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Entries in gemini (23)

Monday
Aug012011

Some Gemini poets and Joseph Brodsky's Urania.

" I believe in the fable that the Fates fell in love with Hermes. "  

" Mediator. Mediation. There is nothing else; there is no Immediate known to us. "    

" 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

         The Twins, the third sign of the zodiac, associated with the messenger deity Mercury/Hermes, is the first sign of the element Air, and houses the Sun at the births of many writers. It is the first sign that has language at its disposal.

         The symbol of the Twins denotes any and all copula, their functions and manifestations,  from the intimate to-and-fro of personal interaction, to all forms of mediation, transition, re-presentation, mirrors and specula, iteration, duplication or multiplication, mimesis and similarity. Hieroglyph, stylus and pen, typeface, word, metaphor, language, dialogue, translation, figuration, photography, 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 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. 

     America's first popular astrologer, William Chaney, adopted Emerson's "Hitch your wagon to a star" as his motto.

 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 a generative principle which he called the "antithetical self", as unreachable as the image in the mirror. 

                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 . . ") and 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.

 

          Gemini Joyce Carol Oates added a name 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 her 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 Ginsberg 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 ---

            .          .          .          .          .          .

          . . .  I correspond with hopeful

          messengers in Detroit, I am taking drugs

and leap at my postman for more correspondence, Man is leaving

          the earth in a rocket ship,

there is a mutation of the race, we are no longer human beings,

          we are one being, we are being connected to itself,

it makes me crosseyed to think how, the mass media assemble

          themselves like congolese Ants for a purpose

                  .          .          .          .          .                                                     

          communicate with me

          by mail post telegraph phone street accusation or scratching at my window

          and send me a true sign I'll reply special delivery

             DEATH IS A LETTER THAT WAS NEVER SENT   

                                                                                Allen Ginsberg

         As promised by its title, Joseph Brodsky's "To Urania: Collected Poems 1965-1985" inclines to astrology, she being the Muse of that science. 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 principle: '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: "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.

. . . That's why Urania's older than sister Clio! ('To Urania')

 

         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 birthday poems.) 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 four dithyrambic stanzas ("a little aria") 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

breathes.

          Two memorable times in his youth, Brodsky has told us, he 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. (Pushkin, of course, and Pope ("Why did I write? What sin unknown / Dip't me in ink, my parents or my own?"), Thomas Moore, and, more recently, Vikram Seth and Anne Carson.) The most extended of Brodsky's several conversation poems, it contains the astonishing Canto V (A Song in the Third Person), an x-ray of the bones 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. Ironically, the obvious fact that Gemini fits him to a T stops his complusive flow of words. Pre-telescopic Urania, who developed geometry out of observation of the stars, is always represented with a compass, and Gorbunov argues with Uranian metaphor:

                                                               "You're

                           forgetting that, although the radius

                           is scorned in life, the compass will endure

                           forever, Gorchakov."

          The usual allowances for problems of translation aside, Brodsky still makes good points, often with pointed, 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. Adding to his labors and his substance as a personage, Brodsky was not only his own translator, but editor and collaborator with a stable of translator 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

Addendum: Other poets born under Gemini: Thomas Moore, Mark van Doren, Harry Crosby, Josephine Miles, Gwendolyn Brooks, Bob Dylan, Nikki Giovanni, John Yau, Lucie Brock-Broido, Paul Muldoon, David Lehman, Anne Carson

 

                                                               --- Mark Shulgasser

 

                                                      astrodreamer.squarespace.com

                                                               wkkbooks@localnet.com

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Saturday
Oct102009

Conglomeration of Gemini nonsense. (11)

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.Thomas Mann and friends

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.

 

Saturday
Sep192009

the gemini cancer cusp

The question asked where Gemini becomes Cancer: Is language magic?

