Today, when the afternoon Sun is 18 degrees above the western horizon, the Milky Way commences its cycle of Underworld visibility. Thanks to the psychological effects of this pandemic, including disturbed sleep patterns, the Underworld is very close to the threshold of consciousness. If you take your mind off the evening news for a moment and listen carefully, you may hear the ceremonial tones of the ancestors as astronomical twilight begins in the Underworld.
If you miss it, you can listen tomorrow four minutes earlier and for four minutes longer.
The astrologer sat in the concourse of the shopping mall, feeling very strange. Hundreds of people were milling past him. They must have been talking and calling and laughing, he could see from their faces, but aside from the strains of some inane pop song thrumming intermittently inside the electronics store all he could hear was an inchoate groan, like what you hear when a recording is played backwards. No snatches of conversation, no click-clack of shoes on the tiles, nothing in the foreground. Every idea in his head was no more than background noise in a world which needed faith, not information, hope, not truth. Not one person needed to know that later that day the rising of Sirius at Giza would not align with Orion’s Belt and the pyramids, but indeed would in four days at Athens, where the myth of the Lion’s Gate evolved in the minds of astrologers who had probably never seen a heliacal rising, let alone at Giza.
The world is an operation of four dimensions: it falls, it speeds, it spins, and it changes. Being fabricates meaning, intention, suffering and perfection. Religion and ideology promise identity, reward, equanimity and love. Country is the emptiness of submission, narrative, relativity and survival: horizon engenders the fall, form the speed, energy the spin and utility the change. In other words, country turns the zenith into ground, the stars into seeds, the weather into shelter and decay into food. Country is the intersectionality of your identity, but essentially, the empty essence of your world. What urgent need has the shopper to be somewhere else?
The human habitat spins and speeds towards the east, and our desire for novelty, the possibility of fresh perspectives, and curiosity about what’s coming, incline us as individuals in that direction. In the North you have to swing left from your normal orientation towards the Sun; in the South we swing right. Your planets and circumpolar stars revolve anti-clockwise; ours clockwise. This may give us different inner workings: I don’t know.
In the opposite direction, our identity is constrained by logic, language and relationship. In a sense, we lean towards the west to balance our eastward spin. But the west is also the gravity which captures our momentum: the Shadow is not the unconscious, but its revelation in the reaction of others to the unconscious meaning of our behaviour. It is by expressing ourselves that our dreams take shape, in language constantly mediated by others.
All the while, we share with all being a trajectory and entropy of time and change, which in us leads to the mission to construct a consciousness which will give our frightening transience at least semi-permanent status. We have invented science, the humanities and religion to do this, to live ‘the way’, and to connect in us the past and future. The timetables of arrival and departure so fabricated make us unfortunately easy to control.
The north-south axis frames the meaning of all this. We are never either fully conscious or unconscious, rather there operates at all times a feedback loop between the two which dissolves any definition of a boundary. Ego straps us into our seat and emotions unsteady us, but the journey is mapped as we embark: reason and instinct are impressions of each other, like practice and confidence, skill and habit, law and ceremony, result and intention, challenge and dream. Left and right hands on the wheel, peripheral vision and feet ready for brake and gas guide our trajectory down slot-car alley.
Unlike every other being in the universe you may believe you lack a sense of direction. If you have been in both hemispheres, you wouldn’t believe that. However, perhaps if direction as a tool for understanding is my vanity, and the enterprise of caring for each other is based on the delusion that we can know what’s good for each other, then I am wasting my words. Why does anybody bother to speak?
Are all of these shoppers medieval fundamentalists, caring only to carry the harmony, or like worker insects, simply following a mental map?
Are concepts of humanity, altruism, equality, entitlement and human rights any different from other constructs of worship, based not in reality but in separation from it, in withdrawal to a fabrication called ideology where disbelief is subhuman? Is empathy real? There are oodles of interpretations of the partial eclipse superimposing themselves on its path, but who can understand someone else’s country, even when they’re standing in it? Can my southern mystification of time and direction give any more meaning to Kolkata experience? It takes an entire childhood to learn to read a map.
