Exegesis Volume 3 Issue #6

From: Frank Ernest
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #5

From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #5

From: John Reder
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #5

From: "Francis G. Kostella"
Subject: This List

Exegesis Digest Mon, 26 Jan 1998

Date: Sun, 25 Jan 1998 08:12:50 -0500
From: Frank Ernest
To: Exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #5

At 08:49 PM 1/24/98 GMT, you wrote:
 > Exegesis Digest Sat, 24 Jan 1998 Volume 3 Issue 5
 > Date: Fri, 23 Jan 1998 15:17:59 -0500 (EST)
 > From: John Reder
 > To: Exegesis
 > Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #4
 > One of the things that always surprised me, when I got into the
 > study of astrology, was not in how much astrological interpretation was
 > based on ancient studies over millennia, but in how much modern astrology
 > was trying to distance itself from it.
 > Modern astrology text center on psychological and scientific
 > evaluation of the chart, while the concepts that proved eminently useful
 > over thousands of years get tossed aside. Concepts like
 > void-of-course-moons, the via-combusta, etc. are treated almost like some
 > superstition to be ashamed of and forgotten.

[some deleted]

 > Suffice it to say, the study of modern astrology, is, in my
 > opinion, going down the wrong road when it discards the teaching of the old,
 > in favor of the new age.
 > _\|/_
 > (o o)

 > John Reder (jreder

I agree with your opinion.

Warm Regards,

Frank Ernest A Traditional Astrologer Horary and Mundane Astrology http://www.thepoint.net/~fjernest


Date: Sat, 24 Jan 1998 23:51:43 +0000
From: "William D. Tallman"
To: exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #5

 > Date: Fri, 23 Jan 1998 15:17:59 -0500 (EST)
 > From: John Reder

 > One of the things that always surprised me, when I got into the
 > study of astrology, was not in how much astrological interpretation
 > was based on ancient studies over millennia, but in how much modern
 > astrology was trying to distance itself from it.

There is very good reason for this. The history of astrology is a litany of it's struggle to find itself an acceptable niche in western culture and society. The reasons it has not done so are evident: 1) It has its own irrefutable reality, which offers the skilled practitioner insights unavailable in a dependable fashion elsewhere. This brought it into sharp confrontation with those who would dictate the nature, veracity and validity of those insights. As long as those would-be dictators controlled the practice of astrology, the practice survived unthreatened but relatively undeveloped. When they could not, the practice was severely castigated. 2) It cannot explain itself. It cannot define and describe its own basis. So it had, and still has, no defense against those would-be dictators who claim without refutation that the basic tenets of astrology are illusory and invalid. With no defense, those who would develop it stepped away, leaving it to charlatans and tricksters.

There are other reasons, but these two are primary.

Now, the possibility that astrology can align itself with a socially acceptable paradigm is apparently a prospect that cannot be refused by those who require social acceptance. It doesn't matter whether the ancient practices worked or not, they have no apparent basis in reality as we perceive it.... ie, the ancient practices have no intuitively obvious foundation. It appears that it is not truthfulness, effectiveness, or any other practical concern, but the perception of appearance, that matters.

The saddest part about this is that it's just this sort of behavior by professionals that serves to discredit astrology so thoroughly in the eyes of all who have fought with uncompromizing integrity to develop the understanding of their own disciplines. It is those people who have earned the trust of their fellows, and rightly so, I think.

 > Modern astrology text center on psychological and scientific
 > evaluation of the chart, while the concepts that proved eminently
 > useful over thousands of years get tossed aside. Concepts like
 > void-of-course-moons, the via-combusta, etc. are treated almost like
 > some superstition to be ashamed of and forgotten.

None of those concepts find a place of correspondence in the current psychological constructs, so they are ignored as irrelevant. Notice that science has nothing to do with this; there is no investigation, simply rejection. There is no scientific evaluation in astrology, and none of the current texts invite it, much less require it. You will find no comparison of modern and ancient techniques: no comparison of findings, no support or refutation using relevant evidence, nothing.

Words like 'superstition' and 'shame' have power here, not 'investigation' and 'testing', words that would demonstrate respect for astrology when used in a rigorous and unbiased manner. I have looked with some diligence on several occasions, and all that I have found, I am more than sorry to say, are shelves of books whose purpose is to make a name for the author, not to contribute to the body of astrology.

 > A perfect case in point would be the famous Lizzie Borden murder
 > case. I have seen not only articles, but entire books written on
 > the subject, with astrological analysis of the charts with all the
 > most modern techniques. The crux of all the analysis being that if
 > you could prove astrologically/psychologically that she was a bed
 > wetter the whole thing would come clear.

