Thursday, February 22, 2018

Of Neptune

Modern ruler of zodiac sign Pisces is Neptune. Before 1846, and discovery of Neptune, both Pisces and Sagittarius had been ruled by Jupiter.

Enquiring minds would like to know exactly why Neptune was so called, who decided on that name for the new planet, who defined the characteristics allocated to it, and why it was decided to assign to it rulership of Pisces. Skyscript offers some information on the question of naming this planet, but it doesn't completely satisfy my annoying need for clarity.
Partial answer, according to Wikipedia:
After Neptune was discovered, the Bureau des Longitudes proposed the name Neptune and the familiar trident for the planet's symbol.
Another source (here) offers this:
The naming of Neptune couldn’t follow the cosmogony of Greco-Roman myth because Uranus, the planet inside Neptune’s orbit, was named after the father of creation so astronomers chose to name this newest member of Sol’s planetary family after the ruler of the sea.
Elsewhere we are told that Neptune's symbol, or glyph, represents, rather than Neptune's trident, "the crescent of personality pierced by the cross of matter".

I'm tempted to respond petulantly: "Whatever!"

How Neptune came to represent the list of characteristics/keywords we regularly trot out remains just another of astrology's little mysteries - appropriately Neptunian. For the most part it works out quite well. "Ours not to reason why"!

Neptune takes around 165 years to circle the Sun, and will remain in each zodiac sign for around 14 years. Its significance, then, is generational rather than individual. How Neptune links to the faster-moving personal planets (or not) is key to whether Neptunian characteristics might manifest clearly in a personality.


Ingrid Lind in her little book Astrology and Commonsense, long out of print, had this to say about Neptune's role in a natal chart:
Like Uranus, this planet has no traditional sign rulership but has affinity with the sign Pisces. Keywords: nebulousness, impressionability.

As keywords suggest, Neptune is unreliable and elusive. In a strong chart, where its contribution is disposed of by an otherwise steady and forceful personality, much benefit may be derived through the prominence of the Neptunian quality in such matters as charm, personal magnetism, poetry, inspiration or spirituality. In an otherwise weak chart, or one lacking in "roots" or commonsense, even a well-aspected Neptune must be read with distrust as it will tend to manifest in sensationalism or escapism. It really takes a strong and sane man to control the Neptune in him. Where people of genius are excused the uncontrolled exhibition of artistic temperament, in the lesser men it is usually regarded at least as a bore.

Neptunian qualities show clearly in musician or actor as sensitivity of interpretation and sense of audience. In fact, the subtle difference between genius and technician lies in the former's power to use this elusive element in his makeup.

Not all, of course, who have Neptune strong show artistic or literary talent, let alone genius; but occupations to do with the sea, liquids, drugs, anesthetics and entertainment (providing sensation for others) offer the Neptune quality a wide range. It is interesting to note that all these occupations involve danger or harmfulness in excess.
The outer planets have gathered individual and specific interpretations as a stone gathers moss. Most seem to fit pretty well. However, I often think that, because outer planet cycles are so long, and natal charts of humans or other entities (for example, national charts) receive a significant visit/transit from each quite infrequently, if at all in a lifetime, or in recorded history, that when such a transit does occur it will inevitably be a signal for something special, something noticeable. These transits could also be expressed simply, and possibly more accurately, as indicating "change of some sort", without recourse to the specific interpretations that particular outer planets have gathered.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

WORDS ~ Foreign Feelings Following "I read the news today, Oh boy!"

As Arika Okrent wrote in her 2016 piece titled How to Tell Whether You've Got Angst, Ennui, or Weltschmerz, familiar words in the English language sometimes just don't hit the spot. The piece begins:
English has many words for the feelings that can arise when a good, hard look at the state of the world seems to reveal only negatives. Hopelessness, despair, depression, discouragement, melancholy, sorrow, worry, disconsolation, distress, anxiety …there are so many that it would hardly seem necessary to borrow any more from other languages. But English never hesitates to borrow words that would lose certain subtleties in translation, and angst, ennui, and weltschmerz have made their way into English by offering a little something extra.



