March 23, 1895-1995
(born 00.32.40 GMT, Paris, France)
editor: Tees Reitsma
-part 2 (of 3) -
Contributions in part 2:
4. Ann Kreilkamp: "Ludwig Wittgenstein, Dane Rudhyar and me."
5. drs. Roeland M. de Looff: "Transform or...?"
6. Michael R. Meyer: "Rudhyar: Friend, Exemplar and Sage"
LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN, DANE RUDHYAR AND ME
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 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 is a good illustration of 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 Asc. 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. Actually, at this point I was not willing to recognize this way of understanding knowledge. Rather, since I sensed the ground sliding out from under me, I was desparate to avoid the free fall through the void which it entailed - that sense we are all familiar with, what we call: "the blow to the solar plexus", that sickening drop in the stomach which doubles us over in emotional pain.
I was beginning to understand philosophical problems from a subjective psychological perspective. What academic philosophers called: "the mind/body problem" had become personal; my problem. I knew that this was my problem and I knew the problem was serious: for I knew it, but I couldn't allow myself to truly feel it.
In the academic philosophy of that time, there was one place in which mind and body supposedly met. In academic jargon, this place is termed: "sensation", which in turn refers to what were called: the "raw data" of bodily experience. I was interested in Truth and in order to approach even the first step to the ladder which led up to the Truth, one was supposed to begin with that pinched source, the so-called "raw data" of sensation. The only other alternative seemed to be that of Descartes, who posited the existence of "innate (inborn) ideas", which then, he said, he knew were True, because "God was perfect and God wouldn't lie to me"! That reasoning may seem quaint to our ears, but is it really? Astrologers and other "new age" people, regularly talk about something similar, (usually Uranian) ideas which fly through the air and strike those who are receptive to them and which they then know, intuitively, to be true.
But Innate Ideas, or Intuition, as the source of truth, scientific Truth? No, never! Even contemplating such a notion was anathema to my professors - especially to my mentor.
My mentor was a die-hard "logical positivist". Along with a majority of academics of the time (and even now!), he too believed the source of "truth" lay in sensation, or "sense data", the supposedly identifiable and definable bits and pieces of smell, taste, touch, vision and hearing that supposedly make up the world of human experience. My teacher was unusual, however. He knew that any so-called truth we managed to squeeze from sense data would be trivial, not worth knowing. He was in a bind. What he believed wasn't worth anything and he knew it. And he had no way out. Using the left brain/right brain distinction we might put it this way now, 25 years later: for him, only the left brain existed.
Yet a left brain without a right brain yields only bits of data, factoids with no meaning. Therefore, for him, life had no meaning.
My mentor was a tragic figure, believing in that which was meaningless and knowing it and hating it. He would rather have been searching for Truth, too.
But he couldn't. His methodology wouldn't allow it. For me, he represented the walls of the cage I was banging my head against. It was my destiny to meet him: in his cynicism, he exhibited what I could look forward to, should I get stuck where I then was. And it was prophecy which led him to say, soon after, in words which sprang forth from the right brain he refused to acknowledge: "You must go beyond me. You must stand on my shoulders." That was our first direct and confrontational meeting. I was trembling with fear and he was leaning close to me. "Do you want to be like me?" he had asked, puckish and sprightly. "Yes!" I had exclaimed, adoring. "Wrong!" he thundered. "You must go beyond me..."
Enter Ludwig Wittgenstein and through Wittgenstein, several years later: Dane Rudhyar; though one might be surprised that I connect the two. For those readers not familiar with Wittgenstein, let me introduce him. Wittgenstein was an Austrian philosopher and a contemporary of Rudhyar, both of them carrying the generational signature of the most recent great conjunction of Neptune and Pluto. Wittgenstein was born in 1889, six years earlier than Rudhyar, before the conjunction was precise. He was a mysterious figure who regularly left academia, feeling more comfortable as a gardener for a monastry than as a Cambridge don.
Despite his checkered career, Wittgenstein fascinated. He achieved an almost legendary stature within academic philosophical circles during his lifetime and was credited singlehandedly for originating the two most prevalent 20th century philosophical schools of thought - logical positivism and linguistic analysis - both of which he himself repudiated! Since his death in 1951 his influence, while still esoteric and obscure, has spread far beyond philosophy. His aphoristic remarks are quoted by certain thinkers in many fields, though what exactly he actually meant by them will always be a matter of widely varied interpretation.