Are you serious? If so, this is a damning critique, demonstrating that astrology has been relegated as psychology's whore! Sorry to be coarse and blunt, but if this is in fact the sort of usage of astrology that is now acceptable, it's well past time that it be said, I think.

 > Yet if you look at the chart for the time of the murders, (Aug 4,
 > 1892, 12 noon (TZ 5+) 41N42 / 71W09), and apply the ancient and
 > ignored techniques, you immediately get struck by something that
 > puts these modern analysis in question.
 > Scorpio rules the 1st house (the murderer), and Mars is retrograde
 > on the cusp of the 4th. The 4th house rules the Borden house itself
 > and the cusp is int's front door. By ancient techniques, a planet
 > on the 4th cusp represents someone at the door and if that planet is
 > retrograde, someone holding back from entering. So at the time of
 > the murder, you have an unknown party outside the front door,
 > reluctant about entering. So, never in the case has anyone dealt
 > with an unknown party lurking outside the door, while the murders
 > were being done.

If you could uncover the possibility of such a scenario, such that a party could be identified or specified, that might provide the basis of further investigation, regardless if nothing can be developed at this late date. To show that the possibility actually has substance would be a powerful endorsement for the ancient techniques, I think.

 > You can take the same traditional techniques and apply them to
 > something like the Versace murder and see how Cunanan would end up
 > on a houseboat, in the end. But that is another story and I don't
 > want to bore anyone.

You are certainly not boring me, sir! Anything that will provide a context for insights in the task of building a theoretical base for astrology is welcome here, at least by me. I would look forward to such an exposition.

 > Suffice it to say, the study of modern astrology, is, in my
 > opinion, going down the wrong road when it discards the teaching of
 > the old, in favor of the new age.

There are many who agree with you, and not because they favor the mindset of the older deterministic astrological practices, where the principle value was to provide mundane insights alone. They agree, in part, because in discarding the old we discard all that has been of the astrological tradition and thereby declare that astrology itself has no intrinsic value. I find this unacceptable.

Mr. Reder has made an excellent opening point here. Whatever we do, we *cannot* turn our backs on all of astrology that has been able to survive in the marketplace of human evaluation. Let's see how we can make effective use thereof in determining how we can go about discovering the means to build that bridge.



Date: Sun, 25 Jan 1998 05:55:07 GMT
From: John Reder
To: Exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #5

At 08:49 PM 1/24/98 GMT, you wrote:
 > Exegesis Digest Sat, 24 Jan 1998 Volume 3 Issue 5

 > < snip >

 > I would caution that we should not expect clearly thought out and
 > fully developed ideas here. That sort of thing depends on the
 > existence of a solid foundation, upon which an elegant structure
 > might be erected. Not only do we *not* have a solid foundation here,
 > we have uncharted quick-sand, I think. I suggest we are best served
 > by expecting a messy and highly inefficient process, lest we exclude
 > the opportunity for that process to generate the ingredients for the
 > foundation we seek.

We not only should expect it, we should demand it. If a list like this, which has the basic purpose of sharing information, to make us all more enlightened thinkers, isn't the place to strive to do you best in presenting your ideas, where is the place? The internet should have been a place to strive to approach excellence, however it barely demands mediocrity. It is the domain of the semi-literate and muddled thinker. Rather than used to express ideas it is a place to vent emotions. If you are into anything like astrology, you should be in it for th purpose of self improvement and expansion of your horizons. To become a better thinker and expresser of those thoughts. Granted, not everyone can be a great writer, but that should not deter them from the goal of doing the best they can. So, asking for someone to consider their postion and prsent it as concisely as possible, rather than just bventing their spleen in a diatribe, should be nothing more than helping the writer reach for a goal beyond mediocrity.

_\|/_ (o o)

John Reder (jreder


Date: Sun, 25 Jan 1998 22:17:27 +0000
From: "Francis G. Kostella"
To: exegesis
Subject: This List

In Volume 3 Issue 2, Debbie G wrote:
 > May I ask? What is the premise or
 > theme of this list?

And, in Volume 3 Issue 4, Geo wrote:
 > I'm not sure what the content of this
 > list is about. Forgive my Indolence
 > (see below) in pursuing the faq
 > somewhere, but if someone could post
 > what this list is about, I'll be in a
 > much better position to post something.

Ah, forgive me for not creating a FAQ, but there really are no Frequently Asked Questions here, except possibly to ask what is the purpose of the list. ;-) Ahem! Sorry, you can visit the Exegesis web site at


where you will find most of the past articles archived along with a few odds and ends. (I've yet to put a few of last October's issues up as I've yet to find time to recover the files from a hard drive failure I had here in November, and to reinstall my web editing software. I should take care of that in a few days.)