The article is fairly brief, but if it's still TL;DR (= too long; did not read)- nutshell:


Are you dissatisfied and worried in an introspective, overthinking German way? You’ve got angst.

Are you tired, so tired of everything about the world and the way it is? Do you proclaim this, with a long, slow sigh, to everyone around you? You’ve got ennui.

Do you have sadness in your heart for the world that can never be and sensible shoes? You’ve got weltschmerz.

I'm trying to diagnose my own state of mind - I'm swinging between weltschmerz and "I've no more f..ks to give" - I wonder if there's a foreign word for that?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Music Monday ~ Country Prejudice

A few words I wrote at Quora last week, in answer to the question "Why do people hate country music so much?"

I wonder if people do care enough about country music to actually hate it - it's a genre that is just not to everyone’s taste - and that’s fine.

As it happens, I’m a country music fan, but I do not fit any of the labels regularly attached to those who enjoy the genre. I’m British born (so no roots in the southern states), I’m left as left can be politically, in no way conservative, and I’m neither racist nor sexist.

I discovered country music back in the late 1980s and 1990s, not in the USA but in a vacation resort in the Spanish governed Canary Islands, which lie off the west coast of Africa, and it was being sung by a Londoner! Hows that for a mix?

I fell in love with country music. Back home in Yorkshire I began collecting albums, buying country music magazines, and learning what I could about it, from wherever I could.

It has to be said, however, that the current style of country has veered away and is not to my own taste. When I say I love country music, I love the styles of Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Patsy Cline, Keith Whitley, Kris Kristofferson, John Conlee, George Strait, and their likes - Garth Brooks just manages to scrape in to that group!

The fact that I eventually found myself living in the USA, and in a state where country music is part of the wallpaper, was coincidental - I think!

There is some prejudice against country music in the USA, whether it descends to the level of hatred is doubtful; it is routinely ridiculed and derided by music snobs, however. I found country music in a place where prejudice against it didn't exist - and that made all the difference. Stock answer as to the prejudice against country is "it's white, it's racist..blah blah". If Charley Pride, Darius Rucker and other black country singers were open-minded and enlightened enough to breach the perceived divide, then there is, and should be, always hope, but progress is slow. Prejudice and division are what The Powers That Be want of us, it distracts us from giving more attention to their ongoing dastardly deeds.

Here's Gene Watson, another of my favourites, and one I've actually managed to see performing live! This song says it for me - but still doesn't go far enough, for as well as spreading from "sea to shining sea" this music has crossed oceans in several directions. The song ought to be better known. I haven't found anyone other than Gene singing it - why? And why is prejudice so hard to dislodge? Even this song's lyrics were hard to find online. I eventually found them, but only with chord notes added for guitar players - had to clean it up before posting.

This country's Bigger than Texas
Recorded by Gene Watson
Written by Hugh Prestwood
Standing on a corner in Manhattan
I finally flagged a taxi down
And as I climbed into the back seat
I heard a more familiar sound
From the radio came gliding through
The sliding Nashville pedal steel
And as the driver took me riding
His fingers danced upon the wheel.

This country's bigger than Texas
It's bigger than Nashville Tennessee
It reaches border to border
It stretches shinning sea to sea
This country’s got no boundaries

A redneck farmer out of Macon
Met a lady lawyer from LA
They did not have a thing in common
Or at least it seemed that way
And then the jukebox started playing
Just your average country song
And both their bodies started swaying
They danced the two step all night long.

This country's bigger than Texas
It's bigger than Nashville Tennessee
It reaches border to border
It stretches shinning sea to sea
This country’s got no boundaries
This country's got no boundaries

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Saturday & Sundry Watchables


We watched, via Netflix, two movies one after t'other one evening during the week, and they unexpectedly turned out to have similar themes. Both movies had female leads - gals who, uncharacteristically, decided to take the law into their own hands:
Miss Meadows, and
I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore.





Miss Meadows has Katie Holmes as a young teacher with perfect manners, old world style, but packs a punch and a dinky firearm in her little handbag. She carries said bag a la Queen Elizabeth II, it's on her arm at all times. The story unfolds in both predictable and unpredictable ways.






