Entries in astrology (71)
James Franco, 19 April 1978
Tim Curry, 19 April 1946
Heath Ledger, 4 April 1979
Marcel Marceau, 22 March 1923
Another great court portraitist, (like Anthony VanDyck, Red Aries #18), Francisco Goya, born on March 30, 1746, had a penchant for bright red, especially as an accent: red cape, red ribbon, red collar, red corsage, red boutonniere, red cuff, feather, box, flag, flame, hat, pants, ember, blood. He painted the Duchess of Alba twice, once in a white dress and once in a black one, each with a red sash. The painting above, Goya's most beloved, unites the color with his favorite theme, childhood. At the lower left, his frequent touch of the macabre, the three cats ready to pounce on the bird.
Here he equates the Aries bodypart, the head, and the Aries color.
The haunting portrait of Count Floridablanca is profound meditation on identity. The ostensible Subject is the central figure in bold red, but his existence is diffused, appearing also in his oval portrait dimly looming above him. There is also a self-portrait of the artist, humbly dressed on the left, whose profile is 'fortuitously' highlighted, while the individuality of an insignificant secretary seems to have struck the artist as more interesting than the Count, who is comparing his painted image with his image in a mirror. So there are at least six self-images present or implicit. Other important Aries images in Goya's work: Boy on a Ram, The Disasters of War series, The Massacre, and the hacked and bloody butcher's still life, "Head and Quarters":
Julian Assange writes this in his philosophical blog: "Hence we come to the following remarkable conclusion. You share
your body with a
This lobster . . . . is a simple creature, and it controls homeostasis. It controls appetite and activity and Youhave no direct control over it. All you can do is move it from place to place and buy different things for it to eat. Otherwise you have less control over it than it has over you because it
is able to influence your feelings of reward, temperature, hunger and activity."
Arthropod to the core, Julian Assange was born when the Sun was in Cancer the Crab, the first of the three water signs. In addition, at the time of his birth the moon was just above the horizon, in Scorpio, and he has the pale fleshy face typical of people born with the moon rising. All three primary horoscopic influences, then, are with the Zodiac's two arthropods: the most numerous phylum on Earth, making up more than 80% of all described living animal species, including all insects and crustaceans, while the third water sign, Pisces, has as its totem the most numerous of the vertebrates, the fish. The vast preponderance of life on the planet is assigned to the water signs, and so the zodiac gives the last word to primitive biological instinct and the rudimentary, brainless nervous systems, rather than to the rational faculties.
'The point' comes when feelings demand it. It can only be rationalized from the axioms of primitive emotion. If these axioms are weak due to decalibration by civilization, 'the point' eludes us. If they are strong, we pursue our goals with passion and vigor. from Assange's blog
" I believe in the fable that the Fates fell in love with Hermes. " Emerson
" Mediator. Mediation. There is nothing else; there is no Immediate known to us. " Emerson
" A good symbol is the best argument. . . The value of a trope is that the hearer is one; and indeed Nature itself is a vast trope, and all particular natures are trope ... All thinking is analogizing, and 'tis the use of life to learn metonymy. " Ralph Waldo Emerson
"O please don't start in on the Zodiac." Joseph Brodsky, Gorbunov and Gorchakov
The Twins, the third sign of the zodiac, first one of the element Air, associated with the Messenger Deity Mercury/Hermes, houses the Sun at the births of many writers.
The symbol of the Twins defines the Set of Copula, its functions and accoutrements, from the intimate to-and-fro of personal interaction, to any generalized form of mediation, transition, re-presentation, specularity, iteration, duplication or multiplication, mimesis or similarity. Hieroglyph, stylus and pen, typeface, word, the mirror and the mirror neuron, metaphor, language, dialogue, translation, figuration, all spring from the Twin's mutual address. Gemini, the third sign, looks back and sees only two things, the majestic parental binary of Aries and Taurus, and channels all its creativity through the revelation of AND.
Dante Alighieri in Paradise honored the "glorious Twins" thus:
. . . . o stars
impregnate with great strength,
to whom I owe whatever genius
I possess, with you the sun
arose and set when first
I breathed sweet air of Tuscany.
