Researching novels leads you down strange pathways.
Star signs? All nonsense of course. But which of us does not have the desire for some shape, some purpose in the randomised pick-and-mix of human experience? We might discover that shape in the certainties of organised religion or the world of science and the academy.
Last week I talked with David S about coincidence. He doesn’t believe in it. He thinks there is something more than coincidence behind coincidences. We talked about ideas from CJ Jung which refer to synchronicity and the conscience collective – a kind well of human experience, wisdom and perception which, some say now, may be genetically accumulated.
So far, so unscientific!
But we seem to need it. Look at the way some of us unscientific folk embrace the work Einstein, Schrödinger and others, who have challenged to notion of a linear time in warping, bending, reversing, and even breaking the received wisdom of time’s straight arrow, using the mechanics of relativity and quantum physics.
It seems we live in this world of blooming, buzzing confusion and look always for patterns which will explain it all. Religions of every sort - as well as the schools of scientific theory and academic concepts – flaunt their holy books, their heroes and their villains and offer us comfort, in that if we follow their rules they will make shapely sense for us, out of our individual confusion.
Reading the stars in the night sky and interpreting them to ascribe character and to predict the future - if time’s not linear then the future is there to see! - is the most immediate and possibly primitive of these processes. And like many people, over my morning coffee, I read my stars in newspapers and magazines. There is a lady in Easington who has offered to do it for me in person but I haven’t as yet taken her up on it. She calls her self a shaman, which is interesting,
My own favourite thing is to check out personality types designated by the stars . I am Pisces -‘ impressionable, compassionate, sensitive, artistic, mystical, meditative, spiritual, a medium, also escapist - tendency to flight, dependent , masochistic. Can be mendacious. (ie tendency to tell lies – come to think of it I tell lies (ie stories) for a living!) And paranoid. (eg Why is nobody in Germany reading my deathless prose?)
I have to tell you that, in my case, all these aspects of personality are more or less true. I might have dozens of other characteristics but even these link back to these qualities one way or another.
Looking at other Pisceans I can see these qualities coming through. Lots of actors (including Ellen Terry, Elizabeth Taylor and Bruce Willis); many writers(including Anais Nin, the inspiration for this whole blog); politicians (including Gordon Brown and Bill Clinton); inventers and thinkers (including the aforementioned Albert Einstein). I imagine as well that prisons and psychiatric units will have their fair share of rather more anonymous Pisceans, with their mendacity, paranoia and desire to escape.
Talking of prisons, the joint star sign of the Kray Twins (see my novel The Lavender House) was Scorpio ‘resourcefulness, penetrating insight, strength in crisis, psychic power, charisma, strong sexuality, interest in occult, secretiveness, jealousy.’ This case illustrates that given characteristics are not value free. They can be turned on their heads and applied with death-dealing negativity.
So far, so very unscientific, you might say.
But I am preoccupied by all this at the moment because Stella, the central character in my new novel At The Villa d’Estella, is a professional astrologer. Even through her life-changing adventures in France she still posts her astrological columns to the magazines that employ her. Although she is somewhat creative in generating her copy – she’s a Piscean, after all – she has taken to the work like a duck to water because all through her life she has sensed dead people and seen through time.
As I say, researching a novel takes you down the strangest pathways but this might be the strangest yet…
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