My own reading of the man's work, done for my doctoral dissertation, is unusual and no more provable than any of the others. I began to read his work at a time in my life when transit Neptune was conjuncting my natal 12th house Sagittarian Mars and opposite natal Uranus in Gemini and felt very strongly at the time that my psyche had climbed inside him, that he and I were one and that there was no question but that I understood him - understood not so much his cryptic ideas, as his muffled cries of pain.
Wittgenstein was a bridge between my teacher and Rudhyar. As my teacher had been locked inside his left brain with no way out and knew it (thus his tragic stature), Wittgenstein went one step further: against his will, he had pulsed on through the boundary and was stuck on the outside of the left brain, clawing at it, desperate to find his way back in. Beyond was the infinite void of the right brain, the starry skies within and he kept his back to it, stiffened, afraid. If my mentor was a tragic figure, Wittgenstein was doubly tragic. I was drawn to tragic figures and determined not to be one myself. After several years of graduate school, I was already fulfilling my teacher's prophecy in moving beyond him. He had told me never to read Wittgenstein. Said he was "confused"; "and besides," he had whispered, "he's a subclinical schizophrenic". Despite his warning, I finally did read Wittgenstein and like many others, became utterly entranced. "This work is true," I said to myself, after reading it all the way through, my eyes glued to the pages, "but I donÕt know what it means."
What? I said that? Impossible. I said that. It was my first intuitive (right brain) remark, the first strike from out of the blue. I wondered how I could say that. For within logical positivism, one has to know what something means before one can determine (ideally through some sort of scientific test or experiment) whether it's true or false. I had been trained under my teacher, a logical positivist; however, this training is not unusual, since logical positivism is a technical delineation of our (scientific) common sense. To say that one can know something is true without knowing what it means is "nonsense", within our scientific framework for making sense. It "makes no sense". Yet it did make sense. That's exactly what I had said and I knew it was true. And yet I didn't know what it meant.
I kept reading Wittgenstein. I couldn't stop. It was as if I was possessed. My obsession with Wittgenstein was a projection, a foil, for my own eventual transformation. Through grappling with him I was bringing up for review what had been the underground assumptions which held all my other more conscious beliefs in place. What had been background was now foreground, staring me in the face.
The scientific framework of my common sense cracked, collapsed. The boundaries between myself and the world, my own and Wittgenstein's psyche, dissolved. I was discovering another common sense altogether, this one an actual sensing in common.
This kind of common sensing is very different from our so-called scientific "common sense", where we have no senses in common, where instead we are all locked into our own private worlds and receive information individually, through the five external senses. Western cultural angst and alienation is no mystery, when we realize that even the philosophical underpinnings of our daily lives dictate that we remain separate, isolated and lonely. Wittgenstein was one philosopher who felt this aloneness in an acute fashion. His question: "how can we know another person is in pain?" takes on strange new ramifications when seen in this light. Wittgenstein's questions, I feel, are not just mere examples subject to "linguistic analysis"; they can be often taken as disguised and muffled cries for help.
Wittgenstein was not the only one who needed help. My continuous reading of his works was changing me. Soon I was as confused as Wittgenstein had himself admitted to be; as others, his disciples, were determined to deny; as still others, critics, cited and condemned him for. I couldn't stop reading him. My eyes felt like they were glued to the page. His work felt swollen, like an advanced pregnancy, never delivered. Like a vulcano, slowly imploding. Feeling his buried passion, my passion was aroused. I told my teacher: "So what if he's confused. I'd rather have a fertile confusion than a sterile clarity." That shut him up. He looked at me, cocked an eyebrow, startled.
Something was happening to me. I was becoming strange. The walls of the cage had thinned and dissolved. I was spinning out into the void, with no way out and no way through. Back then others called this experience a "nervous breakdown". But I knew, even then, that what I was undergoing was holy. That this journey into the beyond was a sacred initiation.
My worst fears had come true. There was no ground to stand on, no certainty, no security. Instead there were waves and lights and shocking insights, shuddering ascents and descents into realms that I knew not with my rational brain and thus could not describe, nor even remember afterwards. I was hungry for more, more. I went sailing through the universe attuning to stellar winds. But I didn't know it. I had no map and no guide.
Enter Rudhyar. Not that I ever wanted to read his books, or become an astrologer, or even think about it. I hated astrology. I was a philosopher, not a quack! All I knew was the popularized version of astrology, the veil with which our scientific culture has shrouded this most ancient and supreme language. Despite the fact that I had torn off the blinkers of left brain science, I was still looking at the world through narrowly scientific eyes, still avoiding what I thought of as silly superstition.
