|Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #37
Exegesis Digest Mon, 17 May 1999
Date: Fri, 14 May 1999 10:29:20 -0400
From: "Cynthia D'Errico Clostre"
Subject: The Language of Astrology
Hello Everyone, Andre wrote: "When U, so also E. Now we know that U only occurs .3% of the time, so E must also only occur .3% of the time." This sounds like an authoritative scavenging from the realm of statistics, etc., that could really be useful, though similar data analysis which went underappreciated cost Gauquelin his life. I am so attracted to this way of analysing astrological data, however, that I conveniently forget how the cannibalising of other methodologies (some scientific, some sociological) to "prove" the workability of Astrology, more often than not, manages to suppress its inherent bimodality, and--dare I say it in this venue--its experiential symbolism. Yes, I freely admit, that, in the absence of a cohering base theory, I explain to myself what I do in mythic/symbolic terms. I resort to this because there is no language for or of astrology, except those terms that have percolated through modern culture, many of which are pillaged from psychology, itself now imbued with collective symbolist theory. So, Astrology ends up displaced, at the end of the (pure) epistemological food chain, relying for self-explication on the terminology of other (acceptable) disciplines, like a mute for whom others must speak. Without its own language--and here I do not address its variegated tradition(s)--Astrology is the proverbial oak in a flowerpot; we're all trying to nurse an oak by continually feeding it flower food. Having its own language is important because the entry into language signals the entry into the social order. Without its proper language and language proper to it, Astrology remains estranged, marginalized, really on the outskirts, the syphlitic sibling that could never be king. The original language of Astrology must have been divination. But no, the original language of Astrology was Astronomy. No, wrong again: the original language was ontological storytelling, or an incipient religiosity that created a collective voice. No, that's not quite it, either. "Oh if only we had more information, we could know for sure what Astrology is". (i.e., "If only I knew more of Bill Shakespeare's bio, I'd be better able to analyse his works.") Well, that's just nostalgia, archaelogizing the roots of Astrology is fascinating, but we need to focus on the thing itself, as we have found it and the traditions which belong to it (rather than the traditions it piggybacks). First, I say, we must identify its language, razoring through the coterminously displacing lingos barnacled onto it. See ya all soon! Cynthia -- Astrology is Astronomy with God factored back in. (Unknown)
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 23:09:50 -0400
From: "Cynthia D'Errico Clostre"
Subject: A Little Bit of Everything/every thing
With all this inveighing against "fundamentalist astrologers", "erudite
advocate(s) of personal fantasies," and "incompetent astrologers", I must
speak! Granted, I too have met astrologers that I would have liked to have
slapped around a bit, but let's all just take a pill. We're not really
talking here about the common practice of astrology so much as what
underlies the discipline itself, n'est-ce pas? (Here's my thing: I don't
have a lot of time, so pardon me if my analyses jump around a lot.)
After the extremely civilised demolition derby of my self-intro (which I
enjoyed tremendously), I am compelled to point out that which, of all I have
read so far, is the most fruitful starting-point towards an understanding of
"...it hinges on the speed of light. In the diurnal cycle, Saturn has moved
on considerably by the time its light gets here....In fact, it is the
apparent position of the planets which matters, ie where they appear to be
when the light from them reaches us." (Dennis, Digest #34: sorry, I lost
all my email recently so am quoting from hard copies).
Mind you, I think apparent motion has been covered in the unquestioned
acceptance of retrogradation by practising astrologers. But Dennis' larger
argument as presented here has significant merit in that it exemplifies a
congenial equi-poise between a careful distillation of physics, its
relationship with, and definition of, speed, light, and time--real,
relative, and apparent--and, the best it has to offer to Astrology, which
itself has a covalent relationship with these conditions and their disparate
What is astonishing to me is that Dennis' semiosis (and that is not the
same as "post-modern deconstructive theory") does not collapse into
astronomy or mere nomenclature, for as he noted:
"...the nature of reality (was) being too long ignored or marginalized in
acadaemia, so it was necessary to (collate) multi-disciplinary consensus as
well...(in order) to constellate the emerging paradigm."
It centres on the conditions under which "effects' may manifest at all.
What has been troubling to me about the lack of theory underlying
astrological practice (which I believe, by the way, leads to
self-annihilation which therefore makes theorization and its valuable
concomitant, self-authentication, urgent), is that one cannot, except
artificially, distil the practice from the effect(s). It strikes me as both
regressive and derivative to examine Astrology as the Idealists studied
Sculpture, believing that a globulous mass of plaster contained within
itself the ideal image discoverable only in the act of art-making itself.