Perhaps belief inhabits two separate functions of mind: idolatry and miracle-worship which evolve out of woe and a narrative of oppression and exclusion into a conflation of separation, transcendence and identity; and iconoclasm and mystery-worship which evolve out of forgetting, not just suffering, but individuality as a fabrication of guilt and shame, and which conflate a cloud of emptiness, immanence and corruption.
The former might be referred to by the latter as Gratitude, which in turn might know the latter as Kindness. Equally, Kind people could scoff at Grateful people as unkind consumerists, and be mocked themselves as ungrateful addicts. Perhaps they are mutually abusive voices in an endpoint argument, or are each polyphonic embellishments of medieval chant?
Perhaps a drone is of a spiritual nature and cannot be heard in the physical world, but perhaps to hear it is the one spiritual experience available in the physical world, and reality’s way of suggesting that there is always more to existence than meets the eye, at the same time as a drone adds a pleasant undercurrent to the transient which makes it almost seem permanent. Is it the map or the territory which is the background groan?
Astrology is very old, and its habits are set. The astrologer is dependent on his habits, and because they deliver faith and hope, has no intention of changing them, let alone doing away with habit altogether. However, for as long as sentient beings have felt obliged to curb their emotions, the habits, wisdom, expertise and most tried and tested beliefs of others have been perceived as preventing them from realizing true potential–which only we can see. This we call charity.
The South looks at the North, where False Dreams are in Discrimination:
The North looks at the South, where the Covenant is in Relationship:
The covenant of the cross is not continuously visible in the North, nor are the elms at the entrance to hell in the South. Furthermore, of what value is a sky clock to a traveller with charge in her smartphone, especially one which turns backwards? How should I know? Just another thing I dreamed up, along with the map of hell and the madness of the hours, while I was respiring, photosynthesizing, drinking from the earth and resting birds here in country. Why don’t you go out one night, turn away from the Zodiac, and allow a covenant and a grove of false dreams to roam in the rooms of your disintegration? Or just absorb the energy bursting through the Lion’s Gate Portal and move on: does the astrologer pocketing his schedule of trains really care?
The Milky Way has been given precious little attention by astrology, no doubt because the riches of the Galactic Centre are invisible to most of the Northern Hemisphere, and planets rarely approach either of the great rivers of the Milky Way at night. Perhaps it has occurred to someone up there to consider the symbolism of Cassiopeia, which appears as the letter ‘m’ or ‘w’ due north according to which galactic pole is at transit, Southern or Northern, with the obvious gender connotations in the English language, but I doubt it.
Here in the South, we are indebted to various universities, and the researches of Ray Norris, Robert Fuller and Duane Hamacher in particular, for their disclosure of the significance of the Milky Way in Australian Indigenous cultures, but I suspect that most people are not aware of where it is in their light-polluted night sky, let alone how its configuration changes by hour, day and month.
Briefly, the Milky Way observed from the Southern Hemisphere moves continuously around the sky with the following six punctuating configurations:
At Galactic South Pole (GSP) transit it rings the horizon; [I am not aware of any ethnographic support for my speculation that the ‘Near Eastern’ underworld may have been inspired by the Egyptian and Babylonian view of the horizontal Milky Way at Galactic North Pole (GNP) transit, illustrated above];
GSP due west, GNP due east (below the horizon); the Milky Way stretches from due north to due south, arcing across the eastern sky;
GNP rise, GSP set; the Milky Way rises vertically (to the observer’s zenith) from the northwest and southeast;
GNP transit; the Milky Way stretches across the southern sky from due east to due west;
GNP set, GSP rise; the Milky Way rises vertically in the northeast and southwest;
GSP due east, GNP due west (below the horizon); the Milky Way stretches from due north to due south, arcing across the western sky.
In a suburban or rural-transition sky in Wurundjeri country, when the Sun is more than 18° below the horizon, visibility of these six configurations is afforded as follows, remembering that everything in the night sky except the Moon and planets appears in the same place roughly four minutes earlier each day.
Miserere (Pisces transit): first morning visibility (FMV), in the pre-dawn sky, second week of July; last evening visibility (LEV), when the setting Sun is encroaching from the west, last week of November.
Intuition (Taurus transit): FMV third week of September; LEV first week of January.
Wanderer (Cancer transit): FMV mid-December; LEV mid-April.
Kyrie (Virgo transit): FMV second week of February; LEV end of June.
