Exegesis Volume 07 Issue #106

In This Issue:

From: Dale Huckeby
Subject: [e] Symbolism

Exegesis Digest Sat, 07 Dec 2002

Date: Sat, 7 Dec 2002 01:50:35 -0600 (CST)
From: Dale Huckeby
Subject: [e] Symbolism

On 14 Nov 2002 Dennis wrote: that I wrote:
 > >>But how do you identify "significant correlations" in the first place?

 > >You intuit that some kind of occult meaning connects them. Reason has got
 > >absolutely nothing to do with it, which is no doubt why you don't believe
 > >in it. You're probably a reasonable man who prefers to see the world
 > >reflecting your reasonable nature. Does that seem reasonable?

Yes, I think I'm reasonable, but your argument style, when you appear to have no argument, is simply to claim or imply your approach is valid without bothering to justify it. Like you say, reason has nothing to do with it. Naturally, you think your approach is valid anyway, naturally I think this kind of argument strategy is a dodge and a copout.

 > >>I was going to say symbolic aptness, but on second thought I suspect
 > >>it's aspect exactitude clinched by symbolic aptness. It's a guaranteed
 > >>clincher, though, given the malleability of symbolistic word usage and
 > >>the fact that you get to choose the wording for both the symbols and the
 > >>event description. Even the exactness is guaranteed, in a sense, in
 > >>that there are lots of events out there, with chance alone guaranteeing
 > >>that at least a few (or more, if you use enough factors) will coincide
 > >>with a satisfyingly exact aspect. Those, of course, are the ones you'll
 > >>notice and cite as examples.
 > >
 > >I'm not that sloppy, but you are partly right. I notice correlations & cite
 > >them as examples, some of which are according to my expectations, others
 > >not. A physical scientist correlates observations with pre-determined
 > >selection criteria & cites them as examples in the same way. Been there,
 > >done that.

You seem to think you've gone beyond science, but you make no effort to demonstrate it. Do you truly understand the science that you think you are supplanting? Is there any reason I should accept no reasons as an argument?

 > >>I appreciate that you think seeking reliable correlations is worthy,
 > >>but am puzzled that you think something other than observable reliability
 > >>is required to determine what's relevant. I think if your reasoning
 > >>had been less influenced by the traditional paradigm you'd be more likely
 > >>to recognize that reliability is the bottom line as to whether or not a
 > >>correlation can be trusted. Assimilation of the existing paradigm has BY
 > >>EXAMPLE shown astrologers what counts as "valuable stuff".
 > >
 > >First, I agree that reliable correlations are preferable, according to
 > >residual value-driven expectations produced by my scientific education. Too
 > >bad that astrological correlations do not conform. Rather than deny their
 > >validity (in adhering to the old belief system) as you do, I try to assess
 > >what does actually happen instead. In other words, I apply the empirical
 > >discovery approach to the subject. I have a (naive?) faith that I may learn
 > >something new therefrom. As I seem to recall mentioning previously in
 > >Exegesis, this stance of mine is a `controlled folly' a la Castenada.

"Residual value-driven expectations" makes clear how opposed you are to science and logic. Yes, it is too bad astrological correlations aren't scientific. They'd be better if they were. But it's a reach to oppose empiricism and then describe yourself as empirically assessing "what does actually happen". You made the same claim in your assessment of your interpretation of the Exegesis chart, in [6:7]:

 > >I test my personal understanding of astrological theory via application
 > >to case study situations and appraisal of the extent of match between
 > >theoretical prediction and reality. I call this the empirical approach
 > >to learning how astrology works. The Exegesis launch reading is a
 > >typical example.

That launch reading, in [6:2], was a demonstration of how you believe astrology works, not an attempt to find out how it works. You had advance knowledge of the entity whose chart you were interpreting, having been a frequent contributor in the year or two prior to your interpretation. Knowing or at least having an informed opinion of the nature of Exegesis, and knowing what configurations were present at its launching, you simply described both Exegesis and the symbolism in such a way as to make them fit together. That process you referred to, and discounted, as "personal artistry" [6:7]:

 > >Disregarding the element of personal artistry that weaves interpretation
 > >into a literary composition, I'd like to point out that the result was
 > >produced by use of the language of astrology (in a Rudhyarian sense).

