Astrology

Spies in the Workplace

I just read a very scary WSJ article about all the ways in which large US companies are spying on their employees – from their first email sent from bed in the morning to the new business contact added on the way home.

Employers are using the resulting data collected in many ways including spotting problem employees and monitoring which teams are the most productive. But it goes further. One of the newest frontiers is dissecting phone calls and conference room conversations.

Apparently, these employers are under little, if any obligation, to share their tactics or gathered information with their employees and there is almost nothing that the employees can do about it.


Workplace spies?

I was forced to agree with one comment in the response thread following the article – i.e. ‘that no employee should expect any privacy at work’. The operative word here is expect –  for any employee would clearly be foolish to believe the situation to be other than it is. But I can’t help but think that employers are shooting themselves in the proverbial foot here because ‘trust’ (or lack thereof) cuts both ways. Traditionally, those companies who have profited most have tried hard to ensure employees at all levels work toward a common goal and share common values. I am pretty up to date on The Harvard Business Review and this seems to be the line that most articles there continue to take. But in light of this WSJ article, the academically inspired ‘advice’ from the creme de la creme is seemingly ignored, perhaps because more than corporate profitability is at stake.

I can only imagine that when Pluto hits Aquarius in 2023 and the proverbial ‘shit’ hits the fan in regards to technology and how it is being used, that it will be the employers who will end up with brown goo on their faces.

Pluto roots out all that is wrong in society in regards to the zodiac sign in which it traverses, concentrating on that which is dark, secretive, taboo, and purposefully hidden. With moralistic, idealistic (black and white) Aquarius, it’s all about doing the ‘right thing’ and I’m guessing that when the whole truth oozes out about the degree of spying and the uses made of it, employee loyalty of any kind will truly be a thing of the past.

If in doubt how this works, consider what happened when in 2008, when Pluto entered Capricorn, the sign associated with business, banking, and government.

coaching

The Art of Persuasion

For success in any meeting or information exchange, the following four steps are essential:

gain their confidence and they’re putty in your hands…
  1. Build trust and rapport with your audience and thus set the scene to your advantage.
    • The quickest and easiest way to build rapport is to assume that you already have it.
    • Simply imagine that the persons with whom you’re speaking are very dear and close old friends. As the result, your body language and attitude will change subtly and without overtly trying, you’ll make your audience feel comfortable and at ease.
    • Smile and make eye contact in a non-threatening and confident manner.
    • The more confidence you inspire in your audience, the more willing they are to respond positively to your suggestions.
  2. Fix the desired outcome for the meeting firmly in your own mind.
    • Be very clear regard exactly what behaviour you desire from the others as the result of the meeting – i.e. sign here, go there, or simply, accept this or agree with me.
    • Ensure that everything you say do during the meeting is aimed at bringing them to that final result (see below for ideas) and then ensure you overtly ask them to do whatever it is that you want them to do.
  3. During the course of the meeting deliver at least one hook or incentive designed to appeal to each attendee.
    • Although you may not know much about your attendees, you have statistics and astrology on your side. Each person must fall into one of the 12 zodiac signs – cover them all – at least briefly – in your delivery:
      1. Aries – appeal to her need to take action now.
      2. Taurus – appeal to her need for simple, practical solutions.
      3. Gemini – appeal to her natural curiosity. 
      4. Cancer – appeal to her need to feel safe and secure.
      5. Leo – appeal to her need to take centre stage.
      6. Virgo – appeal to her need to get it done and done right.
      7. Libra – appeal to her need to maintain harmony.
      8. Scorpio – appeal to her need to get to the bottom of things.
      9. Sagittarius – appeal to her need for exploration and personal adventure.
      10. Capricorn – appeal to her need to earn responsibility and respect.
      11. Aquarius – appeal to her need to challenge the status quo.
      12. Pisces – appeal to her need to help someone.
  4. Carefully choose the words you will deliver – keeping in mind the benefits of the following techniques
    • Develop YES sets – get them on a roll with answering a series of simple questions with a ‘yes’ and chances are they’ll keep rolling on in the affirmative.
    • Anticipation Loops – keep them paying close attention through the entire meeting by delivering only partial explanations with a promise to explain more fully, later.
    • Agreement Frames – everyone feels better when others agree with them – so meet any objections with the following – ‘I agree with you and (not but) I add this…’.
    • Awareness Patterns – innocuous little words like NOTICE, REALISE, EXPERIENCE, SEE, and AWARE are all great for slipping in ideas under the radar. For example, ‘’I’m certain that you realise that our numbers aren’t great this quarter and that means some redundancies.” If they question anything here, it’s more likely to be either (1) whether they did realise the numbers weren’t great or (2) whether in actual fact – the numbers weren’t great. This leaves them much more likely to accept (as a given) whatever comes after that, i.e. your main aim – redundancies.

