Since my last entry on the cosmology of Ophiuchus, I have found myself snowed in in my little domain in the desert (always yield to the serendipity of Mother Nature). This event has provided me with some open space to peruse the different narratives being generated by our little astrological/astronomical “crisis,” I call The Ophiuchus Syndrome.
In so doing, it seems a coherence of the different levels of human awareness are emerging out of the cybersphere of monologues, which I hope will lead to a greater understanding of how our collective unconscious moves around and works with issues presented in the material world.
There are, really, two different orientations at work here, though they wear many different costumes. We have the either/or mentality or the both/and mentality. Given that we live in a social/political/economic global environment that requires polarity to ensure its continued functioning (that would be the one that feeds on power over others and inequalities in each of the spheres stated) we are primarily immersed in and fuel the either/or position. The both/and philosophical viewpoint is a rarity both in the blogosphere and on the ground. It is, however, the terrain we are going to need to travel if humanity is going to survive with any intelligence higher than that of a bonobo monkey. Before you laugh, please take note – documented average IQ of a bonobo: 70-90; documented average IQ of a human: 100. Average score for a scientist: 112 (the bottom score was just 92); medical doctor: 118. The range of those numbers is a bit, uh, uncomfortably narrow for my taste. Humans, particularly those in the male-dominated science field, have a propensity for seriously overestimating their intellectual abilities and most fall far closer to the human average number than they do the number required for membership in Mensa, which is 140. Think long about that before deciding to hand your personal power and authority over to them.
To better understand where most of us are directed to turn our attention, imagine you are first row center court at a tennis match. The spectators at this level can be observed wagging their heads back and forth, following the movements of a little ball. This positioning offers a very close-up, thrilling experience of raw movement, sweat, flying racquets and details of comments exchanged between players. It is exciting. The spectator is almost inside the action, so to speak, and such proximity increases the participatory sensibilities of the spectator, as well as her/his identification with the players on the court. This is the very same philosophical framework upon which the internet (and our society and cultural mentality) functions. Internet participants gain a sense of immediacy and vitality in posting and responding to posts in real time. This is also why our synthetic plasma screens are becoming larger and larger and boasting more and more interactive features. Commercials aimed at selling these items feature larger than life action figures plunging out of the screen into the family living room.
We are conditioned to want vitality and immediacy in our lives. We are behaviorally programmed, like pigeons trained to turn around in a circle in response to the flash of a green light in college Psych 101 classes, for emotional highs and reactivity. Our professions are irrelevant: we want to win, regardless of whether we’re pushing buttons on the CERN accelerator, arguing a point at a political convention or throwing football passes. We engage with these emotions and concomitant actions at the expense not just of our physical integrity (our epidemics of obesity and diabetes) but our mental and emotional abilities as well. We are well within bonobo land when we do so.
This metaphor is found back at our center court action, all those heads wagging like tails on happy dogs, unable, actually, to attain a larger grasp of the game being played. The ball travels lightning fast back across the net and one becomes a bit dizzy trying to keep up with the action. This is exactly what mainstream media’s job is to get us to do, watch that little ball and take every point very personally. And that’s how the either/or mentality is constantly re-inforced within us.
So, what we have to do is get up out of our seats and walk UP the stairs to a higher observational vantage point in the stands. Not only do we relieve ourselves of sore necks, but we also gain the opportunity to see exactly how far in or out of bounds that ball really is, to observe the reflexive responsiveness of both players and to watch a larger dance of movement unfolding between them. This is the kind of altitude we need in order to develop the appreciation for a more rich and subtle discussion of the activities presented to us to take place. And this applies to any situation in which we might find ourselves.
