This is a transcript of the Country Talk program originally broadcast at 8 pm on Saturday 31 March 2018, presented by Joe Blow.
[Joe Blow:] Aboriginal evangelist Roundaway Camooweal has died in hospital overnight from head injuries sustained while attempting to intercede in a violent confrontation outside Trades Hall between members of the Bricklayers and Tilers Union and the Robotics Assembly and Maintenance Guild.
Mourners gathered outside Northcote Town Hall this evening thronging across High St with placards proclaiming “Emptiness Is Saved” and “Country Is Sovereign”, while inside, the Country Artisanry Awards presentation goes ahead as scheduled, following a Welcome to Country delivered by Witchetty Grub people from the Wurundjeri Land Council. In the absence of the patron of the awards, Aboriginal Petrichor Cokehurt, Professor of Comparative Astrology at Quinoa Curtain University, will conduct proceedings.
[Prof. Cokehurt:] It is gratifying to see so many people here in the aftermath of the horrific confrontation at Trades Hall yesterday, and I hope that this event may be repeated for so long as we hold Roundaway’s memory in our hearts. Tomorrow is Easter, I wish it were more widely known just how complicated that word is, but let us not conflate our tragic loss with archaic symbolism. Shall we simply look forward to the joy of watching little ones hunt for Easter eggs, keeping our thoughts about the true meaning of death and salvation to ourselves, as we have learned to internalise the seasonal contradictions Down Under of our imported ritual of springtime renewal?
Our patron initiated this celebration of artisanry which most emphatically reveals itself as a tradition voicing its own resurrection. The background of his project is not hard to grasp, although in this age of environmental alertness it can be hard to imagine the un-attuned culture our patron grew up in, saturated with personalities so separate from nature that death presented an annihilation disturbing enough to necessitate the advent of a messiah.
Roundaway was raised under the authoritarian guidance of magi who supervised the amputation of his intuition: forced to wear dresses to school, to learn to write with his left hand, and to speak in a language which few at school could understand and was too archaic to express any of the elements of his experience, he was routinely sequestered among elders who were mentally ill. While the girls in the street were able to communicate in a fashion by kicking balls around, the boys faced a constant struggle with indecipherable antagonism. The intimate caress of a magus was almost a relief.
Defined by the magi as a Capricorn, he suppressed his Sagittarian imagination as a tendency towards depression and a hindrance to ambition. He was initiated into what the magi called his true nature by some very gloomy people. He learned to mask himself as a philosopher and poet, even as he worked long hours as a delivery boy. Eventually his inner life was possessed by a priapic god, and the dysfunction of his early adulthood encompassed a search for meaning in the disposition of the body, an attempt to integrate Arthur Lingam and Martha Yoni.
And then he received his vision. Simply walking down a city street one day, still more or less a delivery boy, but now a clerk of courts in a suit, he was suddenly aware not only of images and objects as empty processes, but of the essential nature of images and objects as ingredients in empty relationships. God had taken off his dress, the illusion of form had taken shape, and passers-by were all walking backwards in time, upside down.
He stopped going to magus meetings, and his life fell apart, time and again. Other people couldn’t hold it together for long, try as they might to save their image of his Capricornia. One day he left his dilapidated land rover to wander in the bush and fell into a cave, from which he was rescued a month later, skin and bone and raving about self as the emptiness of country, and three principles: sovereignty as perpetual struggle with language; cruelty and suffering as the faces of boredom; and the sky as real from bottom up.
Many here tonight have heard his description of that experience, how the mouth of the cave yawned below him like the maw of a monstrous future, a fateful harvest of consequence coming at him like a freight train, and how wandering in the bowels of the earth led him to discover that people are all artisans, their identities created by the utility of what they fashion in obedience to the imperative of their craft, just like the processes of geology.
And so to our winners, the inhabitants of this sublime synchronicity, and with them the builders, architects, engineers and surveyors who helped put it in exactly the right place. Very nearly a perfect creation, but not quite. Should the residents care to observe the precisely full Moon due north in their location, they will be mesmerized by the arc of the Milky Way stretching miraculously from east to west, and let no astronomer or surveyor awake in the vicinity quibble about precision. Indeed, not only is no creation perfect, but no one creator is ever responsible. Add those who made it exactly the right time and place: the Moon, the Earth, its tilt, oceans and shores, the Sun and all the other stars. They all belong to our guild.