Each of the three books of the Divine Comedy ends with the word "stelle." Dante taxes us to experience pre-Copernican astronomy and astrology when they were uncomfortable Siamese twins, not yet fully separated. In Dante's comprehensive vision anything believed of the heavens, mythological or geometrical, signifies spiritually.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a translator of Dante, reaches for the stars continually:
"Astrology interested us, for it tied man to the system. Instead of an isolated beggar, the farthest star felt him, and he felt the star. However rash and however falsified by pretenders and traders in it, the hint was true and divine, the soul's avowal of its large relations, and, that climate, century, remote natures, as well as near, are part of its biography." (The Conduct of Life: Beauty)
"Every astronomical fact interested him," Emerson's nephew recalled, but his perspective was entirely symbolic. "I think," he wrote, " I could have helped the monks to belabor Galileo for saying the everlasting earth moved." According to a friend: "The majesty of planets and suns and systems, in their ordered courses, especially appealed to Emerson from youth. . . . In the years between 1835 and 1845 his journals, and the scattered fragments of "The Poet" show how constantly he sought "the sweet influence of the Pleiades" and "Arcturus and his sons."
Divine inviters, I accept
The courtesy ye have shown and kept
From ancient ages for the bard.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
I watch your course,
Who never break your lawful dance
By error or intemperance.
O birds of ether without wings!
O heavenly ships without a sail!
O fire of fire! O best of things!
O mariners who never fail!
Sail swiftly through your amber vault,
An animated law, a presence to exalt.
"I am part of the solar system. Let the brain alone, and it will keep time with that, as the shell with the sea-tide." Emerson looks to the stars with a philosophical yearning and a poetical mood and a downright belief in sympathetic influence that have little to do with astronomy.
W. B. Yeats casts horoscopes obsessively. His Geminian Sun murmurs "Mirror on mirror mirrored is all the show." He was enamored by the idea of the antithetical self, as unreachable as the image in the mirror, as a generative principle. (cf. A Vision)
Gay Gemini poet Walt Whitman reaches out to "Poets to come!" Gay Gemini poets reply in echo: Garcia Lorca (Ode to Walt Whitman), Allen Ginsberg ("What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman . . ") Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (Salutacion a Walt Whitman), who left trunkloads of unpublished astrological papers, pleads (in English):
With the higher trifling let us world our wit
Conscious that, if we do it, that was the lot
The regular stars bound us to, when they stood
Godfathers to our birth and to our blood.
Somehow Gemini Joyce Carol Oates added a name, or two, to the list of Pessoa's hundred-odd heteronyms. In a Yeatsian trance, a "real or imagined 'possession'", she "translated" fully 22 stories (a satisfying Gemini number) by (yet another) imaginary Portuguese author, Fernandes de Briao, collected in the volume "A Poisoned Kiss". In explanation Oates cryptically invokes Yeatsian antitheses. "Everything about her had two sides to it," Oates wrote in her most famous story, and in her natus the Gemini itself is one side balanced against another, a powerful Persephone archetype). Her novel based on the life and death of Marilyn Monroe, also a Gemini, was written under the working title Gemini, then renamed Blonde; Oates' antithetical autobiography in a way.
Allen Ginsburg relished his birthstars, as here:
This universe a thing of dream
substance naught & Keystone void
vibrations of symmetry Yes No
. . . . all the way down to the first Wave
making opposite Nothing a mirror
which begat a wave of Ladies marrying
waves of Gentlemen till I was born in 1926
in Newark, New Jersey under the sign
sweet Gemini ---
As promised by its title, Joseph Brodsky's "To Urania: Collected Poems 1965-1985" inclines to astrology. The title poem responds to the 1960 "Homage to Clio" of Brodsky's mentor, W. H. Auden (n. b. not a Gemini). Late Auden is permeated with this discouraging shibboleth: 'poetry makes nothing happen'. In "Homage to Clio" Auden submits to the realpolitic of history (whose Muse is Clio), to rationalization and disenchantment. He rejects Zodiacal illusions for good: "We may dream as we wish / Of phallic pillar or navel stone // With twelve nymphs twirling about it, but pictures / Are no help".
In Brodsky's youthfully Geminian, optimistic counterview the very ubiquity of limitation and division in the sub-lunary world privileges Urania's transcendental exploration over Clio's scrolled archive. Gemini is ever the gadfly to the realist. Urania's profounder Self ("the/body's absence") is a spiritual giant who strides the upper atmospheres like Dante ascending (or a passenger in an airplane), observing Earth's majestic shifts from above.
Everything has its limit, including sorrow.
A windowpane stalls a stare. Nor does a grill abandon
a leaf. One may rattle the keys, gurgle down a swallow.
Loneliness cubes a man at random.
A camel sniffs at the rail with a resentful nostril;
a perspective cuts emptiness deep and even.
And what is space anyway if not the
body's absence at every given
point? That's why Urania's older than sister Clio!
