|Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #24
Exegesis Digest Wed, 12 Apr 2000
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2000 17:24:28 -0700
From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Time 4
In the third of this series, I suggested that two attributes, the purpose of process and the qualitative description of time, are not of primary concern. We may regard them as variables relevant to a Process of Interest, and not to Process itself as an archetype. This means that we have to identify these variables in each case.
I suggested that, for any given process, we must first discern what we seek to know, to understand. The short version of this is: anything we discover depends on the context of the search, and that means the answers we get depend entirely on the questions asked. It is the question that provides the essential structure around which a satisfactory answer is developed, and no understanding can arise unless we identify what we would know. In general, as the question crystallizes, the answer begins to appear; it is the questions we ask that make it possible to recognize those answers as they emerge.
I closed the last post by declaring some rather common astrological practices invalid and worthy of being discontinued. I could conceivably extend that judgment to the entire modern practice of astrology, with some controversial exceptions, but it's more useful here to point out why these views have merit. The fact is that the astrological construct is now, and has likely always been, viewed as a powerful Primary Process, such that it will reveal to the astrologer some amount of otherwise inaccessible insight into reality *independent of any focus of interest* on the part of said astrologer.
I would suggest that the practice of astrology is valid only to the extent that a focus of inquiry exists, such that it might be formulated as a question. The corollary is that no astrological practice that is *not* based on such a focus has inherent validity. Thus, the criteria of any valid astrological practice, and so any theoretical base we might develop, is that it is utilized in response to an established focus of inquiry.
Does this mean that the development of such a focus must needs be in any way formal? The answer is probably no, but to the extent that focus is diffuse rather than sharply described, the result will be less useful than it might otherwise be. The use of a formal protocol in developing questions doesn't mean a lot of ponderous philosophical or mathematical (logical) manipulation, it means that a few effective criteria be observed to determine the efficacy of the question (focus of interest). The truth of the matter is, I would guess, is that said protocol is the same sort of applied wisdom that we acquire as we grow older and richer in experience: we figure out what gets results, usually by trial and error, and as we learn why, we gain the tools to ask our questions more effectively.
The point is that the astrologer needs to be aware of this requirement as a matter of professional competency; in practice, that means the recognition and acceptance of the tenet that no answer exists outside the context of a question. This means that the practice of astounding the client with all sorts of dazzling insights without establishing a focus of common inquiry with the client is not sound astrological technique. The astrologer may or may not get some number of "hits", but they are based on previously developed *general* areas of inquiry, which may or may not have any relevance to the client at hand.
In the use of the I Ching, the effective supplicant is said to have the quality of Ling, which is traditionally understood to indicate an ability to meaningfully manipulate the yarrow stalks and derive useful insight therefrom. In some large part, or so I have come to believe, Ling is the result of the ability to know what question to ask and when to ask it. The common modern form of I Ching usage requires the formulation of a concise question, such that the canonical literature may be usefully interpreted. Meditation practices involving the I Ching are traditionally, and so remain, based on well formulated matters of interest, such that the literature is contemplated within an established context. In all cases, the question already exists, even if only in a very primitive form.
I think this is fundamentally true of any divinatory system, of which astrology is probably the most widely used and best known form. [I'll argue the idea of divinatory systems at another time.]
To proceed, we may now ask how we recognize the existence of a question, and how we go about discovering what it is? There is a general case answer to this that is not far removed from the specific case we consider here: the matter of astrology. The recognition of the existence of a question almost always involves something that has been previously experienced but not currently understood; without previous experience we will not recognize the question and if current understanding were adequate, there would be no question. This may sound deceptively trivial, but it is not.
The presence of previous experience implies some sort of repetition, which in turns implies cyclicity. In fact, most often there is a series of repetitions, such that our attention is focused. We can suspect that our attention was already attuned to the Process of Interest (POI), such that it was able to recognize the potential state of understanding thereof. Thus, the recognition of the presence of a question is initiated by an already established awareness of its potential existence: question don't arise out of thin air, they emerge from some already established involvement.
The lack of current understanding implies that it was not previously well enough understood, or that something new is involved. Most often, both of these are true. We can easily recognize the experience of meeting and experiencing something identifiable, but that presents itself differently in some regard each time. [Think: "There it is again! What *is* that?!"]
On inspection, we discover that there are some indeterminate attributes or aspects, such that cannot be traced positively to a constant source and cannot be predicted or somehow derived. We can quickly get to the point of suspecting that there is no dependable formula by which we can address this, that we are recognizing the recurrent ghost of something lacking adequate understanding, but in a different guise never before seen. We wonder if there are indeed any tools we can use to address this. The fact is, I think, in the absence of any recognized and ready at hand, we simply accept the idea of necessary confusion, and lay the whole business to rest.
