Feng shui

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Style over substance


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We'll draw this analogy, the upstairs is Iowa, and what happens is that although you added a little bit to Iowa, it's almost like transplanting a Californian to Iowa. Now, the first few months as a Californian, you're going to watch what you eat and you're going to exercise, but after a while, you're going to start hitting that bacon. So the way we look at this, is that this part that got added to, is really kind of like a Californian that's being glommed on to Iowa, so we will look at your house as a characteristic house of the state of Iowa.
—Feng shui master[1]
Still looks like shit.
—Same Feng shui master forgetting the microphone was still on.

Feng shui (pronounced "feng shway") is the ancient Chinese art of arranging buildings and their interiors in order to promote a favorable balance of qi.

Historically, Feng Shui was enormously important in oriental architecture, spreading from China to surrounding countries such as Korea and Japan. As an example, temples, castles and cities were almost invariably built with their south gate being the main entrance, this being believed to be the most fortuitous direction for favourable qi.

In recent years, Feng Shui has been repurposed to create jobs for New Agers, sell vacuous coffee table books, and as a way for people with more money than intelligence to correct that imbalance.

[edit] Practice

There are several schools of feng shui arranging, and those concepts are rather amorphous as well. This is a tremendous boon for the aforementioned New Agers, who can claim that their own interior design principles are ancient and mystical.

All of the principles are supposed to tell you which way to point your bed, your chair, and your nose. Also, it says that the five basic elements (mirrors, leather, chains, candles, and paddles) should be present in every room.

  • Of course you don't want to have your back to the door in your office—who feels comfortable sitting like that with passers-by watching you surf RationalWiki during work hours?
  • Of course you don't want dead plants all over your house—they're dead and stinky and it makes your gaff look like crap.
  • It's only natural that you want your bedroom cozy—it's where you'll be pulling all your best moves, and no-one's going to join you in there if it's dark and cold and hard and your keks are all over the floor.
  • Cooking's fun, so of course you should have the door in sight of the oven door—how else are you going to get into the dining room?

Feng Shui is bullshit wrapped in a thin veil of perfectly reasonable interior design, ergonomic concepts and common sense in living. It's all good advice, but painting your southeast wall purple isn't going to rain cash down on your head.

[edit] Fun fact

An apartment listing from a Chinese website. The circled characters indicate that the apartment faces south.

In China, the concept of feng shui is taken seriously enough that many real estate resources note the direction that a listed apartment faces (though this has much more to do with amount of sunlight the apartment gets during the day).

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Don't worry if you have no idea what he's talking about; neither do we. The quote is from Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, episode 1.07, Feng Shui / Bottled water
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