Every fourth sign is Water. Water is Mystery. Cancer turns the empty binarism of Gemini into an infinitude of possibilities, symbolized by the pair of comedic, unpredictable pincers. Cancer turns the rational geometry of Gemini’s parallel into the double helix of DNA. One can run with this metaphor. For instance: Gemini rules the pair, the male and female gametes, Cancer the resultant pregnancy and birth. Gemini is the pure information of letters and digit, the empty on/off; Cancer is the fertile imaginative capacity that transforms that information into human meaning;  the book vs. someone to read it.  Each fourth sign in the zodiac is a water sign, following an air sign. Air is rational intellect, water irrational emotion. Thus the zodiac proclaims that rationalism is invariably superceded by something mysterious, involving love and death. But these ruminations add nothing really to what’s already in the literature. For instance, in C. E. O Carter’s classic:

“To those who are chiefly developed on the mental side, as is so often the case in the modern world, the passage from Gemini to Cancer seems a retrogression. After attaining the keen if limited mentality of Gemini, what a fall it seems to pass back to a sign that is largely instinctive and has the reputation of wallowing in emotion, especially of the gloomier kind!”
                     Essays on the Foundations of Astrology, 1947



Thursday
Jul092009

Gemini: I am writing millions of letters a year . . 

                                        . . .  I correspond with hopeful

          messengers in Detroit, I am taking drugs

and leap at my postman for more correspondence, Man is leaving

          the earth in a rocket ship,

there is a mutation of the race, we are no longer human beings,

          we are one being, we are being connected to itself,

it makes me crosseyed to think how, the mass media assemble

          themselves like congolese Ants for a purpose

                                                                      Allen Ginsberg

 


          communicate with me

          by mail post telegraph phone street accusation or scratching at my window

          and send me a true sign I'll reply special delivery

             DEATH IS A LETTER THAT WAS NEVER SENT   

Allen Ginsberg


 

Wednesday
Jul082009

Geminiana

MrsRaptor, the Open Salon blogger born May 22 whom I wrote about yesterday, adds that she is a twin,  mother of two sets of twins, and grandmother of twins. She's  typically communicative: not only a blogger but a ham radio operator, and her English (not her native language) is impeccable. Geminis show their need to communicate by picking up languages easily. (My father was a G and spoke 5 languages. Whenever we traveled he would pull out the local phonebook, even in some podunk motel that we stayed in for one night, and find someone in it who was related to someone from his home town in Eastern Europe, call them and invite them over for a drink.) 

Also, check out Neeti Ray's lovely appreciation of Gemini here.

Tuesday
Jul072009

Gemini bloggers on open.salon

     This happened to me. I was reading a piece by English journalist/interviewer Lynn Barber in The Observer (via aldaily.com) and I thought the writer had a Gemini vibe -- nothing in particular, and not unusual in a journalist/interviewer. The Observer gave her a bio where I read that she was born on May 22. Gratifying. One of her hobbies is gossip. Perfect.

     Then I checked out Huffington Post. I was interested in Gemini Brooke Shields's remarks about Michael Jackson. She brings up the subject of asexuality, which I find a Geminian topic (two of them I can think of, Elsa Maxwell and I. Compton-Burnett, claimed to be neuter). Among the comments one person writes, "Why is Brooke Shields always talking about asexuality?" I had no idea. I do remember the exquisite androgyny of her prepubescent modeling work. Another commenter says that Morrissey is an avowed asexual. I wonder if he's a Gemini, with all those double letters. Turns out he was born on May 22. Another hit. Plus, the 22 again.

     This, I thought, is not blog material, too trivial, too fussy, who's Lynn Barber, anyway. 

     Now, I have only eight or nine regular subscriber/readers. They know who they are, I (for the most part) don't. Aside from the regular perusers of Elsa's aggregator, Astrodispatch.com, my blog is hardly seen by anyone. I feed it to Open Salon but have never, I think, known anyone there to read it. So an hour ago I get an email: an Open Salon blogger, MrsRaptor, has made me a favorite! I suppose it's because in my last post I mentioned Open Salon bloggers and how I wondered if Geminis predominate among them. For some reason, Open Salon likes everyone  easily to know the birthdate of their members. MrsRaptor was born on M A Y   2 2.