What we know is that we've seen something in this POI that we recognize, and what is apparent is that it is cloaked in a new presented experience. We can deduce that there is some cyclicity here, but that there appear to be linear attributes as well. To the extent that we recognize the successive appearance of this (cyclical) aspect of the POI, we can discern that there must be some inner process at work here, the extent of which we do not comprehend, and it is this inner process which manifests itself as being linear.
It's convenient here to postulate another descriptive aspect of the temporal dimension, and we can conceive this as cyclicity in motion, which describes a helix. So time is not linear, and it is not cyclic: it is at least helical. The apparent linear factor is revealed by the moving center of the cycle, such that the cycle never exactly repeats itself; any arbitrary point, such as one would use to identify the start of a cycle, moves right along with the center, and so is never in the same place at the end of the cycle that it was at the beginning.
I say that time is *at least* helical, because the motion of the center itself is likely to be part of a larger cycle, and so the full description of the motion of time from this view is probably not possible, given the analytical tools presently available.
[Modern physics seems to suggest that this may in fact be true. Current string theory postulates a double handful of dimensions, all but one of which are conceived to be spacial, with time as an additional dimension. Given that symmetry is now deemed to be one of the most useful assumptions (SuperStrings are super-symmetrical strings....) it would seem conceivable that there may also be more than one temporal dimension as well, such that would complement the spacial dimensions.]
In any case, we can see that there almost certainly is no tractable model that will dependably portray the larger archetypal temporal construct. What we are left with is the phenomena of emergence, and this is familiar to us in the guise of the Explicate emerging from the Implicate, or one of an infinite number and variety of views emerging from the Holoverse. So we must accept that, if an intrinsic Primary Process does exist, we cannot perceive it dependably and so cannot use it. This leaves us to devise our own process archetype, and it must be one that is context independent.
Thus, when we are presented with a POI, we must realize that only we can stipulate the boundaries, for they are not inherent. They arise out of the recognition of what we seek to understand and are defined by the question we develop. The POI can never be assumed to have an absolute definition of limits, from which we can presume intrinsic boundaries. These are the variables that we supply, and for which we are responsible. We posit the initiation and termination of the POI, and we must realize that we do so strictly in accord with the question we've brought to it. If we alter or modify the question, we can expect that the appropriate terminals of the POI will change, and almost certainly, change the POI itself.
This raises an interesting suggestion: no POI exists unless it is the result of a question. Process itself may thus exist only when it is observed, which leads to the question of the tree falling in the forest when no one is there to hear its crash. The answer, of course, is that our definition of things exists solely for our own convenience, but I digress. The point itself, however, is relevant. It is incumbent on the bearer of the question to supply the relevant tools of investigation. These tools are those that serve to reveal the fundamental aspects of process itself.
I have already suggested that any given process has a beginning and an end, between which change is effected. For purposes of convenience, we begin by assuming a motionless center, such that the cycle is functionally a circle, and we can choose any point in that circle to denote the beginning and ending of the POI. It is reasonable to begin thus because we are concerned with those aspects of the POI that appear repetitive; at a later point, the motion of the center is taken into account, and we can contemplate those aspects that are not repetitive.
When we address a delineated process, we discard the context in which it exists and so have to re-establish our orientation entirely within the process itself. We do so by recognizing aspects of the internal structural landscape of the POI. We identify discernible parts thereof, perhaps as subprocesses of some sort. But to regard them as such suggests that each of these require dissecting, such as we are doing to the POI itself. A more useful approach is to view them as mechanisms, and we can regard them as functions, or complexes of activity that perform a characteristic action on (some aspect of) the substance, here, presumably the local environment, in predictable manner.
As we do this, we begin to recognize differences in those functions, such that they are connected in some number of ways. For our purposes here, we are interested in those ways that are basically serial in nature, because those will illuminate the temporal metric of the POI. Connections of other types, such as parallel or concurrent, or of some common nature, may indeed represent a dimensional metric, but do not represent the attribute of sequentiality that is characteristic of time, at least as we experience it.
Incidentally, we are not assuming that these serial connections are necessarily cause and effect; in fact we are making no assumption in that regard at all. The ordering may well be that of prior necessity, where one is a preparation for what follows. In any case, in doing this, we are establishing the specific metric of the POI.
Now we come to the real essence of this matter, and that is the question of how to archetypally describe these serially connected functions. We ask how we can devise a basic description of these connected functions, and the answer is simple: we can number them. Ordinarily, numbering is a simple ordering of sequence, but in archetypal applications, it may be one of the few available; indeed, it may be the only applicable descriptor at that level.
