Mercury is Always in Retrograde • 27 May 2008

Am I going to have a car accident now because Mercury is in retrograde? Am I safe from car accidents the rest of the time because Mercury is direct? Shall I initiate nothing for the next month because the planets are more powerful than the clarity of my vision? Shall we all just sit around and wait, hoping not to awake the sleeping astral giant of calamity? Will June 2008 be not worth living due to something as insanely shallow as a little misfortune, even if it does come? Are fortune and luck what we are living for anyway–elaborately constructing our lives so as to catch the planetary winds at just the precisely perfect moment so everything will be ok?

Stop it right now everybody. Come on. Can we please look life directly in the eyes again here?

Chaos is always present. We don’t get to draw tidy boundaries around it and pretend the rest of life operates according to some magical order. A lot of times there is no control, and everything is chaotic, and there is no god or law or element organizing everything and making things happen for a reason.

We are so afraid of admitting that there is chaos, and become greedy for explanations. But chaos is always out there, just beyond the edge of our imperfect explanations. Even when Mercury is not in retrograde! Myths and archetypes just give an operating framework within the chaos. 

Which is all good. I love that. I saw Indiana Jones on Monday and take rueful energy from its image of disheveled scholarly heroism—a hero who winkingly apologizes for his own cornball sincerity even as he smashes power hungry commies (and capitalists, this time) in the face, chases away the demons of unreason, glorifies fieldwork (!) as the real route to knowledge of the world, and (especially) bears witness to magical-realist secrets that the scientific framework can never incorporate. Indy’s a real fucker, but he’s also perfect. How do I even know what kind of scholar I am without that image? Would I have even thought to research culture as an object, wear khakis and live in the tropics, or button up for the ivory tower without that image?

Astrology—the idea that I’m a Scorpio/Aries in a productive cycle at the height of my powers—is the same. There’s a lot of energy in that archetype and myth, even if there is no literal “truth” in it at all. Experience is the only thing I have, the only thing that I can honestly say is true. I like having some structure, but the control it gives is a game.

Archetypes and myths are interpretive. Not explanatory. They create meaning and outline possibilities for action in an uncertain world. They are not the reason that things happen.  I am (sometimes). Other times there’s no reason to be found at all.

Scary. 🙂


  • Carl
    Posted 27 May 2008 at 11:50 pm | #

    Things are only so interesting when viewed objectively, from a removed perspective. To really have fun with stuff, we have to dive right in. All the best laughs are found in the things that make no sense.

  • R
    Posted 28 May 2008 at 4:19 am | #

    O ye temptress of thee fates!

  • Posted 28 May 2008 at 7:51 am | #

    “Other times there’s no reason to be found at all.”

    Inifinitely less scary for me than the mess that presents itself once I start imagining who, what, and why. There is peace for me in chaos, where there’s no one to thank or blame for anything, and only us to work out the way to do it. We do a better job anyway. When I was little and going off to church with friends after Saturday night sleepovers, getting saved over and over again, or reading over my mom’s astrology books, or listening to my faith-healer pentacostal grandparents talk about revelation, or my aunt who knew all about her past lives…always trying to imagine my loved ones wrapped in a white light so they would be protected from evil… I was stressed, man. Trying hard not to feel angry with an autocrat god or a universe that had ordered itself so negligently. Anne Frank, little Ethiopians, car accidents, aaargh!

    I love to read the personality profiles of my friends’ sun signs and see them there, (and me too, I’m a Leo-Pisces :), but I always remember that report I saw on TV once about a group of sceptics who were given their personalized birth charts to read. The group was overwhelmingly convinced that there was something to it. It just couldn’t be denied that they saw themselves in the descriptions, positive and negative traits, secret inner-life stuff revealed and yadda yadda. Only at the end of the day were they all told the truth: they had all been given the same birthchart. It wasn’t them at all. It was John Wayne Gacy’s, actually.

    I love to imagine there’s an explanation, love to read about the theories, but I do breathe a sigh of relief each time they can’t hold water. Weird?

    I love your blog, Owl.

  • Posted 28 May 2008 at 7:54 am | #

    Oh no, I don’t know why that came out all bold and shouty. Didn’t mean to, sorry! What did I do to the font, there?

  • Posted 28 May 2008 at 12:20 pm | #

    Don’t worry, Joy. It’s because Mercury is in retrograde.


  • Posted 28 May 2008 at 12:42 pm | #

    Laughing. The day I had yesterday is yet further evidence of Mercury retrograde, seriously.

    Joy Suzanne! I don’t know what you did to the font! It is a rare brave bird who takes comfort in the chaos… but I get you. All that faith-healing pentacostalism is oddly formative! Trying to get mutual resonance with loved ones whose experiences are so far out is stressful.

    Ok I’ve got to get to my 5:45 daily faith healing ritual now. Aauuummm.

  • Posted 30 May 2008 at 3:33 am | #

    Hi (0v0)
    Funny, comments are closed for the previous entry. I guess you firmly believe it. Can I comment on it? It’s only to agree, or to say it differently. I’ve also hear that learning is remembering. It’s as if we’ve forgotten something and the teacher is there to help us remember it. That may not be in sync with the idea of filling up the “tabula rasa”, but it’s an interesting angle.

  • Posted 30 May 2008 at 4:40 am | #

    How strange! I must have named a previous post by the same title and Textpattern got confused. Now it looks like I’m being all intense and final about the post. Oh well.

    That’s a really interesting sentiment, Arturo. I’ve often thought how this quasi-Continental idea from Paz resonates (in SOME ways) with (1) the yoga and Buddhist philosophical sentiment of uncovering your true self (implying that there is a universal soul that daily experience makes us forget) and (2) the Platonic sentiment in The Meno, in which the teacher leads students to deduce mathmatical truths as to proove this knowledge is universally inborn in humans.

    There are a few ways to read these lines from Octavio Paz, but I meant them to follow on my thoughts this week about understanding mythic systems as interpretations rather than explanations. And to express the idea that firsthand experience is all we really have when it comes to knowing things. So sometimes I want to drop my systems of thought… become a minimalist again… return to being. Or Being.

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