Exegesis Volume 07 Issue #092

In This Issue:

From: "Dennis Frank"
Subject: [e] Re: exegesis Digest V7 #91

Exegesis Digest Tue, 29 Oct 2002

From: "Dennis Frank"
Subject: [e] Re: exegesis Digest V7 #91
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 21:19:53 +1300

I wrote
 > >>Many astrologers, I agree, cite sychronicity as an explanation without
 > >>explaining why it is. Their intuitive recognition suffices for them.
 > >>It's clear to me why synchronicity & synchronization go together.
 > >[Dale replied]
 > >Symbolic aptness appears to be your preferred explanation, but I think
 > >it's seriously inadequate.

I accept that it seems so to you, given your personal values. I would simply add, for the benefit of any other readers who may wish to glean something more than mere interpersonal differences, that I do not agree that my explanation is just symbolic aptness. That certainly is part of it, and I should stress that qualitative matches do actually attain relative objectivity in social discourse. That is to say, they do not merely derive from the subjective realm, but also from perceptions that are shared. Every agreement on matters of quality, such as the verdict of a jury, proves this.

The issue that is not addressed by the phrase "symbolic aptness" is the relation of the moment to the period. Essentially this is holistic, since it is the relation of part to whole. I have mentioned in this list before the difference between the various meanings of Jung's term synchronicity that he offers, and how the term is now generally used. I believe my own meaning is typical of, if not identical with, this general usage. I may be wrong, of course. To me, it means a moment in which a significant correlation is identified between two occurences that appear to have no causal relation between them. Historically, when people have been impressed by such things, some such description as `a striking coincidence' was applied. The term coincidence became used to dismiss the significance of the simultaneity: `it's just a coincidence'.

The coincidence between any event and the planetary configuration at that time/place was traditionally deemed significant according to the hermetic rationale `as above, so below'. The astrologer cites this as a metaphysical principle that accounts for a deep truth. To the sceptic (skeptic, if you are American) such mumbo-jumbo is superstition because it lacks reason. Sceptics tend to remain captive to the old paradigm, in which rational is equated to causal. Anything acausal cannot exist to such people. They cannot recognise anything that their belief system deems is impossible. What about the rest of the human race?

I'll only address the small proportion who are interested in any reasonable alternative explanation. Here's mine. If two parts of a system are in synch, it is due to the fact that both are moving in coordination. This coordination is performed by the whole system. The whole, as Smuts pointed out in 1926, is the active agent in nature. All natural systems (solar systems, ecosystems, people) coordinate their parts in unison - that's how they operate. If any two parts of a system arrive, in their developmental trajectories, at a position of apparent significance relative to some local frame of reference, this simultaneity is brought about by that holistic coordination of the whole. It is perceived as acausal because people are have been educated to recognise relations between effects and apparent causes, and holistic relations are still too new to be included in the curriculum.

All meaning is relative to context. This should alert the reader to the fact that relativity is not merely a famous theory of physics, it is also a metaphysical principle. The meaning of the synchronicity that the horoscope depicts is relative to the belief system and experience of the astrologer. That's why it is given such a subjective reading. It is also relative to the communal beliefs and experiences of astrologers, and on this basis it can be discussed in general terms. Symbols are used in this discourse to achieve currency of meaning. A symbol seems to function as a cerebral resonance-generator. The resonant effect is greatly enhanced when this resonance penetrates the emotional networks of the subject, activating feelings. The viability of the symbolic communication process hinges upon meaning actually being transferred and shared. This can never be proven, so people are pragmatic and use feelings to verify what the dialogue suggests. They too can lie!

 > >>analysis. But, as Rudhyar often pointed out, astrology is based on events
 > >>that are qualitative in experience, and unique in their overall quality
 > >>composition. Adopting a reductionist approach seems therefore unwise.
 > >
 > >Do you expect the sun to rise tomorrow? Have we been expecting it to
 > >do so only since the advent of science? Surely the notion that repeatable
 > >things are reliable greatly predates science and is part of the bedrock
 > >on which it's built. If we know that A occurs only when B occurs and vice
 > >versa, then knowing when A or B WILL occur means we also know when the
 > >other will occur. If this is not so please explain in plain English why
 > >not. Yes, the events we're interested in are complex, and this is why
 > >reduction is indispensable. Since what happens at a given time is in its
 > >totality absolutely unique, by definition we can't know by experience or
 > >observation what it's synchronous with. But transiting Mars hard-angle
 > >its natal place, transiting Saturn hard-angle natal Venus, and transiting
 > >Jupiter hard-angle the Sun ARE repeatable, and when these and/or other
 > >factors coincide with each other it's possible in principle to know what
 > >each CONTRIBUTES to the totality of what's going on at that time.