Warrior (Scorpio transit): FMV beginning of April; LEV last week in August.
Inference (Capricorn transit): FMV last week of May; LEV mid-October.
Please do not assume that I wish to attribute some causal mechanism to the Galactic Plane. On the contrary, my motivation is simply to create more interest in looking at the sky and finding in it signs of meaning. The synchronicity of freeze-frame configurations of the Milky Way and Dr Beth Gott’s Wurundjeri seasons may be delightful to one uncomfortable with inverted Northern Hemisphere seasons, but the cycle presented is continuous, by night and day, and I shrink from adding another invisible influence on personality. On the other hand, the bisection of the Zodiac is too tasty to resist. I hope my arbitrary labels of conventional astrology married to pop psychology, Christian liturgy and Greek mythology will provoke intuitive reaction, at the very least, if not whole-hearted disbelief in rationalism.
A narrative or to describe the journey through Hades of the meridian and any body moving through the Zodiac and crossing its rivers could be confabulated in such a sequence as this. Nearly drowning in the swirling torrents of the Acheron the emotions desperately try to save themselves at each other’s expense. Humiliated, they ruefully recoil into the psyche as the ‘wound’. There follows an experiment by a self which admits no feelings other than empathy, but the perfectibility of this self is so battered by compromise that its structure collapses, and after succumbing briefly to the image others applaud of its aggressive survival, it then mortifies itself in the Lethe, in abnegation of itself as sufficient reason. Lo and behold, the emptiness of thought is the raw material of love. Community beckons, but resentment grows as the emptiness of love too is revealed, culminating in the turmoil of full-blown rejection, and retreat into the pages of self-help and astrology.
It is a mental illness to be habitually confined to a prison you are aware you have made for yourself, but be actually unwilling to escape. Welcoming, you impose too many rules; being welcomed, you refuse. You are always both oppressed and oppressor. You shouldn’t take things so personally. It’s only a temporary orientation of the Milky Way. Be grateful you can’t see things as they were seen here (and in Thebes) five thousand years ago. The Underworld can be so disturbing, it must be invented.
The Southern Cross and the Galactic North Pole transit around midnight in early April, and naturally the Virgo Full Moon–the first full moon after the Southern Hemisphere Autumn Equinox, and normally, but not always, the Easter Moon–also transits around midnight, so let us have a close look at this intriguing coincidence of the Southern sky, or one astrological representation of it anyway. I am truly sorry that our society has polluted the night sky so irresponsibly that some of the elements of this representation have been expunged from your view. You must use your imagination. That’s life.
If the navigators who charted Crux in the 16th Century had not been Christian, it might have come to me with another name, Possum (Boorong) or Stingray (Yolgnu), for example, but it is as the Southern Cross that it is prominent in the national flags and consciousness of vast numbers of Southern Hemisphere people. Consequently, the popular names for the asterisms featuring Miaplacidus and Aspidiske have followed the Crux convention: the Diamond Cross and False Cross respectively. (That featuring Canopus is my afterthought, putting in perspective the way of all human flesh.)
The temptations besetting the Child of Humanity on the cross of our finitude are the bright stars above left, centre and right of our head as we look down on our axis. The attributes of the stars in this representation are a meld of their physical characteristics, their resonance with each other and the significance of their position in constellation and asterism. As might be expected, I emphatically reject non-names like Acrux and Gacrux given by northerners who can’t even see this far south. It is anathema to me that we usurpers of Aboriginal country seldom have a personal relationship with the sky they lived in and we took from them. Go out and name your own stars. Create your own mythology, before you lose the night sky completely!
My symbolism admittedly reflects my Judaeo-Christian cultural heritage, but I believe it has universal significance. When I was a boy, the Easter rituals of resurrection and regeneration seemed to me to lack the symbolic force of Northern Hemisphere Spring, but the fortuitous configuration of the Southern Hemisphere Easter sky, to my knowledge amazingly unnoticed by my Christian teachers or previous generations, is nothing short of miraculous! Pause to reflect on these facts: the Northern Hemisphere Spring Equinox has been in Pisces for the entire Christian era, and the next Full Moon has appeared in the Virgin (as seen in the sky) for about half of that period, but the Southern Cross is not visible in ‘Asia Minor’, the birthplace of the Cross as symbol of resurrection, and the alignment of transiting Virgo with the high arc of the Milky Way bridging east and west is also not visible there. The symbolism is potent only in the South. It can be our Easter myth: the cosmic placement in our lifetime of an Easter cross–in ‘fact’ the several crosses of historical Golgotha–at the equinoxes linking North and South, law and life, structure and becoming, and as the primeval keystone of a bridge linking East and West, personal and social, the authentic rights and obligations of our own ‘country’.
