The Age of Aquarius

Social media was my Achilles heel for quite a while. I always wondered, what need I had for virtual connections. Friends, family, colleagues are flesh and blood, as are even strangers in the city. The pandemic changed that. Creating a virtual friends network online, engaging with people I have never known before or even met, was something new. I follow an amazing creative community on Instagram besides tons of my ex students, friends, family etc. It’s a great network for me on the web, since I use very little, the other social media platforms. It took some learning though, moving out of my comfort zone and feeling confident about posting poems; I am no shrinking violet but displaying poetry on social media was quite disconcerting at first, not that I have issues with this at my blog (or blogs) but Instagram  is another animal. It was through sheer trial and error of trying to understand the logic behind following, followers, likes, building engagement, hashtags, target audience etc [1] that I have arrived at thinking at how useful this platform is, not as it would be for an influencer or for those marketing merchandise, but for the sole purpose of tapping into the creative hive, so to speak and for an authentic engagement. I think, we encounter all sorts, those that are unfriendly in the ‘real world’ and those that are affable in the virtual. Contrary to claims made about social media (and I admit, I almost got off it, being disillusioned in some part by the superficiality I encountered at times), I think it helped instill discipline into my writing as I took it seriously in the company of others that truly enjoy their own engagement with their art. I believe some of the most amazing people I have met on Instagram are those that create, share their work, knowledge and talent for no credit whatsoever. This is exactly what they must mean when they say humanity is moving into the Age of Aquarius*.

In the Greek tradition, the constellation of Aquarius came to be represented simply as a single vase from which a stream poured down to Piscis Austrinus. The name in the Hindu zodiac is likewise kumbha “water-pitcher” (Wikipedia)
Picture: “Aquarius, Piscis Australis & en:Ballon Aerostatique”, plate 26 in Urania’s Mirror, a set of celestial cards accompanied by A familiar treatise on astronomy … by Jehoshaphat Aspin. London. Astronomical chart, 1 print on layered paper board : etching, hand-colored ~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquarius_(constellation)#/media/File:Sidney_Hall_-Urania’s_Mirror-Aquarius,_Piscis_Australis&_Ballon_Aerostatique.jpg
(In the Public Domain)Source: http://loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3g10072/


For those not familiar with the symbolism of Astrology, Pisces (symbol of fish; think early Christians **) was the age of belief systems. It appears, we still run the gamut of belief, from self absorption masquerading as self belief to those beliefs embedded in the artifice and edifice of our times or within our various echo chambers. It has been said that the Age of Aquarius is meant to be visionary, rebellious, innovative and eccentric, humanitarian, a disruption of the system. If these are the buzzwords for the coming age, then would it not be great to be a part of it? The internet social media platforms with their promise of an extensive social connectivity fit right into this theme, given, they remain humanitarian, inclusive and uplifting. They will hopefully inspire innovation not simply in technology but in a change of mindset to allow for pluralistic endeavour beyond tribal sensibilities. This Aquarian vision should also slowly but steadily help re-evaluate the widgets of materialism, to morph into what are other than private granaries or exclusive pharaonic pyramids so to speak. Presently, the world appears quite far from this ideal but it seems to be headed there, at least in its Utopian futuristic technology.


Having imagined the Age of Aquarius as waking up to this transformed outlook in the reconfiguration of patterns, I’ve tried to parse these very ‘lofty thoughts’ in a poem 🙂 🙂 Herein, I have alluded to the four elements of the Zodiac: fire, earth, air, and water and we all have some bit of each. The Pileated Woodpecker, I recognise as a bird quite fitting the new Tech ideal, in that the holes it leaves in dead wood, are uniquely rectangular, like the black hole of a hand held device 🙂 It is a striking bird and we had the pleasure of seeing one, up close recently, but thought it better to watch and listen than take a picture.

Source Woodpeckers: Wikipedia

Source holes :https://www.conservancyforcvnp.org/im-peck-able-birds-of-cvnp/3-pileated-woodpecker-holes/

In the Age of Aquarius

Reluctant to the invitation of sleep,
for yesterday's spent force
was patterned in harlequin dreams,
the kind that float onto your pillow
you leave in a dripping sweat.
And there, in the age of self belief,
in hastily drawn testaments
of portraiture, we were all exhorted
to homogeneously flicker in fire,
wallow in icy water, raise dust
in a hot dry wind, covet
the dead as does sodden Earth,
iron out the wrinkles and
stretch the taut attitude.
Life, simply imagery, the miracle
of the seven loaves and fish.
But it's the lustre of dawn, that is
a soft caress on every dark patch,
the interplay of light in the leaves
as they glisten to speak a language
the spirit still struggles to understand.
There's the pileated woodpecker,
a rebel on his patch
of spent mottled tree trunk,
punctuating the silence
in a Morse code racket
envisioning a telegram through
to the Age of Aquarius.
Now, if these syllables should flow
to spark fire in the soul of humanity,
then we would all be fiery risings,
fluidly flow to feel like water,
think up the momentum
of the wind, strop to the rhythm
of a steadfast fecund Earth,

Edit: I substituted disturbing with punctuating; need to work on my patience with editing. I’m too in a hurry to post as soon as a post is done.

