Concealment and Revelation
“Concealment” refers to keeping things hidden, whereas “revelation” means making things abundantly clear. As an artistic and literary term, this pair of opposites refers to a creative process in which some things need to be hidden and others abundantly clear. When applied to semantics or rhetoric, it refers to subtle or explicit modes of expression. An ideal work of art is marked by a proper balance between concealment and revelation. Understatement or hidden meaning does not mean being cryptic, but rather being profound in significance. On the other hand, plainness of wording or conspicuousness of meaning does not mean sheer transparency, but rather clarity. Generally speaking, concealment and revelation are not mutually exclusive. They are instead interchangeable and feature two-way dialectic mobility, revealing Dao in constant change.
In The Book of Changes, there is mention of four divinatory symbols which are of profound and intricate meanings. Recorded in The Spring and Autumn Annals are five essential requirements of writing, which are themselves artful and subtle. Both of these examples illustrate the function of a piece of writing by resorting to the subtle nuances of meaning. Thus, it can be seen that simplicity and complexity have different outward features, and concealment and revelation have different modes of expression. Authors should curtail or expand the contents of their writing depending on circumstances, adapting to a variety of situations. Good writing is achievable by testing it against the teachings of the Duke of Zhou and Confucius. (Liu Xie: The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons)
I personally believe that the essay titled “The Doctrine of the Mean” is the source of sagely thought. It conceals or reveals its essence and functions in accord with circumstances, resulting in accomplishment for self and other. (Zhang Shi: Postscript to Collected Explanations of and Commentaries on The Doctrine of the Mean)