Psalm 74:20—“Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.”
“Where were you when I called? Why didn’t you answer? I needed you! I was absolutely terrified! Listen. I was in a dream, walking to the bus after my lecture, head full of images of Islamic architecture, when the attack happened and all hell broke loose. I heard the takbir, then gunshots, then I walked into a screaming horror. Sirens coming, people running in all directions, others lying injured or dead all over the path. At the very instant I realized what had happened, staring down at an old man on his knees and covered in the blood squirting from the woman he was tending, a woman on the other side looked into my eyes with an expression on her face I didn’t register at first. I stared at her, and then suddenly I got it. I was to blame. My first reaction was outrage, but then I became aware that everyone was looking at me with the same expression, not contempt or fear, but recognition. That’s when I nearly fainted in shock: no, it wasn’t that I was wearing the uniform, but that it was I, naked and without qualities, who wore that mediaeval uniform, or any uniform, and that I felt guilty, recognized! There was nowhere to go! Nowhere to be!”
Sidereal time begins again in Pisces, and here we are again, face-to-face with our most serious, fundamental and seemingly insoluble problem. Rome is burning, like a bushfire which began as a controlled burn but escaped with a wind-change. We are caught in a feedback loop: we want our elected representatives to do something, to stand for something, and make decisions on the basis of what they know, majority decisions, even if we disagree; on the other hand, to get anything done, our representatives, monitoring the public mood, safeguard their status by telling us as little as possible, and what truth they tell is what they believe is a palatable truth in terms of who-knows-who’s interpretation of what we want to believe; and the result is that all we know is spin, and we, the minorities of one, inadvertently, are spinning the spin which disempowers our representatives. The age of Pisces might even suggest itself as the age of leadership in criminal submission.
Any fool these days knows that truth is relative. And yet, allergic to fundamentalism, to the wisdom of the Bible and the Qur’an, so many are faithful adherents to other fundamentalist notions such as universal human rights and our culpability in, and the moral imperative to reverse, climate change. Pisces, the symbol of Christ, nowadays eschews absolutist claims, but in its incarnation in the South it still attests to humanity’s resilience. In the face of the second law of thermodynamics and the inevitability of irrelevance and death, it delivers the semi-permanence of tradition and culture. By some miracle we are hanging together–remembering that the next Full Moon is the Easter Moon (no pun intended)–but doubt is no longer a benign influence, as happens when you’re being told a pack of lies: you’re supposed to doubt the strictures of your ego, not the very existence of truth itself.
Poeppel Corner is an imaginary place, situated in theory on the boundaries of the Northern Territory and Queensland with South Australia. Attesting to its imaginary nature and the obstacles faced by any agreement on anything, its marker post, accessible along the QAA Line and the K1 Line four-wheel-drive tracks 174km west of Birdsville, and beyond the GPS receptivity of your smartphone, is not where it was intended to be by the surveyors who, with 19th century technology, unimaginable adversity and incredible bravery, intended to mark the gazetted border at the intersection of latitude 26 South and 138 East. Did you know that Australia has moved about 1.6m northeast since 1994? Do you realize that your property has no fixed position? And finally, nobody knows what time it is where three time-zones, and more when daylight saving changes (on April Fools’ Day), intersect! Why don’t you go there, and decide for yourself?
The entirely speculative names I have given to the Milky Way ‘rivers of the Underworld‘ may offend you. Is it really true that people of the South born in January and February carry an innate regret for the suffering of centuries, and those born in the second half of the year are doomed to struggle with ignorance, or do I just like the sound of my own voice? Whatever the demographics of the matter, if you are familiar with the night sky of October, the Sun is in the middle of nowhere. She needs her son to validate her, to stand up and make a contribution to the society she has brought him to, and she needs him to make it in a way which substantiates her claim to ethnic and religious continuity. She needs him to build something of local value within his tradition.
The miracle of tradition is the personality that goes into its reinvention. But it is also the resilience of the underlying layers of its palimpsest. May I make one thing absolutely clear? You do not separate yourself from ‘Das Man‘ by having a story, or in narrative terms a journey. In fact, the self has no story and no journey. It stares its transparency to itself in the face, without props, because it is not an object. Far from it! Its subjectivity reveals every object as a subject, and the process of reality as civility among subjects, with an emptiness of plot. Who knows what the next encounter will demand, each from the other?
The authentic self is not interstitial. Society is not its god. What godly power can compare to the reverence of the self for the finitude of the world it has created and expires with every breath? What sense of belonging to a master plan can outweigh the sense of being unique? What calling has a voice to diminish our gratitude for just being here, when we who are about to die commune with the beauty of what we will depart? But on the other hand, if we want to be recognized, we have to make ourselves recognizable. Truth lies (sic) in all sides of an argument, but the argument has to be heard. Judgment rules over silence; diplomacy rules over noise, and mindfully, change.