Dear Friend and Reader:
Recently I’ve been getting more deeply into the work and the ideas of someone named Marshall McLuhan. He is a very cool philosopher who lived from 1911 to 1980, and I’m more excited about his ideas than ever.
After working for many years as an English professor and not-exactly-bestselling author, Marshall McLuhan burst into popular consciousness in the very busy year of 1964 as a pop icon intellectual.
His focus was media theory, something that till that time was not an actual field of study. Just think — a pop icon intellectual, wearing a suit, speaking in big words and complex concepts. Over 30 years old, no less.
McLuhan’s gift to us was to point out the obvious. He saw that the world was in a time of profound transition, and he pointed that out. He knew that it had something to do with exposure to television, and he pointed that out.
He introduced his reading public to the concept of pattern recognition. He observed that the environment that surrounds us, and through which we swim, is invisible. That was an invitation to pay attention.
Though he was writing and speaking into chaotic, painful times, he spoke with impeccable faith.
“The mark of our time,” he wrote in the introduction to Understanding Media, “is revulsion against imposed patterns. We are suddenly eager to have things and people declare their beings totally. There is a deep faith to be found in this new attitude — a faith that concerns the ultimate harmony of being.”
Monday we get to experience the sixth of seven exact contacts of the Uranus-Pluto square. I describe this as the 2012-era aspect — the thing that’s in the background of the times we’re living in. The first in the sequence of squares was in June 2012, and the last is in March 2015.
Thanks to this astrology, or rather the symbol that it offers, anything that happens now is what you might call a sign of the times.
The bizarre psychedelic madness that is ripping through society is like nothing seen or felt since the Uranus-Pluto conjunction in 1965 and 1966, of which the current astrology is a direct extension. McLuhan’s work was synchronized with the conjunction, and his quotation above represents to me its highest potential.
Today we are experiencing something of a flip, an inversion or reversal of what was happening in the Sixties. Today it seems that what people are finally figuring out is the extent to which people’s totality of being has been crushed, swallowed or hidden under 100 layers of something.
In much the same way that the Sixties were defined by television becoming ubiquitous, our era is defined by the Internet becoming ubiquitous. True, there was an Internet 20 years ago, but it’s only very recently that just about everyone had access right in their pocket.
Looking things up in Wikipedia while having dinner in a restaurant is new. Everyone, everywhere having a camera and a video camera and a tape recorder on them at nearly all times is new. Being able to call Hawaii or Tokyo on a pocket phone is new.
When we think about 2014, in public events we will remember Michael Brown and Eric Garner. We’ll remember, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” We will remember the Senate’s report on CIA torture, which allegedly ended after Bush and Cheney left office. It’s becoming obvious to anyone paying attention that the government can arrest, torture and kill anyone it wants to.
Since there are no private thoughts — any picture you’ve ever texted or sexted, anything you’ve ever put in an email or posted to social media is in a database somewhere — the best you can hope is that nobody decides you’re a heretic. The safest thing to be right now is somebody not worth bothering with.
The fantasy of the “good government” is done for. The whole “proud to be an American” thing is about as convincing as the annual UFO fan gathering at Roswell (well, that’s actually more convincing). Anyone who proudly supported the war against Iraq now has to confront the reality of the government’s (and its contractors’) conduct there.
Much as McLuhan said that the total being of the individual was encouraged and indulged in the Sixties, today the total being of society and what it does to people is being exposed.
Does anyone who owns an iPhone not know that it was manufactured by slaves? And yet we still use the things, mainly because it’s the thing to do. We use them as well because they give us the power of participation.
Now, we expect no delay in getting the results of anything via one feed or another. And this is changing everything and everyone.
Amidst vicious and grave injustice in the world, there are many other things going on, down on the ground. We live in an era of retrieving things we’ve forgotten about. Many of them are old, and some are very old. In our time, we think of them all in the general category of ‘do it yourself’. Part of this is about difficult economic times. Part is about the availability of resources online. Some of it’s trendy. Many people are actually devoted to what they’re creating, and to attaining a real degree of mastery. [I wrote about this trend as a function of Pluto in Capricorn in the article Everything Old is New Again.]
People growing their own food is a big one. I’ve met dozens of young people who introduced themselves to me as farmers. I am sure every single one and many more participate in the revival of breast feeding. What a concept. Windmills are starting to pop up in the strangest places, such as where there is moving air. They actually seem to work. Go figure.
Many people brew their own beer, grow their own pot, ferment their own kombucha or yogurt, make their own musical instruments or at least their own music. We’re retrieving the vestiges of early civilization. Among young astrologers, the ancient techniques are all the rage — not the newly discovered planets.
Ptolemy would feel welcome at any contemporary astrology conference, and the kids would flock to him. New planet astrologers are token guests, and a bit of ‘news of the weird’ rather than the cutting edge of the craft. Right now, the cutting edge is the rearview mirror. That may be a reaction to the 750,000 planets, large and small, known to be orbiting our Sun.
