Slant

Diamond Cutter

Julian of Norwich.

SIX HUNDRED AND FORTY-FIVE YEARS AND SEVEN DAYS AGO, in the city of Norwich, a recluse named Julian beheld the whole of creation in the palm of her hand, in an orb the size of a hazelnut. It was here that W.G. Sebald taught for forty years, at the University of East Anglia, and where, in the opening pages of The Rings of Saturn, we find him prostrate in a hospital room—and then standing at the window there—having collapsed a year and a day after a summer’s walk across the county of Suffolk.

I am writing you from my office at UEA, where, rereading The Rings of Saturn, I seemed to smell the rising stench of a century I had been enjoying forgetting, mingling with the putrefaction in those of us living hard against ourselves now, while below me hundreds of students in costumes are getting shitfaced in safety, entertained by a dj, pushing wheelbarrows of beer up and down the concrete steps and all over the green. Nobody shoots at them. Nobody harms them. And even if their mirth conceals inward suffering, as at all parties some must statistically be in pain, I felt myself like a strange little ode to their unmolested joy.

Where Julian is shown the entirety of creation in living miniature, Sebald gazes out through a (probably brutalist) aperture on a “colourless patch of sky” and a landscape that appears dead to him, his vision moreover inexplicably debarred by black mesh, which has been draped “for some reason” over the hospital windows. Between the ecstasy of Julian and the melancholy of Sebald, unharmed students are partying. Between the ecstasy of the fourteenth century, and its slaughters, and the ravaged melancholy of the twentieth, with its, I write you.

Much has been said about the ingress of Uranus into Taurus and the aspects to this transit: that it heralds the rise of universal currency, the fall of big banks, geological convulsions, and simply and fundamentally, that the revolutionary spirit of our world (Uranus) is penetrating deep into the Venusian feminine (Taurus). Perhaps the most insightful comment I’ve found was made by astrologer Jessica Adams, when she posed the question, What if you had to pay for Facebook?

We put no price tag on our attention, on the “empty” seconds and minutes during which dread fills our bodies as though we were bladders being pumped full of ink with which tyrants—Trumps, Wests, Kardashians, I don’t care—are already writing their autobiography. Your attention is valuable. Simone Weil’s whole theology is made of it. Perhaps if Facebook and Instagram cost less than the whole of our unconscious, our imaginary—perhaps if they cost dollars, which are cheaper than entire governments, malevolent billionaires, and masters of war—it might actually stimulate us to be more mindful about how we do what we do when we go to those places. For they are places, even though they haunt the air like ghosts.

Ariana Reines, May 15, 2018.

It takes a diamond one to three billion years to form. Any piece of coal is a diamond in its infancy. We have demolished mountains to suck from their coal. To crystallize in the womb of the Earth is a procedure we can speed up, i.e. fake, in the laboratory. Once, in the throes of some agony, I heard in myself the impulse to make it into a beautiful crystal, one like the chunk of citrine I was looking at. I then realized that the Earth had already done with an ancient agony what it had done, and the result of this process was the very crystal I was holding. Hypothesis: while beauty is everywhere, the greatest and most lasting beauty is necessarily the issue of tremendous pressure, extreme heat, and incomprehensible fathoms of time. Some of which pass in a single instant.

When I say diamond I want you to hear: coal, earth, groundwater, seeds turning in the dark, mining, child miners, fracking, caving, buried treasure, mystery, fertility, hardness, softness, perfection, roughness, transparency. Crystaline transparency. The crystalization of insight in a deep, dark, complicated womb. When Uranus enters Taurus, an explosive and revolutionary heat impregnates the Earth, the very ground, the mantle and the core, and cracks the crust. The bad on the surface gets worse, the inextinguishable capacity to transmute catastrophe into immortality—which is one of earthly geology’s magnificent properties—does not change. When I say diamond I want you to hear: new moon in Taurus. I want you to hear revolution in the womb of the Earth, for today Uranus enters Taurus (there will be a dip out when he goes retrograde) for a residency of eight years.

This also heralds a time of drying-out and desertification on the planet, and likewise, quite possibly, a corollary drying-out and cooling off of libidinal moisture.

Notice when you harden and why: do your guts clench, is there a lump in your throat, is your shit hard as a rock, is your genital hard. Is your voice hard, your gaze hard, is your mouth clutching at itself, has your tongue cleaved to the roof of your mouth, are your brows furrowed, your shoulders hunched. Notice envy, competitiveness, and be gentle and loving toward every impulse to haste.

Taurus takes her time. So must we: today especially and hereafter with great reverence and care. In the face of convulsions on the surface of things, the impulse to rush is an illusion. Also illusions: envy, rage, victimhood, and yes, scarcity. The substance of things, it has been said since the beginning of time, is love. What crystallizes out of this substance is a fabulous, and also a terrible, dreadful mystery. We are the soft targets of the glowering thieves that are our rulers. They siphon our friendships and longings and sell them back to us as war and murder we get to watch. We had thought we were citizens: again and again they teach us we are spectators. Uranus in Taurus suggests that in a mass drying-out and a time of great convulsion, all true value, all lucre, all wealth are to be found in softening, in yielding, and in sweetening where in every previous age it has been considered human and natural to harden and deflect. The rocks in our guts are the bombs looming overhead. As below so above.

Ariana Reines is a poet & playwright. She astrologizes at lazyeyehaver.com.

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