Buenos Aires, Wednesday:
Lima, Good Friday:
Straightway Rumor flies through Libya’s great cities, Rumor, swiftest of all the evils in the world. She thrives on speed, stronger for every stride, slight with fear at first, soon soaring into the air she treads the ground and hides her head in the clouds. She is the last, they say, our Mother Earth produced. Virgil, The Aeneid IV 219 ff., Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, trans. Robert Fagles, Penguin Publishing Group 2010, Kindle Edition.
Over the mountain, watching the watcher,
Breaking the darkness, waking the grapevine.
One inch of love is one inch of shadow.
Love is the shadow that ripens the vine.
Set the controls for the heart of the Sun. Pink Floyd.
If you deduct from time all those unkind acts you still hurt from, and all the hurt you’ve perpetrated without meaning to, what you’re left with is civility, because nothing is more pressing a concern than how to live together, and nothing is further from our grasp than coexistence in freedom. Homer called the Sun, tireless. What is ‘inextinguishable’ is not only the Sun, but the refusal to be responsible for ignorance and pain, set in stone as the rights of the individual. Ownership of subjectivity is as predictable as the Sun.
Thinking keeps thought alive and in check, as dancing keeps music alive and in measure. What keeps culture alive is its frontier, where it takes its validation at crossroads of negotiation and relationship, at its borders with misunderstanding. Australia, seen by many as having a poor culture, has decided to address its brand problem, or the Government has, in the pointed absence of an ‘Australia’ to recognize its dysfunction, let alone address it. We don’t have borders—not in the sense of crossings where something of ourselves must be left behind—but we do have standards we are relieved and enlivened to come home to, don’t we?
Operating in a global market increasingly corrupted by fatuous Guanxi assertions of unassured trust, Australians—who are they?—need to focus on their shadow—read, ’face’—and perhaps the best we might come up with is, “Love is the shadow that ripens the whine” (sic.), or “Cosmology is the glue of twilight”, or what about, “Australia, the song which helps you remember to breathe”, or “Getting up too early for breakfast is a bitch”? Perhaps, after all, Australia is too safety-conscious to show a face, the ‘Inextinguishable’ merely a monkey on every back, jabbering the half-truths and rumours we hear in the grunts and growls of their preverbal network.
It is probably not a coincidence that while this brand crisis was brewing, masculinity across the world was also being forced to have a good hard look at itself, especially in a country whose Prime Minister could accord higher status to the national cricket captain, and pastoral care could be found guilty as charged. This website began as a questioning not only of the applicability of Northern Hemisphere Signs to Southern Hemisphere seasons, but also of the traditional Eurocentric gendering of Sun and Moon. It seemed to me worthy of consideration that the life-force of the Solar System is female, and that the peripheral body in orbit around her reflecting her light is male. Unless emasculation is a thing, like sex-objects and racial stereotypes, it cannot be blamed on a diminishment of interest in self-aggrandisement, seriously, but is altruism a thing, and how will your descendants value the imperfect world you have passed down?
What have you got when the passage of a year is measured in phases of the Sun, waxing from Winter Solstice? When Moon has will and Sun feelings? When brief human lives are enfolded by the spirit of ancient trees? When parent and child can agree to disagree, understanding that their shadows are forever lengthening and deepening? When every hatred dissolves in the time it takes to digest it, and every son of a bitch is a mother’s son? When the highest aspiration of hunter (and murderer) is to poke their head into the shimmering mirage of creation and stay there? When culture is what you pass on of the mind you have changed? What have you got if not civility?
In my time of dying, let bickering about gender and other dualities cease. What does it matter if the seasons are divisions of a year or multiples of the month? It is incontrovertible that before the sky and the sea came Mother Earth, but Gaia has been supplanted by Country, which has no limit above or below, merely an horizon shared by the Underworld, at which Coxeter and Escher located our binary motifs, and Country comingles them as above, so below, within and without, infinitely reduced.
A little bird told me that the physical and the spiritual are not parts of a whole, and nor are the female and the male: neither has any existence without the other, not even for Mitochondrial Eve. So it is with the roles of reason and instinct in the achievement of self-restraint; so it is with the invisible passage of the Sun through the Zodiac measured at night by the Moon and stars; so it is with the seasons of the hemispheres.
Are you a tree growing miraculously out of solid rock, or an embodiment of respiration and photosynthesis flirting with the idea of permanence? Is the stable value system your gossip is preserving progressive or conservative? Can Post-Colonialism open its borders for the arrival of something other than wholesale exploitation, corruption and theft? Is this not a question to Heaven answered by the crumbling pillars of our invasive heritage? What cultural garb does Rumor reveal beneath the clouds? Will you dissolve your personal space into the infinitesimal otherness of your Self, the emptiness of the identity your culture or religion affixes, if there is real danger of enslavement to the Other in believing in their tacit assurance, or even in Rumor keeping a civil tongue in her head when discussion turns to walls? Is the fatty deposit she sits on a handful?
“My place is the Placeless, my trace is the Traceless;
‘Tis neither body nor soul, for I belong to the soul of the Beloved.” Rumi.
”When it all comes down to dust, I will help you if I must, I will kill you if I can.” Leonard Cohen.
“Behind rigidity there is always something hidden, in many cases a double life.” Pope Francis.
“…He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbours.'” Robert Frost, from “Mending Wall“.
”The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” Bill Shorten.
“Justfriendistan. A territory only to be rivaled in inhospitability by the western Sahara, the Atacama desert, and Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell.” Dr Ali Binazir.
”…There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours….” Kemal Atatürk.
This Moon has so rudely transformed my culture, so brazenly redefined its traditional meanings, that I am cowed beneath it like one deafened by laughter. One minute I was like a drunken bee, swinging from stalk to stalk in an Elysian Field, each stalk topped by a lovely flower, of art, philosophy or music; the next I am clinging for dear life above a tsunami of sewage. Eek! Has one of the gods broken a vow sworn by the primaeval waters of Styx? Has Styx said #MeToo?