There are a few problems to be addressed here: how does one determine whether the observed sequence is a valid description? At issue is whether the sequence is that of peer mechanisms, such that they are all on the same level of weight within the POI. We have already noted that there may be several levels of mechanism observable, such that one level may be a subset of another. Sequences that cross the boundaries of set level may be valid in some way, but may not be valid as a temporal metric.
A set of connected mechanisms may have more than one type of connection; of interest here are those who have sequential connection, but that have other types as well. As we have already postulated the POI as the context, it is necessary to determine which of these types is more effective therein. It may be that a set of mechanisms may serve as metric for more than one dimension, such that it is not appropriate as a primary metric for any dimension. The fact may well be that there is no means of making these determinations until analysis is more complete, and if so, series sequentiality as observed may set a measure, but not a metric itself.
So we are left with the possibility that number itself may be the only useful metric for identifying the temporal dimension of the POI. Thus, we conclude that we must seek some meaningful sense in the properties of numbers.
Obviously, the path I've described in this series of posts is one that is well trodden, and seems intuitively valid, but we cannot assume that it is well understood; this is why I have tried to build a fully connected description of the issue, lest some assumption necessary to that description remain itself undescribed and therefore untestable. Where we've gotten to is the realm of Number as archetype, as put forth by others on this list < we're catching up to Dennis here... > .
The application here is a number count of a meaningful sequence of functions comprising a process, here, the POI. And so we contemplate the significance of these number counts, such that we consider the meaning of a number count of one. We will make this a proper noun: thus, One.
Obviously, the significance of One is that of the POI itself, counted as a single function. This is the view of the POI as an irreducible entity, a "black box", that can only have significance within the context in which the POI exists. This is what is meant by Wholeness, Unity, etc., etc.. It does not speak to the temporal dimension of the POI, although it posits the POI as part of the metric or measure of the process of which it is a part. To the extent that this larger metric is a part of the temporal definition of the POI, it is a necessary part of the description of the POI itself, but the larger metric is a variable and not a concern of the archetypal metric of process itself. From the modular of the POI, where it is the relevant primary level of observation, the metric of the larger context is descriptive of the center of the helix; here, we are interested only in the cycle itself.
It's probably appropriate to consider the properties of number from the mathematical point of view. The numbers we are using here are called counting numbers, for obvious reasons... < grin > . They are a part of the domain of Real numbers, which includes both rational and irrational numbers. Counting numbers are also called absolute (unsigned) integers: they do not imply a quantitative relationship to zero, and they are all reducible to the rational number of itself divided by one (1).
The reason this is relevant is because we may discover that other numbers have dimensional significance. We may discover that integers (signed counting numbers), and irrational numbers may also have some dimensional significance; indeed, we may discover that imaginary numbers do as well. It is not my intent to explore these issues here; they are far beyond my competency. But these possibilities have enough evidence to support them as such: all spacial dimensions are not counting numbers; fractals are objects that have rational but non-integer spacial dimensions, hence, (fract)ion(al) dimensionality. And the issue gets worse as one contemplates quantum reality......
Incidentally, we are not declaring that each of these counting numbers indicates the number of temporal dimensions, as they do in spacial dimensions. The counting numbers (Number) are the primary metric of the (presumably single) dimension of time itself. Note, however, that there is no declaration here that there is no connection between Number as a temporal metric and the number of temporal dimensions that might exist; if such a connection does exist, I do not know of it, though the possibility itself may (or may not) be valid.
So we are confined here to counting numbers as having archetypal dimensional significance, and the investigation of these is what the business of Numbers is all about. In so doing, we will seek to develop a set of tools to investigate the nature of process as it expresses itself in the temporal dimension such that the use of these tools provides some insight into the nature of the POI in its own right, an exposition of (some of) its intrinsic nature or essence, and the possibility of understanding the POI on its own terms as it reveals itself to us. The effective stratagem here is to supply an adequately large categorical container within which the POI may reveal itself, and we do that by limiting our specifications of what that container shall accept to the most basic sorts possible.
In a manner of speaking, what we are doing here is providing a filing system into which the POI might distribute itself appropriately. This system will have levels of overview, which can be seen as hierarchical to some extent, and it will have reference systems that will allow successful linkage between various types of functional connectivity, establishing other kinds of overview. All in all, the idea is to develop a structure within which the POI can reveal itself to the extent we desire, and in such a way as we can understand for our own purposes what we see there. In any case, the most important thing is to allow the POI itself to command that sort.