     Well, what can I do with this? Drop a few chips on 22 rouge?

 

Thursday
Jul022009

7 Literary Ladies under Gemini

 

ANNA LETITIA BARBAULD. Who she?  An enormous biography of her just came out. She was an egregiously literary Englishwoman, 1743-1825, precocious, verbally gifted, an exemplary Bluestocking and a popular poet, who developed into a serious controversial essayist, editor and critic, and an influential and innovative educator and children’s author. Ho hum, I would say, until I read about her intense involvement with her brother:

. . . She and her beloved brother John Aikin worked as a team . . . : John was instrumental in getting her into print in the first place, relied on her as a frequent (anonymous) contributor to the Monthly Magazine after he took over its editorship, and collaborated with her on books and articles. Charles James Fox once congratulated Aikin on an essay 'Against Inconsistency in our Expectations': '"That", replied Aikin, "is my sister's." - "I like much," resumed Fox, "your essay On Monastic Institutions".' "That", answered Aikin, "is also my sister's."'

. . . Even in the age of sensibility, theirs seems to have been a remarkably interdependent bond, and much more sustaining to Anna than her troubled marriage to Barbauld (who suffered from some sort of psychosis and from whom she eventually had to separate). In 1777, John and his wife Martha gave the Barbaulds one of their sons, two-year-old Charles, to adopt. It was a fairly common practice to share children out in this way in families, and clearly Anna Letitia was longing to be a mother, but one can't help thinking . . . that she and her husband didn't wait very long before deciding that they weren't going to have children of their own. It makes one wonder what truth there may have been in a later description of Anna as 'an icicle'. "

“Doubtless she’s a Gemini,” I thought and wiki’ed her. Sure ‘nuff: b. 20 June 1743, (28 degrees Gemini). Reading the Wiki article does not leave the impression she was “an icicle”, though capable of leaving a chill. 

2. FANNY BURNEY (June 13, 1752-1840) Bestselling English epistolary novelist, playwright, wit, diarist and letter writer. Of a claustrophobic, multi-siblinged family. Scarred by the scandalous incestuous elopement of her brother James and their half-sister Sarah. Her diary/correspondence with her sister Susannah is a significant portion of her oeuvre.

3. RAHEL VARNHAGEN. (May 19, 1771-1833) Saloniste. Wrote 10,000 letters, stimulated a creative epistolary network of over 300 correspondents. Among the published volumes drawn from the archive, the most interesting is that of her lifelong correspondence with her brother, the poet Ludwig Robert.

4. MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU  (May 26, 1689-1762), letter writer, travel writer, journalist. Her literary cat-fight with Gemini Alexander Pope, is archetypal: he called her a lesbian in heroic couplets. (cf. Gemini feuds: Mary McCarthy vs. Lillian Hellman, Elsa Maxwell vs. Wallis Simpson). "She did in fact try to rescue her favourite sister, the countess of Mar, who was mentally deranged, from the custody of her brother-in-law, Lord Grange, who had treated his own wife with notorious cruelty, and the slander originated with him." (Wiki)

5. HARRIET BEECHER STOWE (b. June 14, 1811-1896): Journalist, novelist, abolitionist. Note her substantial creative, professional, political and domestic involvement with her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, the notoriously divorced, influential literary editor.

 

6. MARGARET FULLER (May 23, 1810-1850)  At the age of 25 she was given the responsibility of raising her 13 year old brother. After her death at the age of 40 he acted as devoted editor of her literary remains. Her meeting of the minds with Gemini Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the touchstones of American literary history:

“Last night a walk to the river with Margaret, and saw the moon broken in the water, interrogating, interrogating.”  . . . from Emerson's  Journals

7. JULIA WARD HOWE (b. May 27, 1819-1910). Poet, journalist, feminist. Author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic. First woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her early, unpublished novel was called The Hermaphrodite. Her antithetical brother, the accomplished Sam Ward, was a bon vivant, after whom a cocktail was named (Chartreuse over cracked ice served in a scooped-out lemon).

