March 02nd, 2014

Time and the Retrograde of Mars and Saturn

robert_place_hanged_man

To stall is to procrastinate. That’s the usual association we make with the word. And procrastination implies a conscious kind of non-action on the part of the procrastinator.

But there is another definition taken from the world of aviation. A mechanical stall is a malfunction in the flight of an aircraft in which there is a sudden loss of lift that results in a downward plunge. “The plane went into a stall and I couldn’t control it.”

Can you relate?

With both Saturn (the prime timekeeper) and Mars (momentum itself) in retrograde motion, our direction, our sense of time, our desire (Mars) for a forward direction (Saturn) — all of our leaning toward and lunging for is, well, suspended — left dangling. So when someone asks you, “What are you up to?” You can say, in all honesty, “Just hanging around.” Or if you’re a more melodramatic type: “Man, I’m going down.”

So, while you’re falling why not pick a card — any card.

Of all the various versions of the Tarot’s Hanged Man (Pamela Colman Smith’s glowing, haloed figure or Aleister Crowley‘s eerie ankh-hung Spiderman) I like the simplicity of Robert Place‘s rendering — taken from his Alchemical Tarot deck. I also think Place’s Hanged Man is more true to the initial stages of frustration one experiences when she first notices that her airplane has gone into a stall.

Place animates his Hanged Man with a thrashing motion of the body and an angry, perplexed countenance. The man is definitely rebelling. And all that he has acquired within the normal, forward motion of time, is falling from his hands. Read more



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February 25th, 2014

Living the Dream

writers_dreaming

A woman novelist said to Gurdjieff at one meeting:

“I sometimes feel that I am more conscious when I am writing. Is this so or do I imagine it?”

He replied:

“You live in dreams and you write about your dreams. Much better for you if you were to scrub one floor consciously then to write a hundred books as you do now.”

– C.S. Nott from Teachings of Gurdjieff: A Pupils Journal



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February 17th, 2014

Large Meteor Spears the Galactic Center

chris_thorne

The photography of Chris Thorne is phenomenal. He describes the above picture as:

“View is over a small farm dam looking towards the Aboriginal Emu constellation in the lower south west of Western Australia. Part of a time-lapse sequence.”

I describe ig as yet another glimpse into what unbounded wonder looks like. Something similar to sitting in the very cauldron of creation.

I wonder if our own individual conceptions were anything like this? What do you think?



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February 12th, 2014

The Authentic Art of Living

alchemey_man

“What do I know?”

Whoever ponders seriously this question understands little by little his relation with “Who am I?”, echoes of which resound down the centuries since man first appeared on this planet.

For these seekers, to be, to know and to do are the facets of the same reality.

To dream of knowing oneself and nothing more, without looking for the slightest hint of an intentional manifestation fully integrated with the surrounding reality, is tantamount to a kind of desertion.

As for trying “to do” without being aware of “being”, without looking at every step for a way to be in accord with an inner presence, is the worst kind of abdication. The human condition is a perpetual challenge, which man can not ignore without abandoning his true nature.

He who wakes up to the deep meaning of his life and perceives how he makes room for the force and the difficulties of the innumerable relationships offered to him, acknowledges, by the same token, the very point of his existence. He discovers the possibility of seizing hold of the present, in order to bring together in a supreme effort the unfathomable experience of the past with the immediate prospects for the future, for which he wishes to feel himself responsible.

Taking into consideration his potentialities as well as his limitations, choosing the best influences for him, he has for aim to work always according to his being, in order to affirm himself at each moment, in constant submission to the demands of the life of the universe.

This would be the authentic art of living and the visible manifestation of a real individual culture.

–Henri Tracol

from The Taste for Things That are True
 

Some Thoughts on Henri Tracol by John Robert Colombo


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February 10th, 2014

Adam Curtis: Pop Culture’s Edgiest Truth-Teller

“Although we don’t realize it, the way we see everything in the
world today is through the eyes of the computers.” — Adam Curtis

 

curtis

I discovered documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis a couple of years ago when my friend, the writer John Calendo, forwarded me a link to Curtis’ 2011 film All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace with an ammendment: “This is weird, so you’ll like it.”

On the surface (not a good place to go for a description of Curtis’ work) this looked to be a documentary about how computers and people have come to co-exist. But no. This was a bold salvo that cracked open the notion of how computers have colonized the world by playing off of our inability to tolerate uncertainty and the unknown. Computers promise systems and control and people like control.

Remember in Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001, when HAL is slowly disassembled by Dave and the computer keeps moaning: “Stop. Don’t do that Dave. I can feel myself fading.” Well, that was a fine bit of prescience that Curtis’ film indirectly explores. Computers and feelings. Feelings as visions. Visions as the future. A ridiculous confluence? Not really when you consider the power of identification and what identification can wreak when wedded to machines.

Revisit the devastating economic crash that destroyed East Asia in 1997 or the ‘recovery’ we are still stuck in after the global economic meltdown of 2008 — all directly related to the manipulation of the markets via computers. Or doubly unimaginable, revisit the utopian visions of the counterculture movement in the 60s. Those dreamscapes of returning to the organic rhythms and glorious symmetry of nature?

Those were computer-based ideals that took hold like a fever as techno models more and more came to be considered the perfect matrix to build a new world upon. They do not exist in nature, as Curtis shows. Nature leans towards the chaotic. But not so, when framed in a computer-based template.

Even the title to Curtis’s film is taken from the hippie poet Richard Brautigan, who wandered through early 60s Haight-Ashbury, distributing xeroxed copies of his idyl to whomever would have them. Man and machine cohabiting in constant bliss. It seems a crazy conceit of the counterculture ethos, but, again, as Curtis shows, this concept was based on computer systems as matrixes for creating a better society.

His documentary, All Watched Over disconcertingly opens with Pizzicato Five‘s pop song Baby Love Child bouncing through the soundtrack while images of people jacked into computer screens stream by. The rapt computer users remind me of those “dairying ants” that milk aphids for honeydew, a juice that’s excreted from the aphid’s ass. Meaning, there is a constant, never-broken attention loop projected into the computer screen, as if nourishing forces are flowing from the screen’s glow, into its viewers’ brain-holes. It is weird.

And then, boom, a disruptive cut, a studio tech’s blaring announcement amidst the disintegrating soundtrack and we’ve jumped back 55 years to a Mike Wallace interview with the doyen of capitalism, Ayn Rand — her dark, darting bird eyes scanning the studio furtively. Read more



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