Further, we can hope to discover a fundamental attribute of process itself, already discussed here: purpose. We would like the POI to disclose to us what it is doing, how it is doing it, and what it hopes to accomplish, answering the question 'why'.
In the next post, we will discuss the significance and usage of these numbers. In doing so, we will show how these can be used to discern temporal segments as the POI manifests them. This will allow us to identify the appropriate criteria for choosing specific temporal metrics and measures. We will discover some of the basis for the thinking of Rudhyar and others who focused on the development of the temporal aspect of astrological theory. As they arise, we will identify fundamental principles and suggest how they can be expressed in the theoretical basis of astrology.
Date: Wed, 05 Apr 2000 04:35:49 +1200
From: Andre Donnell
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V5 #19
Hi Bill Sheeran
I'm not trying to pick on you in particular; it is merely that I have found your post in the course of catching up some reading, and yours is easier to respond to than Bill Tallman's (sorry Bill old friend - I'll need to read Time 1-3 a couple more times yet - that seems apt).
It seems to me we are in a semantic minefield here, as we cannot address 'time' without addressing all kinds of related topics that are themselves large and uncertain. I hereby confess myself inadequately informed therefore - for example, I don't have Bill Sheeran's special expertise in (I believe) Biology. I do claim some grasp of psychology, physics, mathematics, astrology, and philosophy. I doubt that is sufficient. My response here to some parts of Bill Sheeran's post may therefore merely serve to demonstrate the semantic traps awaiting me as much as anyone in this topic.
> In my opinion, the greatest outstanding riddle is to get to grips with
> the reality revealed by astrology - that subjectively experienced time
> has a qualitative aspect.
In the sense that a week has a different meaning for the Moon than for Jupiter say?
> This presumably overlaps with Davies'
> "psychological time", though it doesn't *seem* to be restricted to
> humans. Businesses, political states, ideas, etc. seem to dance to the
> rhythms too.=20
I tried to address this once before: businesses, political states, and ideas it seems to me are *all* human. Or, as I put it previously, horses don't win races, buildings don't collapse, and companies don't fail - except in the *socially constructed* reality of humans. If we map (say) "the progress of an idea" using astrology, we are in fact mapping the ebb and flow of that idea's reception *by humans*; or in the case of a horary enquiry, the progress of subsequent *human* actions in relation to the proposed action.
It is very important that we don't commit the mistake of reifying aspects of our human, subjective reality: thus *hiding* their human context, or isolating them from it. Psychologists do this frequently mind you - so astrologers are in good company! (Note: to reify is to make the mistake of asserting that something we have *labeled* or *named* separately does in fact have a separate, independent, or isolated existence. It emanates from the separate existence it acquires within our language lexicon or vocabulary, and the mistake is to carry over that separation to the thing itself. It is one of the disadvantages inherent in the power of language. It is also an example of reductionism, or of abstracting things from their context and so asking silly questions).
Speaking of astrologers' reifications, our readiness to do it seems evident in the plethora of charts we erect for anything and everything we can name. Without having properly given 'charts of nations' a decent try I confess - so no offence intended - it has always struck me as strange that we rely on such charts rather than apply some perfectly simple statistical mechanics to the (easily approximated) charts of the country's citizens instead!
I suspect we are in jeopardy of reifying time itself. I am glad I waited out Bill Tallman's interesting and provocative series on 'Time', as I think he avoided this error. But questions about the "flow of time" sound like so much gobble-de-gook, without a context in which to examine them.
> Quantitative and qualitative time are not separate from each other.
> This makes things very complicated.=20
Well, a year seems a short time when it is part of a long marriage; it may seem a heinously *long* time when one is waiting for an answer to a proposal of marriage. Fortunately, I did not have to wait this long < g > . But if Bill means that quantitative differences are often reflected in qualitative differences, I thoroughly approve.
But I must add that my ability to nitpick at Bill's statement here is probably an illustration of how language can obscure its own meanings, once we use its power of abstraction. It is particularly easy to counter any abstract, general statement with a specific instance, and so to miss what may in fact be a very good general point. The proper point of Bill's statement might be, for example, that the different periods of the planets are thus also qualitatively different - although there would still be a good deal of contextualisation to do to explain why this should be so.
Hmm - in relation to that, this reminds me of my second-year experimental students. They are inclined to graph a result like 10.0 versus 10.1 and say "there is no significant difference here"; a result like 10.0 versus 5.0 they say is "a very significant difference". They forget that it depends on the *context* provided by the theoretical framework and more importantly the data itself. The significant difference may in fact be the 10.0/10.1, rather than the 10.0/5.0.
