April 12th, 2013

A Mystic Knows Without Knowledge

The sun can only be seen by the light
of the sun. The more a man or woman knows,
the greater the bewilderment, the closer
to the sun the more dazzled, until a point
is reached where one no longer is.

A mystic knows without knowledge, without
intuition or information, without contemplation
or description or revelation. Mystics
are not themselves. They do not exist
in selves. They move as they are moved,
talk as words come, see with sight
that enters their eyes.

I met a woman once and asked her where love had led her.
“Fool, there’s no destination to arrive at.
Loved one and lover and love are infinite.”

Farid ud-Din Attar
 

Opening image: Set design for Mozart’s Magic Flute by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. 1815.


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April 10th, 2013

How to Write About Astrology — or Not

“Everyone being allowed to learn to read — will ruin in the long run not only writing but thinking too.” –Friedrich Nietzsche

The internet has fostered the madcap idea that — given the collapse of print publishing and the world of editors and agents — everyone should be writing. Something.

Or recording music.

Or painting. Drawing. Doodling.

But — uh oh — so many can’t.

Years ago the author Maya Angelou exclaimed to whomever (whoever?) was listening that everyone in the world had a book inside of him (or her) that was just waiting to be written. Uhm, checkmate! Another author, the gadfly Fran Liebowitz, interrupted Lou and said: “This may be true, but please don’t write it.

I agree. There is nothing more heartbreaking than when an amateur following what she thinks is her calling discovers that it’s simply the ominous groan of a foghorn declaring: “Danger! Treacherous rocks ahead. Think of your mortgage.”

One of the most egregious areas of online self-publishing are astrology blogs. Holy Kazemi! Here we discover why the masses consider astrology disposable and relegated to the back pages of Cosmopolitan magazine.

I’m amazed when I consider my career and what was required to first learn astrology and then become a good astrologer. Where did my stamina to attempt writing come from? It was a surprise. The one skill doesn’t necessarily confirm the other. One might read a chart but can’t write about it worth a damn.

So, over time I discovered that I had a knack for writing about astrology too. The keyword is knack — and, well, unfortunately knack-ness is not something that can be taught. Grammar (which I’m horrible at) and speling (forget about it) and The Elements of Style can be mastered, but not the inherent nature of a knack. Slippery as a glowing fish.

Too, coupled with knack — and this is crucial — one must have the interest of the reader uppermost. To care about the reader and the investment of her time, this is golden. When I care about my reader I’m forced to be a better writer. So the knack, and this sort of ‘reader empathy’ can not be taught. I’m sorry. As my mom would often say, just before pissing off my father: “There, I said it.”

If you fancy yourself an astrologer and a writer please learn how to write economically and always consider what you are conjuring in the reader’s mind that deflates or inspires his interest in astrology. Think how quickly, easily your writer’s thread can unravel into the warning signs of pre-dementia due to the nature of your subject — an occupational hazard for sure.

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