Some interesting reads:
[1]Coursera, a MOOC that started on very Aquarian principles, has some interesting courses on using digital apps for social media visuals, designing Instagram and Facebook stories, even courses on social media marketing and social media management.

The University of California runs a free course on the strategy of content marketing ~https://www.coursera.org/learn/content-marketing

The University of Virginia runs a course on personal branding. Content for both courses is offered for free without the certification ~https://www.coursera.org/learn/personal-branding

*https://www.astrologyzone.com/age-of-aquarius/
Here, Susan Miller, who has been described as fashion’s favourite astrologer by Vogue, makes predictions for a new century at her website, Astrology Zone. It’s always interesting how astrologers see it.

**https://www.vedanet.com/secrets-of-the-yugas-or-world-ages/ The Yugas or World-ages are an important part of Hindu thought and Vedic Astrology. Here David Frawley examines the view of the Yugas set forth by Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda and his guru Sri Yukteswar. I particularly enjoyed his description of cultures along the lines of ascending and descending, cultural and societal inertia or cultures that are deemed immature, materialistic and sensate oriented. It is another perspective on existence.

In the poem:

Miracle of the seven loaves and fish: In Christianity, the Feeding the multitude is two separate miracles of Jesus reported in the Gospels. The first miracle, the “Feeding of the 5,000”, is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels[1] (Matthew 14-Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6-Mark 6:31-44; Luke 9-Luke 9:12-17; John 6-John 6:1-14). The second miracle, the “Feeding of the 4,000”, with 7 loaves of bread and fish, is reported by Matthew 15 (Matthew 15:32-39) and Mark 8 (Mark 8:1-9), but not by Luke or John. (Source: Wikipedia)

In Western astrology and Sidereal astrology four elements are used: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. In ancient astrology, triplicities were more of a seasonal nature, so a season was given the qualities of an element, which means the signs associated with that season would be allocated to that element. (Source~Wikipedia)

The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the biggest, most striking forest birds on the continent. It’s nearly the size of a crow, black with bold white stripes down the neck and a flaming-red crest. Look (and listen) for Pileated Woodpeckers whacking at dead trees and fallen logs in search of their main prey, carpenter ants, leaving unique rectangular holes in the wood. The nest holes these birds make offer crucial shelter to many species including swifts, owls, ducks, bats, and pine martens. (Source:https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pileated_Woodpecker/overview#)

Abridged

My blogging hour today, looked a bit like this below; a bridge over moisture and pebbles 🤷‍♀️It’s a fancy bridge though, diacritical marks, lines and everything. (I notice now, some leafy punctuation too)

Somewhere in a forest in Pennsylvania.

And then it increasingly began to look like this …

The three tiers of angels:
Stare at 26 letters on the keypad long enough to rediscover that there are
10 above, 9 next and 7 letters below. The top layer is most powerful I think, with four vowels and rhetoric. The lowest layer are like a proletariat of fallen angels, working hard at words but merely making it past Onomatopoeia, a term in fact allocated by the priests and gentry above in some peurile fashion of quantitative easing. I never understood that term but this could just be it. The middle layers appear to be grousing incessantly about the afflictions of privilege … ADD, ADHD, LSD or plainly SAD. The GIF are the fourth estate and emojis, a preconceived catechism. When I say 🤩 I see stars only after the emoji, thus with the three tiers of angels I suspect.

I love words, they can be so powerful when saying the right things; so gravelly when one has to eat them, so unfortunate too, when one tries to converse with a tone deaf animal, like supplications to a rattle snake for instance (I did that on one rare occasion a long while ago, it makes me cringe now and a reptile’s a reptile). It brings to mind a memory of when my driving instructor told me that I should never ever honk at a buffalo or a rickshaw (tuk tuk) as both would be unable to understand the language of the horn (I learnt to drive in India). Words are so beautiful when making a promise and heavenly when delivering on it, healing when in poems and mantras, trenchant in sarcasm, violent in battle cry, inspiring in revolutions, so important too for speaking long distance with family. Most of all, I love words in writing but sometimes, they seem very hard to string together…

Start writing...
The WordPress 
paragraph prompt 
is an overseer with a whip
and I feel like an excuse
of a bridge over waters 
troubled in stone, 
not exactly the Nile 
but crossing sentences 
across the shallows
is simply being cross at life 
And the words rasp 
at my throat,
circuit my lobes housed 
in a head, fancy that!
But inflections are a mere 
tingle in my fingertips.
This must be writer's bridge ×=====×

The term ‘writer’s block’ feels like a dam against a conceit of deep waters, that could burst into a deluge or something along the lines of it. A ‘writer’s bridge’ in contrast feels like one must de-silt the river, create depth, more flow, to be a bridge that actually counts.

Dawn accreted glow 
like a need to walk 
out of a tangle 
of poetry in my head, 
to open fields someplace.
It must be the stars 
that rally us to 
experiential delights 
in thorny shrubs,
stinging wasps 
and atmosphere. 

It reminds me of Anne Sexton’s poem, ambition bird and her business of words …

The business of words keeps me awake.
I am drinking cocoa,
the warm brown mama.

I would like a simple life
yet all night I am laying
poems away in a long box.

It is my immortality box,
my lay-away plan,
my coffin.


Ambition Bird by Anne Sexton
Read more~https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/148744/the-ambition-bird-5c11322239c2b

It brings me to this wonderful transcript I read this morning, on a speech by Virginia Woolf, on words … In the link is an animation of a BBC radio broadcast she made on 29th of April 1937, they brought it down to two minutes and I enjoyed this immensely. It made my morning to listen to a person that I have come to love after engaging with poetry; it takes a certain maturity to warm up to Woolf, to see her brilliance with the very words she speaks of.

She says:

Words belong to each other, although, of course, only a great writer knows that the word “incarnadine” belongs to “multitudinous seas”. To combine new words with old words is fatal to the constitution of the sentence.

Further on:

...hence the unnatural violence of much modern speech; it is a protest against the puritans. They are highly democratic, too; they believe that one word is as good as another; uneducated words are as good as educated words, uncultivated words as cultivated words, there are no ranks or titles in their society.

Nor do they like being lifted out on the point of a pen and examined separately. They hang together, in sentences, in paragraphs, sometimes for whole pages at a time. They hate being useful; they hate making money; they hate being lectured about in public. In short, they hate anything that stamps them with one meaning or confines them to one attitude, for it is their nature to change.

Perhaps that is their most striking peculiarity – their need of change. It is because the truth they try to catch is many-sided, and they convey it by being themselves many-sided, flashing this way, then that. Thus they mean one thing to one person, another thing to another person; they are unintelligible to one generation, plain as a pikestaff to the next. And it is because of this complexity that they survive.

Finally:

Finally, and most emphatically, words, like ourselves, in order to live at their ease, need privacy. Undoubtedly they like us to think, and they like us to feel, before we use them; but they also like us to pause; to become unconscious. Our unconsciousness is their privacy; our darkness is their light… That pause was made, that veil of darkness was dropped, to tempt words to come together in one of those swift marriages which are perfect images and create everlasting beauty. But no – nothing of that sort is going to happen tonight. The little wretches are out of temper; disobliging; disobedient; dumb. What is it that they are muttering? “Time’s up! Silence!”

If not for this broadcast, I would have never known that ‘incarnadine’ is actually a colour and is defined as a bright crimson or pinkish-red colour. (And no, I did not study Macbeth at school)

'Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red' Macbeth (Act II, Sc. II). 

Incarnadine brings to mind an image of the Red Canna by Georgia O’Keeffe, that I took at the library recently, which suggests, incarnadine should in fact be like the poetry of words, indefinable, not conscripted to one single shade and number in a paint catalogue. It manifests when one looks at the entire image, much like evolution I would like to believe, intricate fractals in the details. So it is with words perhaps, do they entropy towards the heat death of silence I wonder ? Some believe in Gods and deities, I believe in the colours of the red Canna today, the words of Virginia Woolf, the breath of fresh air and beauty in the infinite complexity of our universe. I think our lives are secreted within yet occluded by the literature of words in the science of being and as Woolf so elegantly observed: (at least about the English language, could apply to any other)

Our business is to see what we can do with the English language as it is. How can we combine the old words in new orders so that they survive, so that they create beauty, so that they tell the truth? That is the question.

And the person who could answer that question would deserve whatever crown of glory the world has to offer. Think what it would mean if you could teach, if you could learn, the art of writing. Why, every book, every newspaper would tell the truth, would create beauty. But there is, it would appear, some obstacle in the way, some hindrance to the teaching of words. For though at this moment at least 100 professors are lecturing upon the literature of the past, at least a thousand critics are reviewing the literature of the present, and hundreds upon hundreds of young men and women are passing examinations in English literature with the utmost credit, still – do we write better, do we read better than we read and wrote 400 years ago when we were unlectured, uncriticised, untaught? Is our Georgian literature a patch on the Elizabethan?

Where then are we to lay the blame? Not on our professors; not on our reviewers; not on our writers; but on words. It is words that are to blame. They are the wildest, freest, most irresponsible, most unteachable of all things. Of course, you can catch them and sort them and place them in alphabetical order in dictionaries. But words do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind. If you want proof of this, consider how often in moments of emotion when we most need words we find none. Yet there is the dictionary; there at our disposal are some half-a-million words all in alphabetical order.

But can we use them? No, because words do not live in dictionaries, they live in the mind. 
Red Canna by Georgia O’Keeffe

References:

Anne Sexton poem~https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/148744/the-ambition-bird-5c11322239c2b

Virginia Woolf on words ~https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20160324-the-only-surviving-recording-of-virginia-woolf