The runner-up is the precise moment of the transit of the galactic poles. The Moon and due north are too close to call: who knows where north is in the dark?
And at Uluru, who knows the precise moment of full Moon? It looks full all night, and there’s no doubt that the Moon is transiting in the same instant as the Galactic Poles! And what more fitting place for the Moon to highlight the Covenant of Crux at Easter to the awesome strains of the Kyrie! In a sense, Uluru fashioned itself through geological processes for this very event.
The girls in the packing room don’t miss much! Their award goes to a very distinguished entry indeed. Its depiction of the Moon’s conjunction with Porrima balances the confluences of the Zodiac and the Rivers of Hades on Christianity’s horizon at the stroke of its Easter Moon, thoroughly deserving the packing room accolade. Woe can be an occasion of defeat, but it can also ground us, in faith, in compassion. Forgetting can salve suffering, but moving on can condemn us to shame. Angles can anchor the projection of a map, but only as sovereign in a particular place at a particular time. It is not possible to formulate the combined experience of people on opposite sides of the Earth, walking with their feet pointing at each other, minds full of signs sticking out like pins into the cosmos.
In the beginning was the word, and the word was ‘good’. Any parent who has sought an impression of their child’s day at school has grappled with the contentious primeval meaning of that first word. Whether you believe that Jesus was the son of God or not, civilisation is a creation of gods, as surely as a work of art is its own creation, and neither one is an end product of a cumulative evolution of rules. Corruption is the fruit on the tree of law. Only creation, the inhabitation of human hearts by the meaning of the word, has saved us until now. Both the victim and the possibility of routine evil which victimises exist in the realm abandoned by gods as surely as the coward punch that killed the patron was inhabited by the god of silence and perimeters, a totem of nihilism.
Here is the last work we want to show you, from the patron’s bottom drawer. A sign is coming on Tuesday, an alignment of bodies, matrices and angles which signifies a living breathing inhabitation of country by a dead man. What does it mean that the conjunction of Mars and Saturn occurs every two years? Clockwise in the South through the constellations, signs and houses? I don’t know. Do you? A punctuation mark in separated, meaningless lives, or something else?
I do know that Roundaway hoped to live until the triple conjunction with Mercury in the Constellation of Pisces in 2026. Will that event be authored by his desire? What does it mean that today’s ten-year-olds will see it when they’re eighteen?
[Joe Blow:] So there you have it: sovereignty or narcissism, polarities or contradictions, emptiness or meaninglessness, conscience or chaos? Thank you for listening. This is Joe Blow, signing off from Northcote Town Hall. Now it’s time for us all to don Easter Bunny costumes. But remember, it’s Autumn: no smiling until tomorrow.
The mere name of philosophy, however quietly pursued, is an object of sufficient scorn, and what would happen if we should begin to separate ourselves from the customs of our fellow-men? Seneca.
One of the conventions of astrology I have found most meaningful is the notion that New Moon reveals a new perspective which the Full Moon brings to fruition with an invigorated disposition as enlightenment, another joist to bear a creative and joyful attitude. Southern Hemisphere Astrology breaks with the convention that the Moon is feminine, because it is clear to me, notwithstanding his monthly cycle, that he is like me, glorifying a peripheral existence. The most suppressed feeling in a man’s heart is the anxiety that life has no meaning. Meaning is embodied, by women and men: this is as clear to women as the day is long. Power, the meaning of energy, has always been enjoyed by them and alas, envied by men. “Are you strong enough to be my man?”
When my generation started flouting convention back in the sixties I noticed two remarkable things: the only thing we understood about what we were flouting was that it was restrictive; and whatever convention we defied we replaced with another. Correct me if I’m wrong, but today’s encounter with convention seems no different. Some people get into trouble by rejecting convention, and others get bullied into conforming. A convention is being flouted in Damascus: the slaughter of civilians is not collateral damage but a war crime. Another is emerging: if you harbour terrorists, even under force, you deserve their fate. National security is being deconstructed.