That element, which you suggest comes after the interpretion, is in my opinion practically the whole of it. Commenting on your interpretation in the same digest [6:2] in which you proffered it, you claim:

 > >I try to do any case study interpretation purely as an exercise of
 > >applied theory. Any correspondence between real life and what theory
 > >suggests is better assessed after completion. This is an internal
 > >discipline resulting from having been trained as a scientist. I'm well
 > >aware that most astrologers force their interpretation to conform to
 > >their prior knowledge, or expectation, of the subject of the case study.
 > >That said, my rigour does sometimes lapse sufficiently to allow me to
 > >note, during the interpretation, a correlation between the theoretical
 > >feature predicted and what has actually happened.

As if you were unaware of the nature of Exegesis, to which you had been regularly contributing, until after you finished your analysis. If you truly believe that, I have a bridge you might be interested in. The fact is, the lapse you refer to is not occasional but the norm, for you and all other symbolist astrologers. Getting the right answer when you know in advance what the right answer is, isn't what I mean by empiricism, nor is it a meaningful test of your interpretive principles. Now, back to the present:

 > >>>I agree that a disciplined aproach 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.
 > >>
 > >>Not always. For instance, I specifically identified symbolism as a
 > >>special KIND of symbol usage - ie. not language per se - and you appeared
 > >>to agree but then argued that because people use language to communicate
 > >
 > >Okay, I have just checked 7/91 and I see you did indeed, but without
 > >explaining why you think the behaviour of astrologers is special. If you
 > >think you have actually done that previously, obviously I still don't get
 > >it.

Yes, I have done it previously, but I'm willing to repeat myself. Here I'm quoting from a letter I wrote you almost exactly one Jupiter cycle ago.

"A typical example of the way traditionalists use language is found in Noel Tyl's _The Horoscope as Identity_, in which Tyl delineates the chart - with Saturn opposite Neptune from the eleventh to the fifth house - of a man who commented that his sex life had tapered off normally during his mid-thirties. Taking the opening line from Grant Lewi's _Heaven Knows What_ description of Saturn square or opposite Neptune - "Ambition has a way of going to sleep on you" - and noting the fifth house connection with sex, Tyl exclaims excitedly, "Ambition _throughout the sex spectrum_ had fallen asleep [Tyl's emphasis]!" And with that clever play on words career ambition, which was what Lewi had in mind, becomes sex drive. . . .

"A second example of traditional usage comes from a Dane Rudhyar criticism of the Equal House system, as quoted by Alexander Ruperti in the October 1977 edition of [The Mercury Hour]: "An ambiguous situation exists in such a system, because the meridian is no longer a line of reference. Consciousness is thus deprived of its 'verticality' - which means, of a basic spiritual and social dimension." Word games such as this are what I mean when I refer to "astrological symbolism"."

In the preceding examples Tyl uses "ambition" metaphorically, Rudhyar does the same with "verticality". Tyl should have collected a set of people with Saturn conjunct Neptune, Rudhyar should have collected and systematically compared people with planets conjunct the MC. If he had OBSERVED that their spirituality differed depending which planet was on the MC, that would be evidence that the MC is in some way involved with spirituality. But coming to that conclusion by playing with words is backwards thinking. By taking the _word_ as the common denominator, _no matter how it's used_, rather than the effect, the astrologer can by a train of verbal associations cause _any_ word to ultimately refer to _any_ event." That's symbolism's attraction. It means we can always be "right". That's also why it's fallacious, because it doesn't differentiate between the right chart and event and wrong ones.

 > >>that shows symbol-ISM doesn't prevent us from being able to separate sense
 > >>from nonsense. So 1) the fact that people use language to communicate
 > >>doesn't mean they always clearly understand each other. Politicians and
 > >>bureaucrats, for instance, quite often use language to NOT communicate.
 > >>And 2) specialized fields of study use specialized forms of communication,
 > >>(of which symbolism is arguably the traditional astrological equivalent)
 > >>which make misunderstanding less easy to the degree that the field itself
 > >>is rigorous. However, symbolism muddies rather rather than clarifies,
 > >>offers loopholes instead of pinning us down to unambiguous meanings. It's
 > >>looser and more malleable even than nonspecialized conversation.
 > >
 > >I agree that symbolism is often misinterpreted due to its inherently large
 > >subjective component. I can't see that astrologers are any different from
 > >other humans in this respect however.

