I was wrong. I hurt you, and I’m sorry. I am sorry that the things I have always most wanted to say are offensive. Sorry that my actions, so full of misunderstanding, are never innocent. The world is full of suffering; the road to hell is paved with good intentions. My ignorant intention has merely been to live, to course with desire, to experiment, to explore. Life is so short. The world was so big, so full of difference and mystery, and is now so full of hurt.
We can’t forgive each other, because you’ve excused yourself. You’re aggrieved. Why is that? Is it because you see every action as a reaction? Your ego is threatened by blame? You never studied history? I deserved it? You deserved better? Do you deserve better than your own children? No doubt you don’t let yourself think that, but do they deserve a better mother? Is that the attitude you want to teach them? I think not, but sometimes your attitude seems like the unspoken voice of an unconscious god–“bad poetry disguised as science” (Jaynes)–with the trajectory of a dodgem car.
The essence of life is not design or narrative, unconscious or conscious, but error. If an opinion fits ‘the facts’ better, it is less wrong, not more right. We have to live among people who are not listening carefully enough, and therefore make unreasonable demands of our egoistic ignorance. Four solutions to this discomfort have been embraced historically, and they are all religious. The first was identification with primal forces in conflict: asserting our chosenness. The second was the skill of tuning out: letting go, learning silence. The third was the practice of forgiveness, by force if necessary: silencing resentment. And the last was agnostic obedience, admitting that it’s safer to go with the experts: approaching the font. None has eliminated error and its discomfort, and all are alive and well today.
When we don’t know what we don’t know, it’s very tempting to clamber onto the desert island of opinion and cling to it circled by the sharks of difference. It should come as no surprise that only the deluded want to join us.
Being wrong is in the eyes of the beholder, for whom being right looks like denial. There is a long-established place where rectitude may be permanently undisturbed, where a Big Bloke who knows everything rules uncontested, even supplying an undiminishing number of virgin-dolls to males who gave their lives for the ignorant opinions of slaves to a man from a cave and never questioned the economics of eternally intact flesh-and-blood hymens.
Hastings is a relatively new cemetery which just happens to lie at the appropriate longitude to illustrate the incongruity of conjunctions in ecliptic longitude of bodies which belong in different frames of reference. Its inhabitants began dying in 1856, putting them in the generation which not only abolished slavery, but also sent about 164,000 convicts to the British colonies of Australia, and encouraged them to make comfortable their exile by assuming ownership of Aboriginal song and country. Like the bones history has scattered all over the Earth, they don’t need to make sense, as we do.
The most recent immigrants to our cemeteries and crematoria are of my generation, a coalition of supremacists, stoics, martyrs and submissives which thought to dismantle the communist experiment, give us equal rights for women and people of all ethnicities, and establish a global economy. How are they working out for you? God knows why we’re even talking about rectitude. Nobody’s right, right? But how does that go down with your kids? I guess we’ll find out soon enough, unless denial is so ingrained that we project our guilt onto their cluelessness as what we didn’t deserve.
Hunt around on that desert island surrounded by danger and evil. Somewhere you’ll find a rock, and beneath it a cave. If you go down into it you’ll find yourself in an underground fissure that goes for kilometres. It links to the Hormones Aquifer which flows not only through my heart and beneath the shark-infested sea but under every waterhole, field, workplace and home on the continent. If you crawl and swim far enough and find a way out through the twisted roots of passion, obsession and betrayal, like countless previous shamans and prophets, you will be saved. Emerging from another cave, you will have qualified to announce the prohibitions necessary to keep hormones where they belong. You will be feted as a supernatural being. AI policepersons will be entrusted to exert total control, because being programmed with your rules, they will be immune to human frailty.
One winter night, when Libra is at transit, look south at the spearing of Lupus, imagining it as I do a sheep. You might then be able to agree that the Libran scales of injustice, or trooper’s boot, epitomize the tranquility and insecurity of law in this wide brown land.
…Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred.
Down came the troopers, one, two, three.
“Whose is that jumbuck you’ve got in your tucker bag?
You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”
…Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong
“You’ll never catch me alive,” said he,
And his ghost may be heard, as you pass by that billabong:
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”… (Paterson/Macpherson)
Core of my heart, my country! (Mackellar)
Yes! It’s my country too!
I imagine your authority as the first, and perhaps last, voice of a new λóγος, of a world in which oxytocin comes in a bottle, where ‘self-help’ is a tautology and the ‘self’ in ‘self-knowledge’ is on the syllabus, where questions of eternity are settled by the ‘moment’, metaconsciousness has vanished into the graveyard, and the entire human race is corralled in latitudes greater than 40°, where one’s daemon is guaranteed to match what’s available in the marriage market, never lurking more than 30° from the horizon. Confirmation bias is a commodity, and your solipsistic submission is already before the Matrix Determination Committee. The future past is coming, because the truth is what we deserve.
Today’s New Moon occurs in sidereal Libra, which carries the Sign of the second month of northern Spring, Taurus, and once again, visibility blurs its relationship with the seasons of the two hemispheres. The Sun occupies the Sign a month earlier than the Constellation, in northern Autumn and southern Spring, but the Constellation is prominent in the night sky through northern Spring and southern Autumn. It transits at dawn in March, solar midnight in May, and nightfall in August.
