To the rear of the Don Pasquale restaurant in Market Square, Cambridge is the unisex toilet. Seated there momentarily whilst en route to a meeting with a group of City Walking Tour Guides whom I am about brief on the favourite locations of Pink Floyd founding genius and recently deceased psychedelic rock legend Syd Barrett, with whom I grew up in my midteens and in whose memory the city is organising The City Wakes celebration (also here)
my attention is drawn to a chrome steel sanitary disposal unit beside my right knee. There, embossed on the lid of the device, as clear as day, is the word ‘Syd’.
Impressed, rising, I turn and study the emblem. Now that I have turned, the emblem is, effectively, upside down. I can make out, as clear as day, the initials ‘phs’. The unit is not called Syd – it is manufactured by phs!
Fortunately I have my camera with me.
I am forcibly reminded of Syd’s song ‘Chapter 24’, from the the first Floyd album ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’, in which the composer quotes directly from what was then the most popular version of the ‘I Ching‘, the ancient Chinese oracle, translated by Richard Wilhelm, rendered into English by Cary F. Baynes, with foreword by Carl Jung:
A movement is accomplished in six stages
And the seventh brings return.
The seven is the number of the young light
It forms when darkness is increased by one.
Change returns success
Going and coming without error.
Action brings good fortune.
The oracular power of the I Ching is held to derive from its capacity to find meaning in, as Jung put it, “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events”. (Three coins are tossed six times and, depending on how the coins fall (2 Heads + 1 Tail; 2 Tails + 1 Head; 3 Heads; 3 Tails), a diagram may be constructed which directs the user to a specific chapter of the oracle i.e. the book. The user, before tossing the coins, may ask a question or simply seek a reading of their present situation. In Confucius’ time, yarrow stalks were used instead of coins. The act of throwing the coins creates a connection, according to the principles of synchronicity, between the user and the instructive wisdom of the oracle.)
Strength Weekly would like to make it clear that it has no commercial relationship of any sort with either phs Washrooms, the Don Pasquale restaurant or Arkana Publishing (a Penguin imprint), publishers of the ‘I Ching’. The Editor of Strength Weekly would further like to stress that, while he found the experience of coincidence pleasing, he did not impute to it an esoteric significance so much as confirmation of his notion that certain powerful minds have the ability to bend, if only for a moment, the fabric of reality in such a way that it takes up forms consonant with abiding thought patterns.