Tai Chi

January 28, 2009

Tai Chi

I’ll probably never succeed in my quest to have people stop saying “yin-yang” and start saying “Tai Chi”: the proper name for the ubiquitous symbol. It’s about as likely as getting people in the English speaking world to start calling countries by their home name (eg. Japan = Nippon, Italy = Italia, etc.). 

Note of interest: the word for calling another country by a name better suited to the native language of the home country is “exonym.” I learned that courtesy of a word-of-the-day calendar. 


It never made much sense to me to have everybody calling each other by different names. Canada is easy because those three sounds are in all languages. But Czechoslovakia I could see being a bit of a tongue-twisted to some.

Anyway, this is a good time to mention that I’m a Taoist. Not in the religious sense, but in the philosophical. I may not believe in the nine heavens, or whatever, or that Lao Tzu was born at age 81, accompanied by a stork. I just think the words in the book (and in the continuing works of Chuang Tzu, and other Taoist poets) make sense. Not least of which is that the universe was born out of one energy giving birth to two, and two giving birth to three, and three giving birth to all things. in the above garden I’ve tried to capture this notion of the three energies.

This concept got a little turned on its ear for me when I heard the song “One” by They Might Be Giants off their kid’s CD, Here Come the 123s. Great album, by the way. Even for adults. In the song they posit that at the end of all counting everything in the universe boils down to one, “There’s only one everything,” John sings. Which, I suppose, doesn’t exactly contradict Lao Tzu’s words, but it definitely puts the warring polarities in a different light for me.


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