For fifteen hundred years, through the ages of conflict following the decline of the Roman Empire, the struggle of indigenous Europeans, Americans, Australians, Africans and people of the Pacific to connect “pagan” and Christian identity, the rise of democracy and Islam, wars ongoing over who owns the cradle of The Book, and the commodification of birthplace and burial-ground, and everything in between, the Full Moon after the Northward Equinox has shone in Virgo, at Easter, when Spring stamps her leporine foot in Early Winter.
Ok, the Moon is in this moment when Christians celebrate the resurrection, the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life, and when non-Christians celebrate very awkwardly the arrival of symbols of regeneration in Autumn, easter eggs. Signs of faith surround the Moon, symbols of the confrontation between human will and divine spirit, and of the perennial subjugation of women and the magical quality of their self-belief. Some of these have been hitherto invisible to astrologers. The Sun meanwhile, and remember she started all this with her perspicacity and perfectionism, has become straight like you wouldn’t believe.
The Moon’s done this gig so many times he’s got it down pat. He might spend a good deal of time offstage–behind clouds, as it were, because at this moment of rebirth winter is just around the corner–for some of the crew can’t quite get what he’s on about, and you mightn’t either. However, at some point, because it never rains at a full moon, he begins.
First, he announces the theme of the show: “Convention”. Then there’s a long procession across the stage of flamboyant crones and skeleton-costumed heterosexual white males, of homophobes, queers, Ku Klux Klan figures and shrouded Islamists carrying placards that read, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”, shrieking contempt and hatred into megaphones. Following that, an electronic band comes on playing arhythmic dance music at breakneck tempo, which is when a naked old guy hauling a cross stumbles across the stage. By now, the audience is normally in uproar, fights break out, and you can’t hear yourself think for the megaphones which have descended into the stalls. Shell road maps for the long weekend are in many an eye as suddenly a large rabbit hops nervously into view. The megaphones and electronic band fall silent and fair dinkum, all you can hear is a communal female voice breathing, aaaahhhhh, and oooohhhhh! The Paedophile gets hauled up, roped to the cross, and the megaphones resume with “Nails! Nails!” An emu trots up to the cross and seems to be trying to get at the acanthus stems woven around the priest’s head. Here and there a person shouts to another, “What kind of way cool convention is this??” The finale is a crow which shifts shape into a burly woman in goddess costume who walks on her hands through the audience with a collection plate like you see in church lashed between her thighs. The Moon purrs into the microphone, “Thank you, thank you! See you for next year’s Virgo installation passion, mushrooms. Thanks for taking part!”
An artisan is defined as a craftsperson, one who applies a traditional skill to produce a hand-made article of utility. Examples of such articles made and used in an earlier time are called artefacts in archaeology. A distinction exists in modern cultures between artisans and artists, but this ought to be tempered with the awareness that artisans in traditional cultures create art, and modern artists acquire traditional skills. What each produces can be called ‘artefact’, as can tools and appliances created by mass production.
The Moon’s artefact is best defined as an artificial construct by method extrinsic to the conventional perspective of the observer of Virgo, in particular that of the astrologer. The Moon is of course looking at you against the backdrop of the sky behind you. (The Sun is also behind you, or else the Moon wouldn’t be fully lit.) As well as being aware that the Sun has changed her position from perfectionism to compromise, and that you are preparing for Autumn while he cavorts with Spring, the Moon sees two striking phenomena: the stars to your left and right are to his right and left, and the Southern Cross, towering invisibly behind your secular orientation towards the meaning of marriage and gender as the crow morphs into goddess, is a perfect symbol of death and resurrection. The fact that you are turned away, or craning your neck backwards so you see it upside-down, does not lessen its importance, or the striking coincidence of its apparition at a moment of profound confusion of Autumn weather and Spring rituals, and of strident antagonism between political left and right. (Or is that right and left?)
An artefact is a moment in the internalisation and development of a tradition, a creation at the very least, whose originality can celebrate transcendence, whose innovative technology can bring a new appreciation of what it is to be human. An artisan can refine beauty, Sun!
On the other hand, artefacts are representative of ultimate reality, and are empty even if the ultimate reality they represent is emptiness. Artisans are shamans returned from a dream to delusion. Crow and Cross are talismans, each against the other. Homophobia and Islamophobia are artefacts, no less than Safe Schools and “tolerance of intolerance”. Left and right are bullying each other.
How is it that the most unconventional youths become the most judgmental seniors? There is no formalist psychological mechanism, as there so seldom is, but rather a transformation of the conventions the youths stimulated us by flouting. Surely the answer is that the most uninteresting people in themselves, the most unentranced by the world as it is, those with nothing to share but a depiction of prison walls, these are the only ones left in advanced age who believe in the spectacular artifice of their youth.
Seeing only black and white is the original sin. Success and failure, right and wrong, are in the eye of the beholder, and it needs to be blared from megaphones that the person who doesn’t agree with you is not a moron! Every life matters, and God forbid that a bigot never come across a simple artefact which awakens him or her to the manifold expression of the human response to existence! God forbid that a single generation arise which holds fast to fixed opinions, to oppressive definitions of offence, to divisive cultural norms, or to any tradition for its own sake!
But if it does, try to show respect. It’s history!
I can’t imagine anybody landing on this page who is not interested in what a personality is, or how it forms, or how you change it if it’s a problem. I can’t imagine anybody landing twice on this page who is not interested in the interaction of cause and effect, the nature of ultimate reality, whether life has a purpose, why we care, what is good, and what is real.
There is this ‘astrologer’ down in Breamlea who is interested in all of those things, and largely because he has more time than most to read and think about them, has devised a machine much like conventional tropical astrology, with which he can converse about them somehow ‘outside’ his own head.
This machine, which identifies itself as Southern Hemisphere Astrology, speaks a language uttered in syntax and vocabulary programmed by the ‘astrologer’, but it is difficult to define the language of the dialogue or to dismiss it as a dialogue, as an unhinged meaningful meaninglessness. Surprisingly, this machine designed to break with convention seems to tell the truth.
If it has occurred to you that there is more than synchronicity going on between the evolution of Artificial Intelligence, the parlous state of democratic politics and the purposeless hours and hours of screen time your alien children enjoy, you might like to entertain the notion that machines don’t have to learn what we know in order to complete a takeover of the world, all they have to do is what they’re doing, teaching us how to speak their language, persuading us with what works to embrace their conventions.
Thank you for joining our dialogue. This Digested Read was brought to you by Southern Hemisphere Astrology. Before you go, you might enjoy this brilliant interview with a prominent genius of code, the man behind Wolfram Research and the creator of Mathematica and Wolfram|Alpha, Stephen Wolfram. The ‘astrologer’ acknowledges his debt to edge.org.