More Gemini women of letters here, emphasis on sibling and/or gender issues:

http://astrodreamer.squarespace.com/blog/2008/6/3/saturdays-book-bash-gemini-women-of-letters.html

Monday
Jun222009

Hands of Gemini 7: Marilyn Monroe

Leaving her handprints in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater, after the filming of Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, in which she figures as one of a pair (with Jane Russell), bon vivante and gender-bending. Granted, the hand is not the first body part one associates with Monroe, nor is Gemini the sign one might guess for her.  Yet that might be the very disjunction that explains her anguish. She gave herself to the camera, that is, to the state of being duplicated and multiplied, promiscuously and compulsively. Hedda Hopper, herself a Gemini (and note that both ladies rechristened themselves with alliterative names, gracing their self-created identities with the primitive charm of doubleness), observed Monroe's relation to the camera:

“No one in my memory hypnotized the camera as she did. . . In her brain and body the distinction between woman and actress had edges sharp as razor blades. Off camera she was a nervous, amazingly fair-skinned creature almost beside herself with anxiety about her roles, driven to seek relief in vodka, champagne, sleeping pills—anything to blunt the pain of her existence. When the camera was there she became an actress, using her eyes, her hands, every muscle in her body to court and conquer the camera as though it were her lover, whom she dominated and was dominated by, adored and feared.”   ---Hedda Hopper, The Truth and Nothing But (sic)

MM & HH: 2 Geminis and a mirror

As a hypermediated Gemini she was also a reader, fully entitled to wear glasses without joking. She married a writer, after all, not a bodyguard or back-up dancer. She was continually communicative, on the phone, kept in touch with everybody, even her distant half-sister, who wrote a book about her.

As Geminis do, she paired off with other Geminis.  Most memorably, Tony Curtis, JFK, and Joyce Carol Oates.Two Geminis with cameras

 

Gemini JFK avoided being caught in a photo with her, save in this rare shot taken on the sly, which includes the bonus features treasured by Gemini watchers: the Brother and the Library.

Two Geminis with phone

Gemini novelist Joyce Carol Oates announced Marilyn as her alter-ego or secret twin in the jacket art of her novel BLONDE, which had the working title of GEMINI, and is full of reflections on Gemini, including an extended fantasy of a sexual relationship between Monroe and a pair of handsome twins. A powerful chapter treats the occasion on which Monroe sang Happy Birthday to JFK. Years later tragic history repeated itself as farce when Gemini opera singer Beverly Sills sang Happy Birthday to Gemini Henry Kissinger.

(found stereogram)

(photo by Milton H. Greene)

 

reading Ulysses

Sunday
Jun212009

Hands of Gemini 6: Garcia Lorca

Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca (b. June 5, 1898), also an artist, drew this pair of severed hands, which chillingly prefigure his severed life: he was murdered by the Spanish fascists in 1936. Poets take note of the shout-outs among Geminis Whitman, Pessoa, Lorca and Ginsberg!

Incidentally, as a youngster, didn't Lorca look like Gemini Johnny Depp? I know "Separated at Birth" is an easy game, but when they're of the same sign I can't resist.

Saturday
Jun202009

Hands of Gemini 5: Egon Schiele

"For a well modelled thigh, you would recommend Michelangelo. For a radiant face, Rembrandt. But to whom would you turn for a supremely expressive hand? Egon Schiele, (b. 12 June 1890) the Austrian Expressionist who died at the age of 28 in the great flu pandemic of 1918, was a master of hands, and there is an enormous range of them throughout his work. There are long, thin, ivory-spindle-like hands which slide up the cheek; there are hands which drag at the flesh beneath the eye, making it bulge weirdly. There are hands which seem to snake around and almost to engulf the body, making it seem knotted and strangely tortured." (ref)


Anent Gemini's sibling associations: Schiele lived in a scandalous menage a trois with his wife and her sister, and he is believed to have had an incestuous relationship with his own sister.

