the thing I came for
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
— Adrienne Rich

A Whole New Sound

By Eric Francis | Image by Rami Schandall

URANUS HAS A TENDENCY to show up for inventions. At Kitty Hawk, Aquarius was rising and Uranus was conjunct the Sun. When Freud did his most important work, Uranus was opposing his natal Uranus. When the 1960s happened, with their technical advances, revolts, upheavals and group consciousness -- and the creation of much brilliant art and music -- Uranus was there. Astrologers, noticing this over the ages, came to associate Uranus with the process of invention and discovery.

Uranus was, I forgot to mention, the first planet ever discovered by a scientist. That was in 1781, at the dawn of the era of science: the beginning of the Age of reason when logic superseded intuition and faith; of the supremacy of man's mind, and his inventions, over God's. That was a revolution.

Aquarius (wedded to Uranus in the minds of most modern astrologers) is the sign of technology. (Virgo and Gemini are also pretty nerdy, but Aquarius is the energy of unmitigated scientific advance.) In the seven or so years that Uranus shone its light in Aquarius, people went from not knowing what the Internet was to every coffee maker and CD player having its own password and IP address. That is fast progress, and it's not getting any slower.

I love thinking about my sweet little Uranus in Capricorn-era first Macintosh, the Mac-II CX, the one Aunt Josie (who would have turned 100 this year) bought for me (generously, writing a check for $5,000 at her kitchen table). It ran at 14 megahertz (that means the processor cycles 14,000,000 times per second). Today, decent laptops run at 1,250 megahertz (1.25 gigs, or 1,250,000,000 times per second), and many desktops clock nearly twice the speed. Numerous other developments (the speed of memory and disk drives, and how cheap memory is so you can get lots of it) speed up the process.  Yet, our brains work faster and have more memory capacity than most computers. But that's only for the moment. Does your brain sometimes hurt with the speed at which you can potentially zip around the web?

Faster does not necessarily mean more creative, but it can. It can also mean a big pile of technology without a lot of soul to back it up. The problem here is that we are created by our technology, and we're currently being created by it a lot faster than we're creating it. Have you noticed how fast time moves in our society? Could this have anything to do with how joined our minds are to these computers that run faster and faster by the day? Why do we want them to run faster? Is it our desire? Or have computers acquired a momentum of their own, which we now follow anxiously, running to keep up with them?

Okay, that was the story of Uranus in Aquarius. Note, one effect of this transit was to bring people together through technology. Case in point, you're reading this on the Internet. Had I written it in a book or magazine, you would have had to go a long way to find it. Case 2 in point, the worldwide Feb. 15 protests of 2003, where millions of people were convened around the world via Internet. We have yet to see the full effects of that joining together. On the other hand, we are conducting many of our relationships across the ether. This has its pluses and big minuses. We are both closer together and further apart. Shielded by a screen we can be whoever we want to be, anyone except, perhaps, who we really are.

One advantage of this all has been a modicum of independence. Even in a world where a handful of corporations control half the world's media networks, Truthout, MoveOn, Buzzflash, MediaWhores, FAIR and many other progressive organizations can spread accurate information to millions of people in a media environment where the truth is rare to find. You can say what you want in this environment, and you have to hope for (or be savvy enough to attract) somebody to read it. Of course, this also means that a whole lot of misinformation, or is that disinformation, is out there as well. Do we have time to sort out the truth from the lies?

To the Holodeck: Uranus in Pisces

HOLOGRAMS HAVE BEEN part of sci-fi for a long time; the most famous was R2D2's little movie of Princess Leah pleading to Obi-Wan Kinobe for help. Soon after came the holodeck of the newer Star Trek episodes. But the idea of a holoworld goes back to one of the earliest episodes of Star Trek, The Cage, where people live in a world of mutually-shared illusion. It is this world where Captain Pike disappears in an illusory healthy body after being severely disfigured.

Just like in 1995 most of us could never have imagined wandering around to cafés with WiFi connections tapping high-speed Internet access over a spot of latté, we can barely imagine the technological mind meld that is currently rising like the infrared tide.

You can now be injected with millions of little computers (sorry for those who read Wired, this is damn old news). Imagine if those microcomputers could be synced up with your, um, whatever it will be called in two years -- your personal assistant gadget. To get at your address book, you think of it. Then, you notice your coworker, the one who smells really good, and get charged with harassment because the IT department intercepted your thought.

If Uranus in Aquarius is dependent upon computer hardware for its effects, Uranus in Pisces will deliver a world where the psychic field is the technological field. What psychic field, you say? Oh, you know, the one that emanates from our bodies and subtle bodies. The one that's already drowning in microwaves through which our cell phones chatter with their local tower, and the energy swirling in the technospheres of our homes and offices. We are unsure as to how these microwaves are affecting our psychic field, but the evidence that they have a big effect is piling up fast.

If today we see and are affected by technology as a thing apart from ourselves, Uranus in Pisces is likely to continue a pattern of increasing transparency to technology, integrating it more deeply into our routines and our environment, and ultimately into our bodies and senses. There are two general directions this can go, I think. One is that we recognize the stunning technological equipment with which we were born. Our bodies sense the environment, they communicate without sounds and written words, they heal themselves and one another. Many of us are going to develop these skills in greater depth and greater number.

Then there's another possible direction. Things like electronic hearing implants and heart defibrillators seem like good common sense today; like the fruits of progress. And this progress will progress. The line between human and electronic will get ever fuzzier.

How will you feel when the datasphere is able to enter your mind without the assistance of our own motor actions or sensory availability? When you walk into a store and are synced up with the store's computer? When you can lay back and scan this article on the backs of your eyelids? You know, when you can slip into the matrix and entirely be in this other unworld? Pretty nice, if it's Planet Waves or the Tahitisphere. The problem is that the masters of technology are the masters of war, and they are not cool. They are the living incarnation of uncool. And they want you.

Then there are hackers. Oh, Joe? He's home sick from work. He caught a computer virus.

There will be some rich possibilities, too, if you're rich: the iWife. She costs a quarter mil, but man, she's nice. Comes in any color you like, speaks in any accent, specializes in anything. You just have to get used to the fact that she runs at 81 degrees (or forgets who she is), and then you can have a really good time. No arguments, take her bowling, turn her off when you want.

In 25 years, people will likely wonder what those people were like who remembered life before everything was electronic; when there was natural, untweaked biology; when people knew one another face to face. People will wonder about the transition time, and the sense of what was being traded off. Did those people see the future coming? We are those people; many of us can still remember both worlds, if we try. We can remember  when a café was for drinking coffee, not emailing England. We're the ones who stand at the mysterious hour of dawn, or is it dusk. But I don't think we see what is coming.

Pisces is a realm of consciousness that's so etheric few people can grasp it at all. We have to use words like mystical, dreamy, spiritual and idealistic. Now, it's being activated by a surge of high-frequency power by a planet associated with rapid, irreversible revolutions and technology. That planet is becoming us and we are becoming it. It's a whole new color, light and sound.

Where do want to go with this becoming? What will you tell your grandchildren? Will you remember what a strawberry tasted like?  Or will the technology tell you? And who told it? [aq]