It used to be said that the opposite of love was fear. Ah, the seventies, those good old days, joined in oblivion by the shamelessness of white privilege. The opposite of love is not fear; it is identity. At first glance, the tsunami seems to be a heaving mass of guilty miscreants borne aloft on a sea of placards demanding justice and the unmasking of corruption, but fearless inspection reveals the putrid turmoil stripping every stalk of its flower to be a contagion of anger and hatred. It derives its irresistible force not from a balance of reason and instinct, or even a unity of purpose, but from a unanimity of righteousness.
You see, like you, I always knew what was going on behind the facade. Incest, bestiality, pederasty, Zionism, Islamism and White Supremacism: we had lots of names for the unmentionable. But we were groomed to forgive and forget, in the name (as it were) of love. Good outweighed evil. Identity meant we were all the same, imperfect, imprisoned in our curtailed salvation, assailed only sometimes by envy, resentment and paranoia. How could the theist, socialist and humanist covenants be denied, let alone withdrawn? Well, we have decided that not only is it our right to be unique, but it is our right to be perfect, a pre-existent state of being we might regain if and when the evil of the perpetrators of our imperfection has been identified and punished. The process of healing is interminable, since every wound, and every evolving definition of perfection, is different.
What is the craft of any artisan? Perfection! An emergent autonomy nurtured by the great oath of the gods that healing may be enjoyed, craftspersonship is the very apotheosis of enjoyable healing, the Covenant of the Styx itself. When the Southern Cross is at its highest in the South, for those blessed by atmospheres in which the splendid design of Crux’s background in the Milky Way is revealed, arcing from due east to due west, the keystone of perfection locks into place. (I feel such compassion for the perfectionists north of the tropics who are denied this denouement! How do you manage?)
No, this Moon is not perfect. Supermoon, you call it, but its Perigee was yesterday; it is indeed on the cusp of the September Equinox, but the New Tropical Year is four hours old; and, most careless oversight, it is nearly two days from its Northern Lunistice. If it were a chair, the buyer would need to re-glue some dowels. But the buyer might be a bit of an artisan themselves, recognizing that nothing is perfect enough, not in the human realm, anyway. The Southern Cross now, as a symbol of Country, covenant between finitude and emptiness, Crown of the Emu no less, coincidence-that-never-dies, that’s an altogether different matter.
“But there is no way we will overcome the neurosis of victimization if, by transforming the past into our subjective present, we root our identities in injury alone. For the past to become a principle of action in the present, we have to manage to admit the reality of loss and stop living in the past instead of integrating it in to the present as that which must sustain human dialogue. In any case, the complete restitution of the past is not only terrifying, but also a clear impossibility.” Achille Mbembe.
*** DAILY HANSARD PROOF ONLY – DO NOT QUOTE ***
Mr A PODES (S Province) (11:43):
The climate-change, ecological translocation and Earth redistribution concatenation has become a national chthonic crisis, and in view of the cataclysmic consequences for the ownership of water, the availability of deckchairs and other aspects of our global viability should we falter in our resolve to protect our traditions from gods who break their vows and suchlike, we must build a Wall to keep the ancestral tsunami out. The consulting engineers have alerted us to the necessity of relocating as many inhabitants as possible within one horizon, and of putting the Wall on rollers which will frequently need hazardous maintenance on the outside in territory contested by the UDL (Upside Down Life) independence movement, and so we call upon all artisans to make themselves known to us, so that we may deploy them immediately to appropriate locations on the horizon. Yes, a wall is expensive to construct, maintain and defend, but be assured that the cost will be met by the Other Side!
“The last men, far from being the heirs of power, will be of all men most subject to the dead hand of the great planners and conditioners and will themselves exercise least power upon the future.” Lewis, C. S.. The Abolition of Man (Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis) (pp. 58-59). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.
“The past is the present’s food, and the present’s digestive system is synchronized, adapted as it has always been.” Abliq.
The phases of the Moon are conventions. The mathematical definitions of the relative positions of Sun and Moon on the Ecliptic are real enough, but what they define is imaginary, illusory, transient, relative and nebulous. When the Moon will be in conjunction with the Sun is important for anticipating eclipses and tides, and convenient for dividing the year, but the event itself as dependent arising occurs in nature as a disappearance, an invisible transition from morning crescent to evening crescent lasting several days. You would be right to call any moment in that transition a New Moon, wouldn’t you?
We all ‘know’ that it is the movement of the Earth, not the Sun, which continuously changes the Sun’s background stars, but once again, the stars behind the Sun’s present ‘location’ are invisible, and only tangible as somewhere between which stars are rising in the dawn and which are setting in the dusk. Nonetheless, thanks to the scales of measurement and frames of reference developed in astronomy for thousands of years, we can be confident that if the astrologers tell us this New Moon is happening in Pisces, it is, and if the astronomers tell us Aquarius, we can be confident of that too, and that the wet season the North once associated with the Water-Carrier asterism has gained on it a month.
Such matters as these present themselves for our contemporary scrutiny because the conventions of cultural interplay and civilized discourse seem to have dissolved into the contested perspectives from which they emerged. Southern Hemisphere Astrology focuses on norms at this time of year because Aquarius down here carries the conventional sign which precedes the Autumn Equinox, Virgo, associated with perspicacity tending towards perfectionism, not necessarily the obsessive compulsions you would not be alone in seeing everywhere at the present time. Aquarius upside-down resembles the post-graduate waiter who skilfully manages two armfuls of dishes while imparting a sniff at the conventional choice of wine a mealtime assemblage of newly independent MPs might have made.
By curious coincidence at the moment of New Moon as defined, a divine promise is being given to the good people of the Bowen Basin, where local and indigenous sovereignty has been under attack ever since it became conventional wisdom that the best way to pass on a better world to your grandchildren is to impoverish them, and the best way to beat the colonialist rap is to cede your sovereignty as a mark of indigenous ignorance. Perhaps the Adani coal-mine will proceed, honouring the wishes of the majority of traditional owners, and perhaps there will be fewer numbers in endangered species in the area for the rest of us to be unconscious of.