In the film with the unwieldy title I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore Melanie Lynskey is Ruth, who is sickened by the human indecency around her. Her home is burglarized, the police are disinterested, so she teams up with her neighbor (Elijah Wood) to find the burglar and deal with him. It's complicated though. Things rapidly become far more dangerous than the pair ever expected.





Both movies belong to the genre 'black comedy'. Black comedy is a strange genre - I suppose a tag line for it could be "if we don't laugh we'll cry". There are a few wry chuckles available in these two films, about the characters themselves, rather than their actions, which is testament to the excellent direction and performances by all involved.


AND... for something completely different:

New on Netflix this month is Queer Eye, It's a re-boot of a 2003/4 show, back then titled Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. I remember seeing episodes of the old 2003/4 show on TV, in England before I left. We've now watched the first few episodes of the re-booted version. The show now has a new cast, five different guys, but the mix of personalities is similar. One of the five is very camp - fun, lovable; the others are less overtly gay, all are charming. In the 2018 version we have diversity, this was missing in 2004. One of the new five is black, another is British and of (I think) Pakistani background.

As well as making over their subjects' personal styles of dress and grooming, and their homes being given an attractive uplift of new decor, there's an added psychological element. This, for me, is especially interesting. Lack of self-confidence is tackled in the first episode, and in the second episode the subject is a police officer. He has a touchingly candid conversation with the black member of the five guys, about....well you can guess. It's affecting, especially so at the end of the show as they all bid farewell.

Critics might judge Queer Eye as just another tacky reality makeover show, but it has more potential than that - and so far, for me anyway, it is living up to that potential.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ Allegory of Bad Government

Around this time last year I wrote an Arty Farty Friday post on Carrie Ann Baade an associate professor in the Department of Art at Florida State University. Now, a year later I'm going to feature her again, but focus on one of her paintings, for reasons which will not be especially difficult for any stray readers in the USA to appreciate. The painting is titled "Allegory of Bad Government."

Before posting the image, a word to explain that it was inspired by Italian painter Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s 14th century moralistic civic mural cycle titled The Allegory of Good and Bad Government. This consists of a series of three fresco panels, six different scenes, painted between February 1338 and May 1339 in Siena's Palazzo Pubblico—specifically in the Sala dei Nove (Salon of Nine), council hall of Siena's nine executive magistrates, elected officials who performed executive, and some judicial, functions. The paintings have been construed as being "designed to remind the Nine [magistrates] of just how much was at stake as they made their decisions". The 14th century was a turbulent time for politics in Italian cities, due to constant violent party struggles; governments were overthrown, and governments were reinstated.
See Wikipedia HERE.

Carrie Ann Baade's painting "Allegory of Bad Government" inspired by Lorenzetti, and also by The Mad Hatter's Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland, depicts figures as guests who embody traits such as Cruelty, Greed, War, Hate, with echoes of the seven deadly sins: Pride, Greed, Wrath, Envy, Gluttony, and Sloth. Tyranny’s cape is the tablecloth. The painting is both political critique as well as commentary on our internal states of mind.

Click on image for a clearer, larger view.


I shall point out all the gnashing greedy teeth, the waste lying around below, and...look to centre back of the painting: a pair of eyes with tentacles of yellow hair above...remind you of anyone? I shall now leave it to any passing stray readers to relate further allegorical inferences to....well, ya know!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Woman & Man

Yesterday's hike in the red rose and heart-filled card market has receded for another year. With Valentine's core idea still in mind, here's something I came across the other day:

"A woman without her man is nothing."

Huh? Not exactly!

This example of what a little colon and comma can do has made the rounds on the internet for a while now. Never mind, it hasn't seen the light of day here, so -

As the story goes, a professor told his class to correctly punctuate the sentence.

The males in the classroom wrote:
“A woman, without her man, is nothing.”

The women in the class wrote:
“A woman: without her, man is nothing.”
With just a simple change in punctuation, the entire meaning of the sentence was changed in an instant.