Rudhyar entered my life at a point when, despite a lingering prejudice, I was newly opened and thus vulnerable, receptive to the new. I had always been a seeker and now my search was leading me in a direction I had not anticipated. A friend set up my astrological chart and I was astonished to find myself asking: "Is this a map? Is this really a map? Will it help me to see? Will it enable me to go on?" When I asked how to read the chart, she handed me Rudhyar's "ASTROLOGY OF PERSONALITY".
I date my own resurrection as stemming from the moment I picked up this book.
From then on, what had been experienced as terrible, the uncertainty of having no intellectual foundation upon which to rely, became magical, the continuous playfulness of the transformed mind, at one with its own imaginative reach. With this transformation, the problem of certainty in knowledge, rather than being solved, dissolves - within a larger dimension. I had set out to discover certainty and instead, fell into the void. The void where Rudhyar lived. The terrible became the joyful, as I beheld and learned to live within the creative present, this infinitely fertile space which upholds and nurtures continuous transformations of form. Space as an electric, alive presence, the magical medium for emergence.
Rudhyar was a musician, a composer; he had no need for intellectual certainty. In music there is no place to stand, there is only change, the continuous contrapuntal play of moving harmonies. Rudhyar's writings in astrology reflected his musical sensibility; they were not written from within a left-brain framework. Rudhyar was inside what he was talking about, his focus of consciousness journeying through time and space, comfortable among the worlds, landing anywhere and viewing the cosmos from that vantage point, then taking off again. Moving with the music, becoming one with it and describing what he saw along the way. His cosmos was a divine orchestral performance with no beginning and no end. In this orchestra, planets and stars were the instruments, great Celestial Beings, and in the play of their continuous motion they were making love to each other, resonating in a vast and complex concerto expanding forever into larger and larger harmonies.
Rudhyar's was a universe in which every point opens into a space and every space is a mere point in some vaster realm. Where each and every point is central and all of them a continuous flow. Where each circumference traces the trajectory of some vast Being circled by others yet larger than itself. In Rudhyar's universe there was no one point to stand on and no need for one: in a continuously expanding universe every point is central. In Rudhyar's universe there is no fear, contraction, separation; instead one expands to sense one's communion with all that is. In Rudhyar's universe there is no huddling with one's back to the void, but a flying free within it, sailing within and between the points into larger and smaller spaces. The sense of dizziness that people feel when reading Rudhyar stems, I feel, from this multidimensional consciousness which both inhabited him and which, paradoxically, he knew he was but a tiny speck within.
Both Wittgenstein and Rudhyar make me dizzy - but with a vast difference. In Wittgenstein I experience the dizziness of confusion; I sense a stifling, but orderly world in the process of disintegration. And yet, for Wittgenstein, that disintegration was precisely what he longed for; he knew, in some part of himself foreign to his rational clarifying mind, that in the buzzing booming confusion of his body's stream of life lay his real life, an intimation of aliveness, a vibrancy that the mechanical orientation of scientific mentality had disallowed. In that longing, I feel at one with him and I feel for him.
In Rudhyar I feel dizziness as exhilaration, exaltation, a sense of an opening so wide that it takes my breath away; I have to stretch more and more, to encompass more and more. Wittgenstein's confusion was fertile, yes, a longing for something and yet a fear of it, a longing for love, for opening into a larger sense of things and yet an inability or refusal to do so. Wittgenstein makes me feel entombed, suffocating; I fight to get out. Rudhyar releases me.
Both Wittgenstein and Rudhyar discovered the void and that put them both beyond the pale, alone, each in a universe of one. For Wittgenstein, aloneness was experienced as alienation; he was both attracted and repelled by the void which, for him, was senseless, out or beyond all sense. He was outside, out beyond the walls of his cultural and linguistic cage, yet afraid of feeling even more separated and trying to get back in, to identify with what he had left behind by seeing it from up close. The more he tried to go back to normal seeing, the more what used to make normal sense kept sliding into something else. The void was not only out there, it was in here; there was no way to avoid it, this slippage, this lack of a ground to truly stand upon, this lack of certainty, of security.
And yet, paradoxically, he also knew on some level, that this streaming would be his real home, if he could only learn to swim.
For Rudhyar, aloneness was experienced as unity, the all-one; Rudhyar was one whose consciousness included the vastness of the cosmos, where change and diversity were not only acknowledged and included, but gloried in. His consciousness was unitary and utterly spacious: his void was the space which continuously expands; was a sort of universal fluid, both underneath and within the many.