The Solar System orbits the Galactic Centre at about 230 kms/sec; the Earth orbits the Sun at about 30 kms/sec; and the Earth’s surface at Australian latitudes rotates at between about 350 and 460 metres/sec. If you add the approximate velocity of our galaxy through the universe of 583.3 kms/sec, that’s a lot of motion to be physically unaware of. It is up to you to decide which elite will be victorious: those who would override your sovereignty in the cause of mitigating climate change, or those who would override your sovereignty in the cause of minimizing the cost of energy. If it were up to me, I would not accept a scientific basis for the supremacy of any value, certainly not a rigid one.
The asterisms and myths of the Zodiac have been influential conventions on at least 500 successive generations, in ways we are as unconscious of as we are of our astronomical motion. These days, the Gregorian calendar and its widespread end-of-year celebrations, the urban lifestyle of the vast majority of the global population, and climate change itself, have largely supplanted the seasonal basis of human behaviour, and general precession will eventually associate every seasonal sign to every constellation, if it has not already done so, especially below the Tropic of Cancer.
Is a coking or thermal coal deposit below the surface or in the underworld?
Should the evaluation of the needs of others be an extrapolation of our needs, an ownership of theirs, or a continuous contestation of both by experts on the nature of ‘Reality’ and ‘The Good’? When it’s a simple matter of projection, why are we always compliant in the wars of the powerful?
The solstices precessed to the Galactic Plane in 1998 CE, and so for as long as recorded history into the future, the Sun’s maximum positive and negative declinations will precede its crossing of the Milky Way, assuming the IAU don’t fiddle. In 2177 CE, the December Equinox will precess into Scorpio in the Breamlea Zodiac. In 2228 CE, the Sun will cross the Galactic Plane on Christmas Day, and cross it New Year’s Day around 2700 CE. In all that time there is one thing that will not noticeably change, as it has not during the millennia of human civilization, and that is the stars in the background of the nodes where the Ecliptic intersects with the Galactic Plane. The Milky Way is as real as the seasons were when mass media began popularizing Sun Signs in the 1930s, as the Underworld Zodiac was when children asked 10 thousand years ago, “Why does the Sun go down?” and as the unconscious was at the dawn of the twentieth century when its geography was desacralized.
I, writing my epitaph, and thou, resonating with it, have this in common: we resist convention, but end up accepting that we belong in a timeless tradition–of accepting the wisdom of our ancestors, unscientific as it might be, as a prescription of who we are–into which we might be seen to have groomed those of our descendants who listened and were grateful for their culture.
Does the incomprehensible time-frame in which the light of the most distant visible stars and galaxies has travelled to reach us–2.5 million years in the case of the Andromeda Galaxy, the most distant naked-eye object–suggest to you a pitiful transience of self’s here-and-now or being’s eternal backdrop? It really is a fundamental question, and every culture I can think of has afforded both positions, but their coexistence has never been less harmonious.
”Know thyself,” and “Nothing to excess,” said the Greeks, and those maxims linger, but increasingly it seems, you have to imagine yourself in the Tardis to witness them. The presence of the Divine is beyond our sequestration of permanence in narcissism and comfort, and the Self as process abandons truth to the loudest voice, the highest-rating morning television, because the absolutely basic definition of being we cannot or will not share is our transience, our finitude, our emptiness.
We are on trains pulling away from the station in different directions. Has it ever been thus, that the good-looking African-Australian captivating the weirdly non-black girls outside the shopping mall with his studiously and rhythmically platitudinous ‘hoes’ and ‘bitches’ cannot gauge the contempt in the darkness beyond his spot engendered by the recognition of his bravadaccio as a dog’s barking in the wind? Am I the only witness to the wind of death stripping him of his narcissism as he speaks? Apparently those pretending his expletives are not cowardly are afraid of them.
You may have lost your way in the appearances of things, in the expensive, controlling and demeaning expertise of others, or in the unbearable loneliness of being unworthy, but cheer up, the path to the cliff is lined garishly with comforting signs of imminent healing, and this Moon is showing the way, to the Archangel Raphael, binder of demons, healer of blindness, Regulus the little king. No, a healer cannot heal you. Healing, throughout the ages, has been misconstrued as a transitive thing. The lion is not a king, but a trial of Hercules; a Little King is a basilisk. Healers are people who are themselves healing, from being born without white male privilege, from being born with it, or from being born at all. If Regulus is a healer, it may be the discovery of his anatomical position upside down he needs to heal.
It used to be said that life transforms the face you were born with into the face you deserve, but a third face is emerging under the scalpel and the syringe. Be careful what you wish for: “The wages of sin is death”, is morphing into the secular understanding that life transforms the wound you were born with into the subsidiary obsessions which merely transmute it, but a qualified mind-doctor can help you heal them. How does such ‘auditing’ deal with the wound you were born with? A healer is transforming compassion into narcissism, creative force into intellectual property, country into legacy, knowledge into fame, and accordingly life itself, the primary wound, knows only one cure.
In the immortal words of Kirsty MacColl, “Why can’t we just be happy, baby?” Yeah, wouldn’t that be nice, but we can’t blame the punk for the girls’ adulation, any more than we can blame light pollution on the wrong extinction coefficient, or extinguish persona in shadow. Has there ever been a culture that didn’t prize ignorance (closely related to humour as it is)? Men’s business is about obedience to the fieldmarshal, not debating his strategy; women’s business, acceptance, tolerance, forgiveness, is definitely not helping the choice of better leaders, and as an example for men is no better than a mirror to the shame of their pride. Perhaps the adulation of those girls is not much removed from pride in their shame. Oh well, they’ll move on one day, won’t they?
