Theory of Centipede

Posted on September 13, 2004 by Jenna

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In the arcade, they have gathered. There are dozens of them. They are not raucous, but rather restrained. They are not rude, but rather comport themselves in the correct manner. They watch as the Master plays Centipede.

“Observe,” says the Master. “I am sincere and truthful as I address the centipede. In return, it ceases to encroach upon my borders.”

The viewers admire. Then one disciple startles. “Master!” he says. “There is a scorpion!”

The Master holds up one hand. “Be at peace,” he says. “I am attempting to demonstrate my uprightness. This will subdue the scorpion.”

“No!” cries the disciple, caught up in the moment. “Try humaneness!”

“Not yet understanding life,” the Master answers, “how may you understand Centipede?”

The disciple quiets.

“Still,” says the Master, “the scorpion descends. Please pass me six quarters.”

The disciples do so. The Master inserts them, one by one. “Easily inserted,” he says, “and easily; and with difficulty; and easily; and with difficulty; and with difficulty. This is the hexagram Kwei Mei. Action will be evil, and in no wise advantageous.”

The Master stands back from the controls. He watches the scorpion descend. Then the scorpion recognizes its error. It retreats off the screen. The Master returns to play.

“How is it that when I play this game,” asks a disciple, “the enemies attack; but when you play the game, they pursue harmonious interaction?”

“When you play with aggression,” says the Master, “you do not inspire respect. That is why the centipede attacks you. You admire my play? When the ancient worthy P’eng would play, the insects would not even appear!”