The story is that a few years ago I was involved in a number of intense email conversations with astrologers that I felt were much too good not to share. These conversations were decidedly NOT about NewAge(tm) astrology, but about the collision between the modern era and the ancient philosophies surrounding astrology, about the history of science and the fall of astrology, about the beautiful culture of astrology and lack of respect for astrologers. Well, maybe I'm being dramatic... or romantic, I can't decide. Nonetheless, there was no room on Usenet for these discussions and no other mailing list with this focus, so I decided to start a list and hope that we could keep up a "meta-conversation" about astrology.

Here's a bit from the charter for the group:

| Subject: theory, history, philosophy | and culture of astrology. | Limits: No personal attacks or evangelism.

In short, this list is supposed to focus on topics and areas other lists do not cover, and likewise, leave topics that other lists focus upon for the other lists. Thus we are not about how to handle difficult clients or teaching beginners or "astro-chat" as there are plenty of places for those things. We are about asking why there are a variety of house systems or why there has been such a thrust towards traditional astrology over the past few years or why astrology doesn't seem to have the gender imbalances that many other fields seem to have. Just for example.

My hopes are that people will not only feel comfortable asking "hard" (I don't mean abstruse) questions, but will feel willing to defend their ideas and challenge those ideas that merit scrutiny. The quality of this list is based upon the efforts of the participants, the more that people are willing to push their egos aside and talk honestly about their concerns, the better. (It sounds like I'm advocating some 12-step program...there's a joke in there somewhere...) I've since found that most people are not willing to share, in public, the intensity and variety of opinions and ideas they present in private email. (Sigh)

In Volume 3 Issue 2, John Reder wrote:
 > As a combined digest list,
 > rather than each having each
 > response mailed out separately
 > it gets very difficult to wade
 > through exactly what each
 > individual wants to read and
 > respond to. The reader has to
 > scroll through the list and decide
 > which postings they want to
 > read and respond to, which can
 > get very time consuming and
 > frustrating.

I'm sympathetic to a point, but not convinced. Given the ability of technology to amplify our abilities it does not follow that those abilities SHOULD be amplified or that our amplified sensory responses are not distorted. I drive my son to a day-care and often find myself frustrated by the road conditions (not to mention other drivers). But before my son was born I walked everywhere and never drove. To walk to the day-care center it would take me at least 90 minutes, but the drive there takes less than 10 minutes. My point? Grousing over 30 seconds lost while driving or the difficulty of holding down a keycap for scrolling through a document is a problem of habits taught to us by "improved" technology.

I know that the digest format places a certain burden on participants, but I believe this is a good thing. I do not think that the ability to quickly respond to a posting means that the quality of writing will improve, in fact, I believe that the exact opposite occurs. As much as I desire that the list be a place for ongoing thoughtful conversation, I place more emphasis on "thoughtful" and less on "ongoing".

 > What kills off the "flareups", as I
 > have noticed, is the second problem.
 > There is always some one that posts
 > what amounts to a 10,000 word essay,
 > that may or may not be any more than
 > a diatribe.

A few points in response: First, a diatribe can be 300 words as well as 10,000. Second, a diatribe might be informative and useful (when one doesn't get emotionally attached to it). Third, "flareups" and "dieoffs" may be natural parts of the cycle of discussion. Finally, the inability of participants to have a topic or conversation survive beyond the posting of a diatribe, a long essay, or an extended and verbose conversation is not necessarily a condemnation of the "offending" postings. It may simply mean that those who stop posting to the thread prefer to only listen or are perhaps not willing to make an extra effort to post themselves. A large posting does not "crush" other postings by itself, that requires sloth on all our parts.

A lot of people put a lot of effort into trying to mainstream astrology, or prove that their variety is superior, but I've been recently wondering if that approach is completely incorrect. Perhaps what astrology needs is to celebrate why it is NOT mainstream. Maybe we should celebrate the diversity and subjective value of each unique "school" of astrology. Perhaps this is a good thing for astrology, what do people think about that idea?

In Volume 3 Issue 3, William D. Tallman wrote:
 > But the reason it is so is not entirely
 > the lack of sufficient context upon
 > which to build, though that is the
 > primary reason, I think; it is the sheer
 > magnitude of the task itself. The
 > creation of a science to support
 > astrology, and that is what the subject
 > of this list is about, it seems to me,
 > may well be beyond the interests,
 > much less the capabilities, of many of us.

Exactly, we must begin somewhere, and I believe that this list, and other similar efforts at having astrologers scrutinize the field are, if not a beginning, then at least the soil upon which such an effort can be built.