At ground level, the volleying between camps about the issue of Ophiuchus highlights the ages-old conflict between “science” and astrology. First, we need to correct the false analogous formula upon which we are basing the comparisons and discussion. Let’s talk about the role of astronomers (not a huge gang of scientists) and astrologers. Right now, lots of stuff is being flung back and forth around the legitimacy of astrology as defined by science. “Science” has been, and continues to be, unconsciously recognized as some higher order of reality than anything else on the planet, or in our universe, for that matter. This is a conflictual, power-over and either/or position that is being taken, with science as the established authority around which all other things must orbit and by which they are judged. It revolves around an attempt to establish and maintain an idea that something is something – here, science is rational and therefore better and astrology is irrational and therefore worse. What is our reference point?
Any person, particularly any scientist worth their salt, willing to support that hierarchical ideology, has obviously forgotten (or chosen to ignore) the most fundamental understanding in science, proved by the well-known and well-respected quantum physicist, David Bohm: that there is no experiment that can be conducted that is not influenced by the presence of the conductor of the experiment. Science has long been known to be as subjectively interpreted and guided by the thoughts and feelings of the observer as astrology or history or business or any other pursuit anyone might undertake on this planet. Dr. Bohm’s book, Thought Systems, would also be useful reading for our times. He possessed a wonderfully integrated understanding of scientific phenomena and collective unconscious processes that direct our thoughts and behaviors and structure our concepts of accepted reality.
Looking down now from an altitude where some equality of perspective has been established (and undone the ego attachments necessary for hierarchical structures to maintain themselves), let’s shift our gaze to the simple activities undertaken by different disciplines when viewing the same object, such as those astronomers and astrologers engage in when viewing Ophiuchus. Let’s pretend Ophiuchus is a very large, rich abstract painting hanging in a well-known museum. Let’s then imagine that our astronomer and astrologer have gone to the museum together to see this painting and are now standing side by side in mutual contemplation of it. I will generalize here just to keep it simple. The astrologer will likely engage in observations and jotting down notes related to the curves and streaks and lines and symbolic meanings of these markings as she regards both the details and overall impression of the painting as a whole. The astronomer may well be making notations around where on the wall the painting is located as well as pondering the biochemical components of the gross and fine materials of which the painting is made. Both may be imagining what images might be revealed if the painting were observed through different wavelengths of the light spectrum.
Now, our two cohorts in creative observational crime go have coffee and talk about their outing together. This is where the leap from oppositional world wrestling championships over who’s right and who’s wrong and into an exploratory conversation needs to be made (like going to a movie/dinner date and talking about the film together) in order to arrive anywhere mutually useful. In Hegelian philosophy, this is known as the dialectical process, in which two dialogues (or more, polylogues) are allowed to be co-mingled, thoroughly discussed and a higher order of understanding and meaning is realized through the activity. And the parties involved gain enormous satisfaction in having engaged in a journey of discovery together, which allows both of their individual perspectives to be broadened and deepened. It results in an expansion of possibilities that can take place and new, experimental processes that can be explored.
If we want to have more fun with the process, one can engage in imaginary games (which is exactly how physicists think up theories about the universe), such as pretending our astrologer is from Zimbabwe and our astronomer is from Thailand. Or Brazil and Russia. Or Estonia and the Falkland Islands. Each one would give us another fascinating wavelength of refractive light from a larger prismatic crystal. Our early astronomers and astrologers (those that spoke arabic and quechua) knew the beauty of the partnership between imagination and calculation.
There is here, a marriage which is just waiting to be realized within us. And it is, indeed, made in heaven. It is a great deal easier than we make it; we simply need to take our noses out of the net and stop vying for the top of the heap. It is this lesson, this exploration of the metaphorical with the material, of the rational with the impressionistic, of the right brain with the left brain – that I believe Ophiuchus and the Galactic Center are trying to communicate to us as they boldly step into our headlines and tweets at this moment. No one can know nor own the “correct” interpretation of Ophiuchus’ meaning. It is time for us to distance ourselves from bonobo land and move into the realms of both/and equality relations. We have the ability to engage in the vitality and immediacy of face-to-face, organic creativity we are so desperately trying to find inside our HD tv or laptop screens.
Our models for life aren’t in there.
They’re out there.