May 19th, 2017

Mid-2017: Songs for the New Secession

It’s almost mid-year. How in the hell did that happen? (Time — the revelator).

As I noted last year I haven’t had the time to compile music for a proper mix on Mixcloud. I miss doing that as the process is actually meditative but — well, here’s a bunch of tunes on Spotify. I’ve been spinning this collection since the dawn of 2017. There are some rhyme and reasons to the order and flow — though a lot of serendipity too.

Enjoy.

 

 

Opening graphic: Toilet Paper, vol. 12 cover by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari.


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April 30th, 2017

Why Astrologers Need to Study Wittgenstein

Paul Horwich, in a long NY Times essay wrote:

“The singular achievement of the controversial early 20th century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein was to have discerned the true nature of Western philosophy — what is special about its problems, where they come from, how they should and should not be addressed, and what can and cannot be accomplished by grappling with them. The uniquely insightful answers provided to these meta-questions are what give his treatments of specific issues within the subject — concerning language, experience, knowledge, mathematics, art and religion among them — a power of illumination that cannot be found in the work of others.”

Wittgenstein isn’t an easy immersion, but he’s worth your effort because the more you study his philosophy — which was actually, in spots, more akin to mysticism — the more freedom you might gain as an astrologer.

Like the closet mystic Carl Jung, Wittgenstein knew how to couch his propositions to pass the scrutiny of his peers (well, except for his mentor Bertrand Russell who he drove to fury by disregarding traditional formulations of logic.)

And because of this sketchy dance, between chilly logic and the nimbus of mysticism, I find Wittgenstein to be the most satisfying of linguistic rebels. His mix of the effable with the ineffable mirrors in a direct way how human beings toil with making sense (or a muddle) of astrology. Read more



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March 15th, 2017

Outer Planet Transits & Nostalgia for Samsara

“The earth is littered with the ruins of empires that believed they were eternal.” —Camille Paglia

Dead men walking. Women marching. Alternative facts. Reality show presidents. Anti-Christ-Palooza. Terrorists and Tiaras. Bitcoin. Gold coins. NSA. GMOs. WTF.

Signs, symbols, and Zeitgeist stingers. Time traveling omens from Armageddon are the stock and trade of our modern day narrative. The stories and anxieties we lay down and fret about until the Ambien kicks in.

Doom tales monopolize our inner landscape because speeding up to the end means a new beginning is just around the corner. Or over the cliff. That’s one theory. The catch, of course, is the way we resist other narratives. It’s wise now to think beyond the parameters of being a garden-variety human being.

This is the nut of the ‘message’ from the ongoing transits of Neptune and Pluto through the closing section of the zodiac, while Uranus in short fuse Aries keeps broadcasting, “Come on! Speed it up. (Or blow it up). Hurry! Go faster (and furiously.)”

When food, money, energy and optimism are scarce we become attached to whatever sort of hoard (be it our meager amount in savings or the way Plutocrats hog all the wealth and investments in their seemingly exempt world) we’ve come to associate with as a means to see us through to the new phase. Or at the meanest level, it’s outsiders who are closing in on our turf — and must be turned away.

So we’re looping right now. Sort of like the routine animals demonstrate before being eaten by a predator. You’ve probably seen videos like this on those nature shows you watch on Youtube. The prey runs around and around in a hysterical circle before the killing bite is administered by the predator. Right?

Our inner animal is a bit freaked. So, like your pet, you need to assure it all will be well. You’ll take care of things and keep the wolves away from the door. Do that for your inner critter, you’ll gain a lot of traction in the process.

The weirdness happens when we observe ourselves observing others and the world we coexist in. If we’re not dwelling on our own crisis of faith, then we want to read about it in the news or watch it in a sci-fi or horror film; a tacit way of confirming that everyone’s sort of fucked up at the same time.

Fact or fiction doesn’t matter — just that we’re seeing clearly that everything is caving in — that’s the essential ‘meaning’ behind the obsessive imagery we circulate and share and post and tweet about it — over and over and over. It’s the Hologram of the Season. The reality bite that keeps on biting.

My astrolger’s field notes show that Uranus is associated with time warping. A hybrid process of time speeding up, which means our subjective experience of time is altered and tweaked out — it kind of forces us to feel and peer into the future, despite our best efforts to avoid the unsavory. This quickening happens via Aries. So the sense of urgency, to remove constraints, shackles, anything that limits freedom, imparts a ticking time bomb feeling. Uranus becomes the hair shirt we’re wearing. It’s exciting to think about it except for one small impediment:

Pluto’s glacial transit through Capricorn. Pluto is akin to a black hole generator. When our awareness is touched by Pluto, nuclear fission occurs; meaning, we phase between one reality and another reality in such a way that forces us to leave the former reality and pop into the later reality which our survival instinct conflates with annihilation of the former, and so, well, we balk and freeze and hover. And yet the wormhole beckons. The way forward means living through a death state (Pluto) while galvanizing ideas heretofore unknown and untried (Uranus in Aries).