Humans using language aren't usually using it to make claims about the natural world. Philosophers do, but are less concerned than scientists with observation and evidence. They are very concerned, however, with how they use words, even willing to go to great lengths to spell out what they mean when they use a particular word or phrase, while astrologers and occultists in general are systematically careless. Using wordplay rather than observational evidence to make a claim about the general nature of reality is characteristic of symbolism.

 > >>Yes, I am blaming the tool itself. Where you see rampant incompetence
 > >>I see a SYSTEM which lacks falsifiability, the ability to differentiate
 > >>between right answers and wrong ones, because in this system all answers
 > >
 > >Yes, the falsifiability point is one I've long recognised. Are you aware
 > >that the theory of evolution "lacks falsifiability"?

Not so. It explains certain facts. If those facts were different the theory would be impugned.

 > >>are "right". This system rewards and encourages sloppy thinking, even
 > >>in otherwise rigorous thinkers. Thus you fail to see, when you say
 > >>
 > >>>. . . the fact that I have discovered more than one major event with
 > >>>this exact configuration makes the correlation repetitive and accessible
 > >>>to empirical discovery . . .
 > >>
 > >>that given enough events SOME are going to coincide with any given exact
 > >>aspect by chance alone, and those are, again, the ones that will be picked
 > >>out and cited as examples. The fact that SOME events will coincide with
 > >>Uranus/MC, even EXACT Uranus/MC, is not repetitiveness in any useful sense.
 > >>It doesn't tell us which few of the multitude of Uranus/MC conjunctions
 > >>will happen to coincide with something important. When things coincide by
 > >>chance alone we never know WHEN they are going to coincide, and that's
 > >>why we legitimately say it's "just a coincidence" to counter some people's
 > >>feeling that because they SEEM to fit together so well it must be more
 > >>than that.
 > >
 > >Denial of the evidence is an old trick of scientists. Rather than lose
 > >their security blanket, they knee-jerk straight into denial. However, I'm
 > >happy to concede that some world-changing events do not have Uranus exact on
 > >the MC. I suspect that no dramatic sudden shift in power relations applied
 > >in those cases (WTC attack, for instance).

Denial of the evidence is no trick if you make an effort, as I have, to explain what's wrong with the evidence, why it fails to make the case, why it doesn't constitute evidence after all. Changing the subject - "Denial of evidence is an old trick . . ." - rather than showing what's wrong with my argument is where the trick comes in.

 > >[Dale to Patrice]
 > >>my references to the traditional paradigm are an attempt to explain why
 > >>most astrologers don't see it the way we do. I can't simply attribute
 > >>it to laziness, because I know of symbolistic astrologers who are neither
 > >>lazy nor unintelligent. That's why I bring in paradigms, because they
 > >>explain that the examples we initially learn from, when we learn a field
 > >>of knowledge, shape our thought processes in ways we're not aware of
 > >>and which are extremely difficult to dislodge. And that says something
 > >>about how we must go about converting people to a more empirical way
 > >>of approaching astrology. (If symbolism was ONLY a matter of laziness,
 > >>Dennis wouldn't be a symbolistic astrologer.)
 > >
 > >Heh. Think it was Geoffrey Dean who wrote "There are lies, damn lies, and
 > >symbols." Not sure what his problem was though. Symbols are not the
 > >problem. Their misuse is. I don't consider myself a symbolistic
 > >astrologer, because for me the symbol merely represents the archetype. The
 > >symbol can evoke, or seem to trigger the activation of, the archetype in
 > >the psyche, but so what? Merely a catalyst.

Yes, the problem is the misuse of symbols, and symbolistic astrology is a particular kind of misuse. However, I define it not in terms of what the symbols represent but how they're used, and you use them the way Rudhyar did, the way Tyl does, the way practically everybody does. For you words and images stand for something, archetypes, rather than being the pragmatic means of communicating repetitive functional relationships that you have observed.



End of exegesis Digest V7 #106

[Exegesis Top][Table of Contents][Prior Issue][Next Issue]

Unless otherwise indicated, articles and submissions above are copyright © 1996-2003 their respective authors.