The Pond: July 3, 2021
Five mad-hatting reflections for your holiday weekend.
“Sometimes I breathe harder and all of a sudden, with the aid of my continual absent-mindedness, the world rises and falls with my chest. Perhaps not Africa, but big stuff.”
2. How I turned my smartphone into a dumbphone
I ENJOY READING ANYTHING well-written that talks about doing less with electronic media. A favorite new Substack newsletter of mine is Mehret’s Newsletter where she covers the unplugging theme with each new post. This one shares a 10-minute video to help minimize your 24/7 connection to your ‘mobile device’. Brava!
3. This GQ article about the 1970s ‘clone’ look
WHERE I TALK WITH Nathan Tavares about how the mega-hypnotic ‘adult’ video star Al Parker channeled an era-defining style within queer culture.
4. Additions to my 2021 Moods for Moderns playlist
CURRENTLY CLOCKING IN AT 37 hours and 27 minutes. Now including Common, Cut Copy, Bootstraps, Culture Club, Art of Tones, Wild Nothing, Justine Skye, James Taylor, Marzz, Mustafa, Joni Mitchell, Washed Out, Air, SZA, the Isley Brothers, Sportsman, Kindness, ZAYN, The Dream Academy, Dinah Washington, Brad Mehldau, OHGEESY, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Lisa Stansfield…and more
LISTEN & FOLLOW NOW … I UPDATE DAILY WITH SONGS YOU’LL LOVE
5. July Horoscopes for Moderns! Here’s a sneak read
MARS IGNITES THE ONGOING Saturn Uranus square this month. This is akin to agitating two corralled bulls that already have their horns locked.
Fixed sign squares are the ugliest. I’d much rather deal with an astrological opposition in the fixed signs than a square. Oppositions offer the opportunity to see the parts of a puzzle and what’s required to alchemize—by sheer necessity—the opposites.
Our brains are acclimated to polarity, but not to right angles. Squares are like going along the road when suddenly a car (or UFO) comes out of leftfield (or your blind spot) and ‘baby goes boom’.
The essence of a square is the cosmos telling us that we aren’t in control and yet we still have to make an effort to resolve a seemingly immovable dilemma. To “Act as if…”—as Gurdjieff used to advise.
A grotesque example of the square (with Mars in the mix) is the out-of-the-blue (Uranus) release of convicted rapist Bill Cosby from prison (Saturn) the other day. Uhm, so 70 women coming forward with their drugged-raped-and-dumped experience wasn’t enough to uphold a conviction? If I were a woman I would be so consumed with rage right now I’d be in danger of spontaneously human combusting.
On a personal level, and because the sign Taurus is in the mix, pay attention to how and what your body is communicating to you. Is there a chronic condition that needs attention? Mental anxiety that requires shrink skills? Are you like one of those bulls, locked into a relationship, partnership, or work arrangement that’s an obvious dead-end but your gumption to exit is compromised? Hello, Saturn in Aquarius (the human bonds that bind) and Uranus (the freedom at all costs compulsion).
A pop-cultural example: Consider Britney Spears’ conservatorship quandary. I don’t care about the details or ‘facts’ related to this surrealistic ambush. As human beings, we have the right to self-destruct if we want to. But goddess forbid you’re a goose laying golden eggs for your hillbilly family. Time to bring in a father overseeing the straight jackets and a posse of voodoo-spinning attorneys.
Britney’s clusterfuck echoes the most anachronistic shadow components of patriarchy. And reminds me of the 1950s when women were given electroshock therapy (or lobotomies) to quell their rogue behavior in the husband’s household. It’s no accident Spears’ public declaration for liberation comes while the Saturn Uranus square is perfecting. The author Ira Levin, born with the same t-square between Mars, Saturn, and Uranus, understood this dimension of the patriarchy and wrote his prescient classic The Stepford Wives as a cautionary tale.
Shock the monkey
Humans by nature (being part animal) become locked into patterns, habits, and routines that create a false sense of security. Behavior that over time turns into a prison. Reality, or as I call it—nature, isn’t interested in patterns that repeat. Yes, there are cycles, but each phase of a cycle is brand new. The Saturn Uranus square makes this notion the sine qua non of the moment.
Gurdjieff was a big proponent of shock measures. One technique he used was to get people drunk (while in a group setting). This allowed a student to experience the repressed parts of his nature and have it mirrored back to him through his exchanges with others. The person’s shock was visceral. And most likely exacerbated by a hangover.
Gurdjieff would also blow through a person’s habitual ways of presupposing reality. Something we do regularly—as in, “If I do this—I will get that.” He might assign someone the task of digging a five-foot-deep hole in the garden and then when the project was completed he’d have the person fill in the hole without an explanation as to why they’d dug the hole. This supplied a shock.
How can your sign shock itself this month? Let’s consider your options:
Individual horoscopes are for paid subscribers to WOODRUFF.
Wait a minute…You’re not hanging with us? Oh, honey. Join the in-crowd and read your cosmic download for July!