I’ve started reading a fascinating book on Arabic astrology which the author, Dr. Liana Saif, has recently made available for free download.
Just reading the first chapter, a few things have clicked into place regarding the usefulness of astrology as a “queen of the sciences.” Which is really to say, as a science of imagination.
The respectable west currently investigates the imagination by way of semiotics, deconstruction, and all those French -isms. The mode of these investigations-- and they dominate completely wherever higher learning is funded-- is scientific, like that of astrology. But they are confusing and fail to connect with lived experience. This is because they presuppose that imagination is like infinite Cartesian space (picture 3D graph paper), and has no relationship with time.
A Cartesian ideology-- the economics of copyright, say-- works by suppressing the imagination. It considers an imaginal object, occupies a point in Cartesian imaginal space from which to consider the object, and does whatever is necessary to fix the object and especially the point in space. “In this discipline, we study that object from this point of view.”
A Cartesian science of imagination does not suppress the imagination, exactly, but it deals in the same space. It will say one of these kinds of thing: a) “those two objects are really one object”; b) “that one object is really two objects”; c) “here’s a space that also has objects”; d) “there are two points of view, and B is preferable to A”; or e) “there are infinitely many points of view.”
Point e) is the ground metaphysic. As a result, none of these sciences of the imagination can relate meaningfully to each other. Nor do they relate meaningfully to the living world, except as far as they can alter the operation of Cartesian ideologies.
This really, really pisses me off, because as a young person I went to an elite university where I thought I could learn a meaningful science of imagination. People need imagination. They need it to relate meaningfully to their lives. Some of us have an aptitude or calling to make imagination more available or useful to people.
Semioticians love to parse advertising for what it signifies, what it tells us about discourses and so on. You can write lots of papers that way, because there are lots of ads and lots of discourses.
They programmatically ignore that the methods of advertising are not arbitrary, but employ a refined knowledge of one (admittedly limited) area of imagination. That is, people who are paid by capital to get results from the imagination do not presuppose an infinity of viewpoints. An adman’s paradigm is limited and technical, but it ultimately draws on Renaissance Platonism for its metaphysics.
Why do admen have a better metaphysics of the imagination than universities? It really, really pisses me off.
Anyway, this was about astrology. Astrology is important because the sky is the best ground we have for the imagination. It has lots of particular lights that make shapes, are mostly always the same, and change in patterned ways over time. The changes are uncountable but finite and patterned. Telling stories about the sky is probably the best way humans have to conserve cultural knowledge.
In other words, all those isms are fourth rate astrologies. They try to get away with using Cartesian space rather than the actual sky. The results suck.