> I'm not sure what you mean by this. All processes happen in time -
> becoming as opposed to being (structure).
I'm not sure what *this* means (though see above). I think we need to be careful with statements such as "all processes happen in time", although the final clause "becoming as opposed to being" adds a great deal to the statement. If the effect is to define - well no, point toward is better - "process" as "becoming", then we are talking about anything that *changes* as happening "in time".
But in that case we're better off just talking about processes, and we don't need the first clause at all! My contrast case is this: is a 'lifeless' (processless) meteor wandering about in deep space "happening in time" in any sense? If this case seems artificial, I suggest reading below; and also considering that 'bringing any sense of time' to this lonely wanderer requires that we alter its context - for example by carrying ourselves and our clocks to it...
> Our sense of the extended
> and shared present (horizontal, now) coexists with our sense of time
> as a flow, where subjectivity arises through the importance of history
> in modulating the potential behaviour of life process dynamics. I
> experience my being - I'm the same person I was 20 years ago - but I
> also experience changes in time.=20
Both in terms of psychology and philosophy, I have a little difficulty with this statement - or perhaps it just needs elaboration. Of course 'being' and 'person' are enormously verbally loaded terms: thus it would be easy to either agree or disagree with their usage here in dozens of different ways, all possibly irrelevant to what Bill is getting at.
Nevertheless, philosophy has laboured at length over the status of terms such as "being" and "person" (e.g. if I am constantly changing, how can I ever be said to be the same person? How can I know I have not become someone/something else? etc). I suspect Wittgenstein would relegate these questions to silly language games. Psychology meanwhile accepted the notion of 'identity' without complication - until discursive psychology (DP) arose some dozen or so years ago and began - partly and unwillingly in concert with cognitive psychology - to question the nature of memory and the idea of 'continuity'. In particular, DP has highlighted the role of processes in which we "endlessly reconstruct ourselves in the moment". DP thus agrees with astrology's emphasis on the meaning of the moment, whilst arguing with the (social) decontextualisation of the person as some uncomplicatedly discrete and continuous 'thing' implied in any undue status given to the natal chart.
Fred Hoyle (astronomer, physicist, mathematician and a famous and rather daring thinker) was in the habit of embedding his serious speculations about the nature of time in his novels such as 'Fifth Planet' and 'October the First is Too Late'. In the latter book he used the analogy of a set of pigeon holes, all of which contain information about the contents of other pigeon holes. However, the information seems much more reliable about the pigeon holes in one direction than in the other. Fred Hoyle's coup de grace was then to conceptualise consciousness as like a spotlight (or even many spotlights) roving about randomly among the pigeon holes. The point is that it is entirely unnecessary to suppose that there is any continuity of identity, being, personhood, or existence. Whenever one's consciousness happens to alight on a particular pigeon-hole, one *is* - at that instant - to all intents and purposes that person/thing/whatever described by the information in that pigeon-hole. The spotlight can be dancing about randomly through all 'time' and all 'space', yet no inconsistency need arise, and certainly no sense of discontinuity. The sense of identity or selfhood is a property of the information in the pigeon-holes, not of the light of consciousness itself.
Last year, or the year before, I introduced to this forum a slightly different approach in the form of a 'thought experiment' (being in the archives, it does not bear repeating). In it, I tried to show how time arises out of the context of multiple co-existent processes, and has essentially no meaning out of any such multiplicity. ('Co-existent' will have to mean 'within some horizon or domain of effective interdependence/intercommunication', also context-dependent, and which I shall call an 'environment'). I was also able to derive from the experiment the prediction that any longer and *regular* (hence 'periodic') processes would have special value in ordering or regulating any complex process-assemblages ('organisms' if you like) within that environment. For me at least, that seemed to sufficiently establish why the planetary cycles should have any efficacy in the lives of human beings and other organisms (and not just on Earth, but on any planet). The only necessary condition is that the planets in fact be *part* of our environment - i.e. that there be at least one-way 'communication' of some kind or that we be 'aware' of the planetary cycles. (If we are *not* aware of them, or are only artificially aware of them as through our telescopes, then there is no astrology in *this* model).
Btw, this idea of time applies (or at least was intended to) to so-called 'objective' or coordinate time. I originally formulated the thought experiment when I was a young aspiring-to-be physicist and had not yet heard of astrology. At that time, it was a critique of the comforting and partly misleading certainty of notions such as the "second" and other units of time, as well as an attempt to derive the invariance of the speed-of-light from another perspective: one which considered time as a property of 'matter' rather than a Newtonian absolute (in which of course I was merely re-tracing - very far behind - Einstein's steps). The objectivity then, is a feature of there being an environment (a multiple coexistence), rather than something about 'time itself'. The result of special relativity - although approaching matters differently - is the same.
