• "The Book of Changes". A Chinese fortune telling device, involving the tossing of coins or (more traditionally) the dividing and counting of yarrow stalks,called POOH STICKS by some. The binary patterns which come up are used in looking up the corresponding pattern in an I CHING dictionary of patterns. In "Return for Regrooving" on the ELECTRICIAN album, the Hippie Republic of China reported, "We threw I Ching... out the window! We are now unanimous!" There was also a Sally I CHING who just turned 12 today on DWARF. By far the most insightful translation of the I Ching is one by Richard Wilhelm, with introduction by C.G. Jung. In fact this is the trans used by FT, as the wording on the albums IS the Wilhelm wording. The Firesign Theatre, in writing their EVERYMAN plays, had a tradition of throwing the I CHING before and after each of their plays. For example, in BOZO's, the first words we hear are "Biting Through...", which is an I CHING. The TWO PLACES album uses The Army hexagram, where Nick Danger says,

  NICK: Well, Bradshaw -- It's like in The Army, you know--The Great
   Prince issues commands, founds states, vests families with fiefs. 
  Inferior people should not be employed

  BRADSHAW: Nick, I can't knock success, but you still put me through
  too many changes.
  • (This last remark refers to the fact that the "I Ching" means "Book of Changes") The last line of NICK DANGER in TWO PLACES may also be found in the Unix version documentation for ching(6), under "DIAGNOSTICS", which is based upon the Wilhelm translation. In fact, using "ching" we can determine the exact configuration that was thrown for the TWO PLACES album. In the liner notes for one of the CD's it was noted that they threw the hexagram "The Army", with the changing line leading to "Youthful folly". The way all this stuff works is, you throw some yarrow sticks (also called pooh sticks) or coins, and derive a set of six numerical values, between 6 and 9. The even numbers represent the -- -- Also, lines which came from the numbers 6 and 9 are called changing lines; if there are any changing lines then they are considered unstable, and will turn into their opposite. So, you have to also use the hexagram resulting from flipping the changing lines. Now, The Army is: And Y. Folly is: So the configuration was:

    --  --                --  --                   8    (no change)
    --  --                --  --                   8    (no change)
    --  --                --  --                   8    (no change)
    --  --                --  --                   8    (no change)
  • So, let's go to our favorite unix-box and throw the Firesign Theatre's exact hexagram:

  $ /usr/games/ching 878886

     7.   Shih / The Army

          -- --
          -- --     above     K'un   The Receptive, Earth
          -- --
          -- --
          -- --

     The Judgement

          The Army. The army needs perseverance
          And a strong man.
          Good fortune without blame.

     The Image

          In the middle of the earth is water:
          The image of the Army.
          Thus the superior man increases his masses
          By generosity toward the people.

     The Lines

          Six at the top means:
          The great prince issues commands,
          Founds states, vests families with fiefs.
          Inferior people should not be employed.

     4.   Meng / Youthful Folly

          -- --     above     Ken    Keeping Still, Mountain
          -- --
          -- --
          -- --

     The Judgement

          Youthful Folly has success.
          It is not I who seek the young fool;
          The young fool seeks me.
          At the first oracle I inform him.
          If he asks two or three times, it is importunity.
          If he importunes, I give him no information.
          Perseverance furthers.

     The Image

          A spring wells up at the foot of the mountain:
          The image of Youth.
          Thus the superior man fosters his character
          By thoroughness in all that he does.
  • An interesting sidelight; note the reference to Ken, Keeping Still. If any of you have read the FT's Big Mystery Joke Book, the last play is one called "The Dream Play, (for Monkey, Dreamer, Mudhead and Snake)" written by Phil Austin. It starts out with the Dreamer reciting:

   Once upon a time, when time was nothing like it is today, 
   you must imagine that you sat still, upon the side of a
   mountain called Keeping Still. You have clear eyes and
   they are very strong and they see a great land and beyond
   it a great sea and above it a great sky...
  • I'm pretty sure that "Ken" is actually K'en, which was the name of one of the characters Phil PROCTOR played in DWARF. Unforturnately, we don't know the changing lines for the other hexagram thrown for BOZOs, "Biting Through", so we cant get the exact judgement. In any case, this is what we get with all the changing lines activated (we'll ignore the changed hex, since it could have been any of the 63 others): tazboy: /usr/games/ching 966969

     21.  Shih Ho / Biting Through

          -- --     above     Li     The Clinging, Flame
          -- --
          -- --     below     Chen   The Arousing, Thunder

     The Judgement

          Biting Through has success.
          It is favorable to let justice be administered.

     The Image

          Thunder and lightning:
          The image of Biting Through.
          Thus the kings of former times made firm the laws
          Through clearly defined penalties.

     The Lines

          Nine at the beginning means:
          His feet are fastened in the stocks,
          So that his toes disappear.
          No blame.

          Six in the second place means:
          Bites through tender meat,
          So that his nose disappears.
          No blame.

          Six in the third place means:
          Bites on old dried meat
          And strikes on something poisonous.
          Slight humiliation. No blame.

          Nine in the fourth place means:
          Bites on dried gristly meat.
          Receives metal arrows.
          It furthers one to be mindful of difficulties
          And to be persevering.
          Good fortune.

     ()   Six in the fifth place means:
          Bites on dried lean meat.
          Receives yellow gold.
          Perseveringly aware of danger.
          No blame.

          Nine at the top means:
          His neck is fastened in the wooden cangue,
          So that his ears disappear.
  • Now *there's* something to chew on! :-) Final note: Peter BERGMAN remarks that as far as he can remember, there was no particular hexagram for the other two albums.


Dr. Guillermo Infermo:

  • Resident Doctor of Billville. Favorite saying: "We're Doomed!". Also, poisened the wells. [Boom Dot Bust]


Instinkted Hinks:

  • (See Billville Wildlife) [Boom Dot Bust]


ITNWYOYO (In the Next...):

  • In the Next World You're On Your Own. An FT album.



  • I Think We're All BOZOS On This Bus. One of the cornerstones of FT philosophy and viewpoints, and the fourth in the FT's EVERYMAN cycle of plays.