Friday, December 30, 2016

Arty Farty Friday, Saturday and Sundry New Year Babes

J.C. Leyendecker, one of the USA's hugely talented early 20th century illustrators, had a regular "gig" providing pleasing and apt illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post. (There's an old post partially on Leyendecker HERE.) Particularly memorable were his New Year covers. These depicted the incoming 12 months as a wee baby, appropriately occupied to indicate whatever was expected to be prominent in the year ahead.

I've captured a few images of Leyendecker's New Year babes and wonder if, because history is said to rhyme, any of them would, rhyming-wise, be appropriate to what lies before us as we trundle, dazed and confused, into 2017.

The general idea

 Middle East Concerns?

 New Infrastructure jobs?

 Attempt to capture peace?

 Bringing jobs back to the USA?

 Ready for climate change?

 Ready for a painful landing?

 Under the iron grip of....?


 Always my favourite!

Thursday, December 29, 2016


29 December - 5th Day of Christmas = 5 gold rings. It doesn't take much search time to find out that the 5 gold rings of the traditional song are not of the 24 carat, or any carat variety, but, like the gifts given on days 1 to 4, related to a winged rather than a fingered lifeform. Some sources point to the fairly common ringed pheasant, who has a white feathered ring around its neck area. I suspect it more likely the 5 gold rings in the song referred to the less common golden pheasant - look below! Its rings are multiple and golden!

 Ringed Pheasant
 Golden Pheasant

See also a post from a blog called Pixiebirding with further information on the golden pheasant.

Also an interesting read is this article at on the history, meaning and symbolism of the entire dozen gifts sung of in The 12 Days of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

"Sing, and the hills will answer; Sigh, it is lost on the air."

I'm tired of gloom and doom, political fear and frenzy, but I'm also tired of oft recommended self-help measures to deal with the aforementioned. Sometimes I get to the point of just not caring any more!

A century or so ago there was a poet who, in her day, acted much as self-help gurus do today, but whose words I much prefer:
Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Unsophisticated, sincere, clear and optimistic, those are characteristics which shine through the poems of Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Let the literary elite scoff, her poems have pleased many more people than those of gloomy, suicidal, self-obsessed poets.

As well as a poet Ella was a mystic, and a Rosicrucian. She was born 5 Nov 1850 in Johnstown Wisconsin. Her Sun and Mars in Scorpio no doubt led her into mysticism, while Moon possibly in Sagittarius with Venus, led the optimistic attitude for which she became famous.

12 noon chart shown as no time of birth is known.

The writer's planet Mercury was in fair and balanced Libra, along with Jupiter. These two planets were opposed from Aries, Mercury by Uranus and Pluto, Jupiter by Saturn. The Mercury opposition was sweetened by harmonious sextile to Venus and trine from Venus to Uranus/Pluto, setting up a powerfully helpful configuration for her writing. The opposition between Saturn and Jupiter held Ella's exuberant hopeful spirit, which might otherwise have gone "over the top", in check and at a reasonably credible level.

"Ella Wheeler Wilcox is one of America’s great writers. Her prolific prose and poetry are a tour de force of optimism, of the triumph of hope over despair, of victory over failure, of good over evil, of kindness over selfishness. She gave no quarter to negativity. The harshness of life was but an opportunity to change lead into gold. She was a transcendental alchemist. She had a mastery of expressing with words the play of light and hope and creativity upon dreariness and hopelessness and destructiveness.

We have many good, more sophisticated writers. However, Ms. Wilcox’s strength is her simplicity. She had the knack of getting to the heart of the most complex of everyday human problems. Then, she’d come up with the most simply worded and highly potent answers. She’d do this in prose. She’d do it with a poem. For example, she appreciated the need for, and the beauty of, our diverse religious faiths. However, she recognized the danger of adherents of any one faith considering their faith the only true one for all humanity. Deftly, she steers her readers away from the dangers of divisiveness. She simply stressed the basic core of all faiths when she wrote:

So many Gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
When just the art of being kind
Is all this sad world needs."
(From HERE)

A quote from her poem "Solitude" - opening lines are well-known:
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.

