Thursday, January 30, 2014


We watched the HBO documentary Herblock: The Black and the White a couple of nights ago. It's about Herbert Block. I'd never heard of this American political cartoonist, who spent 55 years at the Washington Post, from 1946 to 2001, and won three Pulitzer prizes. I came away from the film with huge admiration for him. He died in October 2001, just before his 92nd birthday, left $50 million with instructions to create a foundation to support charitable and educational programs that help promote and sustain the causes he championed during his 72 years of cartooning. There's a good piece on the film, by David Von Drehle, at Time magazine website:
The Man Who Made Presidents Cringe: HBO’s Herblock ---Herbert L. Block's political cartoons made razor-sharp thrusts into the heart of Washington
...He was also stunningly well-compensated. His tenure at The Post went back to the days when the paper was a near-bankrupt concern, and at least once he was presented with the dodgy opportunity to trade some paychecks for company stock. The paper’s rise to national prominence was inseparable from Herblock’s widely syndicated work. When publisher Philip L. Graham made the cover of TIME in 1956, the background to his portrait was a collage of the cartoonist’s instantly recognizable images. By the time Herblock died in 2001, his original Post shares had split 240-to-1 and each resulting share was trading above $500. The ink-stained wretch left an estate valued at $90 million.

But somehow Herblock’s fame a dozen years later doesn’t quite measure up to those outsize standards. He lacked the self-promotional or social-climbing energy of many other Washington legends, and the star-making power of radio and television eluded this balding fellow with the huge nose and the voice borrowed from Disney’s Goofy.

Herblock lacked the glamor of Edward R. Murrow—although he beat Murrow to the job of unmasking the demagogue Joe McCarthy by a good four years. He lacked the Hollywood pizzazz of his younger Post colleagues Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein—although his Watergate cartoons pointed the finger at Nixon long before the scrappy reporters connected the dots. He lacked the reverential cult of New York Times columnist James “Scotty” Reston—even though Herblock was immune to the head-spinning half-truths of high-powered dinner companions who sometimes managed to snow the sage. Herblock preferred dinner in front of the TV, which he tuned to The Yogi Bear Show and Rocky & Bullwinkle.

I'm wary of showing images of his cartoons for fear of copyright police, but I'll risk three which appealed particularly to me - others can be seen HERE and via Google Image.

I was interested to see Mr Block's natal chart - set for 12 noon, as no birth time is known for him.

Four personal planets in Libra! Underlining Libra's craving for fairness and balance, it leaps from some of his cartoons. (Moon would have been in Libra whatever his time of birth.)
What I notice as particularly significant is a Grand Cross linking Uranus, Sun/Mercury, Neptune and Saturn.

I've noticed in the past that a Grand Square sometimes crops up in the chart of someone of a professionally politically confrontational nature. From memory, Keith Olbermann and Bill Maher both have Grand Squares - though linking different planets/signs. Herblock's Grand Square is formed in the Cardinal signs and has Saturn and Uranus (establishment and avant garde) squaring off, then Saturn and Neptune (establishment and fixed ideas squaring off against creativity and/or delusions), Neptune squaring off against Sun/Mercury (or vice versa! - Self versus illusion, delusion), and final square Sun/Mercury squaring Uranus (Libra Sun and Mercury's need for balance against Uranus's unexpected chaotic tendencies). The two oppositions forming the "cross" = Uranus opposing Neptune (a generational aspect) and Sun/Mercury opposing Saturn which well describes Herblock's own (Sun/Mercury = self and mode of communication) opposition to officaldom's or government's (Saturn) misdeeds or misjudgments.

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mike said...

Also, all of his planets have final dispositors of Venus and Jupiter in mutual reception and sextile...always an indication of sharp focus and typically successful and prominence in their endeavor.

I'm often very pleased with editorial cartoons by the artists' abilities to convert complex politics into one frame that defines a demagoguery so succinctly. My praise to them all!

While you were watching HBO, I was tuned to PBS' "Hawking"...the autobiography of Stephen Hawking...told in his "own" synthesized words. I've read his books and knew some of the details of his life...mainly his work in the field of physics, and deadly affliction with ALS. I was thoroughly moved by this incredibly intelligent man on a race with his life and time remaining. A remarkable story of vast achievement while facing extreme adversity.

♥ Sonny ♥ said...

I want to see that special Annie

surely HBO has it it their on demand section or will soon..

I watched " Fall To Grace" the
Jim McGreevey story.. one day I hope you have time to look at his chart.
He may have me totally fooled, but I see a bright and shining spirit every time I look at him.