There are lots of other examples of DIY — such as hacking, home-made art crafts, making your own media such as a blog, setting up your own business (or four of them), and masturbation as a legitimate form of sex (and as something that can be publicly discussed and in some places shared collaboratively). Masturbation and porno are synonymous for many people and both are forms of ‘digital’ sex.
Sex, once so private, has been turned entirely inside out. Photos of one’s genitals are traded (mostly by young people, but by some older ones too) like baseball cards, and all that virtual cardboard is saved. Any form of sex about which you’re curious — any fetish or kink whatsoever including about skatey-eight things you never would have thought of — can be found in approximately 0.3 seconds that it takes for Google to return a search result. You can watch and find out where to participate.
To me this says that the mystique of fantasy is gone. True — it may have some personal value, and in a certain way, actual, self-generated fantasy is becoming a form of reality. Who has not questioned whether other people can see their most vivid thoughts? Who hasn’t hoped it’s true once or twice?
In the world of media, we want documentation, or the closest thing to it. For the most part, collective fantasy doesn’t work anymore as an agent of change (perhaps as a form of fleeting entertainment).
People are searching for reality, their reality and/or the ultimate one. Many might object to that idea on the basis of ‘smart’ phones taking over, though portable devices offer a form of immediate participation (especially when compared to a television commercial or newscast).
We don’t know yet where this conversion point (or convergence point) that we’re in is going to turn out; where it’s going to lead us. It’s not easy to see where this is all going, but probably not toward the fantasy worlds of utopia or dystopia.
Along the way, you do have the opportunity to participate as much as you want. You can run but you cannot hide from the Internet (or your mom or your kids or your Twitter followers or the NSA). That feeling alone is one of the most powerful social vectors we live with today.
In that same book, Understanding Media, McLuhan wrote, “Today the action and the reaction occur almost at the same time. We actually live mythically and integrally, as it were, but we continue to think in the old, fragmented space and time patterns of the pre-electric age.”
Now, 50 years later, we expect to be in the instant action-reaction space. So we can look up that kombucha recipe and get right to work on the next batch. Or the very first one.
Reporting live from the Uranus-Pluto square, this is
Weekly Horoscope for Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, #1028 | By Eric Francis
Aries (March 20-April 19) — It is up to you to insist on justice, where justice must be done. This is true, even if you seem to be the only person who cares. It is therefore your right, privilege and responsibility to be fair, and to set the example of fairness. This is especially true in our times of shifting foundations and the decay of social values. Where there are no morals, that is when ethics must take over. These concepts are similar, though in my use of the words, morals are externally imposed, and ethics emerge from within oneself, as a voluntary choice. The thing is, you’re in an instant karma moment. The world will meet you exactly where you meet the world. Your fairness will be rewarded by that reflection in the universe. But what is more apparent is that your willingness to listen to others about what they value will create an environment where you feel safe being yourself. These small gestures add up to far-reaching changes.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — What is sex? It’s a gift; it’s a gesture of faith in humanity. It’s a revolutionary act. But is it fun? Well, that works better when you understand your motives. The fun quotient is also dependent on how you experience guilt, shame and piety. When sex is real, it puts everyone onto level ground. In order to get there, it’s necessary to go to the level of mortals. Modern humans are often obsessed with being spiritual, which loosely translates to ‘better than’. Sex is typically not seen as spiritual because for many it translates to ‘lower than’. I would say it really means ‘equal to’. Remember that you, like everyone, are made of the Earth. You are part of the Earth, which means equal to everything and everyone else that is here. The more you tap into this, even as an experiment, the more generous you will feel, and the stronger in your faith you will be.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — There are times when existence has the quality of a reflection, or rather, when it’s more noticeable. You might not recognize this moment as such. What you perceive is likely to be more than you think you are. It may also lack the simplicity and clarity that you aspire to; you may be looking at some rather unusual and complex circumstances. Rather than a mirror, I suggest you consider everything you perceive or experience to be relational. By that I mean, it’s available for you to enter into a relationship with. I mean anything, anyone, any situation, no matter how blazingly glorious, ordinary or weird it may seem. Treat everyone and everything around you as simply human. Present yourself as simply human. Make eye contact, say hello and extend your hand. Smile warmly and laugh at anything funny. (Footnote: check ‘star-struck’ at the door. Admiration is OK, but just a little, as it will get in the way. Stick to respect.)