Astrology

Pie in the Sky Propaganda

Let’s face it. 

At the moment, politics in the United Kingdom is up the spout and our fragile future is under siege in Europe. Will the situation get any better in the next calendar quarter with the ingress of the Sun into Aries (20 March 2019)? 

what you see/hear is not what you’ll get

Not likely.


Expect ‘pie in the sky’ propaganda as more is promised than could possibly ever be delivered. What you see (or in this case, what you hear) is not what you’ll get. Old stuff gets rehashed over and over and little real progress will be made. This sorry state of affairs is not lost on the general public however it might well be lost on the government which, self-absorbed, is completely of sync with the reality of the situation. Some economic surprises are in store and are likely to play out in the National Health Service. 


Outlook from March – June 2019 in the United Kingdom
  • Jupiter (23 Sagittarius) is in the same degree as the nodal axis, which gives the whole situation a ‘fated’ quality. We’ve been on this path before.
  • Jupiter suggests tolerance, good, will and moderation. Somewhere in the mix is also a sense of noblesse oblige. But Jupiter can also be interpreted as wrangling and disputes, as well as the inflation of the national ego and ‘imperialism.
  • This Jupiter is tied up with the nodal axis and the likelihood is more the later than the former. In principle, we’d like to expect the focus on adaptability and harmony but what we’re more likely to is a lack of good fellowship and the tendency to look out for one’s own gain first.
  • It should not be surprising that this plays out in the 2nd(national wealth), 9th(foreign relations), and 3rd(trade and communications) houses. 
  • That all these imperialistic negotiations are taking place in contravention (square aspect) with popular opinion (symbolised by the Moon at 27 Virgo), should come as no surprise.
  • That the government (represented the Sun at 0 Aries) is completely out of sync with popular opinion as well as anything else (the Sun makes no aspects whatsoever to any other planet), should also come as little surprise. The Sun is in the 5thhouse which linked the national economy to financial speculation. This suggests, at least to me, that the government is playing dice with national wealth.
  • Mercury (communication especially re: political speeches and official communiques) is retrograde (i.e. peddling backwards) and closely conjunct to Neptune, planet signifying (amongst other things), confusion, delusion, and/or outright subterfuge. All this is happening in our own backyard (the 4thhouse).  
  • It’s fair to note that Mars, the forces that hold the country together by force (i.e. aggression) is also in the same degree as the nodal axis. Put these two together and there will be a lively exchange of ideas but again, very self-focused and with Mars in the 7thhouse, this will play in foreign affairs – i.e. the UK’s partnerships with other nations. This in itself is not necessarily bad but again, the fated quality imparted by the nodal axis suggests that whatever happens now, has been long in the cards. 
  • Finally, Uranus has just entered Taurus which promises so economic surprises all around. That this Uranus is in the 6thhouse of this chart suggests that these economic surprises are more than likely to play out in the National Health Service or NHS. 
Astrology

PUTIN and TRUMP – Astro basics lovers of ‘truth’ ought not to ignore

Some have suggested that Putin and Trump are two peas in a pod – and on the surface, it might look as if this is true.

putinBut astrologically, you couldn’t ask for two different men, at least in regards to ‘truth’:

  • Both men share close contacts between Mercury and Neptune – hence the construction and delivery of alternative realities is something they most definitely share.
  • But although Trump’s square aspect between the two suggests confused rational/logical thought processes resulting in self-deception, Putin’s conjunction suggests something more  sophisticated.
  • With Mercury/Neptune in close conjunction, Putin has the innate ability to purposely design  creative alternative truths to serve his own purposes.
  • Furthermore, with Mars in Sagittarius also closely sextile to his Mercury/Neptune, Putin is more (philosophically) committed to his purposes (whatever they might be) than Trump – whose Mars in Leo on the Ascendent suggests he is driven by more by the need of a personal ego-trip than deeply held convictions.
  • Note also that because his Neptune/Mercury is in Libra, Putin can deliver  his truths in a clear, calm, and let’s face it, disarmingly charming manner. Mercury in Libra is highly rational and very logical. Putin’s is the voice of a well-seasoned and well-practiced lawyer or diplomat.unknown
  • By contrast, Trump’s Mercury in Cancer suggests that delivery of his truths are straight from the ‘heart’ (or the gut) and are more than likely than not, to be highly emotional. Trump’s is the voice of a sentimental, often highly defensive individual who intuitively knows what to say to get the reaction from others that he wants.
  • Not only that, but Putin’s Mercury is sextile Pluto – suggesting that unlike Trump, Putin is very good at getting to the bottom of everything – truth does not hide from him – likewise, Putin also very good at hiding truth – something that Trump (with Mercury in Cancer) is not.

Bottom line – Trump may not even realise his ‘truth’ isn’t always what others see -but Putin not only realises his truths are ‘creative’ but is highly capable of using this to his advantage.

Philosophy

Post Truth = Propaganda

 

unknownPost truth = the OED word of the year = objective facts less important to forming public opinion than appeals to emotions and personal belief.

According to OED, post-truth has come about as the result of ‘truth’ having become devalued – life as we have known it is finished, or is it?

Let’s take a closer look at this newly devalued currency of ‘truth’ might really be.

It takes little or no time to discover there is and never has been a consensus on what is ‘truth’. There are, however, a morass of questions and critical theories: ‘coherence’ theory, ‘correspondence’ theory, ‘pragmatist’ theory, ‘semantic’ theory, and ‘redundancy’ theory – just to name a few.

You may know little or nothing about any of this stuff and you don’t have to do either. The takeaway point is that ‘truth’ has always been relative – impossible to define much less to determine. It’s probably good news that ‘truth’ no longer matters and this ought not to come as a surprise – at least not after World War I – during which so many governments and agencies (British, American, German, et al) took on the business of ‘opinion management’ on a mass scale – otherwise known as propaganda. So if you are shocked to hear that public opinion in the 21st century is formed (and/or maintained) by appeals to emotions and personal beliefs, don’t be.

The truth is – nothing really has changed.

You only need to look to what every good propagandist (that is or ever has been) knows – ‘opinion management’ works by (1) sharpening existing beliefs and opinions and (2) appealing to simple, strong, emotions (love/hate) – the moreimages ‘black and white’ those emotions, the better.

Post Truth = Propaganda

 

 

Book reviews

Power and Promise – Utopian Propaganda & Orwell’s Animal Farm

imagesIn the preface to his Ukrainian Edition of Animal Farm, George Orwell says that his reason for writing the novel was to reveal what he believed to be the Soviet myth underlying Socialism – the political and economic model that he wholeheartedly embraced. According to Orwell, nothing had caused greater harm to the Socialist movement in England than that the majority of English people so blithely accepted the ‘lies of totalitarian propaganda’, apparently incapable of assessing the true nature of either the Nazi or Soviet regimes (Orwell, 112).