In daylight or with the soot-rich lantern,
you see the globe's pate free of any bio,
you see she hides nothing, unlike the latter.
There they are, blueberry-laden forests,
rivers where the folk with bare hands catch sturgeon
or the towns in whose soggy phone books
you are starring no longer; farther eastward surge on
brown mountain ranges; wild mares carousing
in tall sedge; the cheekbones get yellower
as they turn numerous. And still farther east, steam
dreadnoughts or cruisers,
and the expanse grows blue like lace underwear.
So Brodsky rejects Auden's dispiriting obeisance to necessity. Having known prison he is not one to chip away at the possible meanings of freedom, but will keep faith even if narrowed to a twinkling point.
Auden doesn't think Clio reads his poems, or should, while Urania leans over Brodsky's shoulder as he writes. She pops up often, indirectly in the collection's first poem, May 24, 1980, which is the poet's fortieth birthday -- and two days before Pushkin's birthdate. (Urania implicitly attends all births.) The brotherhood of Brodsky and Pushkin is common critical currency. They are the Castor and Pollux of Russian literature, as the two Geminis, Emerson and Whitman, are of American, and May 24, 1980 is a compendium of Pushkin/Brodsky resemblances, in tone, meter, rhyme scheme and incident. The Dantesque enters as well: "From the height of a glacier I beheld half a world, the earthly / width."
In Lithuanian Nocturne Brodsky plunges into the most obvious Gemini terrain. In a teleported visitation, with allusion to Girenas and Darius, a legendary pair of doomed Lithuanian airmen, Brodsky address fellow poet his distant friend Thomas Venclova on the subject of their shared literariness: "Our inkpot alliance! It's splurge!/ . . Our imprints!" Then a full outcry of the Twin's need to pair:
Thomas, we are alike;
We are, frankly, a double:
. . . We're a mutual threat,
Castor looming through Pollux,
We're a stalemate, no-score,
Draw, . .
Echoes tracing in vain the original cry . . .
In Stanza XV Urania appears in her glory (and to the disadvantage of Clio). Brodsky's thoughts of Venclova, transcending political boundaries, unite in the upper atmosphere with Venclova's thoughts of Brodsky to become
A specter . . .
simply note in this faint apparition a kin
or an aspect of air--like these words, with their fear of the morning,
Scattered thinly at midnight by some slurring voice --
. . . . but in which
ever-naked Urania is to rejoice!
In Stanza XVII, Brodsky addresses Urania again: "Muse of dots lost in space! Muse of things one makes out / Through a telescope only!") and sings to her a "little aria," actually four dithyrambic stanzas, on the subject of Air, Breath and Speech, which resounds with the afflatus, pneuma or prana of the element Air at the roots of indo-European astrological imagery.
In the kingdom of air!
In its equality of
gulps of oxygen to our syllables! . . .
. . . our O's
shape the vault of the palate,
where a star gets its shine from the vat
of the throat! That's how the universe
Two memorable times in his youth, Brodsky experienced "astronomical illuminations" while gazing at the stars, and he regretted (to an interviewer in 1988) that they had never recurred. In The Fifth Anniversary, a dejection ode, the poet tries to talk himself out of silly beliefs. It opens:
A falling star, or worse, a planet (true or bogus)
Might thrill your idle eye with its quick hocus-pocus.
. . . there are no enigmas, signs in heavens."
Yet Gemini is compelled optimistically to his Penmanship: "Scratch on, my clawlike pen, my pilgrim staff, my salvage!"
Again, in one of his Christmas poems he is disillusioned with the stars: "well after hours, blinking . . . and a thoughtful gaze can be rested on none of these."
Astrology is confrontational in Gorbunov and Gorchakov, Brodsky's important novel-in-verse, a poetic genre which few but Geminis attempt. (I name Pushkin, of course, coupleted Pope ("Why did I write? What sin unknown / Dip't me in ink, my parents or my own?"), Thomas Moore, more recently Vikram Seth, Anne Carson.) The most extended of Brodsky's several conversation poems, it contains the astonishing Canto V of "He said"s (A Song in the Third Person), an x-ray of dialogue. The subject of Canto X is the primacy of language:
"And so it's not the sea that surges in-
to shore, but words are overlapping words."
"And words are sort of holy relics." "Yes."
The two protagonists are political prisoners in a mental ward. Gorchakov is Brodsky, an intellectual, Gorbunov, his antithetical self, a peasant. Gorbunov consults the stars, Gorchakov mocks them. Gorbunov describes himself in astrological terms, then asks
"And you, What is
your sign?" "Well, I belong to Gemini.