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Home-cooked meals; that’s what you need. It doesn’t matter who does the cooking. It might be better if it were someone else, in someone else’s home, but really any home or anyone cooking will do. You are more the type to invite others over and make the effort. It would be awesome therapy for you to subject yourself to such treatment by someone else. Now, I recognize you might not be able to invite yourself…or can you? Is there anyone you can call up and say, “Would you please make me dinner?” (Breakfast or lunch will work, as will a midnight snack. The Universe is flexible.) Really think about it. There is surely someone. However, if there is not, then plan a meal, go to the store, and prepare some actual food in your actual kitchen. For yourself, and for others if you wish. I suggest you make a habit out of it for the next few weeks.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Once you contact the creative force within you, you won’t be able to stop it. You might be inclined to take other approaches to the current task at hand — such as labor, toil, effort, time applied to the situation and old-fashioned thoroughness, which all have their moments. Currently though, the force to be reckoned with is the power of an idea, indeed of many ideas. Take up the motto that there is a creative solution to everything. To use this method takes awareness, and a constant dialog with yourself about what you are doing, and why, and the nature of your reality. It requires seeing everything as a new possibility, all the time. That takes more discipline than doing anything the same way every time. Soon enough you will need to develop and apply the ideas that you’re having, and as the planets move over the next few weeks that will develop naturally. Just keep that inner dialog going.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — If you’re on a sexual purity campaign, don’t be surprised if it backfires. You seem to be trying to contain an abundance of emotional energy and afraid you might lose control. The way to keep some influence over the situation is to be real with yourself, and vent some steam. You could probably do a lot more than that and feel even better. From one point of view, your solar chart reads as if you’re concerned some authority figure is looming over you and going to question why you’re feeling so much all the time, or why you want to do whatever it is that you want to do. You don’t have to explain that any more than a bird has to explain why it flies. And if you do feel as if you must rationalize your existence, otherwise be confronted by authority, this would be the perfect time to ask yourself why, or rather whether, that is even true.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You have a story to tell. But you seem to be hesitating. You seem to think it’s too much, maybe more than anyone wants to hear, or more than you want to say. That, and you appear to be waiting for a moment where you can approach the work thoughtfully and carefully, with some discipline. I suggest you move forward now. You can have all the discipline in the world, and if you’ve lost contact with the seed of your idea, with the drive and the living impulse inside you, the perfect moment won’t mean much. So scratch your pen or pencil on the paper, even if it’s in broken or scattered thoughts that you cannot seem to capture fully. Work your way up to a few sentences. Soon enough you will have the focus to develop what now exists in a state of potential. At that time, any first draft at all is better than a blank page.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Keep your money to yourself, at least for a few days. Be careful making any commitments that are indefinite or that you don’t understand. Any ‘good time’ you have needs a fixed budget, such as how much you spend on alcohol, how much you spend to impress someone or how much you put on credit. Your charts seem to be offering some caution around expenditures associated with your infamous holiday generosity. The other side of this astrology is that you may be sitting on some unusual potential for earning revenue, which I suggest you consider with authentic interest and care. This plan must not require an outlay of cash, and if it does, I suggest you pause until the Sun enters Capricorn on the 21st before making any commitments. It could be good, though you really need to think it through methodically and perhaps with expert advice.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You are irresistible even to people who think they don’t like you, but now you’re working with some unusual charisma and influence. I don’t want to hype up what I see in your chart, though it has the quality of bending reality to your will — and that calls for caution. Pause for as few as five seconds and you will be able to see any situation from any point of view. That alone will be enough to convince someone that what you have is what they want. For that reason you must proceed thoughtfully with everyone you think you might influence. Think long-range and consider the long-term consequences. The idea here is not to have less fun, rather to have more fun with less inconvenience at some other time. However, that’s if you’re thinking small. If you want to influence something, focus on a goal of profound importance to you. If you’re craving contact, start with the one person who would mean the very most.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Your inner life and your outer life could hardly be more different. On the outside you’re the very image of impeccability. On the inside you want to explode with excitement, lust or cosmic energy. You may have those days where if someone brushes against you, you’ll let out a moan and burst. Said simply, an inner portal is open. Life force is pulsing through you, and that portal where all inspiration comes in is wide open. People work for years to make this happen, though it cannot be conjured — it can only be allowed, encouraged and appreciated. You might try to force that door closed, though that’s not really a good idea. It would be a waste of beautiful energy, and you could hurt yourself. I suggest you stop worrying what people might think if they knew what was really in your mind. Anyone perceptive enough to guess would be thrilled about it.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You appear to be on one of your independent streaks. And hey, it seems to be working. You need your freedom, and you alone understand how inherently this is woven into the fabric of your being. I suggest, though, that you check in with any significant others (one in particular, from the way the chart looks), and keep closer contact than you might ordinarily. This is not to cramp your style. There is someone in your life who wants nothing more than to be heard, but who may have difficulty expressing their emotional needs. I suggest you take just a little of that burden on. Take the initiative and ask how they’re feeling. Give them permission to open up. Your reward will be added freedom, enough to explore what you want, and enough to be trusted by someone you really care about. At the very least, you have nothing to lose by listening.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Focus everything into your real work — the most important and most meaningful task at hand — the one that counts now, and in the long run. Yes, eat food and get regular rest, and then focus on your highest goals with everything you’ve got. You are in an extraordinarily rare moment where what seemed impossible is right within reach. You might say this is the time to crack the glass ceiling. To do this well, you must apply discipline and a basic plan of action. Clean up any loose ends that might bind you to the past, including emotional ones that may have a bearing on your work. Eliminate any disadvantages that you can possibly avoid. You’re about to make contact with the power of focus in a way that you may never have before. You’ll soon discover that, even if your methods have been a bit haphazard, you’ve accomplished many things that do in fact add up to a lot. Gathering them together will be easier than you think.