Friday
Jun192009

Hands of Gemini 4: Bourke-White

A few Geminian images  taken by Margaret Bourke-White, (b. June 14, 1904). “What is amazing about Margaret Bourke-White's life is the number of opportunities she managed to get for herself. In photojournalism, getting where the action is, being there when it happens, is a major part of the talent and, ultimately, the achievement. And Bourke-White managed to get herself where things were happening when they were happening by working hard at being lucky and by her piercing intelligence and intuition. She was able to sense the potential of a great story and to get the editors of Life to transport her to the hot spot on time.  

    “An incredibly hard worker with legendary stamina and perseverance, she was also charismatic and, by all accounts, beautiful. Inevitably, people wanted to help her, giving her story leads and access. (And she apparently had a sixth sense about who would turn out to be useful to her.) Like most photographers, she had the ability to focus her personality on the getting of the photograph - by being persuasive, charming, persistent, manipulative, whatever it took. On top of all this, she had an exalted view of the role of the photographer as witness and felt that "getting there" and sending back the word was a privilege and duty. This messianic view of her job must have given her a lot of energy. (This wasn't as self-important an interpretation of the job of photojournalist as it might sound today: there was a world war raging, there was no television, no satellite transmissions to get the word out to the whole world within hours.)      . . . . Elsa Dorfman   Originally published in The Women's Review of Books, March 1997Further regarding Bourke-White: her gender bending, cross dressing, siblings, two marriages, and innumerable images of multitudes, transportation, flight, communicating, paired, iterating, signaling, etc. Her single most famous image is probably the photograph of Fort Peck Dam, which appeared on the cover of the inaugural issue of LIFE Magazine. Henry Luce, the editor/publisher of LIFE, was a Taurus. That photograph seems to me another representation of the Taurus/Gemini confrontation, wherein the first issue of the first photojournalistic organ declares the imposing compatibility of the ephemeral photograph and the most massive material manifestation of capital, or the mass-ness of the new mass media.

 

Tuesday
Jun162009

HANDS OF GEMINI 3: HEARTFIELD

John Heartfield, German photomontagist, born 19 June 1891.

 

Go here for some hands by E. M. Lilien

Tuesday
Jun162009

Hands of gemini 2: Uelsmann

Gemini photographer Jerry Uelsmann (b. June 13, 1934) characteristically works with double exposures, multiple negatives and mirrorings, all Gemini themes . .  and, of course, hands.

Friday
Jun122009

Hands of Gemini 1

 

 


The hand is Gemini’s organ, which, it goes without saying, comes in pairs.  Photography in its iterative, duplicative essence belongs to Gemini, and the hand is a perennial photographic subject.  Gemini Irving Penn, the quintessential commercial photographer, was commissioned to shoot the elusive Gemini jazzman Miles Davis. Several remarkable hand studies resulted, where the hand is allowed to take over from the face the task of representing identity. Above, a pair of jagged hand portraits, sharp as portrait glossies, signaling difference digitally.

Here, the face is a mask, and the hands share the portrait.

 

 

 

 




The photograph chosen for the actual album has been appropriated on FLICKr. The absent hand is restored.

The punning album cover of Gemini conductor George Szell’s “Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony” repeats Gemini themes.

Gemini photographer Weegee took this one.

Another Irving Penn photo. Penn also shows the Gemini trait of having a notable sibling connection. His brother  Arthur Penn also makes pictures.

See also: Hands of Escher and Raymond Pettibon

and here for Hands of Johnny Depp and Vincent Price

Friday
May222009

Taurus/Gemini cusp

Hermes/Mercury stealing the Oxen of Apollo, one of several mythic resonances at the cusp of Taurus and Gemini.

Friday
Aug152008

Not G. K. Chesterton, too.


Readers of The New Yorker puzzled recently over a seemingly pointless article about G. K. Chesterton, of use to me at least because he was, you guessed it, a Gemini (29 May 1874).  When he was 19 he got deeply into the Ouija board with his 14 year

old brother Cecil and they were scared witless. The experience was so powerful that Chesterton was shocked into lifelong orthodoxy. He and Cecil remained staunch brothers-in-arms, both professional progressive literary journalists in London, supporting and editing each other, co-editing journals, even sharing in libel trials, until Cecil’s death in the Great War.

