Around the turn of the century, I found myself in the middle of a testing time. My life was essentially chaotic; I snatched at writing in between a series of upheavals and minor disasters. I scribbled fragments in a series of scrappy notebooks; I composed poetry out of snippets clipped from newspapers and magazines, working away like a mediocre kidnapper. I threw the I Ching obsessively, a superstition I’ve let go over recent years, although now I wonder what harm it does to engage in these gnomic moments of reflection. I’d discovered the I Ching in Philip K Dick’s novel The Man In The High Castle, and I found it easy to lend myself to Dick’s view that reality was essentially a construct, that our hopes, fears, dreams and lives were essentially figments. Still, I came to rely on throwing coins and looking up the hexagrams, because I was looking, I think now, for guidance out of my situation, some semblance of calm. Whenever I tried asking for guidance on writing, I’d usually end up being directed to hexagram 62, ‘Preponderance of the small’. I always ignored it, dreaming of novels, the epics, the grandeur, without imagining a time when I would be relatively sanguine about focussing on the minor, as I am now, right here.

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