Speaking of which, I would like to point out in reference to one or two very recent posts, that Einstein banished time and space from their status as absolutes but furnished a *new* absolute in their place: space-time.
> The fact that Saturn has a 29 year cycle or so doesn't mean that time
> is cyclic. The 29 years is just duration in a circular orbit, like a
> tuning fork slowed down.
Indeed - aha, I see you are arguing with Bill T's apparent generalisation of the way astrologers mark time to a property of time itself. But I think that - after all - Bill is addressing his remarks *to* astrologers and within the/an astrological paradigm, and I note that he wrote "We *say* that time...is *well considered* to be cyclic in nature" [emphasis mine].
> All nature oscillates in time, but unless
> you're Plato, this doesn't mean that oscillations cause time, or that
> time has a cyclic nature.
We seem to be back to abstracting time from the environment or context within which it appears to exist. Never mind: pursuing this line, it is interesting that some physicists have speculated that time is quantised (to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity just about seemed to require this at one time). 'Quantised time' would be getting fairly close to 'cyclic time', imho.
However, as you will have gathered, I care little whether it 'is' or 'is not' cyclic. As we seem stuck with the word, it seems worthwhile noting that time seems to have different meanings in physics, philosophy, psychology, and astrology. Both as purpose-built constructs within particular domains of enquiry, and as aspects of discursive enterprises, this seems right and proper.
What, btw, do you mean by "nature"? I suppose living environments? Or do you mean anything above zero Kelvin? Or...
> Astrology may have a cyclic nature all right, and in that it mirrors all of nature.
True, but I wonder if Bill Tallman was merely getting at the point that astrology emphasises cyclicity as part of its particular, perhaps unique insight; wheras other fields emphasise different approaches to existence and so illuminate different things.
> The endogenous and exogenous rhythms of life are not reflecting (or
> creating) cyclic time. They are a consequence of energy management. No
> movement - no life. No asymmetry - no free energy - no life. No in
> breath but only outbreath - no life. < snip >
I would like to hear you expand on this statement, as I'm sure it reflects your special knowledge. My initial question is: what is the nature of 'energy management'.
> The oscillatory or rhythmic flow of traffic in an urban
> context is not due to the cyclic nature of time, but the very linear
> way that office workers have to keep to a time *structure*.
But where does that time structure come from? As a species, we are either creatures of habit (retaining a diurnal rhythm where apparently we don't need to), or there is more to it than that.
I should point out - not to Bill Sheeran who is clearly well aware of it - that office workers are embedded in a complex, multi-faceted and highly interdependent context (or 'contextual matrix' as Bill calls it).
For example, much of the "dynamic drive" or "need for achievement" is attributable to social context rather than to 'drives' inherent in human nature. The social context of office workers (not excluding most kinds of worker I hasten to add) is an environment of high demand and high pressure. The interdependence is both internal and external. The "time structure" is thus also very complex, and *not* linear (recalling my experiences in industry). What *must* be done today competes with what was due yesterday and interacts with what can be put off until next week and even what is due in six months (I was a project manager, and with typically six projects at one time the interactions were considerable). All of these prioritisations and re-prioritisations reflect interactions with other people and *their* priorities.
< snip > The astrological factor is instead (in my opinion) a variable
> alongside all the other ones which contribute to the system dynamics -
> it's intrinsic to the system. In my opinion, a major conceptual shift
> is required in order to make sense of astrology. We have to move from
> "as above so below" to "as below so above", and take it from there. < snip >
> to understand the nature of astrology, the first step
> is to get a handle on the innate non-astrological dynamics of system
> behaviour. This means temporarily moving away from a focus on
> structure in astrology, and paying more attention to process in the
> contexts onto which the astrology is being mapped.
Yes. I once (naively, I now think) tried to derive an *astrological* picture of the self. I think the intention was ok: I was sick of seeing astrology grafted onto any and every fashionable psychology, and wanted to examine instead what *astrology* has to say about the person.
In a sense, to think this way is still relevant; but we must - Bill Sheeran has put this very well imo - put the person (or whatever one's object of astrological interest) first. As far as the person is concerned, we have excluded other valid fields of enquiry as though astrology is 100% explanatory: the only description of the person (or whatever) that is necessary. Yet to practice natal astrology without at least a cursory glance toward psychology and social anthropology; or mundane without considering sociology, geography, and politics seems to bespeak a certain vanity. Astrology may have something unique and valuable to contribute - and may thus stand on its own merits entirely - but it certainly does not explain *everything*: it is as Bill says, a variable alongside others. (To quantify this, I would be happy - indeed astonished - if astrology approaches 5%).