O Profit, what globalizations of healing are carried out in thy name! The river is sick; we must heal the rain. Busking leads will heal the queue excluded from the play. The audience willingly waits: they paid good money, printed by the Government, just in time. If as yet there is no app banishing the healer from next door to the underworld of opposite houses, nevertheless the meaning of your pain is all there above you, like ‘phases of the Moon’, and it’s not my fault you need everything spelled out: equality, diversity, identity, inclusion, footprint, in a smorgasbord of healing.
Bah! Humbug! The quintessential healer refuses to play victim to his wound. There will be no redemption for him! Transience is eternal, he mutters, rummaging heartbroken through priceless childhood photos of his children and their Fathers Day cards. The river is sick; he poisons himself with alcohol. The rivermouth is blocked; he swats mosquitoes in the hope it will be his flesh-eating ulcer that gets it dredged. He shares with asylum-seekers a debt to panels of experts. How many glass beads is his sovereignty worth to those who know better? Can its loss be healed by the human rights bestowed by foreign thieves on the victims of its theft?
Is a ‘Full Moon’ even possible any more?
I am not healing. What do I mean? I mean that the river which runs dry, the suburb which extinguishes its night sky, the refugees whose deprivation stands as pragmatic denial of any ideal, in opposite house or no, the acts in my past I would have to undo the fundamental naive judgements of my loved ones to deny, all of these dissolve in the texture of country, a wound and its wounding, a projection in three dimensions of my time in existence, an infinite emptiness not subject to appraisal by any pantheon of gods or panel of experts.
The Underworld of original sin has a surface where a healer’s tears repair the rain. Though it be covered by a skin of concrete outside a suburban shopping mall, it must be found this end of the rainbow.
The profession to which I have not professed, eminently qualified though I may be, has rigorous rules which I deplore, and so not one conventional astrology examiner has confirmed to me my eligibility. Jewish humour appeals to me as much as to you, but a God who suddenly realizes that the meaning of life is an answer, and in order to understand whatever the question might be, in case He is ever asked, decides to become human—who else?—is less humorous than perversely unoriginal. Those unfortunates like myself who idealize a beloved as the question are the dupes of das Kapital, for the narcissists who lie in wait for us are truly Gnostic shards of the answer to no known question. Of course, nobody these days has ever heard of Professor Joad, one of the BBC’s Brains Trust who famously opined, “It all depends …”, but it might be time for his relativism to make a reappearance. Anything, surely, would be better than dispassionate astrology, God disguised by a pen? How could I be envious of eternal gratitude accorded to gurus who alienate us from our own sky? But it does all depend, you’re right, on you, it seems.
A lion cannot be patted like a pussy cat. Toxic masculinity may be the problem du jour, as we continue to undermine pride as the basis for community in favour of shame, but it may be the case that toxic masculinity would disappear if we revived the distinction between wild and domesticated human animals, and reestablished pride on the same footing as shame, so that it might not be shameful to feel no shame, but rather a matter of pride. In my experience, the shame offered by the shadow of pride cannot match the presence of the shadow of shame! Lucky me? Yes, Pride and Shame are a Team, like daylight and darkness, or emptiness and substance. It might appear that the Conferences are they which pit themselves against each other at Superbowl, but in truth, it is they whose independence continues to make the anguish of America great.
As you travel the journey you are exhorted to make your life, Grasshopper, you will occasionally meet someone who wants you to cut off your hair. It is in this sense that moieties, such as male and female, can represent enemy territory. Your strength is foreign, at every stage of your journey, until the moment of your seduction to stay, that moment when in shame you might stop making calendars or listening to Mahler. North of the Lethe they invented a projection called Justfriendistan, where they don’t watch clocks or slit their wrists, I’m told. Be that as it may, migration is the beginning of everything: time, foreignness, marriage, gender, hair. It is only by walking away down each of the paths which converge at intersectionality that you discover what the theoreticians think you think they mean: emptiness is intersectional; we are mis-made of pluralities of victimhood. In fact, back at the intersection, only Miss Polly’s Dolly needs to heal, because the rest of us weren’t born anything, let alone perfect. Are you coming quick, Ms Muslim or Christian Post-Colonial [PC] Indonesian or Anzac Immigrant, or quite fainting away in your doctoral Miss Polly projection? I hope you will realize before your children do, that we are politely turning our gaze inward on how ridiculous you look. Look up ‘evolved’ in the Urban Dictionary: it does not refer to the ecology of a tidal rock-pool, much and all as many of us would like to crawl back under a rock.
Shadows are smallest at noon, have you noticed, or never connected ego, reputation and shadow? And after lunch they lengthen towards the east, but is that naturally on your left or right? In other words, do you measure direction from the north or south? People are either clockwise or anticlockwise in their experience of time. Which are you? Is 9 in the sky left of 3 or right? Do people who count lefts and rights on a map belong to the same species as people who negotiate right angles by correcting north and west to go northwest by the afternoon Sun in the Southern Hemisphere or its morning shadows in the Northern Hemisphere? Do you even know what I’m on about? Has it never happened to you that GPS coverage left you high and dry? Talk about pre-migratory! Would you know that it was the cliff the lemmings were running towards? Who on Earth are you, love? Oh well, when all else fails, we can always ask directions from the same kind Brotherhood volunteer on a student visa who saw our inner child safely home at 3am last Sabbath, can’t we?
When those around you who deride your sticks marking sunset and sunrise and the blind clap halfway between ask you how to explain law and ceremony to their abusive elders and suicidal children; when you cannot find a companion for a southward migration from Bamaga to Fitzroy because nobody has a father who has danced the journey, nine hops that way, four that, four fingers, three, two, one, a squat, one finger the other way, two, three, four, five; when all around you are unable to recognise a single star out of the corner of the eye of the collapse of their cultural memory into deprivation, squalor and shame and simply recognize an accumulation of vomit as the end of the wet; when your initiation is in your neurones, not written in a wandering academic’s sky map; when you know what how and when to go depend on, and why your ancestors are telling you to go now: you will be a roadbuilder, or a cave-rescuer, and we’ll be proud of you, my son!
