Jessica Murray's America in Transition

Talking Heads

by Jessica Murray on December 1, 2009

Post image for Talking Heads

In last month’s America in Transition we discussed the fledgling transit of Saturn in Libra. We talked about the significance of the air element (ideas), and about how the addition of Libra to the celestial mix could provide America’s public discourse with a clear-headedness that has been sorely lacking.

We also mentioned the Aquarius conjunction (Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune on the US Moon); which, if we make it through our collective identity crisis, promises a more spiritualized use of the mass mind. This transit, the “Super Conjunction,” peaks for the third time at the solstice this month. In the process of trying to transform, our national self-image (Moon) is in meltdown mode (Neptune): wounded (Chiron), yet wildly expansive (Jupiter).

Growing up

The American mind is in desperate need of boundaries. Our collective intelligence has become degraded by the anything-goes media circus that has come to be called, with perverse appropriateness, the culture wars. There is a crying need for advocates of differing opinions to define their terms and to get more structured in their expression of them. Mercifully, this is exactly what Saturn in Libra is equipped to provide.

The transits overhead are singling out the USA in another way, too. The horoscope of the entity born 7/4/1776 in Philadelphia itself features Saturn in Libra. This means the country will be having a Saturn Return, exact in 2011.

As those who have experienced Saturn Returns in their own charts know only too well, this is a transit of maturity.  It is a call to get practical; to start acting like a grownup. In Libra, it signals the need to organize the workings of the mind and put them to use.

Appointed Messengers

We denizens of the First World, as the beneficiaries (or victims, depending on your point of view) of the Information Age, find ourselves deluged with data day in and day out. How do we organize this mental onslaught, and what meaning do we give to it?

Each of us, to one extent or another, will have to answer to Saturn in Libra over the next two and a half years. Depending on where the transit falls in our charts, we will be asked to examine the contents of our thoughts, discard those that are no longer useful, and categorize the rest into a workable order. We will be called upon to take responsibility for our opinions.

Where do our opinions come from? For the USA this question will be increasingly pressing. Whose voices run through the American mind?

A Tlingit shaman

A Tlingit shaman—messages from the spirit world

Every culture has its storytellers: persons appointed to convey the narratives the group uses to generate its reality.  Ancient tribes had messengers who, it was believed, traveled between the worlds and came back to deliver the news. Some cultures have shamans and oracles who translate the words of the gods.

Throughout history societies have primarily sought such guidance from religion and art. As to the former, there has been a mass discrediting of theological authority since the millennium, as I have written elsewhere in Daykeeper. As to the latter, in this post-literary age the secular West is perhaps less inclined than it has ever been to look to its artists as exponents of the great truths.

To whom do we appeal these days? Who have we chosen to explain the vagaries of our chaotic world?

We have given this job to the pundits.

Public Mood

When we consider the deeper social need filled by our talking heads, it starts to make more sense why America has given them so much power. These are the guys we have assigned to interpret our reality.

The reason our celebrity opinion-mongers attract such ardent fans is certainly not because they exude any particular benevolence of spirit. On the contrary, it almost seems as if the outsized popularity of men like Michael Savage stands in inverse relation to their capacity to embrace their fellow human beings. Yet as we have seen, they serve a need for which human groups are hard-wired.

According to Jungian thinking, our cultural reality is an aggregate of its participants’ individual realities. (1) In this view, America’s over-the-top pundits reflect the current state of the national psyche. The USA is in financial, social and psycho-spiritual disarray, with many of its citizens operating from the most primitive parts of themselves. Thus we get the inflammatory battle cries of the Fox News commentators, obligingly offering up the kind of negative-cheerleading that the public is already juiced up to hear.

But as consciousness seekers we cannot afford to take on these energies. To be responsible members of the here-and-now, we must take notice when what we are hearing on TV or the radio is skewed to the point of harmful. To negotiate these critical times we must take a hard look at the pundit phenomenon.

Saturn in Libra, whose goal is to clear the decks of un-reason, could be profoundly helpful here if we use it well. This transit bestows a renewed respect for the integrity of conceptual thought. When pressed into service to critique sloppy and manipulative thinking, Saturn is the perfect antidote for the epidemic of raucous verbal irresponsibility that now pollutes the national conversation.

Infotainment

Libra is about the initiation (cardinality) of ideas (air). In this regard the transit’s first lesson may be to expose these dudes as being fakes. That is, although mouth-offs like Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck are billed as idea-men, the issues they espouse are rarely their own.

When the bald realities of the infotainment industry are factored in, we see that these men seldom choose what to get incensed about. They are entertainers, whose boorish adamancy is crafted by their producer-employers. These bosses are, in turn, told what should be raged about by the corporate media powers above them; and so on.(2)

The pose assumed by the Lou Dobbses of this world—that of fierce individualists “telling it like it is”—is particularly contemptible when we consider the degree to which their talking points derive from pollsters and marketing firms. These agencies, ideologically neutral in the sense that they are profit-driven, supply the pundits’ bosses with statistics about what would be likely to strike a chord with audiences.

Rush Limbaugh, Infotainer

Rush Limbaugh, Infotainer

That said, I do believe that a solipsist like Rush Limbaugh probably does come to believe his own rants. I can visualize the process: he confers with his managers over a list of suitable topics; his eyes start to twinkle as he imagines summoning up the bile necessary to do the job. Once he’s behind the mike, he rises to the occasion, finding within his reservoir of individual grievances the vitriol required to do the show.

Both his bosses and his personal delusions are served in the process.

Faux-Idea-Men

The pundits have coalesced into a kind of para-political class in our media-driven age. Obama himself gave a reluctant nod to their newfound credibility a few months back, when he referred to Rush Limbaugh as a formidable force among Republicans. I propose it’s time to help Saturn in Libra disrobe Rush and his fellow emperors by taking a closer look at their job description.

The raison-d’être of these bullies of the airwaves is to pump up ratings by appealing not to ideas but visceral feelings, the arousal of which makes people easy to manipulate.

Limbaugh is a brilliant performer, but he and his ilk are pretending to be something else. They are pretending to be ideologues. Though the word has acquired a pejorative meaning, an ideologue is first and foremost a person with ideas.

Let us use this transit to refine our own clear-mindedness, so that we may be judged by our ideas and assess our leaders by theirs.

____________________

Notes:

1 See the work of Paul Levy.

2 Consider the fact that Rupert Murdoch, head of the world’s biggest media empire, openly meets with international heads of state. Murdoch, who is known to give his journalists lists of what topics they should report on and which subjects they aren’t to mention, is only the most obvious exemplifier of a system that purports to be about information-dispensing but is really about worldview-molding.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Crystal December 2, 2009 at 9:27 am

Great description of the need and opportunity for what might be called intellectual sobriety. Saturn helps sober up whatever sign it goes through, and this is one of the whole world’s biggest issues in the age of Libran reason.

Betty Taylor December 3, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Jessica,
You have so beautifully and succinctly pinned down and dissected the American psyche in relation to a current transit that it takes my breath away. My hope is for greater intellectual and emotional maturity for myself and my “fellow Americans” in the near future. With your inspirational writing, you are helping us along the way.
Betty Taylor

Terri December 4, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Jessica, I LOVE reading your columns!!! They resonate so deeply with what my own intuitive perception of things is, and they also educate and uplift me. Thank you for being the original thinker that you are………..it is nice to have a coherent voice amongst so many that just parrot what someone else says.

Terri Crowe-Lamica

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