Born under Gemini, in May." "I guess
that makes you warm." "I guess." . . .
Our normally garrulous and provocative Gorchakov is suddenly laconic, unresponsive. His contempt for astrology is belied by his all-too obvious Geminian qualities. He knows Gemini fits him to a T, a final blow, it stops his words. Gorbunov argues with Uranian metaphor (she always represented with a compass):
forgetting that, although the radius
is scorned in life, the compass will endure
The usual allowances for problems of translation aside, Brodsky still makes good points, often with fabulous, if slightly accented language. Nothing perishes faster in translation than the sheen of an intricate rhyme scheme, except perhaps delicate conversational gradations of Slavic irony and mood. The notorious "untranslatability" of Brodsky (echoing that of Pushkin) is a fitting part of his Geminian literariness, and added to his labors and his substance as a personage. He was not only his own translator, but editor and collaborator with a stable of colleagues. Brodsky is a hero of border-crossing, so charmingly grateful for the freedom offered by the West that we English reader generously excuse the inevitable awkwardness. We lean forward to understand -- what communicator could ask for more?
"Indeed, a star that climbs above the field
seeks out a brighter interlocutor."
To unite the beginning and the end of this essay, and justify my eccentric practices, I submit quotes from Brodsky and Emerson:
"The surest defense against evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even — if you will — eccentricity." JB
"I would write on the lintels of the doorpost, Whim. I hope it is somewhat better than whim at last, but we cannot spend the day in explanation." RWE
--- Mark Shulgasser
"Where the Music Comes From" words & music by LH
"Evening" from 'Evening without Angels' by Wallace Stevens
"Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll
Born on February 8, 1911, a hundred years ago last week, Elizabeth Bishop wrote about her sudden, sickening childhood identifications with the sky-permeating female scream, and the dizzying awareness of her unavoidable fate: being human, "one of them," accompanied by "the sensation of falling off / the round, turning world / into cold, blue-black space." Of this never forgotten inward trauma, her cosmic fall into identity and time, she solemnly notes the date in these lines from her poem "In the Waiting Room": "I said to myself: three days / and you'll be seven years old. . . ./ And it was still the fifth of February, 1918."
The poet's first conscious creative act, then, was to establish the birthdate as synecdoche of origin, identity and fate. This fetishistic attitude toward the birthdate is in a sense universal and unavoidable, and a source of both the attraction and the antipathy to astrology.
Thirty years later Bishop commemorated her orphan's birthday with a stoical dejection ode, pivoting hopefully only on the very last word.
I did a quick search for qualifiers to the term "Self" in some recent books about Elizabeth Bishop, and came across "dismantled," "disunified," "shipwrecked," "fluid and unfixed," "unstable," "only arbitrarily bounded," "denied," "questioned," "lost," "obfuscated," "decentered," "abnegated," and "fractured".
The poet's famous attentive objectivity originates in self-effacement. The motives for effacement are well-known: female, homosexual, alcoholic, chronically ill, the American gothic childhood. Fortunately, directly opposite confident, sun-ruled Leo, Aquarius deplores egotism. Not so much a self as a constellation of problems, Bishop dedicated herself at whatever cost to a true poet's life of "no regular hours, so many temptations," reading, writing (mostly letters), affections, drinking, and travel.
Bishop's cold-blooded menagerie, her semi-alive lichen and moss, her wraith-like atmospherics, measure alienation from a solid core of solar identity. With Aquarian Hugo Hofmannsthal she would agree "We are no more than dove-cotes." Her multi-hued mineral grains, the iridescences, her attention to every color playing no favorites, and the triple rainbow epiphany which is central to her reputation, are shining peripheries of hope, the refraction of unendurable singularity.
* * *
Aquarius, centrifugal of the autocratic heart, circulates democratically, directs the oxygenation of the blood, and identifies with all aspects of the atmospheric cycle Thus Bishop's asthma , which chronically threatened her life, but stimulated her highest identification. Her work is crafted in a death struggle and is as necessary as cortisone. She breathes easiest when uncrowded before the detailed panorama. Continents, rivers, waterfalls, harbors, mists, moonlight, cities are seen from the slopes.
--- Mark Shulgasser, The Blue Zenith
See Astrological Profiles there for my pieces on Sagittarian and Capricorn poets as well.
