The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Friday, January 9, 2009

Number Nine

A magical year?

This is a new year and it ends in the number nine. To some, such as the Chinese, nine is a number with magical properties.

Cloud Nine

The ancient Chinese considered numbers a mystical part of the universe. As an odd number, the number "9" belongs to the "yang" category, which represents strength and masculinity. In ancient China, the number "1" represented the starting point while the number nine represented infinity and extremity. The number "9" can be seen in many aspects of life in China.

For example, "Jiu Zhou" is a poetic name referring to the nine states, which means that the country encompasses so much territory that it is beyond measure. The highest heavens were referred to as the "ninth heaven", "Jiu Quan" or "the ninth spring" where the afterlife is located beneath the deepest water. In the royal palace or a monastery, the doors, windows, stairs or fixtures existed in multiples of nine or a number that contains nine. The numbers of the gilded knobs on the double doors of the major gates of the Forbidden City is a good example.

The Chinese tended to view life diametrically. So when a change occurred in one aspect of life, that change was a result of a change in its opposite. Therefore, as a symbol of extremity, "9" in Chinese Culture is also a warning, a turning point. In ancient Chinese Classic Yijing, or the "Book of Changes", wherever number "9" appears, it is a crucial point of change and transformation.

In traditional Chinese culture, the number nine has great significance. For example, the ninth day of the ninth month has long been a very important festival in China. This festival is known as the Double Yang Festival, which was a time for wine and poetry inspired by the beautiful autumn scenery. In the past, Chinese scholars would climb nearby mountains and look into the distance and think of their faraway friends.

According to the Wikipedia, other cultures also have special nine references:

The number 9 is revered in Hinduism and considered a complete, perfected and divine number because it represents the end of a cycle in the decimal system, which originated from the Indian subcontinent as early as 3000 BC.

Important Buddhist rituals usually involve nine monks.

The first nine days of the Hebrew month of Av are collectively known as "The Nine Days" (Tisha HaYamim), and are a period of semi-mourning leading up to Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of Av on which both Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed.

Nine, as the highest single-digit number (in base ten), symbolizes completeness in the Bahá'í Faith.

Nine is a significant number in Norse Mythology. Odin hung himself on an ash tree for nine days to learn the runes.

In the Christian angelic hierarchy there are 9 choirs of angels.

Ramadan, the month of fasting and prayer, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

Nine ball is the standard professional pocket billiards variant played in the United States.

In association football (soccer) the centre-forward/striker traditionally (since at least the fifties) wears the number 9 shirt.

In baseball, nine represents the right fielder's position.

The retired uniform numbers of former baseball players Ted Williams and Roger Maris.

The San Francisco 49ers are sometimes referred to as the "niners".

Nine Men’s Morris is a European board game known since Roman times.

In professional hockey, Gordie Howe wore the number nine for the Detroit Red Wings. Upon his retirement, the team retired his number.

Nine Lives Cat Food got its name from the legend that a cat has nine lives.

In classical music the curse of the ninth refers to the superstition that a composer who writes a ninth symphony will die soon. Beethoven, who left his Tenth Symphony unfinished, is regarded by the superstition as the first victim of the curse.

The Beatles released a song called "Revolution 9" which appears on The White Album (more properly known as The Beatles); its principal vocal feature is a voice repeating, "Number nine...number nine...number nine..." John Lennon, the primary composer of "Revolution 9", also released a solo recording entitled "#9 Dream".

Here's some pictures of mine with a (sometimes stretched) nine connection.

This is me when I was nine months old. Those Disney figures on the wall comprise some of my earliest memories.

Here's the baby all grown up in 1999.

This is Jay Libardi doing one of his favorite activities in 1989.

My grandmother in Springfield's Forest Park garden in 1939.

I hope this message scrawled on a Northampton wall doesn't come true in 2009.

Finally, here's Neil Young with the Grateful Dead. It has nothing to do with number nine, but is a beautiful version of a Dylan song.