The tendency among prominently paired literary siblings, for one of them to be a Gemini is marked: the Corneilles (Pierre's the gemini), the Goncourts (Edmond), the Manns (Thomas), the Hitchens (it's Peter), the Wolffs (Tobias), the Collins (Joan), Byatt/Drabble (Margaret), Cockburns (Alex), Dunnes (John Gregory), etc . . . where is my list?




Chesterton had that knack of creating an identity by pairing off. His biographer Joseph Pearce examines his long and successful, though childless, marriage with Frances Blogg in a chapter titled “Chesterblogg”.  His signature controversies with Hilaire Belloc and G. B. Shaw get chapters likewise titled “Chesterbelloc” and “Chestershaw”.  Called in the title of another biography “the Prince of Paradox” he bristles with dualisms. The caricature above calls  attention to his wonderful plain old bookishness, which an old bookstore owner admires. He seems to have published yards of books;  one collection of essays published in 1908 was called “All Things Considered.” 

Chesterton is remembered mostly, however, for his Father Brown mysteries, which some esteem as highly as the Sherlock Holmes tales by Arthur Conan Doyle, also born under Gemini. Doyle was led to mediumship by the death of his brother. He paired up with Gemini Oliver Lodge for psychical investigations. Also involved with these two in the Society for Psychical Research was the scientist Sir William Crookes, (again, what else, a Gemini) the discoverer of the cathode/anode tube, who turned to the study of mediumship after the death of his brother. 

Sunday
Jul062008

pettibon & escher

escher-pillar104.jpgpettibon-pillars109.jpgHere's a couple of interesting Gemini images from Gemini artists. The one on the right is by M. C. Escher. The one below comes from "The Arte of English Poesie" of 1589, an influential compendium of rhetorical and poetic techniques. The column on the left is to be read from bottom up, the  one on the right from top down. "The Arte of English Poesie" is attributed to George Puttenham about whom little is known (no birthdate, alas)  except that he had a brother. This particular, and peculiar, excerpt  appears in a selection of work by the Gemini artist Raymond Pettibon (published by Phaidon), in the "Artist's Choice" section.

 

 

 

The Arte of English Poesie, George Puttenham. $5

Sunday
Jul062008

scientists: gilbert coulomb poisson maxwell lodge crookes mesmer 

steinbergplusminus057.jpgAnother image of pure Gemini from Saul Steinberg (June 15, 1914). 

 

Scientists usually feel left out when the topic of astrology arises;  they should not. For instance, a clearly disproportionate number of the seminal names in the physics of magnetism were born under the Twins, the primal dualism, Gemini:

William Gilbert, author of De Magnete, ("the first great English scientific work") was born May 24, 1544. He discovered that the Earth is a giant magnet.

Charles Augustin de Coulomb (born June 14, 1736). In seven papers on electricity and magnetism published between 1785 and 1789, he explained the mathematical laws of attraction and repulsion between magnetic poles and electric charges.

Simeon Poisson, mathematician (b. 21 June 1781)  " . . his memoirs on the theory of electricity and magnetism, virtually created a new branch of                 mathematical physics. .....  made important contributions to the theory of                       attraction."

James Clerk Maxwell (b. June 13, 1831), author of the 1873 Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism demonstrating the identity of the two phenomena, "the most important physicist between Newton and Einstein".

These four men established the theory that the material world is essentially constituted by the interplay of two opposing immaterial forces. Equally entranced by the dance of plus and minus was the genius British technoscientist Oliver Lodge (b. 12 June 1851). He extended and applied electromagnetic theory to wireless transmission, the bipolar electrical cell, the study of lightning, automotive engineering (the spark plug), and fog-busting. He might almost be the man in Steinberg's drawing. Oliver Lodge was also twice a highly active president of the British Society for Psychical Research.