There is another sense in which I like "as below so above". Astrology, and also various psychological tests, has a rather extraordinary discriminative power. The classical form of astrology alone differentiates many trillions of different personality types. Yet people generally, and this patently applies equally to astrologers imho, 'interpret' and 'understand' other people through what are called schema, which unfortunately are invariably very simple. The very simplest form is the dualisation into "good and bad"; and it is evident that a lot of astrology has reflected precisely this type of schema. Thus, the trillions of different astrological permutations - or rather the few hundreds or thousands that the typical astrologer encounters - get mapped onto this schema. I doubt that even highly wise and insightful humans get beyond the ability to differentiate and 'understand' in more than a dozen or two ways. So we have an embarrassing gap between our insight and the (purported) capability of our techniques. This must make much or most of what we say to our clients - not to mention our abiliy to learn from our clients - dubious at best: rational knowledge rather than anything we understand ourselves.
Time spent on what is below, then, is 'time' well spent.
Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 17:49:32 +1200
From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: planetary stations, death correlations
In Ex 5/23 Michael Jordan responded to a couple of my points. Of course you are right on the technicality, Michael, that motion stops on the day of the turn-around. If you toss a ball in the air, vertically, you can spot the fractional moment it seems to freeze. The issue I was trying to pursue with my off-hand comments was that of the effective duration of the station. That can be judged experientially, but not very well. It could be done in a collectively disciplined manner, were astrologers ever motivated to do so, by compiling the requisite database of appropriate event charts. The issue of apparent duration of planetary stations has been addressed in a thoughtful manner by astrologers in previous decades. I just keep on being disappointed that in the last couple of decades no further progress has been made.
Your point about fine-tuning the precision of the computer program seems irrelevant. As I said, stationary to a minute of arc is effectively stationary. I've seen various astrologers go into print with their opinion that planets are effectively stationary when they are in the degree of the station. That is way too loose for me. I actually thought my advocacy of a minute of arc was probably unreasonably precise, but did not say so for fear of deterring the comments of others. So your suggestion of even greater precision seems excessively zealous to me. Do we really want to split a hair into that many pieces?
There seems to be a consensus amongst astrologers that the effect of the planet is considerably enhanced at the station. I ended up agreeing with this hypothesis, after quite a few years of assessing it from experience, but the effect is not readily demonstrable. I would rather hear from you what your opinion of the approximate effective span of the various planetary stations is. I will stand by my point that it is a myth that it is only one day, basically because although most astrologers assume this is true without considering the issue, enough of a more investigative minority have reported opinions based a their track record of empirical experiences over a lengthy period to persuade me that the influence of stations does normally last more than a day. Perhaps even weeks for the outer planets.
In regard to Michael's sentiments on the typical astrologer's handling of death, they seemed very much beside my point. Perhaps it is true that an astrologer bogged down in perennial client work might be forgiven for never finding time to check on the merit of the traditional belief that death lies in the 8th house, but would we be wise to condone their ethical judgement that this tradition can be recycled without any reality check?
Actually I did not have that type of astrologer in mind when I wrote. I was thinking more of those who do more in astrology than just client work. Those, for instance, who are studying the subject for its own sake. Those, for instance, who learn how astrology works by comparing the lives of famous people with what their horoscope indicates their character & destiny is likely to be. One can study death in the horoscope, as I did, simply by compiling a file of death charts. Obviously a sensible astrologer would tend to begin such a study by relating the death horoscope to the birth horoscope in cases where the data is reliable and the subject well known, to prevent him/herself becoming awash in the usual sea of speculation. But moving on to examine events resulting in multiple fatalities would be the direction taken by anyone seriously trying to discover any typical death correlation.
Those astrologers who have in fact undertaken extensive research into death in the horoscope tend to report that there is no characteristic signature. I agree that this seems to be so. The impression I get is that death is generally signalled as a transition for individuals, whereas for mass events there is no consistent message. However the number of precise configurations, and their complexity, is usually impressive. I am referring particularly to exact aspects between planets and to axes. There is no need to resort to spurious esoteric techniques such as rulerships in order to invent correlations. Real phase relations between real planets and the primary directional alignments is all the researcher needs to expose the structure of the synchronicities depicted by major event charts. We have discussed the significance of Uranus being exactly on the Midheaven when the atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima, but for me the exact Moon/Saturn conjunction in the 11th house was almost as impressive as an appropriate indicator of the archetypal nature of the event. One need not restrict consideration to the multitude of deaths in that moment. The emotional impact on the part of the population who survived is likewise worthy of contemplation.