I agree that seeking reliable correlations is a worthy endeavour, of course. Limited reductionism to this end can be productive, I accept. Establishing data with qualitative correlations between planetary cycles and events (psychological or mundane) is a meritorious enterprise. I'm only concerned by the valuable stuff that is ignored by this approach (subjective value differences between us).

 > >>>. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . If you want to call whatever the
 > >>>baby has been genetically programmed (via evolution) to look for and be
 > >>>receptive to "the mother archetype", I have no problem with that.
 > >>
 > >>What else would you call it?? But I find the aftermath of Jung's use of
 > >>the term in psychology to be unsatisfactory, particularly inasmuch as it
 > >>contributed to sloppy thinking by astrologers in the '80s.
 > >
 > >If "archetype" was used in a more limited fashion, and clearly defined,
 > >I might call it that. In the absence of such a desiderata a narrower term
 > >or expression, like "genetically programmed receptivity", would be better.

Look, I'll sidestep this for now, lest my response gets too long. Suffice to say that I do not accept that genetic origins account for more than the most scientifically-accepted features of life. If that seems like a tautology, you're welcome to say so. :)

 > >>>a node or nexus in a web. Again, I have no problem with you referring
 > >>>to that as an archetype, although I have no such urge myself.
 > >>
 > >>Hmm, but avoiding the label just begs the question of what produces each
 > >>node/nexus in the pattern. Why would one want to refrain from embracing
 > >>the opportunity to identify the fundamental agent?
 > >
 > >Begs what question? "Archetype" no more explains what's happening than
 > >"synchronicity" does. The inner clock congruent with and periodically
 > >reset by, say, the Mars/Mars rhythm, IS the fundamental agent. I refrain
 > >from embracing the term archetype as a referent because 1) astrologers
 > >are all over the map in what they mean by it, and 2) astrologers tend to
 > >assume, or act as if they assumed, that by using that term they've made
 > >sense of the phenomenon and can stop there.

Well I certainly accept points 1 & 2. I have been unsatisfied with the situation since first encountering it in the early '80s.

No, I don't accept that the inner clock is the fundamental agent. I could perhaps agree that it seems to be. [I guess that's why Placidus de Tito called his book "The Prime Mover".] I see the system as playing the part of midwife, or perhaps mother (matrix). It delivers the product.

The question I mentioned is `what produces each node/nexus in the pattern?'. You could say the mother delivers the baby. The system generates the pattern, of which any two (or more) concurrent features may seem sufficiently significant in their coincidence to call a synchronicity. It does not suffice for me to also say that the system creates each nexus in its pattern. I believe these nodes are rich in archetypal quality. I suggest they actually transmit this quality. That's why my theory describes them as archetypes (definition sent to the list on prior occasions, incidentally). But the archetypes do not reside in the system - I assume they emerge from the realm of potential (as Rudhyar suggested). So I gues I see each nexus functioning as a channel for any archetypes that operate through it.

 > >Semiotics is indeed an important field, but talking about semiotics to
 > >the exclusion of _what astrologers do_ is a formula for obfuscation rather
 > >than clarification. Understanding the relation of symbols to the things
 > >they represent is one thing, but what astrologers do is symbol-ISM, a
 > >special kind of symbol usage that I think subverts a more empirical kind
 > >of practice. You illustrate such subversion, in my opinion, when you
 > >speak of "transcending" the empirical practice of simply observing which
 > >celestial and terrestrial factors regularly coincide with each other in
 > >favor of a criterion of aptness which offers no basis for predictability
 > >or testability and therefore no means of separating sense from nonsense.

I agree that a disciplined approach to empirical discovery is long-overdue in astrology. I agree that symbolism is used by astrologers instead. I agree that qualitative correlations tend not to be predictable or testable. I do not, in principle, agree that symbolism usage prevents anyone being able to separate sense & nonsense. The rest of the human race agrees with me on this point, since they keep using language to communicate.

That's all I have time for tonight. Hope to respond to the remainder eventually.



End of exegesis Digest V7 #92

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