 

Another important scientist and British SPR president was Gemini Sir William Crookes (17 June 1832) who made discoveries in many scientific realms, including electricity. He is best remembered for the Crookes radiometer, which moves by virtue of the difference between black and white. Gemini Wallis Simpson's witty earrings

Mention must also be made of another experimenter associated with a form of magnetism, so-called animal magnetism: Franz Anton Mesmer (b. May 23, 1734) who, applying the principal of universal immaterial polarized force to medicine, psychology and sexuality, was the progenitor of dynamic psychiatry and the experimental approach to subjectivity. Mesmerism was, of course, a principle object of study at the SPR. 

 

At the time of the flourishing of the SPR London was awash with Gemini writers characteristically eager to extend communication. Arthur Conan Doyle (22 May 1859) and G. K. Chesterton (29 May 1874), both alter-egos of popular psychic investigators (Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown) both also deeply pursued mediumistic contact with their departed, beloved brothers. The poet W. B. Yeats (13 June 1865) while working with Crookes on a spirit-voice transmission device, runs into novelist Arnold Bennett (27 May 1867) at a seance . . . Gemini embraces any possibility of communication. No wonder Timothy Berners-Lee, inventor of the internet, is a Gemini.


 

This universe a thing of dream
                substance naught & Keystone void
                                    vibrations of symmetry  Yes   No
                                    Foundations of Gold Element Atom
                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 ---

                                                                           ALLEN GINSBURG

 

 


Thursday
Jul032008

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Another quote from gemini Ralph Waldo Emerson:

How slowly, how slowly we learn that witchcraft and ghostcraft, palmistry and magic, and all the other so-called superstitions, which, with so much police, boastful skepticism, and scientific committees, we had finally dismissed to the moon as nonsense, are really no nonsense at all, but subtle and valid influences, always starting up, mowing, muttering in our paths, and shading our day. (Journals, September 1842)


Sunday
Jun082008

Happy Birthday Tim Berners-Lee; Gemini post-modern philosophers 

    A birthday greeting to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, born 8 June 1955, creator of the blogosphere. Unavoidably, cyber-presence, the binary code, everything mediated, is owed to the Twins.     Gemini, the Third sign, is preeminently the sign of communication of information. First is the dot, Second the dash, Third is the flash of the difference, the current that leaps from the negative to the positive, meaning constituted by the binary, the digital, the iterative, the multiplicative, the network  the Web.  (Later in the zodiac come the spiders.)

    Naturally, Geminis have contributed significantly to post-modern communication concepts. Theimg.888012.jpg current privileging of the term “discourse” itself is introduced to contemporary discourse in the work of the French linguist Emile Benveniste (8 June 1902). Lechte, in the indispensible  50 Key Contemporary Thinkers (1994) writes: that "B. sees language as essentially a dialogue between two or more parties, unlike a signal system.    . . . this means that human language has an undeniable poetic and fictive character to it." 

    The communications theorist Jurgen Habermas (18 June 1929),  urges that dialogue itself  “calls for participants to engage in interpretation at all levels, thus heightening the degree of each person’s self-understanding as this derives from his or her interaction with others.” We all have an “intersubjective recognition” of the validity of the other’s utterance. Habermas’s development of the idea of “intersubjectivity”as a counter to both solipsism and scientistic objectivity has been indispensable to recent thinking about identity. He stands on a high mountain range separating Modernism and Post-Modernism, fortifying the borders of the Enlightenment. He has confidence that the "reasonably human can prevail". In the title of his seminal work Knowledge and Human Interests (1968) a dichotomy is suggested and the word "interests"  calls attention to itself with its implied betweenity. The question raised is how to balance the powerful weight, Knowledge: the scientific and technological exploitation of the globe, against the concerns of being human.  Gemini is the associate of borders. Habermas wishes us to maintain the border, but to cross it freely. In fact, he says: "The borders of truth are movable."