Identity is the cusp of Pride and Shame. The question which torments relativism is not, ‘what are things in themselves?’ but, ‘where is “Out Of Story”?’ The 3am ‘Aha!’ is the refolding of a disease around a misspelled antigen: “Did I simply lack the guts to be one thing or the other?” Women have lived in a foreign country so long that they have trouble realizing the real men have left. Perhaps the last Imams to leave are right: women in their country have half a brain. Anyone who cannot see the trees for the forest may leave the room. You’re right, relatively speaking: you don’t belong here, though your broken journey bless us, where the intersection blurs in evaporating tears.
Planets vanish in the gaps between constellations; stars drift screaming into the void; the Milky Way runs in glittering rivulets down across the sky’s glassy dome, coming to rest, defeated, against the hard bed of the horizon. There’s no mistaking it. You are going to die. Sam Kriss.
What could be more antithetical to Buddhist emptiness than the infantile notion that spirit or consciousness survives death? I have no idea where the idea came from that dead loved ones become stars in the sky. Perhaps it’s an anthropological fiction which confirms the a priori cultural delusion of permanence. Yes, we are constructs of energy forms forged in the stars, but so what? Mind is an emergent reality of carbon, but so what? We could argue until the cows come home about mind’s purpose, the fulcrum of its personal meaning or the laws of its libraries of evolutionary independence. But imagine the moment of death without any mumbo-jumbo: awesome, yes, but the nothingness you’re sliding into is neither eternal nor permanent. You’re becoming nothing.
We’re beyond history here: our personality and its ramifications are no more significant than a hole in the ground. Our body can no longer answer the question, who am I? Of course we will be remembered, but the minds which will do so are as dust. Galaxies, gods and goddesses, lovers, friends, enemies, children and grandchildren, all dust, as though they never were. The living will do with this as they must: always, they seek. Indeed, in Hell, here on Earth, there are many grey areas: embers of a material world in conflagration, country, the imagination, the unconscious. Perhaps a good death might be no more than the evaporation of the mirage which, shimmering on someone else’s country, we named our pain.
Who are we, the never-were, the forgotten? We are all immigrants into country our ancestors never knew. We live in an alien age, not of sticking it out, making do, with a promise of nirvana or heaven in an afterlife, but of hopelessness, betrayal and envy. Only the mentally ill have faith in an afterlife, or the truth of their ancestors. The rest of us are queuing to get what more fortunate people already have. We are doomed where we are, and life is too short for struggle against the odds. Equanimity is not something you can bequeath your kids. Our ancestors forgot the past, but the future is where we live, and it is a paltry thing to forget in death.
They came to the old man and harangued him to find the spirit of the boy’s sickness and make peace. The old man knew how to dream bad spirits back to the Underworld. He dreamed his Wife, long passed, as the Morning Star, and steered Her to join the Guardian and draw Him back under the canopy [Ophiuchus] to which He was appearing to desert the boy, the strongest hope for their prosperity. On the day he brought Her to join forces with Him, he was reassured that the boy would be saved, even though he was deeply unsettled by the omen of the canoe from the Underworld which his dreams told him was the vehicle of invasion.
Shortly before noon, the boy died, and while the women shrieked and screamed, the old man went back into his dream, and sent his Wife into the Underworld for vengeance.
She is well aware that She is from somewhere else and has a Mission, but She finds Herself overwhelmed by a feeling of being at home with the fishermen who have pulled Her from the sea and clothed Her, mumbling incomprehensible words to each other and to the darkened Moon.
There is so much kindness in this superstitious and pessimistic world, beneath the butchery and inside the walls. Her feelings seem almost alien, like the disappointment which haunts tourism. That’s the thing about dreams, certainly the lingering aura of this waking one we try to share, that their reality eludes words. She is remembering.
Remembering a caravan of migrants escaping poverty, discrimination and violence which includes her without question, though she says not a word; remembering an eclipse of the Moon which is everywhen; remembering an awareness of being a man in a woman’s body, issuing deep laughter in response to the antics of strange people in the colours of the rainbow at the back of a bus. Given a knife by a lovely woman in a man’s body, she remembers how to kill, though the man in uniform is strangely unable to provoke a memory of anger or hostility.
Kumar (not his real name) finishes the last take, and director Lenny (not his real name) says he is in love with it. Kumar “has mastered the physical and mental techniques for a convincing portrayal of death”. For the thirty seconds the camera was exploring his primeval face, time after time until after 9pm, he was banishing nagging thoughts, that the remembered had forgotten him, that he might only exist in unremembered form, and that warriors are doomed to love being forgotten.
Nonetheless, all went well, and it is time to go home and be remembered. Tomorrow is the day of the preliminary hearing of the charge against him of sexual assault of a minor on the set of his first movie fifteen years ago, one year to the day after his arrival. His devout Hinduism and the presumption of innocence notwithstanding, he would be the first to admit there are many things he would like to forget, when his time comes.
The Shadow is most often projected into delusion: such is migration. “L’enfer, c’est les autres.” (Sartre, Huis Clos.) The movie in production has the working title, Death of a Border Guard, and the production house, wreathandstyle.org, in anticipation of no being universally construed as yes, has opened a Facebook page for us to post suggestions of what the old woman might be saying. It remains blank. It might not be the first time a Hollywood movie has starred an extra who walked in off the street, but the bloody #MeToo t-shirt was a first, and when did you ever hear of an extra melting back into obscurity without collecting her pay? #WhoIsShe is trending.
And me, I’m just a simple guy out of the audience listening to the voice of an hypnotist who has me staring at the sky. What will I forget? More than I’ve remembered, that’s for sure. Just like you, I have migrated into a village unable to raise a child. I’m sorry, did I remember you properly?