The first temptation in the path of authentic humanity is to get ‘out of it’.
The second is to be someone else.
And the third is to be perfect.
In my vision, the Southern Cross stands at the confluence of two rivers of the Underworld, the River of Woe, Acheron, and the River of Forgetting, Lethe. The Southern Cross and the head of the Emu mark where the River of Hatred, Styx, flows from view, as his wife and child disappeared from the view of the crucified Spartacus in the 1960 movie by Stanley Kubrick. This is the river on whose bank Orpheus mourned the loss of his Eurydice, and whose waters bound the oaths of the gods and made Achilles immortal, except for his Achilles heel. In the contemplation of the invisible spirit of the physical world, our eternal absence in death, and the devastation created by unrestrained emotion, we have three Achilles heels.
I do not believe that the physical Moon will pass by these stars as through force-fields, any more than I believe the psycho-social effects of its gravity can be particularized and quantified, but as Easter approaches, I will be reflecting on the pitfalls of the authentic life they symbolize, and I suggest you do too. Integrity, not identity, is the way, and the serious business of being, the only meaningful task you will relinquish in death, consists of embodying the symmetry of apparent opposites. Your ‘country’ is the meaning you give your sky. As Robert Dies would say, “Happy lathering, customers!”
After a month of communing with our alienness and uprootedness, the month of clear-sightedness finds us acknowledging that connection and inclusion have an unfortunate implication: community excludes those who don’t abide by its conventions. This is not our intention, so it is time for some tidying up. What are our conventions, and how can we attend and respond to the reactions of outsiders to make a more inclusive community universally satisfying? It is time to look our culture in the face.
If only it were that simple. In fact, those we exclude have their own communities, and different conventions we don’t much care for, because they declare judgment of ours. Even if we were to jettison convention completely, the whole of our political correctness, for example, we would still be excluded by theirs. Looking our culture in the face feels like an enemy’s perspective. Ever loved someone so much, your difficult child perhaps, that you had to seriously question your own supreme values? You must have noticed, if you ever raise your eyes from your self-help books, that barbarians are claiming victimization by your victim status. Nobody said that perfectionism would be this hard!
Perhaps it is best to accept that our generosity and love have boundaries, and some misunderstanding and conflict are inevitable. Perhaps we can find and cherish our true selves and cope with an imperfect world the way we always have, in our sleep. The conjunction of Sun and Moon in Aquarius occurs in the middle of the night in eastern Australia, in the adaptive unconscious of the Underworld of the Northern Hemisphere meridian in Eastern South America. Perhaps the present will remember itself differently tomorrow.
What our somnolent beings are dealing with in their visceral reordering are two truths. In our waking lives we may be able to convince ourselves of an objective reality, and if we have a university education or religious affiliation, that reality might be universal and absolute, but in our heart of hearts, I think we know, recognizing the transience, relativity and ambiguity of all we experience, that we don’t know reality, beneath its conventions, at all. Perhaps our bodies and sleeping minds know as much as we need to know. Their function is simply to order memory at all levels in the simplest and most accessible way for painless and successful existence. We are not objects in this process, unless we so conceptualize ourselves, in order perhaps to assert egoic importance or control. Rocks are as good at it as we are.
There is a better way, of course. It is a convention of ours to regard the Agrarian Revolution as the wellspring of human civilization, but I would make the case for a different development, a discovery which predated leisure, specialization, science and technology by tens of thousands of years, which surpassed kinship as the foundation of community, and which indigenous peoples offer as their timeless wisdom to this day. I speak of ceremony.
Ceremony, like sleep, is a reordering of awareness, a housekeeping of anxiety and conflict, but it connects our consciousness to our deepest, most personal memory while we are awake. You can do it getting married or placing a sprig of rosemary on a casket. You can do it brewing tea, waxing your legs, or saying grace at the family meal. Conceivably, you can do it marching en masse in a protest. There is a wonderful video of ceremonial cricket here.
