It's one of my current themes in readings, keeping Saturn in his place, particularly not letting him try to boss Neptune around.
Who, being nebulous and hard to define, is vulnerable to Saturn's attempts to put him in a box.
Saturn think she knows how things ought to be
and he needs to be told to fuck off, yes really just to fuck on out
Mr 9 to 5 doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to our vocations and he needs to be told to fuck off and do what we tell him
Saturn feels secure when he's told what to do
If you don't tell him what to do, he'll tell you, and it probably won't be pretty
He needs to know where he stands
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Anyway, I picked up a book this morning, Love’s Executioner by Irvin Yalom. Earlier this year I read his Momma and the Meaning of Life, stories from the psychotherapy world. It was great, but I’m not sure I can still go there, after doing a counselling course. It kind of put me off that model. I have the suspicion a lot of them are pygmies putting the ‘correct’ forms into action.
Yalom is an existential psychotherapist, and for a while that had quite an appeal for me. Identifying certain basic givens of existence like death and the need for meaning, and using those to help people navigate their lives. Yes! But gradually I’ve been put off by the way he has allowed those givens to be infected by scientific rationalism.
These are the 4 givens he uses:
(1) The inevitability of death for each one of us and for those we love
(2) The freedom to make our lives as we will
(3) Our ultimate aloneness
(4) The absence of any obvious meaning or sense to life
Death He encourages his patients (as he calls them) to accept as a fact that death involves the complete extinction of consciousness. I really object to this, not so much because I tend to think that death is not an extinction, but because in reality we don't know what happens after death. His certainty that death is an extinction is not tenable, because we do not know, cannot know what happens. It's mysterious and unknowable, and that sense is important to our humanity, it prevents hubris (like Yalom thinking he knows what happens after death) and is also, I dunno, one of those things, that sense of unknowability, I suppose profoundly wicked is the phrase I'm looking for.
And I think it takes a particular type of narrow-mindedness - the scientific type - to dismiss the extensive documented accounts of unusual experiences - out of body, clairvoyant and so on - that suggest that consciousness and the physical body are not the same thing.
The freedom to make our lives as we will. This seems to me a partial truth. Tell this one to someone living in poverty. And what about the claims of character, the type of personality we are that, pursued far enough, leads to the transpersonal, where it is certainly not about making our lives as we will: it is about becoming more sensitive to who we have to be, what we have to do. We are, of course, free not to do it, but that's our loss. This is the realm of the outer planets. Only a superficial, rational, Enlightenment consciousness living in a wealthy society could consider 'The freedom to make our lives as we will' to be a given of existence.
Our ultimate aloneness. Don’t agree. We are all connected in deeper ways than we realise. When my partner’s father was dying in Scotland, he woke me up one morning down in Devon, fully present in a way that he hadn’t been for some years. We’re ultimately responsible for ourselves, yes. But we’re also ultimately connected to others, and there are probably connections out there that are very old, very strong that just aren’t activated right now. And then there's our imaginary friends. For me, there's Pluto likes to come and hang out. And they're onside. I think we're surrounded, I don't think we're alone, I don't think life's divided up like that.
The absence of any obvious meaning or sense to life. Yalom views a sense of meaning as something constructed, something external that we add on. This, of course, is a logical corollary to a rational, scientific materialist viewpoint. It’s hideous: the idea that we live in a meaningless universe. Meaning is something felt as much as it is rationally describable. “When I live like this, then life feels meaningful.” End of story. We need to trust that sense, not see it as something artificial we have imposed on a bleak universe. A sense of meaning is life speaking to us, telling us we are on the right track, that we are plugged into a larger whole.