Passages #35

'The title of the I Ching, one of the seminal texts of the Taoists, translates as ‘The Book of Changes.’ The Changes refers to the constant interplay of light and dark, yin and yang, something and nothing that coalesces into each unique moment, explicitly different, inextricably linked, implicitly the same.

The text was a computational technology that for the first time enlisted the elegance of the binary system to communicate myriad subtle and nuanced realities. Its unprecedented advantage lay in the same way that modern computation has enabled our modern life, by computing vast amounts of data to present a snapshot of a reality that is engaged in constant flux, a dance of duality between yin and yang. Its power lay in revealing the pixels that combine to form the image, drawing out the elements and forces that could not be seen.

When humans watch a film, are moved by music on Spotify or design a skyscraper, all of the required information is represented in binary code. Binary is an arrangement of off/on switches arranged in a positional system with each position assigned a particular value, increasing by the power of two as it moves from the right to the left.

And so from two choices — something or nothing, this system is able to encode and represent every conceivable form of complexity in our world. The I Ching computer was even more ambitious than that, as it sought via the same method to represent and opaque depths of the human unconscious.'   Source