Astrology itself has ceremonial roots: it began not with mathematics, or observation of the dance of wandering stars, but with communal life at the hub of the wheeling sky at night. The rational perspective of the solar system we now embrace has turned our primordial experience of being at the centre into an historical convention, but I am at pains to restore it to supremacy, for years by focussing on the relationship of the night sky to the seasons, and now, like Australian Aboriginal ceremonial life, by locating us in the configuration of the Milky Way.
I have been initiating you into a ceremony for some time. Before you can share its transformative, centred power you must abandon many of the conventions, not only of astrology, but of your everyday consciousness. That reality is a linguistic and conceptual convention of posited essences, and that it is ultimately empty, since nothing we enunciate or conceive of has any independent existence in time or space, occurs to any enquiring mind, but immediate awareness of the emptiness of self-improvement and of emptiness itself seems a little more difficult to acquire.
What is the Milky Way? Is it just one of millions of large structures without essence which evolved from the uneven density of the early universe? Can its appearance mean anything to the prevailing convention of science that we observers are specks of dust in the cosmic microwave background? Can we empty ourselves of the laws of science, prevailing in sociology, economics and psychology, which have displaced us from the centre and dissolved us in a soup of empty knowledge mediated by better-qualified people elsewhere?
Of course we can, and meditations on the universe or anything else don’t have to be therapeutic or remedial. They’re allowed to be real, empty of emptiness, which is how I differentiate a ceremony from a ritual or habit. I have been gaming astrology for years, making it up as I go along, but always by inventing what I know, and now I think I’m ready to conduct a ceremony. I have tried to formulate what I actually experience by substituting equatorial coordinates for ecliptic ones, transposing the signs and the lunar nodes, using a reversed anti-clockwise house system, pondering the antipodean ramifications of the meridian, imagining the celestial location of the rivers of Hades, and teasing the equivalence of the unconscious and the Underworld. Now for the clockwork of the Milky Way.
All you have to do in this ceremony is stand in an open space, in day or night, face north and lift your arms towards east and west. Your personal identity is on your right, and your language and social dialogue is on the left. In front of and behind you are the sense you make of those, to the north the internalized rules and conventions which guide your individuality, and to the south your soul, the collective memory which informs your instinct, your attitude and your emotion. What holds everything together is where you stand.
If your night sky offers the faintest glimmer of nebulosity in the Milky Way, this moment, four minutes earlier each day, currently at 12:52:24 sidereal time, is available from an hour and a half before sunrise in early February until an hour and a half after sunset in late June. Bring out your anxieties and conflicts, your responsibilities and confusion, your intentions and your blame, and with your arms spread like a prophet’s, help the sky do its work on you. Just look to the north for the law, to the east along your right arm for your skin, to the west along your left arm for your language, above your head for your country, and craning your neck backwards, behind you, at the confluence of the rivers of Woe and Forgetting, for the Styx of your Covenant: “It Was Only Pain”.
Honestly, you don’t look empty, or as though you’re trying to pretend you have presence. You’re quite alone!
“My bags are packed; I’m ready to leave.
What right will bear my heart on sleeve?”
Emigration is an extreme state of mind. It is a no-man’s-land of entrapment and escape, fear and hope, identity and transformation. The possibility of freedom has been encountered in the snare of consequences. The awareness has dawned that the present creates the past, as light, air and water, not ground, grow wood. But a tree is rooted in the ground by its search for water. Will new ground nurture the same becoming?
Which Archangel Michael is eclipsed by the inner light of the Moon? Is it God’s will that the seed of a new army be lodged elsewhere, and a fearful self folds its wings, or is the protection of faith from the insufferable dissolved by grace and the indomitable will to flourish? In the moment of dissociation presence and absence are transfigured inside out. Butch is Ascella and Ascella is Butch.
Steer true, Canopus, helmsman of the odyssey for beauty and star of old-age, for the Southern Cross is an alien in this sky! May your charges find themselves again under this one:
Attesting to the uncomfortable marriage of belief and truth, there exists in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territories a township known to the Palestinians as Place of Meat, and to the Israelis as Place of Bread. These are mere facts, but to Christians, who know it as Bethlehem, it remains a landmark in the timeless human search for meaning, associated not only with a birth, but a sign.