For the sad old earth must borrow it's mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Internet -"it gradually turns out to be alright really." ( Did it?)

Douglas Adams:
1) Everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.”

There are still a few of us around who are able to recall life before computers, and therefore before the internet. Heck, I can even remember life before television! Mass communication, in those days, came via newspapers and radio, and to a lesser extent via film and newsreels at the cinema.

This 1969 video, with prediction of the internet's arrival on our scenes and screens has proved to be near enough spot-on. Apart from one chuckle-worthy quote from the clip:
"What the wife selects on her console, will be paid for by the husband at his counterpart console."
It seems that back in 1969, in the USA, little wifeys were still, erm... beholden to their lords & masters.

What wasn't foreseen, at least in this video: spam, porn sites, viruses, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other varieties of social networking springing up even as I type.

I remember the very first mention of computers reaching my ears - in 1966/7. I'd been working for a few months for a local Devonshire (England) 'bus company in their accounts office. One of the senior employees had been sent on a training course, on his return he regaled us with tales of the binary system leaving our brains limp and imaginations reeling. All we had to work with in those days were very basic mechanical adding machines, one step up from the abacus. Having, out of necessity, trained my non-mathematical brain to add long columns of figures in hotel ledgers, I often opted to "do it in my head" rather than tackle the awkward adder. None of us, back then, could have envisaged the amazing developments we've seen during ensuing decades - the good, the bad and the ugly of it all.
There's always a downside. Over roughly the same time span: from TV sets becoming commonplace, followed by computer development, to the present, corporate power has risen in tandem. Now multinational corporations own media, at least they do in the USA and have tentacles worldwide. TV has become a major arm of the corporations' mass brain-washing system. Oh, they'd been doing it before TV, but the opening up of mass communication made it so much easier!
It has been said that mass communication has been the most powerful invention of man, however, nuclear bombs and weaponry really hold that title. What would be more powerful, though, 20 million dead people or 20 million people doing whatever you tell them?
For ordinary souls such as I, and any who do not wish to divest ourselves completely of access to television, computer and internet, all we can do is remain aware of the potential weaponry in our living rooms. We can try to limit corporations' access to our own grey matter by choosing carefully what to read, watch and listen to. We must never forget possible sub-text and remember to keep in mind always this question: who is "paying the piper"?

Monday, December 26, 2016

Drops of Astrology

It was strangely revealing to me to read a post I wrote one December a decade ago - during my first few months as an enthusiastic new astrology blogger:

Living with an Astro-agnostic

Question: How does a woman who lives and breathes astrology (or her version of it) cope when married to an astro-agnostic ?
Answer: She develops a thick skin, and finds every available opportunity to point out astrological "coincidences" to her beloved. She takes advice from Ovid: Gutta cavat lapidem - Dripping water hollows out a stone.

She: "Look, dear - he won the race just as Jupiter was passing over his Mars!"
He: "Huh??"

She: "Did you realise that when your daughter broke her foot Saturn was exactly conjunct her ascendant?"
He: "No!" (worried expression)

She: "Have you noticed that I often become temperamental when the Moon is full ?"
He: " that No."

She: The TV started acting up AGAIN when Mercury was retrograde, do you find that significant?
He: "Mercury was WHAT??"

She: Look at this chart luv, your North Node is exactly joined to my Venus. Isn't that nice ?
He: (Looking sheepish) Sounds delightful!

I think my ploy is working, but slowly. Last week, when out to dinner with family, someone was telling my husband about the doings of an acquaintance, and happened to mention that they had the same birthday as my husband: "He was born on the same day as you, but 10 years earlier". "What time?" said my husband... a reflex action ! After all, he's heard me ask the same question so many times ! Gutta cavat lapidem ? Or did I catch a wickedly teasing gleam in the beloved's eye ?