Isn’t it time that, loving, we freed ourselves from the beloved, and trembling, endured as the arrow endures the bow, so as to be, in its flight, something more than itself? For staying is nowhere. Rainer Maria Rilke, b. Dec 4, 1875
Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic and her partner Ulay were both born on November 30, three years apart. This coincidence played an acknowledged role in their collaborations. The audio in the performance piece “Rest-Energy” is their amplified heart-beat and respiration. Reminds me of a poem by Sagittarius James Tate, “A Sunday Drive”:
“What am I supposed to do?” I said. “I think you’d
have to put an arrow through me,” she replied.
“I don’t have an arrow,” I said, “and besides I
could never do that. I love you!” "I think the
flying disease is for life,” she said, gliding
over me. Then she was gone in a blur of light.
More on Sagittarian poet James Tate here.
de nobis ipsis silemus (Of ourselves we are silent.) Francis Bacon 22 Jan 1561
"Subjective, objective -- what's the difference? William Burroughs February 5, 1914
“WHAT AM I? NOTHING.” Lord Byron 22 January 1788
"Who in the world am I?" asked Alice. "Ah! That's the great Puzzle."
Lewis Carroll 27 January 1832
Thus the famous theory of the *I* is essentially without a scientific object, since it is destined to represent a purely fictitious state.
Individualism is the disease of the Western World. Auguste Comte 19 January 1798
Behold a universe so immense that I am lost in it. I no longer know where I am. I am just nothing at all. Bernard de Fontenelle 11 February 1657
None of us possesses his own self: it is wafted at us from without, escapes us for long periods and returns to us in a breath. We are no more than dove-cotes. And self indeed! The word is very little more than a metaphor.
Hugo von Hofmannsthal February 1, 1874
The first-person singular is my favorite figure of speech.
Charles Lamb February 10, 1775
"I" is the true shibboleth of humanity. Stendhal January 23, 1783
Is me her was you dreamed before?
Was then she him you us since knew?
Am all them and same now we?
Whence it is a sloperish matter, given the wet and low visibility (since in this scherzerade of one's thousand one nightinesses the sword of certainty which would indentifide the body never falls) to indentifine the individuone. James Joyce 2 February 1882
Ego! It is the great word of the twentieth century. . . Everything we
have done in this century, from monumental feats to nightmare of human
destruction, has been a function of that extraordinary state of the
psyche which gives us authority to declare we are sure of ourselves when
we are not. Norman Mailer January 31, 1923
It was when I read the first of the books I found in my house that I saw
the word "I." And when I understood this word, the book fell from my
hands, and I wept, I who had never known tears. I wept in deliverance
and in pity for all mankind. Ayn Rand February 2 1905 from her novel Anthem, which portrays a dystopian future where the first person singular has been abolished)
WE, a 1924 novel by the soviet writer Evgeny Zamyatin February 20, 1884, about a dystopian future where the first person singular has been abolished)
WE, the autobiography of Charles Lindbergh February 4, 1902
I, etcetera. a book of short stories by Susan Sontag January 29, 1933
And identity is funny being yourself is funny as you are never yourself to yourself except as you remember yourself and then of course you do not believe yourself. The minute you or anyone else knows what you are you are not it. You are what you or anybody else knows that you are and as everything in living is made up of finding out what you are it is extraordinarily difficult really not to know what you are and yet to be that thing.
I am me because my little dog knows me. Gertrude Stein February 3, 1874
She would make him stand with her in front of the looking glass and ask him why he barked and trembled. Was not the little brown dog opposite himself? But what is “oneself”? Is it the thing people see? Or is it the thing one is? So Flush pondered that question, too . . . Virginia Woolf (25 January 1882): Flush, a Dog
Before her death Virginia Woolf planned a next novel to be called
"In revising his youthful poems, Georg Trakl (3 February 1887) substitutes everywhere for the
lyrical and personal "I" metaphoric disguises such as "the stranger," "a thing putrified," "a dead thing," "the murderer." .. . . the poet has abstracted everything unesssential, including the personal pronoun "I"
from his existence . ."
The self is only the shadow which sin and error cast by stopping the light of God—and I take this shadow for a being. Simone Weil 3 February 1909
Aries Lady Gaga looks great in red. Wearing blood, for instance, is one of her fashion statements, and she has just associated herself with a headphone-accessory named (Red). The most interesting thing about her chart is the action of transformative Pluto as the cutting, or high focus, planet of her bowl configuration,conjunct the Moon in Scorpio, bolstered by a strong trine to Jupiter in Pisces (exalted). Mars is in 0 Capricorn (also exalted). She's an extreme Plutonian, obsessively personating chthonic goddess figures, flagrantly displaying the exalted menses of a hellish dominatrix, with a beat and a sense of humor -- her rapid success marks something, it's hard to tell what -- related perhaps to the Large Hadron Collider's start-up.
