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Pluto, instinct, and erasure

Posted by William Fennie at May 13, 2010 03:00 AM |
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So this is what they mean by "intense"

Pluto, instinct, and erasure


Litany of stuff

There's a lot to tell you about what's been happening since December. I wish I could remember what it was.

Pluto in the news

I think we've all had about enough of Pluto : two mining disasters and the most catastrophic oil spill in decades, brought on by a horrible explosion that killed 11 people; not forgetting, also, a volcano in Iceland that doesn't show any signs of letting up.

Anyone who's lived on a volcanic island, as I did for many years, knows that Pluto erases things. An earthquake will alter the landscape. There's a cleft along the rim of Kilauea crater that locals will tell you was never there before the big earthquake of November 1975. You can still see how the landscape was altered. But when Pluto gets involved landscapes are completely erased, as the town of Kalapana was in 1990-91. Queen's Bath, Royal Gardens, Kapa'ahu - there's a long list of places, well known to many people, of which only memories and images remain.

That's what's happening in Iceland right now. Cartographers are going to have to remake the outline of the island because it doesn't look the same.

The very earth, the most solid construct of our world, becomes fluid and restructures its outlines.

Imagine a beautiful bay - a place where you've enjoyed many an outing, or maybe just a sunset or two - California's Morro Bay for example, or one of the inlets of the Chesapeake Bay. Then one day, not suddenly but implacably, it's filled in - a huge expanse of shiny black waves of rock where the beach used to be and a new shoreline a mile or two further out, where the waves crash wildly and the currents drag the tiny bits of exploded lava (it explodes on contact with the cold water) to form a new black sand beach about a hundred meters up the coast. You won't want to walk on this beach - it's quite gravelly - until the surf has pounded it into powder a few thousand years from now.

lava-hvoThat's the action of Pluto. Suddenly the maps need to be redrawn. People say, "Pluto - oh, yeah, transformation" as if they understand; mostly, they don't.

When a lava flow buries a town anything that can burn, of course, burns. Everything else - a tin roof, for example, or some brass pipe - is encased in solid rock. No archaeologist will ever dig it up and say - hmmm, here's what these artifacts tell us. The non-volatiles turn into mineral deposits. (What a forest looks like after a lava flow. This was a rainforest.)

I expect my contours will be altered by this transit, and the identity that I once was, like Kalapana - a real place that many people have known - will be buried under several meters of something completely new, leaving traces, perhaps, of who I was before, reduced to essentials and completely incorporated into this whatever-it-will-be. There will be a task, then, of rebuilding on this new shape. That could take the rest of my life.

Pluto and instinct

A few weeks ago I was talking things over with a person who gives to environmental organizations and feels deeply about the animal world. She said, "I give to these organizations because the animals have no voice." As we talked a little further I remembered that C.G. Jung and Lewis Mumford both pointed out - long ago, in the 1950s, and in quite different ways - that Man's technical prowess was developing at a pace that put him out of balance because other parts of his nature were neglected. Both pointed to the dangers involved. I said, "But don't think that the instinctual world has no voice, it has. And it will be heard." I was speaking from an understanding of general principles, that's all. And then the Iceland volcano brought Western Europe to a standstill.

In light of the volcano's activity I observed that large concentrations of particulate matter at high levels of the atmosphere (characteristic of this particular eruption) have the effect of cooling the planet by increasing the amount of sunlight that is reflected back into space (albedo). It's a simple fact. We don't hear much about the Gaia hypothesis anymore - the idea that the Earth is a self-regulating system. Some people don't like it because they think it's New Age philosophy dressed up like science; environmentally minded folk may like the idea but they don't like the attitude it creates : we can do what we like because Gaia will take care of it.

Whatever you think of Gaia, we cannot escape the instinctual side of life. If we do not face it it will eventually present its invoice, and that bill will not be a pleasant one to pay. In our personal lives this has to do with coming to terms with things like sexuality and ambition and how those are shaped by (or shape) social mores; in the collective life it has to do with understanding that our technology is not almighty; that more voice, and real power, must be invested in art and other activities that create meaning beyond simple economic well-being.

This post is very indirect but quite explicit as to the internal facts.

See Pluto transit project initial page.

Volcano image courtesy of Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory.


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