My one issue with your writing above is the use of the phrase, "creation of a science to support astrology", which I believe puts the cart before the horse. We have no reason to believe that we will be able to create a real science out of, or surrounding, that which is so clearly not scientific. I suppose my concern is more that the word "science" is such a loaded word that it easily causes misinterpretations of meanings where other terminology might not do the same. Astrology used to be a science, but the requirements for being a science have changed. Instead of constantly raising the confusing issue of what is "real science" in order to attach astrology to the form we desire, I propose that we adopt neutral language and focus on the issues at hand.

 > The rules here call only for a clear
 > presentation of ideas, such that
 > they can be recognized and tested,
 > and that they have some basis in
 > an accepted and generally well-
 > understood foundation of data,
 > information and knowledge.

That's very reasonable, but I think it is hard to avoid the fact that astrology tends towards violating a number of "accepted and generally well-understood" concepts of the mainstream intellectual currents. Given that, I believe that we must give a bit more leeway than would be tolerated in a strictly academic setting. Further, since this is not a professional organization I think that we should allow participants who think on their feet the luxury of developing ideas as the conversation progresses. The rule I *try* to apply to myself is to not say aloud what I will not defend or at least admit may be wrong.

In Volume 3 Issue 4, John Reder wrote:
 > On the point of length, because
 > of the topic, I don't subscribe to
 > the idea that the longer you make
 > your point the better. The best
 > books on any subject are often
 > the shortest.

And I don't subscribe to the idea that the shorter you make a point the better. And most teachers frown on the concept of grading essays by tossing them down a flight of stairs, under the theory that good ideas weigh no more nor less than bad ideas. The suggested method is to read the entire essay itself, THEN draw a conclusion about its merits. I've met more than one person who has a lot of interesting things to say, but cannot avoid prefacing their writing with a lot of tedious verbiage.

 > A lengthy prose is often the sign
 > of a position not clear in the
 > author's mind. Anyone who has
 > read Stephen Hawking's "A Brief
 > History of Time", knows how much
 > a writer with a well thought out
 > point can squeeze into a short
 > narrative.

So "clear in the author's mind" that a publisher brought out a companion volume to the book to explain what the author was trying to say? I am amazed that you'd hold THAT book up as an example of good writing in that it was the worst kind of writing: writing that has NOTHING to say. Does anyone remember the point of that book? All I can claim to have learned is some silly stuff about Hawking looking at the universe "with the eyes of God" and how his publisher told him that each equation included in the book would half his readership, but how he stuck one in anyway! Such devilish fun! Oh those scientists ... such wags as they are!

One need only pick another book from the same genre as comparison, I prefer Einstein's "The Evolution of Physics" written in the early 1930s, to see some truly excellent writing about a difficult topic. The book is neither small nor condescending and Einstein expects you to pay attention. In return he teaches you about why physics became what it was, and how the (then) latest theories fit into the scheme. And he does it in a very even-handed, clear and respectful manner. Sixty or so years later, and this is still not only a much better read than Hawking's book, but will actually teach you something about physics.

 > If he can get the whole point
 > of quantum mechanics across
 > in a manner understandable to
 > the layman in that short a
 > book, it proves the point.

But since he doesn't get "the whole point of quantum mechanics across" at all, does that disprove your point? What I am saying is that brevity is only a STYLE POINT and has nothing to do with the essential content. Advertising is especially brief, but lacks substance. Joyce's "Ulysses" is dense and daunting and very long, but is considered one of the great works of literature of the English language. Measuring writing off with a ruler simply tells us how many words there are, not how useful or informative the content will be, nor how long it will endure. Learning is not about "sound byte" writing. Complex ideas require complex treatment. Undecided issues require a lot of discussion and attention. Sometimes we have no choice but to plod through a lot of bath water in order to see the baby.

Now, speaking as moderator: I'm not going to change the digest format as my goal is not faster communication nor is my goal simply more communication. I'm not convinced there is a severe problem with the length of articles nor that this stops readers from posting. I do not count the fact that it requires more effort to participate in this list as a negative point. (It is not as if it were *truly* difficult to post to the list, compared to writing something of worth, scrolling and editing and sending a message to the list server is child's play.) I believe that the writing that has passed through this list, even though irregular and occasionally bizarre, compares favorably with ANY astrology available on the internet. I am not unwilling to change but I have yet to see a good reason to do so, and I do not see that the problems put forth merit the suggested changes. It has taken me some time to accept that this list has a character all its own and that I have a very limited impact on it. None of us can force others to be brilliant, but we can each try our own best, and that, I think, is where we can improve the conversation here.

I am always more than willing that we discuss the hows and whys of this list and encourage all readers to make their views known by posting to the list. Those who would rather not post their words in public or who desire privacy can always write to me directly at fgk (Incidentally, the web archives have had all email addresses removed to avoid having robots collect them for junk emailing.)



End of Exegesis Digest Volume 3 Issue 6

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