The crossing of the Acheron is arduous. To be judged, rejected or outcast seems like the hardest thing in the world, but one way or another, by dogged determination, blind faith, or the glimmer of respect, we make it across. And then, nightmarishly, we come to it again and again. It is only natural to seek an easier way, by boat, or by inebriating yourself so that you don’t care if you drown. ‘Drown your sorrows’ is right. Taunted, negated and misunderstood, the imagination can come up with lots of ways to withdraw and hide the suspicion that it got us into this. If we cannot belong to this group, we can belong to that; if people judge us, we can judge them. What a grim prank it is to hole the boat of someone who has made our own crossing difficult, to stone them in turn, and then frivolously to march on through enemy territory.
Thus is it possible to misconstrue the Acheron. Indeed, in infancy it almost, but not quite, seems normal to see it as a River of Hate, and the defences some build against slight and injury, and the awareness of them, are never demolished in a lifetime. However, and it almost seems perverse to assert it, the Acheron reveals its most terrible power when life erodes those defences with the combined forces of transcendence, love and shame, and in a flash, we can see ourselves from the outside, as others accuse us, and the inside, theirs and ours, becomes our responsibility. The Acheron offers us a life in death, an opportunity to relish our burden in the friendly universality of shame. We continually meet people who cannot face us, who secrete themselves in imaginary worlds and abuse anyone with the temerity to look in, as though a face were in itself an attack, but exclusion can actually feel like inclusion, the irresistible humour of a cosmic joke, when you pass a shop window and see in your reflection what the suffering of a fool looks like.
So now we are across, except for the muddy bit, which is why we lift our pinky when we pour the tea. This is the Moon which begins them all. Like the meditation on death which brings to mind the awesome beauty of our absence in the pulsating emptiness of country, the first Moon is born in the ever-present possibility of transcendence. Perhaps the year is a cyclical exploration of what not to do in our situation, and we start, as in infancy, by pointing the finger at a tendency to take it all seriously, mistaking the laughter which imprisons us in the gangs of absurdity for the courage to be, and making it a habit to rehearse a standup routine in every shop window. You’ve heard the old expression, “A day without a good belly laugh is a day wasted”? Escape to frivolity though we do, nothing is more painful than being marginalised by people we would like to love were it not for things they know we have done.
Capricorn may puff itself up like the peacock behind it—look!—but the way across the transparency through Aquarius, Pisces and Aries, until you come to Orion and Taurus, is dark and empty. No joke. Woe betide anyone who embarks in High Summer: it’s hard to make small talk around the evening campfire when the ancestors are sliding over the edge of the world. Where do they go, and most disconcerting even if we know they’ll be back, why do they go? Why do they leave us here in the dark? It seems like a cruel lesson, that moments of awe, in contemplation of immensities of distance and time, have a dark side of insignificance, and the sacred connection with the presence of the ancestors, the miraculous need of Being, must be earned. Existential thirst: you can get it smiling at the Wailing Wall; you can get it climbing Uluru; you can get it just tearing up a roughy ticket in your finery at the races. Matter of fact, I’ve got it now.
To pursue the metaphor of the Underworld as unconscious to its logical conclusion, towards the elimination of duality and inequality, you must imagine lying under the night sky with your feet to the Zodiac, so that your familiar firmament is visible with a slight lift of your head. If the Earth were not between you, your heads would be back to back facing opposite directions, you and your Other at the antipodes, and the cardinal directions would carry opposite meanings. Below is the sky above the local swimming pool.
The stars revolve around the Celestial South Pole clockwise, and anti-clockwise around the Celestial North Pole.
Do you imagine I am not perfectly aware of the conjectural status of everything I say, and of your repudiation of your ancestors at the ripe old age of 15? We 70-year-olds were once where you are, and truly, life began when we heard our ancestors calling, when we discovered shame. It may be that the intersection of the Ecliptic and the plane of the Milky Way is a mathematical irrelevancy, as 3 o’clock in the morning is, or as a 300mm rise in sea level is if you swim 190m above it, or as the tension in Southern Victoria is between solitary Alphard at the centre of the Eastern Wall, the arc of the ancestors on the personal side, and the Vertex in the house of maniacal self-development on the social side, but you may also not have noticed that daylight saving breakfast is an hour too early if you leave for work at the same time year-round. The fact is, there’s a lot more going on in the body of the universe than we are cognizant of. The question is, and only you can answer it, did the Sun just cross the River of Woe?
When the Milky Way rises vertically from the southeast, above or below the horizon, it connects me with secret women’s business: a spiritual antidote perhaps, and at the very least a psychological one, to patriarchy; mine, on my country, take it or leave it. Will your treachery ever be forgiven? Perhaps only a warrior, in his underworld, will ever know. Gone are the days when you could lump everyone into the same spiritual reality. I did not climb Uluru.
Vivant linguae mortuae.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1.
Dreams, like music, have a way of seeming personal.
It was late and time to turn the music off … turn, turn, turn … blowing through the jasmine in my mind … are you old enough? … handle me with care … I’ll clean it up myself I guess … and it ain’t me who’s gonna leave … there’s one way of gettin’ there, I’ve been usin’ the method for twenty-five years or more … so open up your beach umbrella while you’re watchin’ TV … desultorily clinging to words which had made the world around him, but merely punctuated the arpeggios of his soul … skipped the light and bangles … hey little sister who’s the only one … tastes just like cherry cola … how to open doors with just a smile … don’t want your kisses that’s for sure … and you wish the world was as tired as you … never lost a minute of sleepin’ worryin’ ’bout the way things might have been … I guess hell has finally frozen over … didn’t recognize the boy in the mirror … now he wants the music to stop, but when he takes the needle off the dream groove the music keeps going. He tries the volume and the off switch to no avail. The music cannot be stopped. He is aware that music has defined every step of his life’s journey, learned and made his own, but ever with a life of its own, a cosmos of his entrails.
The dream is still there when the astrologer awakes slumped in his wheelchair. The garden outside his window is in twilight. Any moment now the nurse will come to wheel him into the dining-room. He will eat, and then be hoisted into bed, sleep, and be hoisted out again and onto the toilet, then back into his wheelchair. His bodily processes, like the music, cannot be stopped. A lifetime of change seems petrified by the bodily processes which have governed it, and by the wheeling heavens which they have written in their dance book.