The Buddha was exceptionally handsome. “The Brahmin Sonadanda described him as handsome, good-looking, and pleasing to the eye, with a most beautiful complexion. He has a godlike form and countenance, he is by no means unattractive.”
"It is wonderful, truly marvelous, the good Gotama's appearance . . just as the golden jujube in autumn is clear and radiant, just as a palm-tree fruit just loosened from the stalk is clear and radiant, just as an adornment of red gold wrought in a crucible by a skilled goldsmith, deftly beaten and laid on a yellow-cloth shines, blazes and glitters, even so . . . his complexion is clear and radiant."
“A disciple named Vakkali . . . was so obsessed by Buddha's physical presence that Buddha had to tell him to stop and reminded Vakkali to know Buddha through the Dhamma and not physical appearances.” (quotes from Wikipedia)
Buddha was a Taurus, and after years of restless seeking, with Taurean stubbornness he decided to sit under a tree until Enlightenment came, which it did after 49 days, at the Taurus full moon. So it’s interesting that Taurus Rob Pattinson had this profound Buddha experience – note the Taurean, fixed-earth emphasis on the vision’s concreteness, duration and practicality.
Fernando Botero, (b. April 19, 1932): Femme habillee par Valentino. Aries painter Botero is not afeard of red, for sure, tho I wouldn't say it plays a special role in his work. But he was attracted by fashion designer Valentino's great romance with the color. Valentino is a Taurus, but the Sun is his sole Taurus planet, while his chart's outstanding element is a powerful triple conjunction in Aries of Mars, Mercury and Uranus (all trine Jupiter), which he shares with Botero, who was born only three weeks before him.
see more Aries in Red here.
Color associations to the signs and planets are not rigidly assigned, and are based on subjective psychological affinities. Some are no-brainers, like red being associated with the planet Mars and the sign Aries (which is “ruled” by Mars) -- the war god evokes blood, anger (seeing red), the red planet, even the iron (oxide) of weaponry, which is also the source of blood’s color. Then the Moon and its associated sign, Cancer the Crab, suggests silver or white, also the moonlike pearl and nacre, esthetic essence of the crustacean.
Some signs have less definite color associations, but sun-ruled Leo, the Lion, one of the 3 firesigns, is obviously related to gold, yellow, orange, and to sunlight itself, if that can be called a color. Aquarius is the sign directly opposite Leo in the zodiac and the two signs are poles of a larger system. Hence, as Leo is sunlight, Aquarius is the spectrum of frequencies of which sunlight is composed, i. e. the rainbow. As Leo speaks of the Sun complacently imagining itself the center of its universe, Aquarius reminds that each of the infinite stars is itself a sun. (And each star has its unique spectral analysis, or rainbow variant.)
This metaphor generates a whole rainbow of antinomies. Leo is the autocrat, Aquarius the anti-authoritarian rebel, democrat or collectivist; Leo the individual, Aquarius the species; Leo the Self, Aquarius the group; Leo egoistic subjectivity, Aquarius detached, scientific objectivity. Leo is the heart/sun/nucleus, Aquarius the circulatory system/orbiting planets/electronic current. Aquarius is a political sign, the rainbow a joyous symbol of the coalition of minorities, yet Aquarius can also be conservative in characteristic ways, embracing a libertarianism in revolt against an oppressive consensus.
Altho an air sign, Aquarius, in ruling circulation, is associated with rivers and streams (whence the flowing symbol of the waterbearer), and more abstractly, with the cycle of ocean, vapors, winds, clouds, rain, river, ocean. The rainbow (an unexpected element of that cycle) is associated with promise and hope, and Aquarius is associated with futurity: the first 10 signs cover the known past and present, Aquarius, the 11th, the airy, insubstantial future, or a cuclical concept of time and eternity, the Eternal Now, “modernism”, the epiphanic Instant, the electrical zap, the accident, the gratuitous, the lightning strike, etc.) With respect to the future, both utopia (for instance the neotribalism of “Age of Aquarius” hippiedom) and super-rational distopia are offered. Aquarius is thus particularly associated with both the threat and promise of ever-increasing scientific objectivity, the very concept a transcendent abstraction called Knowledge, Truth or Mind.