The traditional view of Libra, with autumnal associations of refinement and compromise (when the Sun is nowadays actually in Virgo), is of the scales of justice, a symbol which resonates with its Southern season and surroundings. Below it is the Spring star Arcturus and the Ploughman—impossible to see as such—or the Chinese ‘Great Horn’, which unmistakably resembles a corporate tie. Above Libra, over the zenith at the back of your head when you face north, is the array of the Centaur and the Wolf skewered on his spear.
Because of its proximity to the symbol of justice, this array has always represented for me the quintessential colonial Australian conflict between indigenous people and settlers, and settlers and colonial powers. Tranquility is guaranteed by the police if you’re a squatter and some swagman or band of blackfellas kills your sheep, but how secure are you in your moral rectitude? Who is interfering with whose livelihood? Is it a sheep, or a kangaroo? Is Ned Kelly a national hero or a murderer and thief? Whatever our decisions, we Australians transfer their shortcomings onto the ‘suits’ in the big smoke (Bootes).
My life has been witness to both an evolution of ideas of what is good, and an erosion by cultural relativity of absolute meaning. My ancestors stole the children: ‘good Christians’ they were who put the interests of indigenous children—whom they regarded as tainted in indigenous communities by white blood—before the need of their mothers, because they saw only dysfunction and destitution in indigenous communities. Of course, we can acknowledge the cause of that dysfunction in our simply being here, see the missionaries as henchmen to capitalist exploiters, and believe that a guilty conscience was a poor foundation for ethical action, but my ancestors did not only think they were doing the right thing by the “stolen generation”, they were at that time also sacrificing their husbands and sons in world wars believed—naively, as it can seem in retrospect—to be defending the good against evil. There’s nothing secure about rectitude.
Saiph is sublimated. It’s Halloween! Imagine this: at the ‘stroke’ of solar midnight in a dark churchyard in the Barossa region of South Australia, directly below its graves, the Moon aligns with the Sun. Notwithstanding that, because of daylight saving, this is the only midnight on Halloween, the return of the souls of these dead and the opening of the doors to the spirit world occur in the other tonight of the 31st. And yet something is happening here. Let’s just say that the spirits are having a dress rehearsal. “And his ghost may be heard….”
To be honest, I was drawn to the Lutherans because of the German connection with the swagman [linked above], but here’s another spooky connection. What unseen power guided my search to Our Lady of Navigators? What is it about two places—two churches—which are precisely opposite each other on the globe? What other questions am I being asked to answer? Where do we go when we die? What underworld does the Sun enter after dark? Does it die? What will happen to me if I’m awake at midnight? Am I alone?
Can you see a sign in the form of a halo of light from the south side of the igreja? Peasant superstition? An uncanny similarity asserts itself with the phenomenon known as the Brocken Spectre, a magnified shadow of an observer projected into mountain mist on the very same mountain, in the Northern [see?] German Harz Mountains, where witches meet on Beltane Eve to hold revels with the Devil. The Lutherans came from Germany, and it is Beltane in the Southern Hemisphere—or near enough—on the First of November! Phew! Fortunately, I can give you these salutary lines about limerence, addressing this apparition, to calm you down:
And art thou nothing? Such thou art, as when
The woodman winding westward up the glen
At wintry dawn, where o’er the sheep-track’s maze
The viewless snow-mist weaves a glist’ning haze,
Sees full before him, gliding without tread,
An image with a glory round its head;
The enamoured rustic worships its fair hues,
Nor knows he makes the shadow he pursues!
From “Constancy to an Ideal Object“, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Coincidences? A demonstration that everything is connected? That everything happens for a reason? Or are the ‘suits’ right, and the world simply turns? On we go…
Today sees another portentous omen. Is the appearance of mighty Jupiter in the dawn sky a sign of the welcome return of the Prodigal, or is it to confirm our optimism towards the chance of a bountiful harvest untroubled by further calamities like the floods we have endured during the Spring? Is it the long-awaited sign that the ‘suits’ will stop Aleppo, the incarceration of Aboriginal youth and the global annihilation of wildlife?
And on the eve of the new month, the Moon reaches its apogee, which some foolish people believe has an influence on which things we are ashamed of and keep buried within us, instead hating their manifestation in other people, unaware that discriminating rectitude like this merely enables and perpetuates infantile, unconscious self-hatred.
So Happy Safar! The month when fighting is forbidden is finally over, and we can get stuck into it. ‘Safar’ means ’empty’, as in empty homes, when sanctions are lifted against trading and feuding. However, it must be pointed out that this coming month, regarded by some pre-Islamic Arabs as unlucky, is like all months, neither good nor bad in itself. Let there be an end to all such superstitions. No month, and no position of the stars, Sun, Moon or planets exerts any influence independent of the will of God. Does God wear a suit?
If you have ever been anaesthetized, it is not difficult to imagine Limbo. As deeply personal as your last experience might be, there might yet be something you wish to say, some further comment on an umpiring decision, perhaps. You may get many opportunities to dress-rehearse but it may be a considerable time before you are heard. I would add that we have this in common: my sincere wish in what I have written above is not to offend anyone—even if you’re wrong.