Propaganda, defined for this essay as ‘opinion management’ (Welch, 3), is oft associated with falsehood and lies, even though in reality, propaganda is ethically neutral (Welch, 17). Much of the ‘bad’ propaganda, like we have come to associate with the likes of Hitler and Stalin, is down to marketing of the utopian dream (Roemer, 103). Perhaps the reason that this type of propaganda gets such bad press is that, etymologically, utopia is both a ‘good place’ that is ‘no place’ (Vieira, 4)? After all, if the utopian dream carries with it both the affirmation of possibility as well as the negation of its fulfilment, then it ought to come as no surprise that attempts to put utopian ideals into practice will fail. But, as Orwell laments, such failure often does come as a surprise, not the least because people did not wish to see coming (Orwell, 111). So if ‘bad’ propaganda aims to sell us the impossible dream then what might we do to get a better grip on it? David Welch (17) suggests that to make more informed decisions about propaganda, we must gain a better understanding of its nature and process. I suggest that in achieving this worthy goal, Orwell’s novel may offer us valuable assistance.

Animal Farm recounts the rise of Soviet communism in the form of an animal fable wherein a democratic coalition of animals urged by Old Major, a prize-winning boar, over-throw their human oppressor, Mr Jones. Old Major kicks off the revolution by singing a catchy song entitled Beasts of England – bringing ‘joyful tidings’ of a ‘golden future time’ when the ‘fruitful fields of England’ shall be ‘trod by beasts alone’. Propaganda works best by reducing shared cultural ideologies and cosmologies – especially in regards to a lost Golden Age – to its lowest common denominator, that which is marketable for mass consumption (Welch, 10). Old Major knew this; he markets his vision of an English Arcadia, a lost utopian pastoral dream, to a mass of animals all too willing to consume this ‘new outlook on life’ (Orwell, 9).

The takeaway point is that propaganda works best when it sharpens and focuses existing trends and beliefs (Welch, 11). It is no accident that Old Major chooses a night when Mr Jones is too drunk to feed the animals to suggest his glorious alternative. By appealing to the animal’s dissatisfaction with their ‘miserable, laborious, and short’ lives when their stomachs are empty (Orwell,3- 5), Old Major not only focuses their generalised complaints on a specific cause but also encourages them to embrace an apparent solution. Old Major also knows that propaganda works best when it focuses on simple, strong, easily identifiable (black and white) emotions such as love/hate (Welch, 8). He directs the animal’s now heightened sense of injustice to its ‘single’ root cause – ‘Man’ – ‘the only really enemy we have’ (Orwell, 4). After this, Old Major has little more to say except to warn the animals that they must never become like Man (Orwell, 6).

The takeaway point here that there must be a meaningful correlation between the inspirational hopes generated by utopian propaganda and the citizens’ everyday reality; get the mix wrong and reader/listener disconnects (Vieira, 8 and Welch, 17). But get the mix right – pitch to a hungry animal that his life is one of ‘misery’ and ‘slavery’, then he will not only connect but connect strongly; the ‘soil of England is fertile’ and the ‘climate is good’, right? Then it only makes sense that such a place is ‘capable of affording food in abundance’, if only the animals put their backs into it. The principal energy of utopia is hope – a reaction to an undesirable present combined with an ardent desire to tackle all impediments to achieve that imagined alternative (Vieira, 6). Yet when, as is inevitable, the alternative itself carries impediments – i.e. there would be no sugar after the Rebellion (Orwell, 10) – then it is imperative to let no one (not even the pigs, who are undeniably ‘brilliant talkers’) brush aside these concerns. Elsewise, a dangerous precedent is set, one that will be difficult if not impossible to reverse, as the animals discover to their dismay. The question of whether or not they would continue to have sugar may not have been key to the future success of Animal Farm but when they later raise more important concerns – i.e. why the pigs should be the only ones to enjoy the best food, apples and milk – they are ever more easily brushed aside. Even though it may not be justifiable the pigs get all the good food – especially when this violates a basic tenet of Animalism – i.e. all animals are equal – these hapless animals quickly find that they have ‘no more to say’ (Orwell, 23).

