Texts which may seem to us spontaneous and through-composed were actually written to conform to rhetorical models or narrative groundplans. In this subtype, we collect examples of Simple texts which were composed on such a plan, or within certain alphabetical or numerical constraints. On the whole, the presence of Figurate design implies the mind of the author; groundplans are more difficulty imposed on previous material.
Analects 5. This was the earliest Analects layer to be written on the model which later became normal for the rest of the text (and to which the shorter and earlier Analects 4 was eventually adjusted). The model involves a total of 24 sayings, separated into four thematic sections, and featuring pairing of adjacent sayings within each section (a final odd unpaired saying may function as a section envoi). Of these traits, the pairing of sayings and the division into four thematic sections were already found in the earlier LY 4. The compilers of LY 6 and subsequent chapters will have operated with this LY 5 form in mind, and though not all of the sayings in any new chapter need to have been written at one time, the limit of 24 sayings will have served to tell the compiler when a new unit had been completed. Those later Analects chapters (and several depart from the model in one way or another) may properly be regarded as Figurate texts, in which the model exists in advance of the text which fills it out.
Proto-Yi. Beneath our present 64-hexagram Yi (or "Changes," the Chinese classic of divination), which is first attested in the late 04c, there seems to lie a socially more modest system of 32 positions, these being all variants of a five-line complex, each line of which may be either whole or broken. This early text also cannot be thought of as a gradual growth from, say, a 23-pentagram system; any text exploring the variants of a pentagram as here defined will necessarily, from the beginning, be divided into 32 sections.
Shan Jing. This portion (chapters 1-5) of the later Shan/Hai Jing is different in character from the remaining 13 chapters of the received text. For one thing, each of those chapters ends with a character count, implying it had passed through inventorying, probably in the Palace Library, whereas the rest of the text had not. It consists of geographical itineraries through a series of mountains, grouped into South, West, North, East, and Central series. This is not the calendrical order of the directions, and may have had a special meaning for the compilers of the text. Whatever the meaning of the sequence, the work's original groundplan can hardly have included only, say, South and West, with the other sections being added by later inspiration, so that a five-part text must have been envisioned from the outset. This qualifies it as a Figurate text. Whether each of the five directions was originally represented by the same number of itineraries (as is not now the case) awaits further study. Given some overlap in the present itineraries, implying later additions due to increased geographical knowledge, it is likely that this was the case, and that the present irregularity is an artifact of later growth. If so, the Figurate quality of the original text is that much enhanced.
The extent and implied purpose of the information in the work, once we have removed any additions, should give the grounds for a guess as to its original date and location. The best inference presently available suggests a date of c0318 and a Chin locale (rather than Yen, as Wei has proposed). For the later evolution of this text, see under Extended.
Gwo Yw. This collection of stories amounts to a second-generation Dzwo Jwan, using the anecdote as its only material, and redoing, or extending, several story threads in the Dzwo Jwan itself. Its arrangement is also different: the Dzwo Jwan is a series of comments on the chronologically arranged Chun/Chyou, whereas the Gwo Yw arranges its stories by the state in which they take place, and is chronological only within each state. The intention to arrange the material in this way amounts to a figurate plan. In the original plan (but see Extended) there were included only the nominal Jou overlord (in three chapters) plus Lu (two), Chi (one), Jin (nine), Jvng (one), and Chu (two). There are only two stories in the Jvng section; it is not really a counterpart to the other series. The prominence of Jin is obvious, along with the absence of Chin and the near-absence of Jin's other hegemonic rival Chi (one). The emblematic meaning of this design will probably become clearer as research on the text, which is still in its infancy, continues.
Lw-shr Chun/Chyou 1-12. The groundplan for this twelve-chapter work, whose concluding postface dates its completion to 0241, was defined by a text in twelve sections, giving instructions for public work to be accomplished in each of the twelve months. That text is separately known, in a further evolved version, as the Ywe Ling. (An intermediate version was incorporated into the Hwainandz as its Chapter 5). Both the Ywe Ling and the grander LSCC which was conceived on that plan, and which incorporated the Ywe Ling as the first sections of its twelve chapters, are figurate texts. For the later growth of the Lw-shr Chun/Chyou, see under Extended.
The later extensions of the Lw-shr Chun/Chyou are themselves governed, as to number of chapters, by certain numerological considerations, but neither segment is figurate in the sense here meant.
Shr Ji. Szma Tan's groundplan for this ambitious and unprecedented work of history began with a separate series of chapters on the reigns of major dynasties and (within his own dynasty, Han) of individual rulers, these chapters being 12 in number. There followed series of treatises on specialized subjects and tables of dates or lunations or Han enfiefments, these bringing the cumulative total to 30. These were flanked by a another series of 30 chapters on the various local ruling houses, both in the post-Jou period and under Han, which completed the calendrological number of 60 chapters. These in turn were mirrored by another series of 60 chapters devoted to important individuals or significant groups of persons, for a double cycle of 120 chapters. Tan was a calendrologist by trade, and his taste for certain numbers prominent in calendrology is manifest in his planning for the Shr Ji. As time passed and more subjects had to be accommodated than had been anticipated, Tan may be seen compressing two chapters into one, or moving chapters from one division to another, to accommodate the resulting growth while still preserving his groundplan. The work was thus not only Figurate, but its figure exerted strong counterpressure during the long process of compilation. See further under Layered.
Georgics. The four books carry dedications to Vergil's patron Maecenas in 1:2, 2:41, 3:41, and 4:2. The pattern is obvious, and is undoubtedly due to authorial intention. That intention, however, may well have come toward the end of the composition process, rather than forming part of the original conception. If so, then we have here a case of a successfully imposed groundplan, the success being the more intelligible because the material in question was still, as it were, plastic under the author's hand.
Bach's Goldberg Variations, the most extensive harpsichord work composed up to that time, systematically explore the possibilities of canonic treatment of the same theme at different intervals, ranging from unison (Variation #3) to the ninth (Variation #27), these occurring as every third piece of the thirty comprising the Variations proper (the other two are the Aria theme which is given at the beginning and end; see Framed). This plan of the work certainly preceded the composition of the actual music.
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