This year there are signs in various parts of the world, in the days leading up to the annual commemoration of the Adoration of the Magi, known to Christians as the feast of the Epiphany, of a possible new birth. God knows we need one!
The first sign, at sunset in Bethlehem on January 4, is the simultaneous transit of the First Point of Aries and the First Quarter Moon. In fact, the Moon transits 2 seconds before the equinoxial point, and 7 minutes before official sunset, but it is signs we seek, not facts. Some sort of new beginning might be approaching. [All times at the foot of the following charts are Australian Eastern Daylight Time, UTC +11.]
The second sign, proving just how elusive signs can be, is manifest at Regulus Gate from my observatory on Epiphany morning.
Regulus, the star of the Lion’s heart, has a complex meaning in Southern Hemisphere Astrology. Not only does ‘Regulus‘ mean ‘little king’ (not ‘prince’), an infamous basilisk who can kill with just a glance, but Leo upside-down looks more like a possum than a lion, and as anyone who has been pissed on by a possum can attest, he is a malicious creature. Nonetheless, Regulus is one of the Royal Stars of Persia, the four guardians of the sky (along with Aldebaran, Antares and Fomalhaut), associated with the healing angel Raphael, and so the worst I can think of him is that he can seem sarcastic, when really his mordant wit is simply helping you to recover from yourself. It is important to know these resonances to understand Regulus Gate, because its other end is Alnair (at top of chart), the brightest star of Grus, the Crane, which carries Asian cultural connotations of celebration.
Now, Epiphany is astrology’s big moment, so flipping the globe to my meridian on the other side to see what the celebration end looks like in Brazil, I find the second sign.
Wow, the Ecliptic is so close to the zenith (the zigzag in the meridian line), and Venus is almost there and opposite Regulus, which is right on the opposite horizontal pole! This seems special in some way I can’t quite put my finger on, because Venus and Regulus have been a ‘thing’ for thousands of years. How does Venus in Aquarius through Alnair Gate relate to what I’m seeing in Breamlea? Is she prancing on Regulus’ sarcasm? Is celebration so unwarranted that she must negate her underworld man with an upskirt?
The third sign, computed by a Solomonese Indian astrologer, is the entry of the Moon into Ashvini, the first Nakshatra (opposite Spica) at the precise moment of transit, at sunset on Malaita, one of the Solomon Islands. (Official sunset is a mere 7 seconds later.)
Indulgent Jupiter constrained by shrewd Spica: a gravitational reminder of what the politeness of a refined wife may mask? No? Well, perhaps all these cyclical rebirths are all we get. But wait! Poring over my arcane tables in retreat from the late heat of the summer sun, I realize that Fomalhaut, the angel Gabriel, is culminating, signalling affirmation perhaps of the sacred meaning I am looking for. It was no doubt the same fervour that seizes me now which gripped the astrologers of Herod’s day! I must follow that star!
It takes about 9 hours for the Earth to rotate its longitudes so that Fomalhaut transits at Bethlehem, so I have plenty of time to get there and consult my tables, but I am thrown into consternation by complete unfamiliarity when I get there. It is cold, not at all like the nativity plays where I come from, where the wise men all wear shorts. I can’t even find the sun at first, until I realize it is behind me, much lower than I left it, and setting to my right, clockwise. The chart above, my home, is where I am used to the constellations following an anti-clockwise procession, but no matter, I am already acclimatizing.
But what’s this? What are those ridiculous signs? What in Heaven’s name is Gabriel affirming? Must I become the newborn and start learning to read the world all over again? My wisdom deserts me! Whoever heard of a confident crab, or an aggressive set of scales? Never could I associate a possum with perfectionism! No wonder there is such implacable hostility between sidereal and tropical astrologers up here! No wonder ‘wise men’ no longer look at the sky here: it’s all wrong!
And so, as the sun sets into the cosmic ocean, I finally have my epiphany. Life is not a river flowing down to the sea, but a journey in the opposite direction, through ever more sharply defined contours, dwindling resources and thinning populations, until finally, the water dries up completely.