" . . . R is Rubretta and A is Arancia, Y is for Yilla and N for greeneriN. B is Boyblue with odalisque O while W waters the fleurettes of novembrance. . . . Winnie, Olive and Beatrice, Nelly and Ida, Amy and Rue. Here they come, all the gay pack . . ." The 7 Rainbow Girls, a cavorting daisy-chain of colored scarves and flowers, in Finnegans Wake (Ch. 9) by James Joyce (b. 2 Feb. 1882)
For some time I’ve been pursuing the idea that Freud’s correct birthday was March 6, not May 6. The almost universally accepted May 6, 1856 date (6:30 pm, Freiberg, Moravia, now Pribor, Czech Republic) appears authoritatively in the first sentence of Freud’s official biography, written by his close associate and disciple, Ernest Jones. Yet that very sentence bears a footnote (deleted from the abridged edition) joking that the actual birth may have taken place two months earlier, only seven months after the wedding of Freud’s parents.
Freud wrote a book called Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, yet this jocular slur against his mother remains relatively unanalyzed by biographers, even though Freud himself raised suspicions that he was sired by one of his own half-brothers, that his official father was actually his grandfather.
To my mind, given all that we now know about Freud, the March 6 horoscope is the more apt of the two. There is much in the early years of Freud's biography to support this idea. (I have published a comparative analysis of the competing birthcharts in the Astrological Journal of March/April 2000). Only recently, however, have I come across Freud and Moses: The Long Journey Home by Emanuel Rice, MD., where it is reported that one of the most compelling documents supporting the May 6 birthdate, the so-called “inscription” in the "family Bible", is not an inscription at all, but merely a sheet of paper tucked inside a Bible which itself contains no family records at all. Yet in Peter Gay's authoritative biography, again the issue is relegated to a complacent and jocular footnote: "But the documents, amply supported by the Freuds' family Bible, shows that Freud [Sr.] and his bride seem to have obeyed the proprieties: the conventional date of the biographies, May 6th, is correct."
The sheet of paper in question is headed with a solemnly phrased record of Sigmund's grandfather's death, which took place after the wedding of Sigmund's parents but before his birth. There is of course something touching about this record of the grandson who attended his grandfather's funeral as a fetus. But the unique elaborations of this record may indicate that the deceased was not Sigmund's grandfather, but his great-grandfather.
On this sheet of paper the May 6 birthdate appears or is implied no fewer than eight times: as the date of the month and day of the week for both the birth and the circumcision (mandated to take place one week after a Jewish birth), in both the Jewish and the Christian calendars; the insistent reiteration seems overdone and anomalous. We find nothing like it, in fact nothing at all, about the birth of Freud's five surviving siblings, or the brother born just a year after Sigmund who died in early childhood. Why does the so-called family bible only contain a record of this one child's birth? Freud biographers all seem to take it as a matter of course.
The list of dates is followed by a spontaneous sentence which is marred by a Freudian slip of the pen: “On the fourth of [illegible], 856, my son mentioned above, long may he live, got three teeth." The change in tone chides the solemnity of the formal sentences above it and undermines trust, and the illegible slip may reveal the writer's embarrassment over the true date of the first dentition. (Born with a full head of hair, Freud's baby teeth would probably also have appeared precociously, and impossibly early if he was born in May.) The document perplexes; does one record the death of the grandfather and baby teeth on the same page?
The page also contains a list of the names of four officiants at the circumcision. Just as the page has been presented as a sacred inscription in the "family Bible" while it is merely a piece of paper placed into a Bible, so this list of names has been taken as a list of signatures attesting to the correctness of the date. A mere list of names is taken for a list of dated signatures, which it is not. In short the so-called family bible evidence strikes one as having been over-elaborately written in order to securely corroborate the wrong date for future readers.
Granted, other documentary obstacles remain in the way of the March birthdate. However, the reverential attitude towards and legendary status of some of these documents suggest they may not have been examined interrogatively. The so-called birth certificate reproduced on the Library of Congress website (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/freud/images/vc008101.jpg) is a document that was issued in July of 1886, not a contemporaneous document. Other documents seen in poor photo copies are contradicted by earlier reported descriptions.
Many biographies elide the fact that Freud's two uncles were professional forgers. One of the uncles was imprisoned, much to the 9-year-old Freud's shame, and the Manchester branch of the Freud family was implicated; Manchester was the manufacturing source of counterfeit rubles that flooded eastern Europe via Vienna prior to WW 1. We know surprisingly little about the Manchester Freuds, or and nothing about Freud's father's source of income.
The circumstances around Freud's birth records are clouded. He was not born, as has been stated, in an Jewish shtetl where no one could keep a secret, but in a small enclave of suspiciously foreign Ostjuden, hardly distinguished from gypsies by the local population, stigmatized, secretive itinerants, possibly petty criminals. At the time of his birth, the largish family was crowded into one room above the shop of a gentile locksmith (not blacksmith).