(NOTE:“Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi, sed saepe cadendo. - A drop of water hollows a stone, not by force, but by continuously dripping”.)

Returning to late 2016, I suspect drops of astrology, over many years, have hollowed out, still further, my own complete and enthusiastic acceptance of the subject. I no longer "live and breathe astrology". I do still believe there's "something going on", but now seldom mention this to Himself, or to anyone who isn't at least in the same library as I am - though not necessarily on the same page of the same book.

What a difference a decade makes!

It's Music Monday - here's a song with a drop of astrology included:


Remembering George Michael who died yesterday, Christmas Day. Yet another famous face gone far, far too soon. It has been a very bad year!
One earlier post of mine, from 2009, about him is HERE.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


“Christmas is the gentlest, loveliest festival of the revolving year - and yet, for all that, when it speaks, its voice has strong authority. ”
― W.J. Cameron

“I manage a toast to the Christmas tree
and one to the sweet absurdity
in the miracle of the verb to be.
Lucky you, lucky me.”
― Miller Williams

“It's supposed to be jolly, with mistletoe and holly... and other things ending in olly.”
― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

Friday, December 23, 2016

Arty Farty Friday ~ A painter born, and departed, at Christmas-time: Noël Coypel

I had intended to give Arty Farty Friday a miss this Christmas weekend, but noticed there was, once upon a time, a painter who was actually born on a Christmas Day and died on a Christmas Eve - so decided to put up a trio of his works, including one very appropriate to the season.

Noël Coypel born 25 December 1628 died 24 December 1707. He was a French painter, also known as Coypel le Poussin, because he was heavily influenced by the artist Poussin.
Coypel was born in Paris, the son of an unsuccessful artist. Having been employed by Charles Errard to paint some of the pictures required for the Louvre, and having afterwards gained considerable fame by other pictures produced at the command of the king, in 1672 he was appointed director of the French Academy at Rome. After four years he returned to France; and not long after he became director of the Academy of Painting. The Martyrdom of St James in Nôtre Dame is perhaps his finest work. Coypel was a pupil of Noël Quillerier.

More of Coypel's paintings can be seen via Google Image HERE.


 Jupiter in Chariot between Justice and Piety

 Triumph of Saturn on his Chariot pulled by Dragons

Thursday, December 22, 2016

It's All About You

Remember that old Seekers' song?

I could search the whole world over
Until my life is through
But I know I'll never find another you.

But Facebook and Twitter and other cyber associates have, it seems, managed to find lots of 'em.

They Have, Right Now, Another You

by Sue Halpern.

Discomforting ain't it? I doubt that it will stop the average Facebooker or Twitterer from Facebooking or Twittering though, or that they'd even stop long enough to think about it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice

The dark shadow of space leans over us. . . . .
We are mindful that the darkness of greed, exploitation, and hatred
also lengthens its shadow over our small planet Earth.
As our ancestors feared death and evil and all the dark powers of winter,
we fear that the darkness of war, discrimination, and selfishness
may doom us and our planet to an eternal winter.

May we find hope in the lights we have kindled on this sacred night,
hope in one another and in all who form the web-work of peace and justice
that spans the world.

by Edward Hays from Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle (1963)
is an alternative history novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. Set in 1962, fifteen years after an alternative ending to World War II, the novel concerns intrigues between the victorious Axis Powers—Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany—as they rule over the former United States, as well as daily life under the resulting totalitarian rule. The Man in the High Castle won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963.

I haven't read the novel, and we had resisted dipping into the TV (Amazon) series loosely based on it, until a few evenings ago. We dipped, but not very deeply. Two hour-long episodes convinced us that we didn't want to waste any more time on such a gloomy, terribly depressing, often disturbing, not to mention gratuitously violent, piece of dystopian fiction. Although there's a resistance community in the story, standing up to two ruthless authoritarian governments, without prior knowledge of outcome, a viewer can feel as hopeless as the film's characters themselves.

I did find many of the events in those first two episodes to be almost carbon copies of events in certain World War 2-type movies and novels I can recall, just changes in location, period and characters' names. In those earlier films, though, I knew that it was always going to be "alright in the end".

Main characters in the TV series: a young woman, probably in her mid-twenties and a couple of young men, also around that age would not have many memories of their world before Nazis and Japan took over. Other, older, characters had needed to adjust. Life had to go on. The terrifying sight of abhorrent iconography on buildings, flags, vehicles, along with such alien ideals being normalized is the central discomfiture.

In the TV series the USA, as we know it, is split. The eastern half, as far west as the Rockies is under rulership of the Nazis, while the west coast, and eastward as far as the Rockies is ruled by Japan. There is a rather unwisely planned (but necessary for plot growth) neutral buffer zone around Colorado and the Rocky Mountains area.

I understand that the series compares to the novel only in its broad original premise, and in names of some of the characters. P.K. Dick's original idea was an interesting concept to explore, and while the novel's style and detail must have needed some modification in order to appeal to a 21st century audience, less of the viewer manipulation I've read about in commentary would have been preferable. Viewer manipulation appears to have become the norm these days!

Though I'm unlikely to continue watching Amazon's version of The Man in the High Castle, I do remain curious as to where it seemed to be going with the plot. Rather than subjecting us to more dystopian discomfort, I spent time reading articles and commentary around the net from those who had watched the whole of season 1 and most of newly released second season. A few hints follow - beware, though - they could spoil it for anyone who plans to watch the series in future.

The I Ching is used, in the TV series by one of the more sympathetic of its characters, a Japanese official: Tagomi, the Trade Minister.

[Philip K. Dick] was enamored of the cleromancy of the “I Ching,” and in addition to having his characters in “Man in the High Castle” utilize it, he used it himself to plot the novel, in a kind of extravagant commitment to the themes of his own story.

From Variety HERE
.... reels of banned film [newsreels etc] circulating around the world, depicting alternate [alternative!] histories of what could have happened or might still happen to the world. It is not so different from movies in general — but these films are widely held to be mystical depictions that are absolutely real, not just clever fiction made by someone in the basement. To be fair, they do have chilling real elements that even Hollywood can’t quite produce. In “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy,” the reel that becomes the Magical MacGuffin of the first season, San Francisco is depicted being razed by an A-bomb, and a few of the characters see themselves and people they know onscreen, either dying or murdering others.

The first season introduced this supernatural device without, apparently, having much of an idea of where it would go.........The second season lays an interesting foundation and builds up quite a head of steam by the final few episodes — but you can feel the projector sputtering with a kind of desperation as the final hours spool out. Season 2 produces more answers and more action than Season 1 — but those answers are curiously flat, following what has been hours and hours of little more than texture. And it ends with a bait-and-switch that is both too expository and too frustrating, the exact kind of twist you hope a show will not pull.

I've read, regarding the end of the second series, that one of the more troubling aspects of the way the finale plays out is the villainization of the Resistance. (See HERE;) though a commenter at that website thought differently:
The villain-ization of the resistance was actually probably the best thing this show did. American exceptionalism almost always has full permeation of entertainment media. The idea that Americans, especially in "rebel mode" could actually be "bad" never gets explored. Yet we take it for granted with almost all other rebellions everywhere else that it can happen.

Should any passing reader be interested to see Phlip K. Dick's natal chart and a run-down on another movie adaptation of one of his short stories, take a look at an archived post HERE.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Music Monday ~ "Let's hope it's a good one..."

By next Music Monday another Christmas will have come and gone so, today calls for something seasonal!

This one has an excellent video accompaniment:

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Saturday and Sundry Nostalgia

Remembering, with sadness, my favourite astrologer, whose birthday was this weekend. Jonathan Cainer tragically died, far too soon, at the beginning of May this year. His nephew, Oscar, has taken over his astrological website and follows, very well, in his uncle's footsteps.

This is a sweet little seasonal commerial for London's main airport. Sadly I won't be following the wee teddy bears, there's nobody left, back there, to wait for me with open arms. (Sniffle).

“The past is a candle at great distance: too close to let you quit, too far to comfort you.”
― Amy Bloom, Away.

I've wondered which famous painting best brings out nostalgia, in me - came up with this one. My grandmother had a framed print of it in her "front room", it always intrigued me. After she died I kept the print, but it was lost along with everything else in a fire in 1996.

I wasn't aware of it, those long years ago, but the painting is by Sir John Everett Millais, and titled The Boyhood of Raleigh. Odd, that I ended up over the sea, probably in the direction the character in the painting is pointing.

NOSTALGIA by Billy Collins

Remember the 1340s? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.
You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade,
and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,
the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework.
Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon,
and at night we would play a game called “Find the Cow.”
Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today.

Where has the summer of 1572 gone? Brocade and sonnet
marathons were the rage. We used to dress up in the flags
of rival baronies and conquer one another in cold rooms of stone.
Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle
while your sister practiced the Daphne all alone in her room.
We borrowed the jargon of farriers for our slang.
These days language seems transparent, a badly broken code.

The 1790s will never come again. Childhood was big.
People would take walks to the very tops of hills
and write down what they saw in their journals without speaking.
Our collars were high and our hats were extremely soft.
We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs.
It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead.

I am very fond of the period between 1815 and 1821.
Europe trembled while we sat still for our portraits.
And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment,
time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps,
or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me
recapture the serenity of last month when we picked
berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe.

Even this morning would be an improvement over the present.
I was in the garden then, surrounded by the hum of bees
and the Latin names of flowers, watching the early light
flash off the slanted windows of the greenhouse
and silver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks.

As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past,
letting my memory rush over them like water
rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.
I was even thinking a little about the future, that place
where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine,
a dance whose name we can only guess.

In ancient Rome today began the long festival in honour of Saturn known, unsurprisingly, as Saturnalia - there are several posts in the archives on this, accessible via the Label Cloud in the sidebar. The festival morphed into a similar shindig in other countries, later on - in England it was known as Lord of Misrule

 Hat-tip HERE

Friday, December 16, 2016

Arty Farty Friday ~ Darkness at the Fin de Siècle

 The Dangerous Cooks by James Ensor 1896
This article from the BBC's website is an interesting read.

The Dark Side of the Belle Époque

Art at the turn of the last century was not all sun-kissed Monet gardens. It was a time of angst and decadence, expressed through some truly disturbing paintings, writes Fisun Güner:

When we think about art at the end of the 19th Century, who and what comes to mind? Monet and Impressionism, certainly. Toulouse-Lautrec at the Moulin Rouge, perhaps. Post-Impressionism, of course: Cézanne and his heavy-set card players or Mont Sainte-Victoire shimmering on the horizon, magnificent and majestic; Gauguin in his Tahitian paradise; or the last ravishing landscapes of Van Gogh, who died just as the last decade of the century ­was getting into its stride.

Art at the end of the 19th Century is as far removed from Monet’s sun-dappled garden as you can get

But when we think of the art that’s actually characterised as the art of the fin de siècle, particularly the last decade of that century, the mood changes, and it darkens. We think of the art of anxiety and angst, of drama and febrile tension, of an acute sense of alienation.

So why did artists revel in such outward expressions of unease and dislocation? In an era of relative peace and stability and, for the few, economic prosperity (an era named, after the destruction of the Great War, as the Belle Époque or Golden Age and which stretched from the 1870s to the war’s outbreak) the art of fin-de-siècle Europe expressed something contrary to those outward signs of confidence. These were anxieties connected with a sense of society’s spiritual emptiness and its growing materialism. This was a rejection of the idea that progress and reason, ideas which intellectuals had embraced and promoted since the 18th Century as Enlightenment ideals, could sustain the spirit.

It signalled a deeper anxiety: our inability to control our own destinies.

But perhaps, in a way, these were also anxieties exacerbated by the end of any century. It might sound a trivial connection, but in our own age we might think back to the alarm over the Millennium Bug, where people actually imagined planes falling out of the sky due to programs having accommodated only two digits instead of four (computers would think, when the hour struck, they were back in 1900).

It signalled a deeper anxiety that is perennial: our inability to know and control our own destinies. Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? the title from an 1897 painting by Gauguin, seemed to capture this quest for that deeper knowledge – and he and many other artists of the time looked for answers not in science but in esoteric spirituality, in mysticism and often the occult.

Click on image for better view
 Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?   by  Paul Gauguin.

Several artists mentioned in the piece have been featured in Arty Farty Friday posts in the past - among others:

James Ensor
Aubrey Beardsley
Munch and Lautrec
Paul Gauguin

Astrologically, around the turn of 19/20th century, Neptune and Pluto were often conjuct and in communicative Gemini, while Saturn and Uranus were both traversing Scorpio. The four outermost planets, then, carried tinges of paranoia, via Pluto and Scorpio, and "fed" them into the communal atmosphere.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Rushin' to Conclusions ?

VIDEO:Is There a Russian Coup Underway in America?
Why we urgently need a special prosecutor to investigate Russia’s meddling in the election
Show Credits: The Closer with Keith Olbermann Released on 12/12/2016

Dearie me! Mr Olbermann needs to go lie down in a darkened room!

Alternatively, there's this:

Blatant CIA Lies Undermines Credibility Of Russian Hack

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Communication & Arrival

“Language is the dress of thought” wrote Samuel Johnson in 18th century England. Languages, national, international, ancient, modern, written, spoken, technical, speciality, and even slang, how they evolved, how they are written, how so much diversity exists - all of this presents a constant source of wonder. Accents, side-kicks of language, add an extra layer of fascination.

In astrology, these matters are ruled by planet Mercury, planet of communication. Astrology has its own language, with a vocabulary capable of confusing "outsiders", as well as the occasional "insider". The computer, internet and social networks have their own special vocabularies too.

More important than language itself, or accents, is nuance of understanding or misunderstanding arising between people, even when using the same language in the same accent.

Here's where astrology, as well as life-experience, can play a part, with particular emphasis on Mercury's natal position. As Anais Nin wrote:We don't see things as they are. We see them as we are. I'd paraphrase that and say that we don't always perceive words, phrases and concepts as they are commonly defined, but as we are, via our uncommon natal charts.

The above paragraphs, edited from a 2010 post of mine, came to mind after we'd visited our local cinema to see the new movie Arrival, which did, after all arrive there. I'd been expecting we were going to miss it, at least until DVD or Netflix release.

The movie Arrival has its main focus on a new language conundrum, when visitors from another planet and civilisation land in 12 locations on our planet Earth. How to communicate? Dr. Louise Banks, a linguist played by Amy Adams, is recruited by the US government for her translation skills.

Vox has a review of the movie HERE
From the beginning of that review:
Science fiction is never really about the future; it’s always about us. And Arrival, set in the barely distant future, feels like a movie tailor-made for 2016, dropping into theaters mere days after the most explosive election in most of the American electorate’s memory.
But the story Arrival is based on — the award-winning novella Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang — was published in 1998, almost two decades ago, which indicates its central themes were brewing long before this year. Arrival is much more concerned with deep truths about language, imagination, and human relationships than any one political moment...........

We thought the movie interesting, glad to have seen it, but I wouldn't go along with the level of praise most reviewers are according the film. It's a tad unbalanced, in that too much time is spent hovering on screens filled with nothing much, in the early part of the story, time which could have been much better used later in the film. The closing scenes felt too rushed for the average audience member to fully catch up. There's a "twist", though part of it it wasn't too hard to guess, another twisty part can temporarily tangle the brain.

There are a number of reviews, and even a video, with "spoilers" around the net for anyone curious and unlikely to see the movie. The concept revealed by the ending is one quite familiar to sci-fi fans, but maybe not to the average viewer.

The movie is well worth seeing but, all in all, I much preferred Interstellar.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Crucible - 17th century witchcraft, 20th century blacklists, a 21st century list - forever relevant!

Last week we watched, via Netflix,
The Crucible - a 1996 movie adaptation of Arthur Miller's play written in the early 1950s. I hadn't researched the film, it was a random choice, prompted by a misleading one line synopsis at Netflix. Oddly though, the movie turned out to be a wee bit relevant to what had been in online news last week, and mentioned by commenter LB on 30 November. The Washington Post had published a list of 200 websites and blogs named by a group of (un-identfied) researchers as being pro-Russian or helpful to Russian aims of meddling with US electoral matters. The list originally contained reputable sites such as Truthdig, Counterpunch, naked capitalism, the owners of which have since objected strongly to the smear, some have threatened to sue the newspaper. There was/is a definite smell of blacklisting in the air. Washington Post has not yet fully apologised nor retracted the article's content.

Anyway...back toThe Crucible

These snips come from a blogger's review HERE
The play, written in 1953, is set in Salem during the infamous witch hunts of 1692. The Crucible shows how false accusations and lies can lead to the destruction of a society through fear. The accusations of witchcraft shown here are mainly fuelled through uncertainty towards things that are not easily understood, or things that are unfamiliar. Miller’s play was written as a clear allegory for the 1950’s ‘witch hunt’ for communists in America, otherwise known as McCarthysim. However the message of The Crucible is just as relevant today as it was when published..........
(An update) What Does The Message of The Crucible Mean Today?

(Added on 20th November 2016) I’ve returned to this blog post over a year after originally posting to consider how The Crucible is just as relevant today than it has ever been before. The horrifying year of 2016 has brought about the likes of Brexit and Donald Trump. Both events seem built on the process of make outsiders of minorities in order to pass blame from ourselves onto others. We aren’t executing people under the guise of being witches, but figures such as Trump and Farage are indeed whipping up a sense of hysteria within society. By saying that foreigners are to blame, these figures are inciting a sense of xenophobia and racism, that, as shown by The Crucible, are the preliminary ways of society tearing itself apart.

My point of relevance of The Crucible is different, but related. In publishing that unsubstantiated list of websites and blogs, The Washington Post was acting in clear McCarthy style.

This snipped from
Arthur Miller wrote the play The Crucible in response to the red scare of the 1950’s, in which he was was condemned for disrespect & disapproval of the United States Congress for being unsuccessful in naming numerous individuals who had attended meetings with him. In a bid to not only secure his career as a journalist & play writer and also to alert the American people against the government misinformation & propaganda that were headed their way. The characters in the play are faced with the same tragedies & sentences that befell people during the McCarthyism trials; he uses the ‘Salem Witch Trials’ as a metaphor to draw national attention towards the doings and executioners of the McCarthyism propaganda.

Arthur Miller uses allegory in his play, The Crucible, to show the similarities between the Salem witch trials and the Red Scare. During the McCarthy era, freedom was a very important aspect in life; during the Salem witch trials, religion was a very important aspect of life. In both of these events, people are frightened. The Red Scare led to many people fearing others, thinking everyone was a Communist. In the Salem witch trials, witchcraft is threatening the village. Miller also wanted to show the similarity between both corrupt courts in these two events. In the Salem witch trials, all substantial evidence is through out of the window, and everything that supports witchcraft is valid. Much is the same with the Red Scare court system.

In The Crucible Arthur Miller created a longer-lasting, wider-reaching allegory than he could have realised at the time. For astrology fans, his natal chart is available at Astrodatabank, here. He had Sun in Libra with Moon and Uranus in Aquarius, possibly Libra rising.