The I-Ching and Franz Kafka in China Business

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Jan. 9 – Every Friday afternoon we’ll be featuring a round up of the best weekly stories and articles from China Expat. These articles are designed to bridge the gap between China business and culture. We hope you’ll find them interesting and enjoyable.

The I Ching speaks truth to power
Times are always uncertain, but with everyone trembling on the doorstep of 2009, it makes sense to proceed with extra caution. Trouble is, rational thinking doesn’t apply to the irrationality of the masses, and infinite x factors defy a finite brain in determining the consequences of a decision. The only recourse we have is to consult the divine. Some call it prayer, others listening to the heart. Not easy in this Era of the Frontal Lobe. Unsurprisingly, the Chinese have long had a system for getting answers from the Great Beyond. It’s called the I Ching, the Book of Changes, and before you roll your eyes, know that no less a luminary than Carl Jung praised the I Ching as a “synchronicity computer.” Let’s give it a try, and see what the Heavens advise on the earthly issues of the day.

First let’s ask a question, more open-ended than the yes-no softballs we’d toss at a fortune-teller: How can China weather the global economic storm?

Franz Kafka knows China
It’s enough to make a writer why (s) he ever bothers. Kafka saw more in the blink of a dark, depressed Jewish eye than the rest of us in our most lucid moments. That’s why The Great Wall of China reflects more of the Chinese psyche than a thousand expat bloggers tapping for ten thousand days.

Soul-crushing bureaucracy, arbitrary justice, all the chains of empire that keep us in despair of ever making progress, Kafka conveyed with a leavening of bleak humor. The following excerpt from The Great Wall of China should serve as a paradigm for those who would attempt to explain what this country’s all about, or as the most eloquent argument why it’s best not to try. Either way, it’s an astounding take on the nature of power in China, parsed down for the ADD-afflicted Netizen. You can read the entire short story on China Expat.

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