It is worth pointing out that the March 6 birthdate is not without support among Freudians: Marie Balmary made the most extensive argument in Psychoanalysing Psychoanalysis (1979); Wladimir Granoff assented in the published 1975 lectures Filiations; as does philosopher Andrea Nye in her Feminist Theories and Philosophies of Man (p. 156); as do Jay and Jean Harris, MDs , in The One-Eyed Doctor Sigismund Freud (1984). At least one authoritative textbook has : "Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was born on either March 6 or May 6 in Freiberg, Moravia (now Pribor, Czech Republic)." [An Introduction to the History of Psychology (B. R. Hergenhahn, 6th edition, 2008, pg.518]
It is hard to read the last chapter of The Psychopathology of Everyday Life and not feel that Freud was, at times, massively daft, in a way best described by the amazing and intense conjunction in Pisces of Sun, Moon, Neptune and Jupiter, all square Saturn, which took place on March 6, 1856. Pisces, the last Zodiacal sign, is traditionally associated with nescience and void, ergo, the Unconscious; while the quadrature of Saturn evokes pathology and pessimism.
There is a gradually assembling consensus that the vast influence of Freud on the mind of the twentieth century was in some way delusional, rhetorical, pseudo-scientific. I relish the paradox that another pseudo-science, astrology can offer insight here. As former markers of personal identity erode under the influence of psychopharmacology, assisted reproductive technologies, globalization, the internet, etc., we look back on the Freudian mythos with the newly-liberated cultist’s stunned sense of incomprehension and wonder.
Something a little silly perhaps, arbitrary and unchronological, entirely consequent on the vagaries of TurnerClassicMovies programming. This goes back to Gemini, the Hands, and the Taurus cusp. Remember wonderful Robert Montgomery? Born exactly on the cusp of Taurus and Gemini (Sun was at 29d30’ Taurus at noon on his time-unknown birthday), this is arguably his best film. On the poster his dense, puzzled face contemplates his murderous digits, detached, vaguely disturbed, with a glimmer of dawning understanding and horror. What a perfect summary of the relationship of safe, premental Taurean fixity to the adjacent restlessness and dangerous manipulations of Gemini. As Montgomery’s Mars is conjunct the Sun at 2 Gemini, the fingers particularly signify violence, rather than, say, intelligence, or creativity. Interestingly, co-star Rosalind Russell is also a Gemini, and her hand is also expressively emphasized in the poster art. Russell ends the film with a line that is bizarre, but aptly Geminian: “You not only saved my life, you saved my reason!”
The great, and now rather unfashionable, novelist Thomas Mann, an exemplary Gemini, noted in his diary on April 14, 1937: ". . . Night Must Fall, an excellent film with Robert Montgomery, who represents a good psychological type and has distinctly Joseph-like moments. Quite interested." Since Joseph was Mann's deeply felt alter-ego, with whom he shared his own horoscopic placements in his massive novel, Joseph and His Brothers, this response to Montgomery's character, a silver-tongued, criminal charmer, is clearly a bit of astrological self-recognition.
Incidentally, the third co-star of this film, Dame May Whitty, was also a Gemini, and what a Geminian name. While I'm drivelling on, to make another mad point, the late great Beatrice Lillie (aka Lady Peel) was a Gemini (and in talking of Gemini, do enjoy finding double letters in the name) and the Gemini poet Theodore Roethke (b. May 25, 1908) was once compelled to pen these immortal lines:
Bees and lilies there were,
Bees and lilies there were,
Either to other,--
Which would you rather?
Bees and lilies were there.
DONALD EVANS (b. 28 August 1945, Morristown NJ, 6:40 am) was another artist born under Virgo whose work is organized by the Grid. The postage stamp and its perforated sheets provided the rectilinear, regulated containment for Evans’s fantasy. He created the postal art for scores of imaginary nations; peculiarly distinctive, whimsical, exotic or banal, as philatelic images tend to be, executed with microscopic precision and tongue in cheek. Virgonian imagery predominates: catalogues of flora and fauna, natural landscapes, textiles, crafts, alphanumerics, and daily minutiae.
What to make of his premature death at the age of thirty-one, as enigmatic and abrupt as one of his postage stamps? His contained wanderlust led him to expatriate to the distinctly unexotic and safe Amsterdam, where he was ironically trapped in a fire in his neat apartment/studio (on 29 April 1977).
I have two fine copies of THE WORLD OF DONALD EVANS by Willy Eisenhart (1980, paperback, 173 pages, numerous plates) at the store. $22.00
Order one here: email@example.com