A dear, dazzling soul took leave of the astrological community last night.
Many of us, today, are celebrating, recounting and mourning the extraordinary life of Kelly Lee Phipps.
Because astrology is a spiritual practice, a practice that offers the potential of awakening to those it touches, I’ve long known that astrologers comprise their own unique group soul upon the planet — a circle of colleagues that serves in the forging of a living connection between the terrestrial and the celestial within the individual soul.
Kelly embodied and embraced this service with all the gusto of a genuine (and wildly enthused) magician.
He inspired many hearts and minds, and initiated many others into the astrological logos as well — and offered the gift of his presence with spirit, imagination, humor and wisdom. A gentle man and a scholar.
“We are here to witness the creation and abet it. We are here to notice each thing so each thing gets noticed. Together we notice not only each mountain shadow and each stone on the beach but, especially, we notice the beautiful faces and complex natures of each other.
We are here to bring to consciousness the beauty and power that are around us and to praise the people who are here with us. We witness our generation and our times. We watch the weather. Otherwise, creation would be playing to an empty house.
According to the second law of thermodynamics, things fall apart. Structures disintegrate. Buckminster Fuller hinted at a reason we are here: By creating things, by thinking up new combinations, we counteract this flow of entropy. We make new structures, new wholeness, so the universe comes out even. A shepherd on a hilltop who looks at a mess of stars and thinks, ‘There’s a hunter, a plow, a fish,’ is making mental connections that have as much real force in the universe as the very fires in those stars themselves.”
— Annie Dillard
I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels blest; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones, ‘To Him we shall return.’
–Jalal ed-Din Rumi
Another friend dead.
Another Facebook page still active.
I understand the deceased’s family has to involve the Attorney General to get FB to remove a dead person’s profile. Why?
But then — hell — still living, I tried to delete my Vine account last week and it was impossible to do it. I needed to contact the president of the company or equivalent and get his permission.
Vines. How entwined, how enmeshed are we into these cross-connects of social networks? And why do the corps that run them need me so desperately to stay? Alive…or dead?
Five friends have died since I joined Facebook about 7 years ago. And it’s weird and now doubly voyeuristic to visit their pages when curiosity overcomes me. And it does. I click in and trawl around. It’s kind of awful.
Friends and family continue to scrawl comments — especially around holidays and anniversaries — as if the dead person can ‘read’ them. Nothing says disconnected from reality like: “Love you babe, I know you’re reading this somewhere. Here’s a picture of Tammy’s new baby.” Shit like that.
But then how ‘real’ is any of the interacting that occurs here, now, with the ‘living’.
I could have dropped dead after typing this post and a handful of you would be commenting, liking, and I might be writhing on the ground alongside my desk, savoring my last breath and getting the strangest download:
I’m imagining Hamlet at the grave and he’s turning the skull ’round and there’s a Facebook ‘LIKE’ logo etched into the dome-top. And for a soundtrack there’s that line from Joni Mitchell‘s Hejira:
‘Well I looked at the granite markers
Those tributes to finality, to eternity
And then I looked at myself here
Chicken scratching for my immortality’
I guess that’s part of the big unconscious draw to leaving trails on FB — be ye alive or dead — ‘chicken scratching’ for our immortality. And of those that have already flown the coop? They’re liking this in heaven.
Painting by Eugène Ferdinand Victor Delacroix, 1939, Louvre Museum
Two birds of golden plumage sat on the same tree. The one above, serene, majestic, immersed in his own glory; the one below restless and eating the fruits of the tree, now sweet, now bitter.
Once he ate an exceptionally bitter fruit, then he paused and looked up at the majestic bird above; but he soon forgot about the other bird and went on eating the fruits of the tree as before.
Again he ate a bitter fruit and this time he hopped up a few boughs nearer to the bird at the top.
This happened many tines until at last the lower bird came to the place of the upper bird and lost himself. He found all at once that there had never been two birds, but that he was all the time that upper bird, serene, majestic and immersed in his own glory.
– Swami Vivekananda, Meditation and its Methods
Painting by Huang Shen (1687-1771)
Bumbling around the web tonight, drinking tea and trying not to disturb the cat while she teetered on one of my thighs, while the laptop teetered on the other, I encountered a slew of articles that irritated the shit out of me.
The first one was over on Salon, where it discussed how tech corporations are attempting to co-opt the practice of Buddhist meditation to up the well-being and job performance of their employees. Reading that felt like chewing on a piece of tin foil. I recoiled and started doing a bit more research and discovered this statement from Google’s Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute website:
“Developed at Google and based on the latest in neuroscience research, our programs offer attention and mindfulness training that build the core emotional intelligence skills needed for peak performance and effective leadership. We help professionals at all levels adapt, management teams evolve, and leaders optimize their impact and influence.”
So now mindfulness is enabling corporations to “optimize impact”?
That’s just what I want more of in my life — corporate optimization.
And I echo culture critic Curtis White‘s response, when he noted:
“In this view of things, mindfulness can be extracted from a context of Buddhist meanings, values, and purposes. Meditation and mindfulness are not part of a whole way of life but only a spiritual technology, a mental app that is the same regardless of how it is used and what it is used for.”
Having read that quote I went on a search for the interview the quote was lifted from, and I found it here, titled The Science Delusion, over on Tricycle.
You need to read it to understand the particular gulf we live in today. Especially if you are a young person contemplating your future. The implications for the arts and humanities are disturbing, unless of course your only aim is to have a tremendous amount of followers on YouTube because you’re able to shill Doritos to your followers and then Frito-lay cuts you a check (depending on the number of video views, of course). See Frontline’s Generation Like for more insights into that nightmare.
And then Consider White’s ideas here, from the same Tricycle interview. And then buy his book.
“Anyone who doubts the seriousness of this vision should read David Brooks’s December 2013 column for The New York Times “Thinking for the Future,” in which he predicts that the economy of the future will depend upon “mechanized intelligence.” Fifteen percent of the working population will make up a mandarin class of computer geeks and the “bottom 85%” will serve them as “greeters” or by doing things like running food trucks. And yet, Brooks claims, this vast class of servants will have “rich lives” that will be provided for them by the “free bounty of the Internet.” “