Children are dying in Damascus, in the same agony as a man on a cross. Aristotle’s view, some 300 years before Jesus of Nazareth, was that the highest good is the good of society. The view of Jesus was that the personal good is highest since it is the good of God within. Does the slaughter of these innocents mean anything to us? My heart is broken equally by their suffering and by our capacity to believe in a higher good than theirs, The International World Order. Can you identify any good in this conflict? Can you love the children as you love your own? Can you empathize with the conviction of the combatants and the communities that harbour them and abet their atrocities? Would you be prepared to die in their situation? What for?
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!” Can submission to convention actually be evil? Is this the meaning of love, that hormones, like everything in the matrix, go awry, and our proper task is to study and modify the psychological and social conditions of their distortion, rather than send in the army? Look in your heart. Is there a hero there, or a coward? Connection or perfectionism? You have probably learned how to deconstruct history, capitalism, patriarchy and gender. What is left to believe in? Babies? God? Universal human rights? Unchanging climate? Have you balked at deconstructing those?
The conventional view of the inferiority of Aboriginal culture which I can still remember, has been replaced by the agreement that white invaders passed down stolen land, and we inheritors bear the guilt for the dysfunction of Indigenous communities. The interpenetration of identity, language and country is sacred, but it seems a long way from conferring sovereignty. Who has the right to determine whether Adani may proceed, the citizens of the International World Order or the local landowners? What convention bestows that right? A superior one? Two conventions seem to conflict in Townsville: that you are your language, and that it is in the syntax of your language that you oppress others.
The two charts above and below speak to me of the enlightened connection of heart-bone meaning to head-bone convention: emptiness. Should even one other person be mesmerized by the synchronicity illustrated in them, two new friends might transcend convention. From two different perspectives, or one from different angles—Timbaúba, an hour and a half’s drive northwest of Recife in Brazil, is on the meridian of longitude directly opposite Parkville’s, or the same one on the other side of the poles of the Earth’s rotation—we are observing the moment Mars crosses the plane of our galaxy; in the same moment Venus and Mercury are in equatorial conjunction on the meridian, just as the galactic poles are also transiting. Look that up in your astrological conventions! [Signs in yellow are associated with constellations seen to the north, turquoise with constellations seen to the south—Timbaúba is a mere 7.5° south of the equator.]
For those oxytocin addicts who muse wistfully on the meaning of life at sunset, Monday brings another enchantment at the latitude of Melbourne. The constriction of ‘Thy’ idealization subsides, and though we may seem to ourselves conventional, we find ourselves so at peace as to discover our significant other within our self-love: ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ are one. This tranquility will see us through the denouement of the Syrian conflict, and right through the confinement of winter, until Early Spring in mid-July. When Lethe Crossing is at the meridian, local sidereal time has just gone 6 o’clock.
Friendship is trust in another to share one’s meaning. That trust is fragile. Without it we have to rely on convention, its diplomatic vacuity, lest we find ourselves overwhelmed by enmity. The power of the Moon is receding into our understanding of its light. Trust is under deconstruction. How can Syrian society exist now? As for the pillars of the emergent International World Order, one of Britain’s ambassadors to the Soviet Union, Sir Bryan Cartledge, is reported to have said, “Never engage in a pissing match with a skunk: he possesses important natural advantages.” On Monday at 19:40 in Sydney, following discussions with ASEAN leaders over the weekend, it is anticipated that the first-crescent Moon will make a public endorsement of the Sun. What else would you expect? The Sun will have gone ‘down’: of course global warming is our fault!
There is no doubt in my mind that one of the great contributions to philosophy in the twentieth century was I and Thou, by Martin Buber. There is no ‘I’ existing in and by itself, Buber says, only an ‘I’ which stands in relation in either of two pairings: I-Thou and I-It (or I-He/She). The Vertex reminds me that my love-image, my attachment style and the success of my intimate relationships all hinge on my capacity to experience my self in relation, to recognize what I am projecting, and also to enjoy myself as a beloved.
