Saturday, February 28, 2015
A Not-So-Fond Fare-Thee-Well to February: Musings on Getting Personal in My Posts, Rembrandt, and Some Poetry if You Read Till the End (or Just Scroll Down)
T. S. Eliot wrote that "April is the cruellest month." Though the poet was on to something there, as two-thirds of that month is ruled by Mars (the god of war) -- and if you suffer from spring allergies to boot, as I do, it's nothing to sneeze at -- I believe the true Waste Land, especially this year, is February. Here is an unfunny joke: "Why is February so short?" "Because if it were any longer, nobody would make it to March." I already complained about the Siberian Express in my last post, which received so few hits it made me wonder if I should keep weather talk out of my astrologizing. Which further made me ponder my entire philosophy of discussing on this site pretty much everything except what most astro-curious souls trawling the web are searching for: their horoscopes. Writing horoscopes is the one thing I pointedly refuse to do, because I think sun-sign astrology is the equivalent of knowing what country someone is from: it can be helpful in terms of understanding what language that someone speaks (though that actually has more to do with Mercury's placement than the Sun), but it only gives the tip of the iceberg, to use a cliche apropos for this brutally cold month. So I wind up ranting about various components of my own natal chart and major-league transits (in the case of the born-in-2012, still-very-much-with-us Uranus-Pluto square, so frequently I feel like a recording) and how they seem to tie in to various political, economic, and social injustices. A few years ago, an irate reader put the smackdown on me for getting "too political" in my posts, which pissed me off, but at least someone cared enough to try to pin back my ears. Around the same time, I received from another reader some very encouraging comments that I should write a book about Pluto, since I seemed to know so much about all matters Plutonian. Now, despite the fact that I have nearly 800 followers on Twitter, I mostly feel like a forgotten child on this site...a drop in the bucket of astrology blogs. There are just so many of them out there. Some of them are truly inspired (hello, Donna Cunningham!). It's too daunting to try to "keep up." (Gee, should I try to write about Leonard Nimoy's chart while everyone is still talking about his death? #LiveLongAndProsper, indeed!) It's hard to feel "original" writing about aspects, signs, etc. when it's all been written before, countless times, sometimes brilliantly. It's the kind of feeling I sometimes have as a writer in other genres, that all the stories have already been told, that there are a set number of themes 'n' variations, that all the archetypes have already been explored to the nth degree. Then I snap out of it and write anyway. Sometimes I wonder why someone with my particular chart would get not just political but personal on this site. Then I think about Rembrandt, one of the greatest artists who ever lived. Like me, he was a Cancer Sun with a Scorpio Moon, and he was known for his endless self-portraits. I wonder if anyone ever said to him, "Hey, Van Rijn, what's up with all the selfies? It's not as if you're pretty enough to be on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or nothin'." I wonder if he was confident enough not to reply at all but instead ask aloud where he'd put that fly-swatter, or if he got embarrassed (and then promptly made a self-portrait of himself blushing) or defensive. I cannot, of course, answer for the master -- that would be beyond presumptuous, and this is not a blue-book midterm essay for an art history class. But I know how looking at Rembrandt's self-portraits makes me feel. It's as if I'm peering into his private peep show; I see the unmistakable intensity and resolve in his eyes, yet cannot say for sure what color they are due his love of chiaroscuro, the interplay of light and shadow. (Rembrandt would have made one hell of a film noir director.) I doubt he was "just" lazy or self-centered to be his own go-to model; and as much as he showed, he kept plenty about his visage (as a portal to his whole self) a mystery. (In that vein, readers of this blog and of my fiction and poetry may see me as an open book, but I have more than one book, so to speak.) I have no idea how confident Rembrandt truly was in his abilities, but he believed in himself enough to stay in Holland instead of going to Italy, and he wound up immortalizing himself in paint. If getting so personal in his art enabled him know himself better -- in a time when psychotherapy did not yet exist -- so much the better, yet who knows how self-aware Rembrandt really was. He might have painted like a god, but he was, in the end, just human. Sometimes I like to think that by painting myself on this site as a highly fallible human being filled with various worries, crotchets, and obsessions that go into living as a non-hermit in a town without pity in the early 21st century, I might be helping someone who lives halfway across the world, or down the street, feel less alone in his or her pain...maybe even help more by not posing as a one-way mirror, as some mystical astrology oracle preaching from a place far removed from all the noise and mess of living. There are more astrology blogs out there than ever, and with people buying online chart interpretations for much less money than a face-to-face reading would cost, all I can do is keep on being myself, warts and all. I may never enter the astrology pantheon the way Rembrandt did with his art, but oh well -- at least I have a cute button nose and good teeth. But this was supposed to be a post about bidding adieu to the coldest damn month in NYC since 1934 (not too coincidentally, the last Uranus-Pluto square era). To that end, I will therefore share with you this poem I wrote on the subway last week. (I am thinking of compiling a collection of poems I wrote while in transit, to be titled When I Get a Seat on the Subway.) February Lunation In the darkest part of the dark of the moon, the subway whines a death's-head tune. My phone then rings like a drowning loon; it's HR from LA-- rejection's a goon. Good riddance to Aquarius! My mind's a mess, my soul can't dance. In subzero stress there is no success; I haven't a chance. Now the moon is new though it's still 4 degrees and I'm still on a train, cut off at the knees. Crossing the bridge, I spot the Statue of Liberty and pray to her icy greenness at the mouth of the cold city.