With any utopia comes issues of power (Pohl, 51). Hence it should come as no surprise that propaganda is often used as an instrument by those wishing to secure or retain power in times of stress and turmoil (Welch, 4). This is most certainly the case in Animal Farm. After Old Major dies, the initial democratic coalition quickly gives way to consolidation of power in the pigs. After all, not only are they more clever than the other animals (they are ‘brilliant talkers’), but they also know how to read. Later, rivalry between Trotsky and Stalin after the death of Lenin is symbolised by the struggle for pre-eminence between two pigs, Snowball (Trotsky) and Napoleon (Stalin). In both cases, historical and fictional, utopian idealism falls by the wayside when the thirst for power rears its ugly head. Yet even though the animals were ‘silent’ and ‘terrified’ when Snowball is viciously expelled from the farm by Napoleon’s dogs (Orwell, 35) for no good reason, they were not yet finished with power plays.

Inherent in most utopias is the need for strict state/government regulation of every aspect of life (Pohl, 51). If each cloud has a silver lining, then each bright, shiny utopia has a ‘dark side’ – flying too high must, eventually, lead to a fall (Vieira, 14). Not only that, but if the citizens themselves are to fly high – maintain those impossible utopian standards, then a rigid set of laws are a must to keep them in line. How else will their ‘unreliable and unstable’ natures be repressed – the most pernicious not which is pride (Pohl, 57). Although forewarned that they might need to sacrifice some of their eggs for the common good, when the hens learn this will mean all of their eggs, they cry ‘murder’ (Orwell, 49); luckily only nine hens die as the result their ‘determined effort to thwart Napoleon’s wishes’. But still, this is not the end. The cruel methods by which Stalin eliminates the rest of his‘enemies’, is parodied by the fallacious confessions and cruel executions of all those whom Napoleon has come to distrust.

Years pass.

Life for everyone but the pigs, deteriorates.

Disillusionment sets in.

Finally, Napoleon invites a human farmer named Mr Pilkington to dinner and declares his intention to ally himself with his human neighbours against the working classes in both the human and animal communities. Worse, Animal Farm must revert back to its original name, Manor Farm. Watching this meeting through the farmhouse window, the common animals are no longer able to tell which are the pigs and which are the human beings – the only warning given to the animals by Old Major having been (sadly) ignored.

The End.

Undoubtedly, the promise of a Paradise on Earth is appealing; all the more because the masses to whom it is being marketed are generally ‘politically apathetic’ yet prone to ‘ideological fanaticism’ (Welch, 10). Undoubtedly, this is the case in Animal Farm. Even after all that has happened, at the end of the day the animals never give up hope – not for ‘even an instant’ do they lose their ‘sense of honour and privilege’ in being members of Animal Farm (Orwell, 85). Yet if they had realised that ideology is only a system of ideas and ideals (OED, n, 1), that ideals exist only in the imagination (OED, adj. 2), and that ideas are only thoughts and suggestions of possible courses of action (OED, n, 1), the animals story might have turned out markedly different. Instead of allowing their opinions to be managed such that they blithely accept utopian propaganda as their blueprint to bliss, they should instead have viewed it as a strategy for evaluating the reality of the present as well as one possible programme for gradual (responsible) change (Vieira, 21).

 

 

Bibliography

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. New York: Everyman’s Library, 1993.

Pohl, Nicole. ‘Utopianism After More: The Renaissance and Enlightenment’, (51-78). The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature, ed. Gregory Claeys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Roemer, Kenneth M. ‘Paradise transformed: varieties of nineteenth-century utopias’, (79-106). The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature, ed. Gregory Claeys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Vieira, Fatima. ‘The concept of utopia’, (3-27). The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature, ed. Gregory Claeys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Welch, David. ‘Opening Pandora’s Box: Propaganda, Power and Persuasion (3-18). Propaganda, Power and Persuasion: From World War I to WikiLeaks, ed. David Welch. London: I.B. Tauris, 2014.

literary criticism

The Birth of Tragedy and other Cultural Lies

‘This dynamic…is the original dramatic phenomenon: to see oneself transformed before one’s eyes and now to act as if one really had entered another body, another character’ (Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy).