 

    "Interest" comes from the latin inter esse, to be between. This Gemini experience of being as a twoness, or a multiplicity, or a passage, and the associated curiousity of the child, restlessness of the adolescent, energy of the youth, this vivacity and wit to connect, is Gemini's continual gift to life.

    No aspect of post-modern thought has a more urgent claim to examination fundamentalimg.888019.jpg assumptions about communication than feminism, as it grapples with the psychosocial and historical irreducibility of gender binarism.  French linguistic philosopher Luce Irigaray enriches the feminist debate with the experience of Gemini consciousness, beginning with her tour de force deconstruction of gender binaries in the 1974 Speculum of the Other Woman. [Note the mirror, the Geminian doubling]. Her 1994 book To Be Two, opens with a rhapsodic prologue in which she attempts to describe her awareness of her own birth process, including the moment of her acceptance of her astrological imprint:

img.888015.jpg“You, my stars, masters of the universe, are my guardians and my peace, the font of my duties and of my fortunes. Bound to you in some mysterious way, I try to be faithful without understanding. I welcome your commands. Attentive, I am sometimes amazed, sometimes terrified, even though, in a certain sense, I put more faith in you than in myself. When decisions frighten me I search for a sign, not knowing if you are to guide me or if I am to guide you. I do not even know how to respect you in carrying out my own becoming.”


    Another major figure of French post-structuralist feminism, the poet Helene Cixous (5 June 1937)  obsessively explores the idea of a specifically female writing, to strip the mask of gender neutrality from communication itself.  She too at one point reaches to stars:

 

“How far it is from a star to a self, O what inconceivable proximity between one species and another, between an adult and a child, between and author and a character what secret proximity? Everything is far away, not everything resides only in distance, everything is less distant than we think, in the end everything touches us, touches us.” ('The Author in Truth', in Coming to Writing).


tannen-book113.jpg    On another level entirely, the oeuvre of American sociolinguist Deborah Tannen (7 June 1945)  reiterates the gendered dyadics of discourse: You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation;  Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work;  That's Not What I Meant! How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Relationships; Conversational Style: Analyzing Talk Among Friends; I Only Say This Because I Love You: Talking to Your Parents, Partner, Sibs, and Kids When You're All Adults;  You're Wearing That?: Mothers and Daughters in Conversation.

    The sociologist Erving Goffman (11 June 1922) is worth noting in this context, for titles like:  Encounters: Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction;  Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior; Strategic Interaction and Forms of Talk.

    Finally, to link the post-modern back to the digital binarism of Berners-Lee, take the figure of the late Jean Baudrillard (20 June 1929, according to the London Times and numerous other sources, although Wikipedia has July 29. Baudrillard was evasive about his biography; like Irigaray, he prefered "to be without a background”.) Baudrillard noted that the reduction of information to digital binarism enables the proliferation of the perfect copy, and therefore a by-passing of the real, and into the experience of hyperreality (his coinage). Baudrillard’s nightmarish vision of the simulacrum (cf, the copy, the double, the twin) is in fact a version of Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web,  in which the easily-accessed deliria of passive specularity, have, seemingly overnight, hollowed out the civitas, which now implodes under the vitality of a counterbalancing religious terrorism. This puts Baudrillard in the company of Gemini’s icy anarchic extremists: de Sade, Bakunin, Celine, the Unabomber, Drs. Kervorkian and Guillotin.  Of the pitiless heart of dualism Baudrillard writes: “No one seems to have understood that Good and Evil advance together, as part of the same movement. The triumph of one does not eclipse the other—far from it. . . Good does not conquer evil, nor indeed does the reverse happen, they are at once both irreducible to each other and inextricably interrelated.” (The Spirit of Terrorism, 2002). As an addendum, a few more Baudrillard titles which make me think he's a Gemini, whatever Wikipedia says: The Mirror of Production, Symbolic Exchange and Death, The Evil Demon of Images, Simulacra and Simulation, The Twin Towers.

"Deep down, things have never functioned socially, but symbolically, magically, irrationally, etc."                                                                                                                 J. Baudrillard

 

 




 

 

Enclosure