2020-05-31 14:46

Chance Operations

Part 1: The Process

Apart from a cursory description on the first day, I never really went into any detail of the process for my Random Walk.

Here’s what I did.

First, I divided the library into sixty-four sections. I probably could have divided it into fewer sections with many more books in each, but I was aiming for sixty-four: the same number as I Ching hexagrams. Most of these sections were individual shelves on book cases, but others were simply areas in my home, like the stack on top of the filing cabinet in the office (Shelf 5), or the countertop in the kitchen with all the cookbooks (Shelf 64). (To get exactly sixty-four, I also divided some larger areas up. It got a little messy in the end, but is it really a mess if you know where everything is?)

Then I counted the number of books on every shelf and “shelf.” (This means, by the way, that I have a full count of how many front-facing books are in the house. There are many more backshelved, and several boxes in our storage unit.) I also made a chart, visually depicting the shelf number and the book count for each.

I threw the I Ching to generate one of the sixty-four hexagrams. If any sixes or nines came up, a single throw could, of course, generate two hexagrams. (I use the penny method, by the way. I’m all for ritual, but the yarrow stalk method is just too much.)

I checked the chart to see how many books were on the two shelves. Using random.org, I “rolled” a number to determine the book for each shelf.

I pulled the two books, took a picture, and created a draft in MarsEdit.

(Early on, I also found entries in my OED that, to my mind anyway, linked the two books for that day. This was fun at first, but it quickly became far too onerous, so I stopped.)

After the first few pairs, I rolled eight or ten days’ worth of book pairs at a time, in several sessions throughout the month. This gave me as much as a week or more to jot down any notes, retake pictures if need be, and get started on drafting a post (assuming there was anything worth saying; otherwise, it would get posted without comment).

The reason I did this was to get some of the harder parts of each post over with well ahead of time, leaving only the final touches for the morning of the particular day as I made my coffee. I did this for the pencil posts last month, and it played a key role in my being able to stick with it all month.

Two times, I re-rolled if I landed on a book that was, frankly, too personal and no one’s business. My game, my rules. But otherwise, I played it as it laid.

So that was the game.

Tomorrow or Tuesday, we’ll review.

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Chance Operations (Part One here) Before studying Zen, men are men and mountains are mountains. While studying Zen, things become confused. After studying Zen, men