|Posted on August 6, 2021 at 9:55 PM|
Today is the beginning of fall, 立秋 lìqiū by the Chinese agricultural calendar.
This is the season and the element I had the most trouble translating, even though the essence of the silent, killing season resonates in me so strongly that I started invoking her as ying in high school, years before I would learn about 容平 róng píng, acceptance and balance, reserve and poise. Contained. Flat.
It is the season when the weather is tense, and the landscape is bright.「天氣以急，地氣以明」tiān qì yǐ jí, dì qì yǐ míng (SW:2)
You're supposed to go to bed early and rise early with your chickens and make yourself calm and collected, to ease the 刑 xíng of autumn. I think 刑 is printed in my book as "punishment" but that doesn't feel like it covers the connotation of often horrific penalties exacted upon the body for convicted crimes. The first emperor of Qin who built the Great Wall by mortaring the bodies of conscripted slave laborers into his paranoia put his unified kingdom into a perpetual autumn, the way that Disney's Princess Elsa set off an endless winter in Frozen One. Autumn, 秋 qiū, the character where 'edible grains still on their stalks' 禾 hé are being set on 'fire' 火 huǒ. It is the season of judgment, of executions, of grief. It is unforgiving. The silence echoes with a respect so profound it looks like fear.
Sùwèn Chapter 70 has more to say about every season than Chapter 2. I'm reviewing just one season today, as we enter the eighteen days of earth between:
shěn píng zhī jì, shōu ér bù zhēng, shā ér wú fàn
Judgment and Equality takes without argument, and kills without transgression.
wǔ huà xuān míng
Five transformations diffuse brightness.
qí qì jié, qí xìng gāng
Its aura is clean. Its nature is indomitable.
qí yòng sàn luò, qí huà jiān liàn
Its functions are scattering and dropping. Its transformations firm and restrain.
qí lèi jīn
Its category is metal.
qí zhèng jìn sù, qí hòu qīng qiè
Its government is force and reverence. Its climate is clear and cutting.
qí lìng zào
It commands dryness.
qí zàng fèi, fèi qí wèi rè, qì zhǔ bí
Its organ is lung; lung, which shrinks from heat, and masters the nose.
qí gǔ dào, qí guǒ táo, qí shí ké
Its grain: rice, its fruit: peach, its part: shell.
qí yìng qiū
Its resonance: autumn.
qí chóng jiè, qí chù jī
Its creatures: shelled. Its livestock: chicken.
qí sè bái, qí yǎng pí máo, qí bìng kài
Its color: white. It nourishes skin and fur. Its disease: cough.
qí wèi xīn, qí yīn shāng
Its flavor: spicy. Its sound: Re (the merchant).
qí wù wài jiān
Its objects have firm exteriors.
qí shù jiǔ
Its number is nine.