It is my understanding that with this quote Nietzsche was referring to classical Greek drama wherein dramatists seize upon a metaphor or image that when presented to the audience through mimesis or imitation, conveys a ‘seminal truth’ rather than a ‘cultural lie’. In other words, if a tragedy is to achieve ‘transformation’ in the sense to which Nietzsche was referring, then it must provide audiences with something more deeply meaningful than mere entertainment or political party line. For Nietzsche, transformation was not simply a matter suspending audience disbelief, but instead allowing the audience to actually enter the world of the Greek god Dionysus, in whose realm lies all primordial truths and with it, the tragic suffering inherent in comprehending these truths.images

If by action we are referring to stage performance (rather than theme or underlying plot), then to the extent audiences were encouraged to see such performance as mere entertainment, I would suggest that Renaissance tragedy more often than not misses Nietzsche’s mark. Bottom line, most Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights were by necessity as interested (if not more) in making money than they were in imparting seminal truths. According to Mike Pincombe in his article ‘English Renaissance Tragedy: Theories and Antecedents’ in the Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Tragedy, Elizabethan audiences were in tune with the idea that ‘tragedy’ required ‘the fall of a great man and a lot of shouting to go with it’. To the extent Renaissance dramatists played to that idea, then if most of the audience focus was more on the ‘shouting’ than the gathering of primordial truths, it would seem ‘transformation’ would not likely have often occurred.

For example in her introduction to the New Mermaids edition of the A-Text of Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, Ros King notes that the popularity of the play was due in large part to the audience’s interest in the special effects (the trip to the Vatican to annoy the pope must have been a feat). Even the side story of Rafe and Robin having ‘stolen one of Doctor Faustus’ conjuring books’ and playing at their own conjuring in order to obtain ‘the kitchen maid’ for ‘thy own use’ would seem for the most part although entertaining also distractive – not contributing in any meaningful way to the main plot of Faustus’ struggle regarding Christian redemption and most certainly not reflective of a primordial truth.

Rather than conveying a ‘seminal truth’, the trip to the Vatican to annoy the pope would seem to be more easily justified as an attempt to further a ‘cultural lie’ in the sense that although first printed in 1604, the play was most definitely written when the staunchly protestant Elizabeth I was still on the throne. The connection between Renaissance tragedy and the politics of the moment is also addressed by other Renaissance writers such as Sir Phillip Sidney in his The Defense of Posey, where he suggested tragedy ought to teach kings to avoid tyranny. In his article Tragedy and the nation state (Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Tragedy) remarks that the relationship between English tragedy and the nation-state was ‘there from the start’.

This does not mean that because a tragedy conveys a ‘cultural lie’ such as political party line and is also entertaining (lots of ‘shouting’ going on) that it cannot also deliver that (Dionysian) ‘seminal truth’. Indeed in Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy, there was not only the fall and tragic suffering of Hieronomo, (albeit not really a ‘great man’) but also the seminal truth that justice is not able to be achieved even when the king is not a tyrant (this of course also likely another ‘cultural lie’ in the sense that if it had been otherwise the censors of the time would likely have refused for the play to be presented – or worse).

In summary, if Nietzsche’s conception of ‘transformation’ required tragedy to deliver seminal truths rather than cultural lies to the audience, then I would have to conclude that for the most part Renaissance tragedy likely most often failed to achieve it. Renaissance dramatists were for the most part economically dependent on having their plays well-received and if audiences had the notion that tragedy should include the fall of a (more or less) great man with a good deal of shouting going on then it only made sense that is what the dramatists delivered; focused on the ‘shouting’, it would have been hard to focus also on seminal truths. That is not to suggest that in many cases seminal truths were not available, as with Dr Faustus and The Spanish Tragedy. However I would suggest that such well-entertained Renaissance audiences most likely had to work harder to find them than classic Greek audiences might have done. Finally, as the connection between tragedy and nation-state was always present, it is unlikely that any seminal truths would have been conveyed undiluted by some very necessary ‘cultural lies’.

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