LB said...

Very interesting interpretation, Twilight. Thanks.:) I definitely agree about his Libra placements and their importance. Also his Grand Square - from what I've read, Grand Squares can create a great deal of tension and be very challenging to work with.

Since Herblock's Grand Square is comprised of oppositions, would this also be considered a Grand *Cross*? Not sure I understand the difference, but I don't think everyone differentiates. I think it has something to do with the four placements being square versus them being square while also containing direct opposites. Dunno.

There's also Herblock's Chiron in Aquarius, which forms a Grand Trine with his Libra Sun and Pluto in Gemini. Chiron in Aquarius would lend itself to his having been ahead of his time (and ahead of the pack) when it came to his awareness of larger social and political issues and Pluto in Gemini would've helped him communicate his ideas (and frustrations) in an intelligent, in-depth and transformative way, with no holds barred! And I wouldn't be surprised if his Nodes, which are conjunct the Fixed Royal Stars, Aldebaran and Antares, are prominent too, though a time of birth would be helpful.

If I remember correctly, you recently did a post on another person with Aldebaran and Antares conjunct the Nodes and I commented on it then as well - sorry I can't remember who it was. I do recall Chris Hedges has his Chiron in Aquarius though.

mike ~ I watched "Hawking" last night and was surprised (and intrigued) by some of what I learned. Your comment reminded me of how I wanted to look up his astrological chart to learn more.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thanks for working out the dispositors and saving my getting dizzy! ;-)

Yes, a talented and dedicated political cartoonist can tell, in a single frame, a story that a journalist might take several pages and thousands of words to tell - yet still not get his points over to every reader.

Hawking is such a phenomenal individual. We'll never see his like again. I shall watch for any repeats of that show you mention.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ It's sure to be repeated - everything on HBO is repeated, sometimes ad nauseam! Hope you'll get to see it. It'll probably be available on line sometime too.

Jim McGreevey - I don't know of him, but will look up his detail and data - maybe do a post on him and his astrology one day next week. :-)

Twilight said...

LB ~ I think Grand Square and Grand Cross are the same thing, LB. Four square aspects are bound to bring about two oppositions. I think it's a matter of choice which name to use (if I'm wrong someone could correct me on that!)

I almost mentioned Chiron in Aquarius. I'm never sure what to think of Chiron - but its presence in Aquarius there does seem like an emphasis on being avant garde - in the forefront with his ideas and insights.

Pluto in Gemini - a generation of genius I always say! Here's another example.

I can't remember who was owner of a recent Aldebaran and Antares chart example - will look see whether my tags or astrology archive helps.

DC said...

Amazing indicators....truly wonderful to see this Libra balancing act so adeptly expressed in a life and even after his life.

Twilight said...

DC ~ It is! :-)

Twilight said...

LB ~ LOL - I've just noticed that I've used both terms: Grand Square and Grand Cross in the post....probably because I started it several days earlier than I went back to finish it, then didn't re-check all the way through. I'll leave as is, a bit of inconsistency won't go amiss.

LB said...

Twilight ~ If it means the same thing, don't think it matters anyway.:)

The one site that *seems* to differentiate between a Grand Cross and a Grand Square is Cafe

Twilight said...

LB ~ Hmmm - I don't see how there could never be two oppositions within 4 square aspects.

Maybe mike will step in and enlighten me/us.


mike (again) said...

From the same article:
"A more moderate form is the Grand Square without an internal cross. In this case there are no rigid tensions between the poles, there is less dynamism, and more flexibility. In general, it is not necessary to consider the Grand Square as a destructive configuration; on the contrary, it is a very stable pattern producing results through effort."

All I can figure is that cafeastrology is talking about two sets of squares that are out of opposition orb. Consider 5* Leo square 5* Scorpio and 20* Aquarius square 20* Taurus. Personally, I would call this two squares, or a very loose grand cross (aka grand square).

cafeastrology further confuses this issue in their following grand cross section by showing Steve Jobs chart with two oppositions as a grand cross, but defining one of his oppositions as "wide" [11* Capricorn op 24* Cancer].

Go figure!

I would always define a grand cross as synonymous with a grand square, which consequently includes two oppositions.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Thanks mike - yes I see it in the same way. I wouldn't consider it a Grand Square/Cross at all unless the squares were all pretty tight. Stretching things much beyond 8 degree aspects (max 10) drifts into that area of "astrology can make anything mean anything".