Michael Page

Aquarian Press, London, 1988.

Readers of Craze's skillful discussion of feng shui may like to broaden their understanding of that elusive phenomenon known as chi'. Page is the man to enlighten us, and he gets to the crux of the matter thus:

"Whatever form it takes, chi' is energy expressed in material form: light, strong and subtle ch'i floats as air; heavy, weak and coarse ch'i sinks to form solid substance." (p.11)

So there's a useful distinction to be going on with. But how far may we go? On the same page we find this:

"In its weak or coarse form, ch'i is not precisely identical to but is closely associated with, and conveyed in, the air breathed in through the lungs, kidneys and pores."

Now everything's up in the air, heavy or not. And we see that Page has the marvellous ability to breathe through his pores and kidneys.

Later on in the book, we have more of the wisdom of feng shui, in a consideration of bedrooms:

"a bedroom should not be placed over an empty room or garage, because stagnant ch'i will accumulate there and infect the room above." (p.79)

Here we see that stagnant (and presumably heavy, weak and coarse) ch'i accumulates or settles in garages, but still manages to pervade the room above. Is this because the pong of it wafts out through the windows? Page seems to be hinting that ch'i, unlike air, penetrates the ceiling, so that this is not, as it were, mere pong shui.

In his exposition of ancient Chinese thought, Page puts various things in celestial perspective:

"Heaven has four seasons and man has four limbs; heaven has five elements and so man has five internal organs." (p.17)

This seems nice and orderly, until page 65, where we stumble upon a list of eleven organs, plus a mysterious set of "triple burners", making twelve altogether. Perhaps things have changed over the centuries, although, as the author sagely notes,

"the concept of evolution in the Darwinian sense, does not figure largely in Chinese thinking." (p.21)

Is this perhaps because much of this wisdom was laid down thousands of years ago, and Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859?

Let's deal with the mind before we finish:

"Ch'i is the energy which produces the creative harmony of the yin and the yang, and works for their interlocking. Where does it come from? Modern psychology would say that it is to do with the linking of the right hemisphere of the brain with the left." (p.53)

Good to see our old favourite, the left/right brain again, and notice the powerful insight displayed in that relation, being "to do with".

Finally, Page reveals the foundations of his whole word-view in this over-inclusive confession:

"We all create our lives by a process of constantly imagining, or visualising, our way through every day." (p.56)



Paul Taylor 2001