Of course the groups indicated by the 11th need not be those locally directly affected. The Japanese as a wider group suffered serious limits in their war effort as a consequence. Some might even liken the prompt surrender as cessation of that effort to a vehicle hitting a brick wall, a proverbial Saturn metaphor; with Moon as function, this conjunction in the 11th means a serious blockage to social functioning. Then, of course, there are the documented historical political effects on the governments of the world powers, the community of physicists who designed the bomb, and pacifists all around the world (all being groups of people). But to return to the method of research, such evocative meanings are simply the elements of the reality check. One might profitably restrict oneself to listing the main correlations in each case study. For organised group research, I would be more rigorous and prioritise all exact correlations first. Then, perhaps, one might allow a longer listing of all correlations between 1 and 3 degrees from exactitude. The aim being to find out what is really going on, symbolism would have to be put firmly in the back seat of the researcher's mind, an onerous discipline which astrologers have yet to realise is necessary in order to build a credible research method.
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 20:54:34 +1200
From: Janice & Dennis
Subject: foresight, anathema to astrologers (!?)
In Ex 5/19 Bill Tallman wrote: "The catch-phrase coined by Elwell and here echoed by Dennis, that all we need is a Project Foresight, is an assertion that no trained scholar would countenance, and I find it a telling symptom of what is wrong in modern astrological philosophy. The fact is that the work of Project Hindsight is exactly the sort of work that is done in every accepted discipline as a matter of course, and is done without any question of expected value. Why do we believe that astrology does not warrant this treatment? Do we account astrology as unworthy in this regard?"
First, Bill, you have misquoted me. I wrote that it is "what we really need", not "all we need". If you change the meaning of what someone said in order to set up a straw man to take pot shots at, you may entertain yourself but you defeat the process of communication.
Second, your frequent use of `we', sometimes the `royal we', must be confusing to many readers. You imply that I am included in these statements, whereas I am constantly noticing that they are not in fact correct for me. I wonder if other contributors to this list also feel themselves exceptions to your generalisations. Obviously I would not have forked out several weeks wages to help get Project Hindsight up and running if I believed the effort was necessary. I don't see how my ambivalence about the results cancels out the half a dozen times in this list that I have expressed my perceptions of merit in the cause. Not to mention my numerous public criticisms of astrologers in the '80s for not bothering to research their real traditions and preferring to cling to their myths instead. PH has provided us with a considerably expanded knowledge of some features of classical astrology, regardless that anything more profound that I was hoping for has not shown.
Thirdly, your (apparently emotional) rejection of the future in order to embrace the past seems uncharacteristic for someone who normally comes across as having a clear head and a considerable overview. Our moderator may wish to censor this comment, but I think it appropriate sometimes to point it out when emotions cloud the intellect. We know that one of the main findings of neuroscientists in recent years is emotional intelligence, but I think we also need to note when feelings defeat cerebral processes, particularly in group discourse. Individual biases toward future or past may be ascertained from natal planets aspecting one's lunar nodal axis, and it is fair enough for us to individually prefer tradition or progress, but people in general do need to evolve, and collectively advance. Such progress occurs on a sounder basis when the past is incorporated in a realistic manner, thus the value of PH. But we do need to balance the future and the past in dealing with now.
I've always been a sucker for the scientific myth of progress, and have often lectured on the topic of progress in astrology, as well as on astrology's real traditions. PH has considerable remedied the delusional perception of the past that has afflicted the astrocommunity, but where is the corresponding modernisation? After Rudhyar, zilch! Effort to integrate the past must be accompanied by effort to integrate the future, so that time my be handled in a balanced manner. Focus on the past and avoidance of the future had made astrologers collectively anal-retentive. This would not have been so bad if they had actually made the effort to discover the past, rather than settling for hearsay and speculation. A collective sense of progress is often provided by plans for the future, aims, goals, aspirations, expectations of development, an evolutionary perspective. Communal enterprise incorporating such collective motivations and shared visions is relatively normal in human society, and astrologers need not become catatonic at the suggestion that they become likewise human.
Fourthly, Bill boldly declares "that all we need is a Project Foresight, is an assertion that no trained scholar would countenance"; which looks like a statement of personal belief pretending to be a fact. A single counter-example would suffice to prove it wrong. As fate would have it, such a scholar, sufficiently trained as to have graduated with a doctorate from one of the world's top universities, emailed me (the day before Bill sent his pseudo-fact to Exegesis) expressing agreement with "all" my piece on metaphysics "including the conclusion about Elwell's P. Foresight."
End of Exegesis Digest Volume 5 Issue 24
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