This Moon aligns with one of the vertical configurations of the Milky Way, or near enough, not the transcendent associated with the initiation of Indigenous men, but the other one.
Is anyone dreaming of music in the Rohingya camps tonight? Are Southern Hemisphere Signs protruding into anyone’s northern sky? Are the Rivers of Hades no more than a poetic device, and the Milky Way no more transcendent than a campfire?
Essential to this astrologer’s country is the awareness of cyclical change. Sometimes she is a man, and sometimes he is a woman. One of the more interesting implications of the meaning he has given to the intersections of the Zodiac with the Milky Way, in no small part inspired by the imputed association of one region of the Milky Way with ‘secret men’s business’, is that at the Southern Summer Solstice the female Sun is in masculine territory, and on this rare occasion the male Moon realizes itself in what the astrologer regards as feminine territory, ‘secret women’s business’. It must be conceded that the heroic male constantly facing the insurmountable obstacles to his immortality presented by the world, and the repression of female individuation which wipes her from history, are archaic cultural constructs nowhere near obliteration.
You should be familiar with the Emu, but you may not know how its appearance has moved throughout the millennia. It has been remarked that evidence of the orientation of Bora grounds to the position of the Emu is largely to be found in Northern N.S.W. and Queensland, a phenomenon which one day might enter the debate about continental vs. regional Indigenous culture. In the meantime, there seems to me a cogent explanation for the scarcity of such evidence south of the Murray, which has nothing to do with genocide or expropriation, and everything to do with locality.
About 12,000 years ago, around the time of final separation of Tasmanian inhabitants from the mainland resulting from rising sea levels, something just as weird began in the sky: creeping northward from Southern Tasmania, the orientations of the two vertical configurations of the Milky Way when the Galactic Poles cross the horizon converged due East and West. The Poles intersected with the horizon at the Meridian (addition of the absolute values of the declination of either Pole and local latitude equalled 90°, the angle between zenith and horizon). This weirdness got as high as Tallangatta around 4500 BCE then doubled back before it quite reached Echuca, passing south of Southern Tasmania again around 1800 BCE.
Down my way, at the Wurdi Youang stone circle, this occurred in approximately 5815 and 3190 BCE (as contemporaneously it did upside down in Copper Age Anatolia and Peloponnese Greece), according to Stellarium‘s algorithms, and during the intervening millennia the Emu was never precisely vertical. The NGP crossed the Meridian below the horizon and the SGP was circumpolar. It is possible that ‘near enough is good enough’ originated in Southern Australia (or Turkey, or Greece), but it is also just possible the Kulin nation occupied the locus for a sanctification of the Prime Vertical, the invention of the plumb bob or the transmogrification of masculinity.
It is also worthy of note, especially by those anthropologists and archaeologists who have not imagined the cultural impact of an evolving sky one lives under by night, that the vertical Emu has not always appeared as it does today head down in the southwest. Between 13000 and 3000 BCE it was entirely framed head up in the northeastern sky at Wurdi Youang, similarly moving down and back up between 12800 and 3200 BCE in Northern Victoria, and in Northern N.S.W. between 10800 and 5000 BCE.
That was the time to fetishize the dust lanes recognized as the Emu, and adapt geodesy and ceremony to the subsequent millennia, and so antiquity combined with latitude explains the orientation of countrywide Bora grounds all over the compass.
The fundamental revelation which underlies compassionate humanity is not woundedness but harmfulness. Yes, we suffer, and that means we sometimes cannot help the harm we do, but never have we alleviated suffering by being blameless. And have we alleviated suffering by institutionalising goodness? We like to think so, and weep in gratitude for the separation of conjoined twins, but we are also outraged by the sexual misdemeanours of priests.
The terrible truth is that we choose to harm, and because our freedom and responsibility are the conjoined twins of our selfhood, it eventually falls to us all to confront and own our harmfulness, and if we are not to lose our selfhood to self-hatred, see ourselves finally as victims of our own evil, we must find forgiveness. Loving myself and others as wounded victims is so, how can I put it, de-meaning? Woman, you chose to be this way. The only transformation of patriarchy that works comes from the forgiveness of the guilty, women who have taken a man, from his children, his mother, himself, to give their existence meaning, women who have accepted the inherited status of domesticated animals, and men who have conflagrated their heroism in love.
“Nobody owns my country but me,” our struggle seems to entitle us to say, and yet the past I and the ancestors have vacated stretches fence by fence across the horizon. The past of my neighbours is my country. Is it a paradox that we cannot forgive our enemies, when we are identical to them in our manias of self-justification? Have we lost with the Us and Them moieties of trade-unionism a mechanism for bringing the best out of each other? Pleistocene Australians invented the fire-stick, Holocene Europeans the fence. Is it a paradox that setting fire to the bush protects the fences, originally invented to minimize conflict over game? Do traditional owners really want the onerous task of collecting the rent to fund the administration of Blue Mud Bay fishing? Midnight permits? Boarding and sinking dinghies? Headlines? Civil war?
The human bones revealed by the shifting sand of deep time belong to a nonentity who was a hero or heroine like us, and so they are sacred, like every somebody who tries not to be nobody. The guilt-ridden invaders have been willing for ages to play a fugue with the Indigenous people their ancestral nonentities wronged, but the Indigenous prelude, from the time before European settlement, has not been scored for Western instruments. How far away are the stars now? Is it different for a man or a woman to stare into the abyss? Is the Wanderer more than a dead white man’s Fantasy in C Major? Is there now a Cassiopeia in Wurundjeri country? Yes, my anxiety is salved when the Moon crosses the Lethe, why would it not be? Am I not my Mother’s son? Was it not a Song of the Rainbow Serpent she sang which opened my heart to my welcome as an interloper at the campfire of strangers? Yes, “everybody owns my country” is what I’m trying to say.