The vagabond is homeless, disconnected, a refugee from the world of the therapeutically discriminating intellect. Is he unpacking his “stuff”? Is he on the way to realizing that the enemy of a perfect world is the undeconstructed self? Shall we ask him? Are we bored enough by our pallid Nothingness to inhabit with our self-aggrandizing ‘compassion’ another’s tedious wound? Do we have the temerity to apply our triumphant empathy to the capacity to deal with the shame of eating garbage, being constantly afflicted with diarrhoea and having nowhere to do it but in our pants? Are we ready to deal with the stereotypes he has us cast in?
Now read on.
Does this look like a smiley face to you? You’re sadly deluded. The Moon is a piece of rock without legs, and its ‘head’ is all face. If that doesn’t give him away as a shady type, the one eye confirms he is ‘other’, not to be trusted, potentially evil. Of course, as compassionate people, we have long abandoned physiognomy, but our compassion is anchored to the otherness of the ‘other’. Compassion is part of our identity, and the identity of the ‘other’ is as fixed: indigenous people must remain in traditional culture, disinherited and victimized, and disabled people must remain the recipients of our largesse, defined by their disability. To expect otherwise is racist and elitist, disrespectful of their identity.
The Sign of the constellation Taurus in the southern hemisphere is Sagittarius, the sign of charisma and independence. Re-inhabit your subjectivity and respect the ‘other’ in theirs! Nobody’s identity is fixed, at birth or in an analytical, managerial mind. There is no form which is not empty. There is only time, and the dark art of becoming. And the timelessly true subject of the subject, love.
Part The Second
If you want to justify yourself–tidy yourself at the margins–spare me some change, says the vagabond, the loser, the weirdo. Pause for a dialogue in the daylight world of your power to imagine away my exile. But if you can brave it, meet me in the middle of the night, in the chaos of your fears, the world of my power to make you an infantile irrelevance.
Chapter 1. Saiph
Who is God?
These people on the streets and roads of Afghanistan know the folly of disrespecting a man who will kill you instantly with impunity. If one is uneducated in the nature of offence, as I am, and you too, then one is in mortal danger. One must shroud oneself, maintain an attitude of deference and submit to any indignity. Is it wise to leave questions about God to the Imam to decide? No, it is stupid to voice an opinion. And that is why I will be long gone from the shelter of this moai by dawn. The power of Polynesians is immense, and under the gaze of their ancestors existence itself is an impertinence. Saiph has the laughter which incites a man to be bigger than his grandfather. It is very, very dangerous.
Chapter 2. Butch
Who are you?
Why do I sing “O Sole Mio” when all the beautiful people at this beach have their earplugs in? Because this is a dream, and singing a Neapolitan song gives me an aesthetic reason to be dressed in rags. My people forgive my problem with the bottle, and the years I wasted reading the history of the world, because I entertain the tourists. They tell me a woman’s beauty is not so much degraded by wolf-whistles in Italia these days. You can wear these revealing clothes. Is it true? A woman’s beauty in Pukapuka is the secret which keeps us alive. You will all leave and take your secrets with you, and here another cyclone will come.
Chapter 3. Avior
What is life?
You boys are trouble, no? Hahaha! No, just having fun, I know. That’s all I’ve got, and I don’t know when I’ll have more, but you’re welcome! A cricket team, eh? We play baseball where I am from, but last year I was in India. There it is big, I know. Howzat! Hahaha! The world is just a big game of cricket, no? Tampering with the ball! Hahaha! Go over there to vomit, man! Hahaha!
Chapter 4. Regulus
What is death?
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” When will the Holocaust be forgotten? When will the Twin Towers be forgotten? For ever and ever. Now get out with me and witness the moment. I am pausing the meter, see?
That you will never see again. The star is the Archangel Raphael. I thought it was him when you started raving about death. Why do you want to talk about death? Is that my “stuff”? No. “I found more bitter than death the woman who is a trap, whose heart is a snare and whose hands are like prison chains.” That’s mine. “Eh quoi! n’est-ce donc que cela? La toile était levée et j’attendais encore.”
“Finally, I got home. It was tantamount to harassment.”
“Well, at least you got to see the Archangel Raphael”
“And you might refrain from turning our Christmas party into a conversation about death?”