Feng Shui: Secrets Of Chinese Geomany, by Richard Creightmore
This is the sort of book whose appearance signifies that certain aspects of Chinese culture have achieved a high enough degree of prestige in the culture of the West to be discussed as “secrets” that are worth uncovering by readers who themselves are not necessarily practitioners of such arts but are rather those people who want to exploit such an interest for their own profit as writers. This book is not necessarily a bad one, if you view it as a cultural artifact of the prestige of Chinese approaches to construction and building in the pre-Communist period in the West. This sort of approach has a great deal of appeal to those who want to visualize building that is supposedly in harmony with the earth, in contrast to the way that things are build and constructed nowadays. That this book provides at least some way that someone could see Chinese principles as being appealing as a source of insight into what “sustainable” architecture and urban planning would look like, as a prompting to future research, demonstrates that it has some worth to a particular sort of reader. After all, a volume like this exists for a reason, and part of that reason is to serve as an introduction into a field that people might want to read more of.
This particular book is a short one at between 50 and 75 pages, and as a short book it cannot reveal too much about the secrets of Feng Shui in any particular detail. Even so, it is a very interesting introductory approach that blends a look at the principles of Feng Shui with how these have been historically put into practice. This book begins with an introduction and history of Feng Shui and its practice throughout Chinese history. After this comes a look at various principles relating to tigers and dragons and how they appear conventionally within the Chinese landscape. This is followed by a discussion of dwelling orientation and Daoist cosmology and its influence on interior design as well as architecture and urban planning. There are further sections on the Chinese view of elements as well as the matter of underground energies and how these can be dissipated or concentrated. Chapters on plot shapes and house shapes and interior design techniques are particularly of interest to many readers, and the book ends with appendices that look at practical applications of Feng Shui in Chinese design, which ought to be of interest to readers of this book.
Even for those people who do not have any particular interest in Feng Shui itself, which is an admittedly very complicated way of trying to understand the “energy” of the earth and of people and how they interact and how it is that human beings can live in harmony with an understanding of certain aspects of creation, there is something of value here. After all, as human beings, most of us, even those of us who are by no means knowledgeable or expert in the field of geomancy, feel as if a great deal of contemporary cities and buildings and other matters are simply not created with the well-being of human beings in mind. The flight of people from cities in the 1970’s and beyond, as well as the scars in our landscape left behind by misguided construction indicates that people are sensitive to at least some of the failed attempts at forcing people together that have existed in past generations. In such a light, and in light of China’s increasing prestige, it is little surprise that a book like this would be written for those who are on the cutting edge of appropriating and appreciating the Chinese cultural heritage given their own longings for peace with creation.