“I’m a time traveller.” “You’re a clock watcher.” “All my life I’ve been travelling at 7.9 km/sec.” “You’re hooked on melancholy” “Doubt everything, especially yourself.” “How could you believe being a failure was paying your dues?” “How could you think therapy could pay yours?” “Your anality is dying in its arse.” “Your top-down thinking is arse-up.” “I can’t keep a straight face listening to a dead man’s vain attempt to sacralize death.” “One more km/sec and I never had to hear you.” “Why did you need to tell me that? Stop attacking me.”
This all too human propensity for discrimination and judgment, unalloyed with a good dose of skepticism, consolidates normal black and white mental illness. Applied to the skin, it establishes the difference manifested by foreignness. Binary gender is a classic example: humans have confronted and adapted to devastating climate change countless times throughout the millennia, but when they were forced to leave, it was always into someone else’s country; the right to somebody else’s country doesn’t exist, but could that be rouge on the cheeks of Chopin’s corpse when Khatia Buniatishvili plays ‘his’ Piano Concerto No. 2?
The veteran in his wheelchair will not see the like of this again, and nobody younger will experience quite the awe of the Pleistocene, because dark skies are gone from Sunbury, where once the soul could study the lines of its eternal palm under the stars. Hoisted into bed, the astrologer lays his grateful head on plumped pillows, dissolves the fences of mind, floats down and beyond the fulcrum of duality, and sleeps.
“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”
– Albert Einstein.
What makes you tick? Not what motivates you, but how do you put yourself together? What is your organizing principle? Not why you get up when you’ve been knocked down, but how? What do you call to mind? What comes? Is it a lie to foster a self affecting a truth? Why is it that accepting the inevitable seems like a self-defeating mechanism? When an imperative pops into your mind, an innate or habitual mechanism, do you recognize and give expression to the body of your world, implement it as the construction of your will, or fight it as the enemy of your integrity?
If we could imagine for a moment language inflected not only with sexist and racist attitudes to power, but also with ingrained certainties of the physical world, including which side of the human body belongs to us and which to society, the sacredness or profanity of the instinct, and the nature of freedom as submission or rebellion, then to the extent we are comfortable and decipherable using our language, we might be confident of a universal order which makes us all brothers and sisters. We could understand the ego as the instrument of our own control over the irrational and infantile.
On the other hand, should the ego seem more like an enemy than a friend, should meditation waft us away into the universal mind, leaving us with the body only of our breath, we might attempt to dissolve our infantile defences against separation, disappointment and death in the acceptance of change, but succeed in arresting the change the universe orchestrates by flowing through our bodies.
And what if the body of the world, our habits, language and culture, seems to us in itself a threat to our identity, an oppression of our egoic insistence on mastering the socially constructed self to become in a state of fluidity whomever we choose intellectually to be? If ‘identity’ has ceased to mean what is identical, but “A person’s conception and expression of individuality or group affiliation, self-concept and self-representation”, where are those brothers and sisters now? Compassion and loving-kindness limited to the emptiness of a meditative trance? Equality, democracy and equanimity are subsumed by ungovernability when ‘identity’ is forced to mean ‘ipseity’ and the universal mind devolves into tribalism.
Many hundreds of thousands of years ago, our ancestors began to make sense of the movement of the Moon. It became hardwired into our understanding of time. It made scientists of us. Actually, you could say that the Moon, by impressing on us the rhythms of the sky, was waiting for a first landing, and caused those enduring footprints itself. Perhaps the real cause was embedded not in American politics, or an intercontinental military-industrial complex, but the universe itself, the how, not the why.
At a certain distance from the Equator, currently 37°9’34” latitude north and south, decreasing at a rate of about half a kilometre a year, the points at which the Galactic Plane and the Ecliptic intersect are either due east or west at the precise moment the Milky Way intersects with the horizon north and south, arcing east or west. Does this mean anything? Do you doubt it? How can you betray your ancestors by doing so? In fact, it means to the body of the world that someone has noticed it, and nothing more. Climate change is a similar, not to say identical, phenomenon. That someone did not say that east and west and the planes of the solar system and the Milky Way exist only in the mind, that the azimuths of the Galactic Poles are a problem of elementary trigonometry, or that the language used to formulate astrometry needs to be decontaminated before its importance in human history can be debated, as though it were a matter of whose bodily processes in an interstellar spacecraft have precedence, officers or ratings, men or women, black, brown or white, means only that reality has made a new appearance, that someone noticed something happening, as though in the mirror, in his Underworld.
The Sun crosses the Galactic Plane slightly less than seven hours after Solstice this year. If you’re within cooee of the N.S.W. Central Coast on Solstice Day, a Saturday, why don’t you see what you’re made of? It’s a special moment, any time the Sun is due west, this one fitting for a special companion.
What do you find beneath your feet? Does Mother Earth recognize them? Do they mirror those of an observer of the Moon on the other side? Is fantasy or forgetting an element of how you deal with things, or both, and is (s)he the One? Remember, do not to leave your phone in the car.
One day, astrology may use what has been noticed to see something else. Then it will be understood, but first it must be seen. Its seeing is in turn the underlying understanding of doubt. Climate change may be the universe engineering the colonisation of other solar systems by whiteness. The wound may constitute the measure of breath, and the oppression of victims be the cinching of trousers around the neck of believers. Belief, when all said and done, is of the body, not the mind. And should you doubt December’s opportunity to doubt doubt, perhaps you have not known hope or grief. When you do, in your body, please know that I, your ancestors and the birds, along with a dog and cat or two, hope and grieve with you. We are the universe. But doubt, you can have that on your own, with the sky revolving north and south, unseen, for when doubt rounds on the Self, only Christmas can save us, hein? And the ancestors sing, Death, D-Death Death, where is thy sting?
”In the first case it was necessary to renounce the consciousness of an unreal immobility in space and to recognize a motion we did not feel; in the present case it is similarly necessary to renounce a freedom that does not exist, and to recognize a dependence of which we are not conscious.” Tolstoy, War And Peace.