Read more



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February 01st, 2017

How to Stop Self-Helping Yourself Into Oblivion

banksy-dreams

Yesterday public television in Seattle celebrated their decade-long relationship with the just-deceased self-help writer Wayne Dyer, and to honor the author the station was replaying one of his final talks.

The theme of his presentation alludes me; it was something about Five Steps to Something or Other, the secrets of which were contained in his new book, which was touted tastefully throughout his talk.

I decided to give the show a try, despite the fact that I’ve a strong aversion to listening to other people talk or write about ‘how’ life should be lived or experienced.

Prior to the advent of the Internet, this phenomenon of people giving advice about living was always buzzing in the background of life, but not in the omnipresent way it does now.

The Net has mutated what used to be a semi-contained industry (the self-help, how-to world) into a bacchanalia of yapping gurus and guides — billions of bromides pinging back and forth across blogs, YouTube and social media every hour.

The world, as the Net depicts it, is divided into distinct camps: Those with electronic devices doing nothing. And those doing nothing but writing or talking about doing stuff and then selling that information on an electronic device to people that aren’t doing anything.

While watching the PBS tribute to Wayne Dyer talking about Wayne Dyer and Wayne Dyer’s new book about doing stuff to be a better person like Wayne Dyer, my fascination and agitation landed not on Dyer, but on the audience.

Their eagerness and willingness to be told how they could improve their lives felt heartbreaking. Because the camera would periodically cutaway to random scans of the crowd, I was privy to dozens of eyeholes dilated in moist receptivity as Dyer spoonfed them a list of dos and don’ts for a ‘better life.’

Dyer had conveniently crafted these pointers into a list that was transformed into an illustration of a ladder with five distinct steps. And because our culture is obsessed to the point of mania with lists, the childlike image of the ladder remained projected behind Dyer as his proverbs tumbled forth.

I squirmed. Each ‘pointer’ or step on the ladder was related to Dyer’s personal existence — as if I were interested. (I write this flatly, not from a place of mean-spiritedness but fact, I wasn’t intrigued, though I’m sure many in the audience were.)

Dyer’s peculiar mix of humility and hubris was incredibly distracting. I kept thinking, “God, this is so brilliant. You missed your calling (and million$) by not starting a church or movement.” And yet my eyeholes were bone-dry.

Too, this interweaving of the promise of a secret to be revealed (to better oneself or reach a financial goal), with Dyer’s insistent desire to give it to me was just weird.

I’ve long suggested that no one follows the how-tos of self-help books. Books of this ilk are akin to talismans that people keep on their nightstand to remind them of something or other that is supposed to make their life better while they continue to do what they’ve always done because in the end the only person anyone is interested in hearing from is oneself.

Gurdjieff
‘s student, the writer O.R. Orage wrote: “Imagination as we use it, is simply an excess of desire over ability.” Self-help books allow for a kind of imaginary ability that turns out to be nothing more than a hybrid form of procrastination. This deluded state hovers about in the mind for a couple of weeks and then the book begins to gather dust on the nightstand.

Finally, perhaps, maybe, you get your shit together and act from some kind of gumption. Often this comes via desperation or is tied in with eleventh-hour providence. But whatever: “Yay, you’re off of your ass!”

Moving in life, doing things, takes courage and I’m fascinated by how and why humans have lost so much courage, the scale of which you can track by watching the bestseller status of various self-help and how-to books.

Or just listen to the predominate message within politics, which goes something like: “Vote for ___ and she’ll guarantee that you and your family will survive this weird post-industrial society you’re struggling to survive in.” But why must I wait for Bernie Sanders to make my life better? (I think Bernie’s great by the way — but why displace my courage and faith unto him?)

So, the point of this post isn’t to make fun of self-help books but to act as a reminder or a spirited nudge. A reminder to pay attention to the impulse to buy books (or listen incessantly to TED talks about things you should be doing yourself) that are stand-ins for your goals and the kind of focus and exertion of will required to fulfill your purpose.

What is the solution to escaping the tyranny of the how-to-self-help-yourself stuff?

Well, if I told you that you’d be in the same cycle I’ve outlined above.  Instead, I’ll offer some insights and observations that seem closer to (and are germane with) the universal. These are suggestions for you to poke at and entertain in passing. Lightly. Read more



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November 13th, 2016

American Dada: Some Suggestions to Consider

trump_tower

Who could possibly want to read another take-apart or close reading of the 2016 presidential election? Not me. And yet…

Rather than opinionate I’ve tried to cull some out-of-the-loop views to consider, punctuated with some random insights. So I’ll just toss these out there like bird seed. Peck at what you like and leave the rest. And if you skip the whole thing, well, who could blame you?

