Thursday, 2 October 2008


The stars are our timekeepers.

Their claim on our attention is profound and enduring. As far back as
we venture to go in the history of the great civilizations of the ancient world,
vanished already when Rome was built, they have always played a central role in
human affairs. Timeless and archetypal, it is the hidden purpose of the stars to
be gazed and wondered at as witnesses of our existence, indeed to be catalogued
and computed as living and oracular symbols in which men recognize their doubts and their dreams, their destinies, and perhaps even themselves.

Of course, like most attempts to describe the heavens, these are romantic stereotypes. But
if one is to ascribe a particular design to the stars for reasons other than
purely scientific, it is to provide a rationale for the human imagination and
thus to enhance the sphere of association and to waken and give guidance to
man’s capacity to evolve. This detail has importance since nothing yet discovered during the long history of human civilization rivals the charismatic conception of the stars as
a principle at once of energy and organization, as a living mythological symbol
of metaphysical redemption, an object of wonder, veneration, awe and
speculation, and even as a guide to the human psyche itself.

It might have been thought perhaps that modern men would seek to
disaffiliate from their archaic commitment to the eternal and the mythic, or in
some measure sacrifice psychological susceptibility to certain demands of logic
and exactitude. But for all our rationality, the impulse of the imagination
cannot be purged or refuted by facts. In our hearts and minds the fundamentally
active rather than the specifiably refractive, life rather than logic, has
proved itself a force of undiminished power.

Nor is it a question of physical measurement. Stellar evolution unfolds
against an authentic spiritual background, the ultimate incomprehensible
perspective from which everything has to be viewed - pure and unconscious space.
Because the universe we seek to fathom, in its spiritual essence as in every
aspect of its physical appearance as an impersonal force, uses the principle of
first causes as a means of conceptualising itself, it would also seem capable,
on these terms, of grasping itself as a purpose.

Intelligence involves self-knowledge. In fact, even without introducing
the concept of intelligibility, if there can be anything like a first cause, it
might just as well by the representation of the Universe as the object of its
own contemplation. An object, particularly with regard to the genesis of man,
which generates and extends itself by an ongoing process of self-realization.
Nor is it an abstract theory to suggest that what is in fact a crisis of modern
civilization is not so much indicated by the fact that the world’s ecological
life-support systems are under serious threat, but by circumstances which, at a
time of acute spiritual transition, appear to be the direct consequence of an
increasing vacuity of metaphysical purpose.



Crushed said...

I do like looking at the stars...

I look at that time and find myself conceptualising their distance amongst other things.

Co-incidently, I was looking earlier to see if I could find if any of these companies who allow to you 'name a star' publish their directories online.

The point being, that I know these names currently have no validity at all.
But might they have in the future?

It's something I was thinking of for a post I'm writing, because I wanted to se if Gliese 876 had any kind of name a bit more appropriate.

Selena Dreamy said...

It's something I was thinking of for a post I'm writing,'s not something I can help you with, Crushed, but I shall look forward to your post.

Selena Dreamy said...

PLEASE NOTE that having been subjected to a barrage of tabloid endearments, most of them featuring terms like f****, v*****, s********, b****, and m***** this blog will now be moderated!

I trust this will not cause any inconvenience, other than a brief delay.

Thank you for your patience!


Jonathan said...

I'd like to understand better than I do how this whole astrology business got started. Not just the idea that the stars influence us, but the notion of exactly how and in what manner. Who first entertained this idea? And in their reckoning did they receive their insights by a form of empirical observation, of a comparable, albeit richer, kind to that found in modern science (after all astronomy and astrology used to be one) - or as a result of what felt like revelation.

Also, if the stars influence us, can we not also influence them? If not that seems sad, and somehow unequal. Or are we addicted to the idea that our freedom and power must be circumscribed, and we the playthings of fate.

The stars (well, eleven of them) bowed down to Joseph in his dream. That may have been pushing things a bit too far in the other direction, but I appreciate the nod given to human autonomy at least, to our potential to be creatures of infinity. But of course that presupposes a prior receptivity to the stars, to the open, vibrant vault above us.

Selena Dreamy said...

Well, coincidentally or otherwise, but definitely fortuitously - in view of this post - we’ve just been reminded on Bryan’s blog that it is 400 years to the month since the invention of the telescope. And that, presumably, would have signalled a gradual transition from the age of astrology to that of astronomy.

Of course, Jonathan, whether we can actually influence the stars, is a much trickier question. Physicists, as you know, have been more or less forced to accept this mystical position because of the uncertainty principle. which has the potential to mutate fundamental properties of the invisible universe So far as I am concerned, I rather tend to think that cosmology, too, is simply the study of mental processes of which we are unaware...

Bob said...

It is amazing what you make out of hot balls of burning gas.

I don't agree that civilization is in a special crisis. Wars have allways been there, empires came and went, but man is still here and the avarage person has a better life then he ever had in history. Our will to survive is just too strong.

And as for the metaphysical purpose, I am not sure what you mean by that (maybe you can explain in another post). But the way I see it, 'spirituality' (whatever that is) and religion are not exactly declining. In fact, because fewer and fewer people understand modern technology and science, I feel that more and more people are escaping into these things.

Richard Havers said...

The fact is that when we're dead and gone there's little use for logic – it's a tad redundant. The only purpose of life is ultimately as an expression of individuality. Unique is one of the most overly used words in today's media. But we are all unique. . .probably.

Jonathan said...

I thought that astrology in the main (am I mistaken?) concerned stars that were not all that distant in any case and so wouldnt require a telescope to be observed?

In any case, one wonders about the chances of stars so distant from us that they can only be seen by telescope feeling that obliged to do something like influence us from such a distance. I presume they might have worlds of closer proximity to inter-animate with...

Selena Dreamy said...

Nor is it remotely conceivable that individuality, let alone personality can survive after death. And to suggest I impart my opinions on the basis of some metaphysical death-wish would be very silly. But so far as logic is concerned, Richard, I do marvel that so scrupulous an adherence to reason and causality is unable to redeem the simple thought that the human mind only abhors the idea of passing away on account of the greater impossibility of entertaining that of an infinity so flawless as to represent something absolutely perfect...

It’s not even religion - it’s just plain common sense!

Selena Dreamy said...

"In fact, because fewer and fewer people understand modern technology and science, I feel that more and more people are escaping into these things."

This is an obvious enough point. I will emphasize it by saying that the magical and the wonderful are elementary to every true therapy of the soul. By which I do not mean that they belong to an essentially illusory province. But while we may feel that the modern physicist has not given the public the inspiration they need, for him the real problem is to find a language and symbol sufficiently powerful and inspiriting to replace the function of myth in theology.

This, then, is the problem of our time. It may not be simple, but it is unambiguous!

Selena Dreamy said...

In any case, one wonders about the chances of stars so distant from us that they can only be seen by telescope..

It is interesting, is it not, Jonathan, how the human mind is preoccupied with notions which are intrinsically part of sensory perception, while the principles involved in modern physics strongly suggest that the ultimate laws of nature are not even remotely causal....

But that apart, Jonathan. Have you found permanent abode yet, or are you still at the youth hostel in Shanghai...?