四象,四象生八卦,八卦定吉凶,吉凶生大業。"

Taiji  (太極) is a compound of tai   "great; grand; supreme; extreme; very; too" (a superlative variant of da   "big; large; great; very") and ji   "pole; roof ridge; highest/utmost point; extreme; earth's pole; reach the end; attain; exhaust". In analogy with the figurative meanings of English pole, Chinese ji  極 "ridgepole" can mean "geographical pole; direction" (e.g., siji  四極 "four corners of the earth; world's end"), "magnetic pole" (Beiji  北極 "North Pole" or yinji  陰極 "negative pole; cathode"), or "celestial pole" (baji  八極 "farthest points of the universe; remotest place"). Combining the two words, 太極 means "the source, the beginning of the world".

Common English translations of the cosmological Taiji  are the "Supreme Ultimate" (Le Blanc 1985, Zhang and Ryden 2002) or "Great Ultimate" (Chen 1989, Robinet 2008); but other versions are the "Supreme Pole" (Needham and Ronan 1978), "Great Absolute", or "Supreme Polarity" (Adler 1999).

See also Polarity in this journal.

* A phrase adapted, via Salinger,
from a poem by Sappho

Ἴψοι δὴ τὸ μέλαθρον,
     Υ᾽μήναον
ἀέρρετε τέκτονεσ ἄνδρεσ,
     Υ᾽μήναον
γάμβροσ ἔρχεται ἶσοσ Ά᾽ρευϊ,
     [Υ᾽μήναον]
ανδροσ μεγάλο πόλυ μείζων
     [Υ᾽μήναον]

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