The nature of reality is that it will not be cornered or tracked or predicted; in the same way that a dream you have at night — free from your ego’s edits and preferences — is a wild card narrative unfurling beneath your closed eyes. Reality and dream — only our waking state appears to separate them.

The Internet has taken the entire contents of the collective unconsciousness and the savage qualities of the id, and placed the amalgam at our beck and call, on phones and monitors across the globe. This is a form of dream overload.

Anytime you have a screen of any sort (be it your iPhone’s or your desktop computer’s) you’ll have a projected dream moving across it, right there in front of your face. And we have been trained for this response; first by cinema and then by television — though now we are participants, content creators, Tweeters, bloviators, in the dream narrative that shimmies and glows everywhere on our devices.

We are tethered to them in a symbiotic loop cycle, always tapping and poking the images and the data forward. Everywhere I go now it’s people shuffling about with their heads tilted down and scanning, scanning, scanning their phones for the latest tidbit or section from the collective dream field.

The dream bubble most liberals and Democrats floated within depicted a new world, with the first female president and all that was wonderful with a Clintonian dynasty redux. And the dream bubble of the GOP and its advocates was, of course, completely polarized from the other. The dynamism of life is continually oscillating and pulling the rug out from us — it just burns more when we’re the particular group experiencing the yanking. The collective dream field of the two factions never allowed for intersection or integration — the victor of this malfunction was Trump. And so here we are.

• A good way to actually integrate your experience of the past week is to view the entire event as a happening within a dream narrative. Imagine you went to bed and had this particular dream. What does it tell you about yourself? I don’t mean this to be a navel-gazing experiment, but an actual process of gaining insight to shadow parts of the psyche. Why? Because most of that regressed material is usually projected out onto what is perceived as the enemy or the tyrant or the monster or ogre — and, wow, with The Donald, we seem to be getting the entire package of horrors. Or are we?

What if our projections actually feed into the monstrous narrative that we’re terrified of? What if like Dave Chappelle offered in his opening monolouge on SNL, we gave Trump a chance, wished him luck and waited a bit to see if he can do a good job? How hubristic is it to assume we know exactly what’s to come (and many of us are acting that way)? It’s sort of embarassing, especially after what you’d think would be the humbling aftereffects of the election.

What if you settled into the notion that Trump is a human being like you are, with a heart, and longings, and wishes — a complex psychological history that feeds into his fear of being a failure and doing a bad job? Can’t we all relate to these qualities? What would happen I wonder if we each held this upcoming period in abeyance, supported by good wishes? I’ve been playing with this notion when I wake up in the morning and feel as tho someone has stomped on my head. It’s an interesting experiment in thought projection. Play around with it.

• “Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.” — Kurt Vonnegut

Here’s a ‘real’ world issue: The endless glut of news and opinion that’s vomited out of computer monitors worldwide has eroded our ability to think for ourselves.

To attempt to manage and metabolize the spew of data, updates, breaking stories, scandals, Wiki dumps, investigative exposes isn’t humanly possible. In fact, it’s fucking crazy-making.

Worse is the inability to know what is factual and what is fiction. This later predicament has grown exponentially throughout the year. And social media is the main culprit.

Forty-four percent of Americans get their news from Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center, filling a void left by the declining ranks of newspapers. By comparison, only 2 in 10 U.S. adults get news from print newspapers today. Facebook vets nothing and Mark Zuckerberg is groaningly disingenuous when he said: “Voters make decisions based on their lived experience.” Right, Mark. And many people are actually living their online life locked completely within Facebook’s echo chamber and gated community.

• Something I’ve suggested to a lot of friends and folks writing to me since Election Day: Round up a copy of the Masterpiece Theater miniseries I Claudius. (Or search for the production on Youtube, I think the entire series is posted up there.)

Situations like the ascendancy of Donald Trump have occurred since the dawn of time, in various permutations — though the 1976 mini-series based on Robert Graves‘s book, gives you a decidedly Western version of the wild ruptures within politics: The backroom games, shadow government, the Mafia-like forces that corrupt and poison, the descent of greatness and ascent of madness.

Much of this has to do with what Nietzsche wrote: “Insanity in individuals is something rare — but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” The point being, grasping the concept that when it comes to mobs of people very little ever changes. Individuals have opportunities to evolve, but socio-cultural evolution is glacial at best. I Claudius demonstrates that ‘interesting times’ are always happening. Yes, some phases are more devastating than others, but always this predicament haunts human beings attempting to govern themselves. We are incredibly slow learners. We need to face that. Read more



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