“Is it possible to be on the outside of the outside of the outside? Or perhaps that is the seventh circle of hell.“ Rick Morton.
It’s nearly last curtain for the Moon: time, I can feel it in the stalls, to put his costumes back in Wardrobe, or the closet perhaps, and go back into the Underworld.
My father used to say I talked because I liked the sound of my own voice, but I think it was irrepressible for two reasons: it wasn’t mine, but a voice with which the woodwork might become human, the hills might converse across the creeks, and the stars might exchange their vacuum for a night sky; and it ignited the silence of ignorance, and complacency towards incarceration of the body by the mind, delighting in the play of power. I haven’t grown up much.
This blog began as a Facebook page, motivated by a rather naive impatience with people who were attracted to the meaning astrology seeks in the heavens but knew so little about the night sky that the Moon in Aries was effectively lost. As above, so below, people were saying who were as interested in making a living as in connecting real people to the real world. This motivation was of course also true of Facebook, who invented the monetary value of talking to the world, and silenced the hills.
It might profit us ordinary people to compare ourselves to peasants, for we resemble them in many ways, despite protesting too much, methinks. Alan Hollinghurst, in his introduction to Penelope Fitzgerald’s quite superb Offshore, quotes the author as being drawn to “people who seem to have been born defeated or even profoundly lost … They are ready to assume the conditions the world imposes on them, but they don’t manage to submit to them, despite their courage and their best efforts ….” I think of myself, I think of people in various places trying to survive the devastation visited on them by distant, imperious and collusive decisions of unfathomable interest, indigenous Australians, West Papuans, Palestinians (and indeed Israelis), and anybody whose traditions situate them on top of what someone else wants. I think of the courage of the equally unfortunate communities disintegrating in arduous habitats of no value to anyone else, seduced of their youth.
”What the land needed was not a degree but sons and, in certain cases, daughters who were willing to stay behind and work it and breed. It was, and to an extent remains, a feudal system in its simplistic expectations.” Rick Morton, A Hundred Years Of Dirt.
The reason Southern Hemisphere Astrology Full Moon names are so archaic is because, like voice and vocation, they arise in the Underworld, where cosmos breeds mind, where the numinous dwells, where the memes of 85 million years belie their disappearance, and where we put the past, the poor and the dead. What better symbol of community than the peasant in Spring, what better model of self-acceptance, confidence in, and contribution to others, in the Adlerian terms Kishimi and Koga (The Courage To Be Disliked, Allen & Unwin, 2017) use to describe community. And if your season is not Spring, it really is in your Underworld. But the Moon, your moon, is not a symbol, is it? And you don’t think of yourself as a peasant?
What is there to learn from the mechanics of peasantry towards an optimization of harmony and control in the age of artificial intelligence? What will we do with the poor when climate change erodes their self-sufficiency and menial stop-gap occupations are filled by machines? How will we frame our global regulations so that the annihilation of the poor indicates to us their best interests? Will the economics of automation offset the economics of mental illness?
Jusqu’ici tout va bien, as the man who fell from a skyscraper said as he counted the floors. Control the Underworld, the presence of absence, and you own the country. But the question is, how to do that without getting stuck there, like the peasant? What typifies the peasant in our everyday usage of the term is a lack of the normal ambition to make the world a better place, an acceptance of the unacceptable, an unpalatable satisfaction with ignorance. The account the peasant gives of past and future is rooted in repetitions and cycles: such and such a season, a birth here, a death there. It seems shallow and constrictive, but in comparison with us, he seems free of incapacity, of a sinister legacy of the past, and of anxiety about the future. The Underworld, our unconscious and unknown, is palpable to him: the ground of his being is the earth upon which he works, this globe with its atmosphere and its climate which physically enfolds him and his ancestors. At least he is grounded. Perhaps it should inspire our confidence too, that if you feel unqualified to exchange ideas about how the world might be made a better place, you can at least enjoy finding yourself in the body of your own mind.
Enmeshed in his physical rather than emotional environment, he is no more attuned to human behaviour than the pigeons of suburbia, who keep telling everybody to “Cross the road” an hour too late after daylight saving kicks in. He is oblivious to the precession of the equinoxes and the ‘man box’. Neither happy nor unhappy, he seems satisfied simply to get done the job at hand. Self-development for him is a good meal for family and friends. You can safely predict such a person deprived of subsistence will instantly turn to crime. But what of that? He is of use to us, even as a criminal, so long as he accepts and contributes to our power. In fact, we even feel a sense of connection with him, since we too are embedded in a non-emotional physical environment, a machine of economic and social goods in which we in turn often feel a lack of meaning, almost as though we are marionettes.
However, should he revolt, we must annihilate him, for if anything should obstruct the power which flows through us, our culture will collapse like a deck of cards. It actually feels good that so far this has not been necessary. That we continue to enable him to be poor reflects well on our compassionate community and the system we enjoy. He has served us well in surveillance, but CCTV is making him redundant again. Opposite to the Artisan, the Sensualist and the Dabbler in the Order of Appearance, he would make the perfect counterfoil to architectural durability. We can make him a builder, or better still, a building inspector: more work for the insurance industry. The play’s the thing.
[Abliq to Community. You may have noticed I have omitted any reference to ‘country’ in the sense ‘Welcome to Country’ gives it. This is not because I consider myself less qualified to speak about reality than anyone else, whatever language is appropriated to do so, but because it is now so hard for most of us to hear country’s heartbeat empty, and that’s as much my Moon’s fault as anyone’s. Back with more good reading and listening leads next month, hopefully in good voice. Abliq out.]