Quid Nunc, Fututor Matris?
It's been a rough year for me, enough funerals and memorials and such to pretty much leave my schedule in a shambles. I've lost a half dozen close friends and valued acquaintances, not to mention my own personal favorite wife, leaving me speculating about a Hippie Rapture (so why am I still here? Uh oh...) It's enough to make a callow youth downright nervous.
The world, as numerous individuals have noted, is one mysterious place. Random foibles rule. Shit happens and happens and happens, rhyme and reason spectating helplessly from the sidelines. But it's not like it's just one damn thing after another — there's also the same damned thing over and over, not to mention a whole bunch of damned things all at once.
That bunching, in particular, came in for a nickname in my household of not-too-yore, the one that included a wife: we called it "Now-what weather" as in enduring flooded bathroom, mysteriously unpaid bill, hideous clanking noises from under the hood of the family jalopy and gratuitous enmity from nominal noncombatants, then staring testily at the sky or the wall or some other likely target and querying "Now what?"
The perception of now-what weather is, statisticians assure us, just a misfiring of our simian pattern-recognition firmware, a side effect included at no extra charge (taxes and handling fees may apply) of our ability to put one and one together and deftly sidestep the pouncing leopard. This wee small glitch of our God-given intellects even has a cute little clutch of terms of art all its very own: confirmation bias, clustering fallacy, the Texas Sharpshooter (my personal fav: 1) Shoot at barn; 2) Draw target around shots; 3) Profit!), and so forth.
Calling names, however, don't necessarily catch dinner. Given the opportunity, Wise All-Knowing Science tm will concoct a comforting sobriquet tail to pin on any given donkey of inconvenient evidence counter to its own accepted standard model of reality, which if you think about it is really not very scientific in the original sense. Scientists are, however, just as lazy and self-indulgent as most other hairless beach apes and it's ever so much more expedient to simply shake up the can, tag "confirmation bias" on the high and vaulted brick walls of The Shitstorm Institute and get back to that lucrative Doom Bomb contract.
Out here in the wet wild world, though, with spray-paint philosophy thin on the ground and few in the hill, catchy slogans don't fix the hideous clanking noises or unflood the bath neither, and in with the inevitable flinching, ducking, mending and fast-talking associated with serial indignities comes an inevitable subjective, highly personal and innately social reaction that, over and over in the history of Poor Dumb Slobs, resolves at its base to 1) A strong suspicion that Somebody/Somebodies Up/Down/Out/Over/Under There Hate(s) My Sorry Guts and 2) An equally fervid desire to work out A Deal. Next thing you know there's cathedrals popping up like mushrooms and the sacrificial altars never had it so good.
Okay, that's reasonable enough. But as Poor Dumb Slobs make the usual cultural evolutionary transition to Poor Slightly More On The Ball Slobs, they start getting the peculiar notion that, out in the wet wild world anyway, things don't just happen, they're caused., and somehow the old propitiation of barely-conceived invisible entities doesn't have the smack and savor like Mom used to make it anymore and there's a pressure that builds up in at least a few turbid forebrains to sneak a quick peek at that spiffy mechanism the grumpy guy behind the curtain is cranking away with, maybe get a clue as to which levers he's pulling when. Nothing, y'know, disrespectful or anything, just a natural curiosity as to whuffo dis shit?
Which leads to the guys with pointy hats in tall towers up all night watching the stars or down in the basement picking apart chicken guts, an entirely separate order of quasi-spiritual activity aimed not especially at buying off the gods as much as trying to head them off at the past. Which in turn leads to natural philosophy and math and deductive reasoning and the scientific method and lucrative Doom Bomb contracts and the whole nine yards. Yay!
On the other claw, such curious cattery (cattitude? catanoia?) also meanders off into that funhouse beyond funhouses, Magickland, home of scary clowns like necromancy and witchcraft (cue maniacal laughter — hey, it's Halloween season), stuff that no edjumacated civilized citizen worth his electric coffee pot would waste the time of day on. Out in the back lot, though, behind the elephant enclosure, there's still that one oddly well-kept pavilion housing, oh yeah, astrology.
Now, as superstitions go, astrology doesn't exactly exude much credibility. Like imposing mountain ranges that dissolve into heaps of scree and random boulders at closer inspection, the Science of the Stars erodes seamlessly into the Opinions of the Self-Styled Experts the moment you go snouting about for a straight answer to a simple question like whuffo dis shit? But in its essence, its premise, horoscopy puts its finger on the clit of the matter: something's gotta be doing this.
And what bigger, brighter, sparklier periodic and complexly interwoven thing could there be than the stately progression of the Very Heavens Themselves Even? If ever you felt like something was looking down on you and you looked up and it was night and clear and you weren't camped out next to the Tasty Freeze or the ball park, those majestic unfathomable utterly and innately distant zillion points of light have no problem at all imposing their mighty metaphor of destiny on your sadly-underpowered powers of reasoning. At least you're hitching your pitiful little donkey cart of intuition to (wait for it) the stars.
Works for me, anyways. YMMV.