This would be my humble definition, Dennis, of the menacing "fundamentalist
astrologers" to whom you refer--and with no great show of tolerance, I might
add. But I leave my dinosaur half out of this discussion.
"...a regressive mystification...may yield nothing more than a new 'lingo',
a code doomed to repetition and extinction." (Domna C. Stanton, "Language &
D sol , but I have clearly misled you and others here about Cornelius'
view of Astrology; no one's fault but mine. So when you "certainly (must)
point out that the class of moments of time accessible for study via the
lens of the horoscope (are) those that unfold on the surface of this
planet...(a fact which) immediately separates any possible astrological
science from physics at the most fundamental level...." , it is equally
certain that you are bound by that ubiquitous oculocentrism that
dictates--what?--that if Guido Bonatus didn't have a telescope as powerful
as ours today, his Astrology was hopelessly invalid? Or that every
time-bound moment is significant only because accessible--accessible for
what, and by what means, and in what order of significance, and on which
part of the planet?
Perhaps I've misunderstood your point here, not being an adept in
physics and its presuppositions. But horary (whose roots precede
genethliacal if you trace through to the Arabs and omen-reading, I think)
stands as an anomaly to this way of thinking, does it not? Wm. Tallman
"(Cornelius') axiomatic question is why successful natal horoscope
interpretations can be given from horoscopes erected on faulty data: the
right reading from the wrong chart....An astrologer who (does this)...(may
be doing something) perfectly valid...(but) it is not astrology."
If he, the astrologer, yet works with and within the tools, traditions,
and techniques of Astrology, what else is he doing? He has made "reference
to the stars"; he has exhumed the bodies of tradition and given them chart
form, charted their form. Okay, I'm being facile now but this is to me what
is precisely problematic about my pitiable, disenfranchised Astrology: how
does one separate the practice from the effect? Is that even the right
dialectical praxis: practice and effect? Where did such a practice come
from since it has no obvious base in theory? (Oh sure, empiricism, but
isn't that where science originated?).
Perhaps my astrologer is the intersecting point of a third thing,
neither astrology nor non-astrology. I promised myself I wouldn't delve
into subject-object relations, but...I lied. And, I fear I must fall back
on metalinguistics to make this point. In metalinguistics, there is always
and ever a praxis that exists between two opposites (binaries) yet is
beyond, about and around them. There is nothing at all mystical about it,
by the way, and it has nothing to do with psychology or the psychobabble
that attends much of modern astrology.
Temporally and spatially dislocated, this marginalized presence both
precedes and follows the binaries it commands and intersects. For Julia
Kristeva, poetry is the only true historical discourse, meaning the only
true trans-temporal signifier:
"poetry is a practice of the speaking subject, consequently implying a
dialectic between limits, both signified and signifying, and the setting of
a pre- and trans-logical rhythm solely within this limit....Poetic discourse
measures rhythm against the meaning of language structure and is thus always
eluded by meaning in the present while continually postponing it to an
impossible time-to-come. Consequently, it is assuredly the most appropriate
historical discourse..." (Kristeva, Desire in Language, my translation in
Beyond the phonic invocation or the inscribing gesture (the entry into
language), she continues, is an affective force which...cannot be signified,
for it cannot break through the threshold of signification and cannot find
any sign (among the network of signifying distinctive marks ) to designate
it. (p. 75, "F minit et criture. En r ponse...sur Polylogue," my
My point is, perhaps astrology is this third thing, existing above, beyond
and beside its attributes, not mystical, not ineffable, merely
not-yet-defined within the locus of our scientia.
But perhaps my point is made more clearly by...:
the "reptilian brain" which spake thusly:
> >"It is also said that this part of the brain does not recognize process,
> >and therefore not time itself; all is in the eternal now."
> >and so, from the limbic brain:
> >"It is the ability to develop a frame of reference for potential that
> >creates the ability to invent the concept of 'that which will (might)
> >happen', or the future." (Gee, and I haven't even gotten to Andre's wonderful sociological analysis--which fascinated me, by the way!) A last word about horary. What is correct "temporally" about horary practice, which, after all, deserves a fair place in the annals of Astrology: absolutely nothing, at least by the standard of the temporal...which is exactly Cornelius' point about horary "not fitting the Ptolemaic paradigm predicated on accurate timing", and which brings me back to the privileging of the temporal and its concomitant argument of the time it takes a planet speeding along in its orbit to have an effect on pusillanimous moi. Okay, I'm outta here. I hope my tone has been taken as meant, which is to say, fun and engaging, and not at all offensive. I think Exegesis is a wonder; I love you all already, and I'm glad I found you. Warm Regards, Cynthia
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 4 Issue 37
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