Friday, July 01, 2016

Arty Farty Friday ~ Signs that whisper ...

Just for a change this week I decided to try to equate the 12 zodiac signs with various art styles or arty -isms. Somebody has already been there, done that etc:
The signs as art styles
The signs as art movements.
One could find numerous ways of attempting a similar exercise, endless examples of the art to present. I decided to find a painting which, for me, could represent each zodiac sign, in content and/or "feel" and spirit - not necessarily related to any art style, art movement, or Sun sign of the painter.

Click on images for clearer views.


First sign, Mars-ruled - I first think of military-related paintings - and as Aries is the first sign, let's go for a very early example:

 The Battle of Poitiers in 1356, in a manuscript of Froissart's Chronicles of c. 1410


First of two Venus-ruled signs - beautiful, earthy...John Constable:

 The White Horse by John Constable


First of two Mercury-ruled signs - deals in communication,, often, did Dadaism:


Ruled by the Moon, relates strongly to family, home, emotion, sentimentality - all frequently found in the work of Norman Rockwell:

 Coming & Going - Norman Rockwell


Ruled by the Sun - represents brightness, love of splendour and the spotlight. An old favourite painting of mine comes to mind - In years gone by (many years) I used to have a brooch, round, silver frame with a replica of this portrait embedded. I've always seen the portrait as bright, happy, warm and altogether splendid, just like the Sun-ruled sign.


Second Mercury-ruled sign - stickler for detail - has to be photo-realism:

 Ralph's Diner by Ralph Going


Second Venus-ruled sign, said to represent beauty, grace, charm, balance, tact. So...Michael Parkes always produces variations of those attributes:

 Concerti Vivaldi by Michael Parkes


Ruled by dark, sexy and transformative Pluto in modern astrology.

 Death and Life by Gustav Klimt


Jupiter-ruled sign of exuberance, richness, excess, philosophy and luck.

 The Wedding Dance by Pieter Bruegel


Saturn-ruled, business-oriented, earthy, practical and structured.

By  Piet Mondrian


Ruled in modern astrology by Uranus, planet of the unexpected and all that is avant garde or a wee bit odd.

 On the 1st March Crows Begin to Search by Kay Sage


Ruled by Neptune, planet of dreams, watery expanses, fog and illusion

 Coq Rouge Dans la Nuit by Marc Chagall

[Note re post title:
"Signs that whisper" is a phrase from the song "Signs" by Neil Diamond.]

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Two Films

We watched Spotlight via Netflix this week. "The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core." It's an engrossing, well-done, well-acted dramatisation of investigations conducted by a team of 4 journalists in 2001, in and around Boston. Highly recommended!

We've also watched recently a DVD of Joy, another fact-based story, this one biographical. The movie's subject is Joy Mangano, a self-made millionaire who created her own business empire. From a humble and chaotic dysfunctional family background her rise to success and wealth began with her initial invention of a self-wringing floor mop! A decent movie. I'd have preferred a little less detail of her early struggles, and more on her eventual rise in business, which was rushed into the closing minutes of the film. Other than that, an entertaining couple of hours or so.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Zodiac Sign Cancer Considered

In his book, Astrology published 1964, Louis MacNeice, not an astrologer, but a poet and scholar, gathered together much of interest from a variety of sources, ancient and modern. On zodiac sign Cancer, through which the Sun now travels, he wrote the paragraphs below, quoting from a variety of professional astrologers. This extract was not copied and pasted from elsewhere, but copy-typed by my own fair fingers, by the way, with illustrations added.
 Cancer by Erté
In spite of its name, Cancer is a homey, motherly sign, but also perhaps the most vulnerable. It is the sign of the summer solstice, from which it will be nine months before Aries comes around again; it can therefore be regarded as a symbol of fecundation and conception. As with the other signs, Barbault makes much of its position in the year, forgetting that many other countries have their spring and summer at different times from his. But on the symbolism of this sign and the psychology of Cancer people, he is at his most eloquent and suggestive. Because it is a cardinal sign and the first of the watery signs, he treats it as symbolizing the primal water - les eaux-mères - in the same way that Aries symbolizes the primal fire. It therefore stands for our ancestral origins, all organic life being assumed to have begun in the waters. It also stands, like the sea, for both intuition and introversion. It is the one and only sign ruled by the Moon, so Cancerian qualities are very much the same as the lunar qualities. The Moon, it will be remembered, is Our Lady of the Waters.

 From illustration by Ronald Searle
In accordance with this watery character, Barbault says that the Cancer type tends to be un végétatif. [Huh?] And the Cancer man (it is easier to be a Cancer woman and work it out in motherhood and the home) is often unduly feminine; as Pearce puts it, "effeminate in constitution and disposition". Cancer people can easily become "drowned in their own insecurity": They are over-emotional and sub-active. But there is another side to the picture. In its earlier pictorial representations Cancer was drawn as a crayfish, a creature that can give one a terrible nip. And even crabs, however soft inside, have a very hard shell and are difficult to dislodge from their chosen crannies. So throughout the centuries this sign has stood for tenacity. Not only of purpose but also for tenacity of memory - especially memory of childhood. Which brings us around to the home again. "Cherchez la mère", writes Barbault "et vous trouverez le Cancer!"

This sign, however, stands for not only motherly people but mother-fixated people. Being extremely sensitive, it is in fact a sign of many colors and moods. Many astrologers consider that it makes excellent teachers (or actresses) and in it Barbault distinguishes what appear on the surface to be two quite different types: the stay-at-home, sufficient-unto-the-day type and the explorative, castles-in-the-air type. (Actually, he would not claim that these are more than subtypes.)

Earlier astrologers laid less stress on the profundities and sensitivities of this sign and more on its crab nature. According to Varley, Cancer tends to give "a crabbed, short-nosed class of persons, greatly resembling a crab in features, when viewed in front; these people resemble crabs, also, in the energy and tenacity with which they attack any object." And in spite of his shy and retiring nature a Cancer friend can be a social asset. Gleadow advises anyone about to give a dinner party: "If you want to know about food or wine ask Cancer." (He adds unkindly: "And if you want someone who will not object to whatever you do choose Pisces.")
Morrish, in his Ladder of Being (or more strictly speaking, of Becoming), makes Cancer the first of three rungs representing gestation and birth. (He suggests that the heiroglyph could stand not only for crab-claws but for breasts.) The Zodiacal opposite to Cancer is of course Capricorn, an earthy no-nonsense sign that does not suffer from hypersensitivity. The signs that Cancer gets on with are Pisces and Taurus; but in mundane astrology Cancer and Capricorn are bracketed together, not only because they are both solstitial signs (one summer, one winter) but because they are the traditional fields for world-wide disasters. A third-century B.C. astrological missionary from ancient Babylon to Greece named Berosus taught that, when all the planets are in conjunction in Cancer, there will be a universal conflagration (a summery type of disaster); when they get together in Capricorn, there will be a universal deluge.

So there is Cancer, the only sign ruled by the Moon. Water, water. everywhere - but also tenacity and patience, maternal love, understanding of others, extreme sensitivity, and introversion. And next door to it, with the usual dramatic juxtaposition, what should we find but the only sign ruled by the Sun?
Astrologers mentioned:
André Barbault
A.J. Pearce
John Varley
Morrish (L. Furze-Morrish?)
Rupert Gleadow

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Easier to Blame the Faceless

A moving piece at The Guardian yesterday by Mike Carter bought tears to my eyes:
I walked from Liverpool to London. Brexit was no surprise.
Maybe the Brexit vote from the people living in areas Carter describes was inevitable - they needed to blame someone and to, at last, make themselves heard. I understand their pain and frustration, I do! Yet they were not aiming their wrath in the right direction.

Among the 2000+ comments under Mike Carter's article I saw one with which I 100% agreed, posted by another Annie: "Annie M"

As the fallout continues, this is another truth emerging: that it's much easier to blame "abroad" in the guise of the EU/faceless bureaucrats and those darn immigrants than it is to blame the home team. Consecutive governments on all sides from Thatcher on down to today, with their failure to serve the people who elected them, is the real reason for this disastrous Brexit vote. I've long been predicting that the working class will rise again, possibly through some new configuration of organised labour, but perhaps this referendum has been their single best weapon to stick it to the ruling class however devastating the outcome. (Annie M)

I'm both very sad, and very angry at the situation in which my old homeland finds itself now, with no strong leadership to steer it through the tangle ahead. Perhaps this is the fever stage, it'll continue for a short time, then break and a slow healing will begin, though it will be leaving the country weaker, for many years, than need ever have been the case. Will those people on Mike Carter's route be any better off though?

