Qi or Zheng / Unexpected or Frontal
Qi (奇) means surprise while zheng (正) means direct and normal. First advanced by Laozi, the concept has two main meanings. First, it is a military term about two opposing ways of fighting. Zheng means meeting the enemy head-on based on an understanding of its intention, while Qi means keeping one’s intention to oneself and launching surprise attack and laying ambush on the enemy in order to secure surprise victory. Zheng and qi need to be applied in a coordinated way. While a military term, qizheng is also used to deal with daily affairs. Second, as a term of literary and art criticism, it means an article is pure and original in terms of theme and elegant and stylish in terms of diction. Liu Xie (465?–520) of the Southern Dynasty first introduced qizheng in literary criticism to oppose attaching excessive importance to form and novelty, a trend which was popular in the literary circles in the Qi and Liang dynasties. Liu Xie maintained that literary creation should be based on Confucian classics in terms of theme, to be embellished by stylish rhetoric. He believed that pure thought (zheng) must come before rhetoric (qi) so that an essay would be original in terms of theme and beautiful but unexaggerated in terms of diction. The term qizheng was later also used in literary criticism of poetry and opera.
A state should be ruled by the normal way, fighting should be conducted in a surprised way, while ideal governance should let people handle their own affairs. (Laozi)
In all warfare, the direct way is to meet enemy attack head-on, but surprise attack should be launched in order to secure victory. One who is good at using surprise attack will have at his disposal a rich reservoir of such tactics as inexhaustible as Heaven and Earth and as unending as the flow of rivers and streams. (The Art of War)
Six criteria should be applied in reading and commenting on an article: structure, diction, continuity and change, use of new and traditional techniques(qi and zheng), use of allusions, and rhythms and prosody. (Liu Xie: The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons)