I wrote this essay, subtitled, “An intellectual and spiritual herstory,” in 1995, nearly 20 years ago. Reading it over now, frankly, I find it remarkable! I used to be so much “smarter,” more articulate than I am now . . . But the task I set for myself at the end of the essay, to ground my intelligence into my bodily life, I can say now, happily, I have actually real-ized. So to those who want to set intentions for themselves, I promise you: intention does manifest over time, when it operates deeply enough!
Here’s the pdf: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Dane Rudhyar, and Me.
Here’s how it starts:
Like many others, I am a convert to astrology and like many others, I entered this sacred world through the doorway of Dane Rudhyar. Had I only been exposed to sun-sign daily horoscopes in newspapers, had I had access only to astrology cookbooks delineating what this and that planet, sign, house, aspect and their innumerable combinations meant, had I been initially exposed to fate and event-oriented Victorian astrologers or closeted little old ladies who divined from crystal balls, I doubt I would have endured the painful and exhilarating death and resurrection of the psyche required in order to enter astrology’s realm fully.
My story, like many such stories, is long and complicated. The death process was slow and painful — even now I die daily to the ever-surprising traces of my psyche which still cling to the past. And the resurrection! — well, that too is an ongoing process, an endless spiral curving back to the beginning over and over. There are times when the only way I recognize that my internal process is indeed evolutionary — and not just cyclic, a nightmarish eternal return of the same — is that I am able to endure increasing intensity of both pain and pleasure, while experiencing both with increasing detachment.
I discovered Rudhyar — and astrology — in 1973, at the beginning of my second Saturn cycle. During my first 29.5 year Saturn cycle (Saturn in Gemini) I was preoccupied with trying to fit myself into the usual cultural and philosophical molds — and not succeeding. Meanwhile, I was also attempting to see the truth, what was real in life. Not until the end of that cycle did I realize I had been blindfolded all my life — and then I could summon the courage to rip off the blindfold and throw it away. My story illustrates the old saying: “ontology recapitulates phylogeny.” In my own evolutionary process, I recapitulated the history of the western mind since the beginning of the scientific revolution — and then, thanks to Rudhyar, leaped beyond it.
From the very beginning, I was a searcher, hungry for Truth (Sun and Ascendant in Sagittarius). I was also stubborn, holding on to whatever version of “truth” I had found as long as possible (Moon in Taurus). Not until my early twenties did I finally give up the Roman Catholicism of my childhood — and then needed to replace it, immediately. The only other candidate for Truth in the world of my limited experience was not religious but secular: science. So I turned to science as a substitute for religion. I wanted to find truth in science, The Truth in science. I wanted to see Science as God, Science as Certainty, the only way to anchor my feet to the ground (Mercury and Venus in Capricorn, Saturn and Uranus in Gemini). Since my religion had failed me, I needed science as a new security blanket. I wanted to wrap it around me and keep out the void.
That was my unconscious intention in 1966 when, at the age of 23, I entered a doctoral program in the philosophy of science at Boston University. I wanted to discover Certainty in Knowledge. In this I was unlike my fellow students, most of whom seemed satisfied to argue particulars. I felt very alone there and upset that others did not seem to be as driven as I. This drove me back on myself and made me wonder what was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I take philosophical questions more lightly? Why couldn’t I just play with them, have fun with them, impress others with them?
As the years wore on, I became consciously aware of what seemed at that time to be an extraordinary insight, an insight which, I fear, even now few people in the same position notice about themselves: my search for intellectual certainty was a cover for what I really needed: emotional security. This insight was profound. It turned my world inside out. What had been kept safely in the background pushed inexorably to the foreground. The structure of knowledge and how it is anchored, was no longer linear: I was learning to “read between the lines” of the linearity, to sense the spaces between the lines as present, spaces which others either ignored or seemed to assume were there a priori, as anchors. Or did they? What were they doing and did they know they were doing it? How conscious were they of their assumptions?
Now I felt even more alone. Not only was there no one to talk to, there was no way I could put my questions into words. My questions were pre-linguistic; they existed in that nebulous border zone where thought and language dissolve into the abyss of the unconscious.
I was learning to see the entire edifice of knowledge claims as a linguistic object, which itself was situated within a certain cultural space. I was seeing the structure of that object and how it was suspended, rather than anchored. I was learning that there is no certainty in the sense of anchoring. That whatever we think we know, is but a fleck of dust floating in infinite space.
But I get ahead of myself here. . .