I voted in many General Elections during my 60+ years in England, I always voted Labour - always! Labour used to be the party of the working classes. Labour changed though, just as the Democratic party in the US has changed over the years. Both parties abandoned their roots long ago - and that is where the true rot is seated, both here in the USA and there in Britain - and where all the blame should rightly be aimed.

The EU isn't perfect, far from it, but it's being made the scapegoat for decades of what's now called neoliberalism in national governments - abandonment of the working classes by all political parties. Conservatives and Republicans never pretended to represent the working classes - how so many years under their rule have happened I shall never understand, but at least they never pretended to be something they were not. The poisoning of the Labour Party and the Democratic Party are crimes which will need to be accounted for at some point - perhaps not quite yet, it seems, but soon.

I let my keyboard cool down after typing the above, and moved on to read the day's offerings at The Smirking Chimp. I was happily surprised to find a piece by one of my favourite writers, absent for many months. Prof. David Michael Green's piece is an excellent commentary on the overall, worldwide situation which has directly brought about the results on which I've scribbled above. Prof DMG's article is titled:
How The West Was Lost and Other Joys of Greedy Sociopathy - do give it a read!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Movie Music Monday ~ Bernard Herrmann

Bernard Hermann, American composer and conductor best known for his work in composing for motion pictures was born this week, on 29 June in 1911.

A look at his natal chart, to discover whether it was a good fit. On first glance, the presence of Neptune (film) in the same sign as his natal Cancer Sun though not close enough to be considered conjunct, is a good signature. Pluto lay just over the Gemini cusp at 27 degrees of that sign, on the other side of natal Sun, and conjunct Mercury at 1 Cancer. This was less expected, until I'd read more about the man. There's a T-square Neptune/Uranus/Mars and an almost Grand Cross (too loose at one point) formed by squares and oppositions between: Mars, Neptune, Jupiter and Uranus, both formations indicate some difficulties, some innate scratchiness or hard edges.

Jupiter in Pluto-ruled Scorpio in harmonious trine to the Mercury (communication)/Pluto (occasionally explosive) conjunction reflects, perhaps the extreme (Jupiter) explosive temper he sometimes displayed according to reports (below). Pluto's link to a personal planet might also feed into the composer's frequent "Gothic and gaslight" music style, also mentioned below.

Natal Moon was likely have been somewhere in spotlight-loving Leo, along with natal Venus (the arts) making a nice connection to the showbiz vibe of the film industry.

Chart set for 12 noon (time of birth unknown) on 29 June 1911, New York City.

Some gleanings from reading further about the man and his personality as well as his career detail. The snips from linked articles uncover some of the personality traits reflected in Herrmann's natal chart, as well as giving brief detail of his best-known work. Highlights in both cases are my own.

Regarding his work -from a mini bio by Michael Brooke at IMDB:
The man behind the low woodwinds that open Citizen Kane (1941), the shrieking violins of Psycho (1960), and the plaintive saxophone of Taxi Driver (1976) was one of the most original and distinctive composers ever to work in film. He started early, winning a composition prize at the age of 13 and founding his own orchestra at the age of 20. After writing scores for Orson Welles's radio shows in the 1930s (including the notorious 1938 "The War of the Worlds" broadcast), he was the obvious choice to score Welles's film debut, Citizen Kane (1941), and, subsequently, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), although he removed his name from the latter after additional music was added without his (or Welles's) consent when the film was mutilated by a panic-stricken studio. Herrmann was a prolific film composer, producing some of his most memorable work for Alfred Hitchcock, for whom he wrote nine scores. A notorious perfectionist and demanding (he once said that most directors didn't have a clue about music, and he blithely ignored their instructions--like Hitchcock's suggestion that Psycho (1960) have a jazz score and no music in the shower scene).....

For more about his personality The Trouble with Benny, by Matt Williams is enlightening:
To assess Herrmann’s success in the film world it is first necessary to understand the composer himself. Herrmann was a complex man whose perceived weaknesses — his explosive temper and intolerance of sub-standard musicianship, to name but two — often worked for rather than against him. Here was an outspoken, highly literate and intelligent man whose intense interest in film and the dramatic medium allowed him to write music rich in musical colour; and which, when carefully placed under a dialogue track, increased the import of the spoken word, lending dialogue a greater significance than it might otherwise have had.

Herrmann came from an era of ‘serious’ composers. He was still a young man when the Depression hit hard in America in the 30s; the rise of Nazism can’t failed to have affected the way he perceived people and their motives being himself of Jewish parentage. Consequently his film music has a distinctive weight and intensity often lacking in today’s scores.

Like the man himself, many of Herrmann’s most memorable scores are brooding and portentous in nature. Even the purportedly romantic music for films like Jane Eyre and The Ghost and Mrs Muir has an edginess and a sense of nostalgia and sadness which perfectly complement the films in question. As one critic observed, his was the music of ‘Gothic and gas light’.

Much has been written about Herrmann’s irascibility, his seemingly unprovoked rages and outrageous and opinionated views of others. Both his father and his grandfather shared his temperament, which at its worst led to a reddening of the face, a tensing of the facial muscles and a string of curses and insults — all apparently unprovoked. Herrmann was distrustful and intolerant of the musical opinions of others. To one unfortunate recipient he retorted: ‘Your views are as narrow as your tie’.

A 5 minute video-skip through some of Herrmann's best-known themes:

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday & Sundries

 My caption:"Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose"? -  In this case there's plenty!

American electoral politics have become more than slightly unhinged this year. From this brief overview of Prada male fashion for coming seasons, it appears the fashion world may not be far behind.
"Some people are merely boringly insane. Others are precociously loopy as a lariat. And then, most dangerous of all, are those who are crazy as a soup sandwich."
(Harlan Ellison when working as Creative Consultant on the CBS-TV reboot of The Twilight Zone, 1983.

Diego Goldberg's The Arrow of Time celebrates 40 years this year - it's now updated with current facial portraits of the family.

While looking around online for new eyeglass frames I've wondered from whence the terms "panto" and P3 originated in respect of my current favourite style. Google tells me that panto is short for pantoscopic = wide view. P3 another term describing the same style of eyeglass frame originated in the U.S. military during World War II. The “P” stands for pantoscopic, the “3” referred to a 3mm difference in width and length of lens.

Have the extra-terrestrials landed? No it's just my husband's elder son AJ and his granddaughter Serenity. As husband posted at Flickr:
How to be a Grandpa.Give your granddaughter a pad of post-it tabs and hold still.
No training necessary. Grand-daughters supply all the imagination.

How to be a Grandpa.

"Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable."
John Galbraith.

Lastly...something completely different:

These words came from the writings of the late Jonathan Cainer, from the section "Introducing the Moon" in The Psychic Explorer which rests in my bookshelf. It's described as "A down-to-earth guide to six magical arts: astrology, auras, the Tarot, dowsing, palmistry, ESP", by Jonathan Cainer & Carl Rider. First published in 1986. Astrological input from Mr. Cainer; Mr. Rider is a writer and philosopher who specialises in psychic and paranormal research.
Our modern world is very solar. Despite recent advances in the feminist cause, we still live in a society dominated by male energy - and perhaps that is one reason why masculine sun signs have become so popular! There is a strong tendency for most of us to accept glib, generalized information and simplified scientific truisms. The sun rules "simplicity", and it also speaks of "material growth and self-interest", two very characteristic 20th-century ideals. The lunar principles of compassion, sympathy and understanding do exist in our world, but most of us would agree that they normally play a muted second fiddle in the process of human motivation.

.......It is crucial to recognize that people of either sex have two sides to their personality. Inside every macho man is a soft, poetic, sensitive individual trying to get out. Inside every soft woman is a strong, capable and ambitious person waiting for an opportunity to express herself. However, most women, at least on a superficial level, find it easier to identify with the lunar side of their character, while most men have more affinity with solar energy. In other words, women are often more in touch with their moon signs and men with their sun signs.

If you can accept the notion that each individual is not just a one-dimensional personality with a cardboard cut-out facade but a complicated, sensitive mixture of differing (and sometimes opposing) inclinations, you are ready to enter the world of real astrology......