Some totalitarian tweeted the other day his faith that same-sex marriage would be embraced by Australian society, and this would be a repudiation of the ‘concept of the other’. One of us is out of step, and it could be me. This is an ‘I-It’ attitude. Australia has embraced same-sex marriage, and this might be interpreted as the consolidation of an Australian identity, a swelling of the ranks of a majority who see eye-to-eye. It might also be interpreted as a recognition and celebration of difference, that we love, and share our ‘country’, our personal space, with the Other, as the ‘I’ in ‘I-Thou’. I for one realize that inclusion does not confer identity when it is an act of love, and exclusion and inequality do not imply enmity and ought not be used as weapons by totalitarians to inflame it.
Astrology does not have clean hands when it comes to the totalitarian claims of identity politics. Object-permanence may be an essential intuition in early childhood development and an important element in a sense of self, but experience should lead us to the understanding that only the past and other objects can carry our desire for fixed meanings. No person or thing can properly be understood as enduring in time or occupying unambiguous space. I cannot hate you for not understanding me, or sharing my culture and its beliefs. How could I, when I am not the same person two days in a row?
I have not worked on the Vertex to enshrine it in the pantheon of formative influences, but to connect my hormones to my concepts, to empty both of fixed definition, and to broaden the internal debate about what personality entails by enhancing my focus on what I and the Other may be projecting. I must admit, I am drawn to the ambiguity of its offence, and its compartmental categories of latitude are irresistibly mischievous.
The Anti-Vertex is the elephant in the room.
The Ecliptic is fixed on the equatorial grid, which makes it easy to predict and time its movement. The tropical location generating the chart above sees the Zodiac passing directly overhead and high and low in both hemispheres, and I am definitely envious of the spectacle. However, it is totally unempirical speculation on my part to relate the symbols of our deepest affections to the altitude of the Ecliptic. The worship, not to say the fetishization, of eternity and permanence could not be imagined as a localized phenomenon, could it? Would not such a suggestion be an invitation to outmoded concepts like the ‘noble savage’ and ‘the Other’?
This little corner of the USA could not possibly offer emotional or daemonic experience unavailable in the rest of the country! I am really more interested in the movement of that red line than in real estate values, but what if resistance to culturalist pieties found itself drawn to enclaves further and further from the pernicious influence of a Vertex of conformity, even as the pietist preachers of victimhood were succumbing to the transference of exotic love-objects from sub-tropical climes?
How would you react if around 2020 you started to become aware of strange new yearnings unsatisfied by good old-fashioned marriage, self-improvement and illicit sex? Instead of idealizing youth, you began to hanker after a winged angel on your marble sarcophagus? Or instead of people being turned away by your cynical intellectualized dismissal of spiritual life, they began in droves to revere you as a messenger from another dimension, taking holy orders and even their own lives to be with you in eternity?
Computing the exact latitude of date of the Vertex in the realm of Eternity demands seven decimal places, or 11 millimetres at the red line, to minimize its duration to less than 2 seconds, so if you’re right on it, stay put. Its rate of migration is 16,000 millimetres p.a. and its disconcerting wingbeats will pass over and be gone in 4 hours. Besides, the maximum sub-conscious reach of the Vertex for antipodean day-dreamers is the Gemini Winter Solstice (tropical Cancer), where it coincides with our Lethe Crossing and ‘Forgetting’ is the universe’s middle name. In the North, Eternity coincides with the Sagittarius (Capricorn) Solstice at the woeful heart of our galaxy, and you must continue to drown deprivation as is your winter wont.
The chart above locates the Vertex above Marcoola Beach, but in the very same moment (03:35 Eastern European Time) it is in the Fourth House above the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III in Luxor, which is still forgetting at the Lethe an entry to the underworld 3,172 years later.
He was assassinated by a wife.
Roughly 4 hours later over Marcoola–woeful Luxor Eternity was roughly 8 hours ago: Eternity comes first–Permanence is a little more worrisome than Eternity, because of its tantalizing visibility, that is, it lurks in the House of Reputation, where consciousness is ever doing mortal combat with wokeness, and the next-door House of Attachment sublimates fear. Can you believe that enlightenment has been struggling with inherent properties for thousands of years, yet books purporting to contain the Word of God still top the bestseller list? Be mindful of the possibility that while you were deconstructing everything, your children were finding parasitism in the entrails of relativity and deprivation a most undesirable lifestyle. And note that in the Southern Hemisphere it is Cassiopeia, not Crux, in the First House. Don’t be surprised if your children convert to Islam because you’re just not permanent enough.