It's as if Wittgenstein represents both a recognition of and reaction to the loss of the scientific world of Cartesian certainty and Rudhyar follows on his heels, courageously opening to the eternally expanding Now. It's interesting to note that Wittgenstein as a security oriented Taurus was followed by Rudhyar's fiery Arian initiative. Both born during the time of the Neptune/Pluto-conjunction in Gemini, they represent the old and the new ways of experiencing the total transformation of consciousness symbolized by this conjunction. Philosophers and others of many disciplines, feel the tragedy of Wittgenstein; many of them too, one senses, fear to move beyond. Rudhyar has not yet found such wide renown, as his kind of courage is still rare.
Yet, despite my immense gratitude to Rudhyar for releasing me from the need for intellectual certainty, for introducing me to absolute relativity, I am still left with the original problem I first contacted in graduate school over twenty-five years ago: the split between my mind and body. Rudhyar lived in a different age. His concerns were celestial. Earth was merely one point in an infinitely expanding universe and the awareness of the astrologer was, potentially, all-inclusive. In Rudhyar's universe one's humanity is identical with that awareness.
For Rudhyar, to be a relativist was to be free to see from any point of view, any dimension of reality. This allows one to have a perspective which is continuously enlarging and diversifying. In principle, one can see relativistic thinking as the key to humanity's transcendence of factionalism and prejudice, breeding grounds for cruelty and war. Conversion to relativistic thinking appears to be necessary, if we are to create a transcultural milieu in which truly peaceful practice can be nurtured as the changed basis for human relations.
Unfortunately, however, relativity can also be and has been used as yet another weapon, to justify actions of any kind. Relativism in ethics can and has often become merely a cynical excuse for doing whatever you want and getting away with it. I feel that this is why most people have not embraced relativism intellectually. From an ethical point of view, its consequences appear to be disastrous. Intellectual relativism, in the absence of genuine feeling, becomes inhuman, a merely abstract exercise. Our transformed mind must be linked to a transformed heart for our actions to be performed with real consideration for others - or even for consideration of other aspects of our own selves - our emotional needs, our body's needs, our soul's needs.
Which brings me back to what I began with in this paper: 25 years ago I discovered that the search for intellectual certainty is a cover for the need for emotional security. Thanks to Dane Rudhyar, I then discovered that the proper function of the intellect is play, the joyful play of the transformed mind. Emotional security, however, remains an authentic human need. A need which I still feel. And I'm not going to get it through reading Rudhyar, or through anyone's intellectual study of the workings of the stars.
My ultimate goal is to integrate transformation in consciousness with a transformation in the way in which I inhabit my own body. Intuitively, I know that "true security is to be found within" - a saying that many people also subscribe to, but do they really understand it? Do they know what they are saying? I feel that most people think of this remark as "spiritual", i.e. once one has "peace of mind", true security will follow automatically. On the contrary, it is my feeling that true security, as long as we are human beings inhabiting bodies on the planetary body Earth, is to be found precisely in our bodies as sacred temples housing the Spirit. I want to learn to tune in to my body, to be capable of feeling the aliveness - and the consciousness of aliveness - in each individual cell. Then, focussing through my transformed body as medium, I want to learn to tune into Earth, the vibrant aliveness of Her body.
Through the integration of a transformed mind and body, I want to transform my understanding of astrology, to particularize it, by grounding it into the here and now - to this place in this time. Somehow - and this is an inchoate notion, only barely perceived and can only be formulated as a sort of guttural grunt, my finger pointing down, not up; not out there, but down here; not all of that, but only this - somehow, what Rudhyar talked about in the abstract, the need to see each point as a space and each space as a point, needs to be realized, made manifest, here in my daily life, in the ongoing experience of my own body.
I feel there is an understanding that we astrologers need to arrive at and I donÕt think we are going to reach it through abstract speculation. The direction lies inward, in our hearts. We need to attune to the rhythm of their universal beat in order to bring our minds and bodies together. We need to understand things by going through the Earth out into the heavens, rather than by lifting off it and pretending it's just our own little launching pad, nothing special.
For if every point in the universe is the center of things, then so is this one, this point, this place where I live and you.
I don't fully understand what I'm saying here; I only know that for me, astrology has become too abstract, too intellectual. We need to learn how to embody astrology. We will do that through our bodies, each as a portion of the larger Earth body. Earth's body is the medium of our communion with the stars.
We need to move beyond Rudhyar,
need to stand upon yet another great one's shoulders.
Ann Kreilkamp, P.O.Box 81PE , Kelly, WY 83011, U.S.A.
FRIEND, EXEMPLAR AND SAGE