how to tell the future

To tell the future of a person, possibly even yourself, we can begin with a personal trait; like, someone is too diligent in their ways. Imagine this person working with lax or crooked coworkers, who keep changing the rules. This diligent person, following each of these possibly nonsensical changes, will become bitter, possibly a little paranoid, never knowing if they'll be near a chair when the music stops. The future of this person: bamboo that does not bend in the wind gets broken.
Or, let's take someone who's always worried by their salary not covering the cost of a new suit, or the sushi they want to eat. Oh, the anxiety, making them such unpleasant company, blind as they are to the small victories of the every day. The future: hunger is all-consuming, until peace is found in the midst of hunger.
We can also take the features of an age. If there is too much freedom, an uneducated barbarian can usurp it, and bring chaos, and soon, his own demise. Or, like in Plato's five regimes, timocracy may ensue, when persons of inferior nature seek power through military conquest. Or, rule by the rich. The future: unless the population is modest, it will have to purge itself of aggressors, which can be very messy.
The purpose of any good divination is to get the subject to reconsider themselves in the present. The fortune must therefore be abstract, and need interpretation. It ought to begin with a flaw or a virtue, and then hyperbolise this feature.
There are many such fortunes - of which I consider Plato's five regimes a kind. De Vico, too, in the cycles (and what is a better fortune teller than the recurring cycle) he saw of mankind: from the spiritual and abstract metaphor, to feudalism, to democracy. I do not have my notebook with the lists of Chinese sages who also saw these cycles, but I do know that Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching has plenty of advice for rulers, like (LVII): Govern the state by being straightforward; wage war by being crafty; but win the empire by not being meddlesome.
It is because of the latter that there is some leeway into seeing the future: for as long as we live, the future involves the flawed human element. And we know the outcome of human behaviour. I have already mentioned tyranny: is this not one of the themes in the film, "The Matrix" - or the "oracular" novel by Jules Verne, "Paris in the Twentieth Century"?
When it comes to the human element, it is not enough to be stereotypical; one must develop a keener eye. Because even virtue, if exaggerated, is a vice, so it is not enough to look at what the person does; one must ask how they are doing it. To tell the future is to take that "how" and magnify it a hundred fold. To master the future is to fall back on the ancient principles of virtue: "Soften the glare; Let your wheels move only along old ruts. This is known as mysterious sameness. Hence you cannot get close to it, nor can you keep it at arm's length, you cannot bestow benefit upon it, nor can you do it harm, you cannot ennoble it, nor can you debase it. Therefore it is valued by the empire." (LVI) In other words, what goes around, comes around, so what's the future? Face yourself, or face consequences.

Elements: embroidery; rose.

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