The art of Astrology

As I venture deeper and deeper into the vast and complicated world of the cosmos, I become undeniably convinced that true astrology at its best is not fortune telling. It’s pattern recognition. It builds the bridge between myth, emotion, and mind. Then it asks us to courageously cross it. Who among us would willingly grace the gate of Hades or fall under the spell of Aphrodite without a promise? How do we “wise up” forsaking Father Time? We wouldn’t and we don’t. Astrology itself is not the art. Astrology is the proof.

About astrology and palmistry: They are good because they make people feel vivid and full of possibilities. They are communism at its best. Everybody has a birthday and almost everybody has a palm. Take a seemingly drab person born on August 3, for instance. He’s a Leo. He is proud, generous, trusting, energetic, domineering, and authoritative! All Leos are! He is ruled by the Sun! His gems are the ruby and the diamond! His color is orange! His metal is gold! This is a nobody?

His harmonious signs for business, marriage, or companionship are Sagittarius and Aries. Anybody here a Sagittarius or an Aries? Watch out! Here comes destiny!

Is this lonely-looking human being really alone? Far from it! He shares the sign of Leo with T. E. Lawrence, Herbert Hoover, Alfred Hitchcock, Dorothy Parker, Jacqueline Onassis, Henry Ford, Princess Margaret, and George Bernard Shaw! You’ve heard of them.

Look at him blush with happiness! Ask him to show you his amazing palms. What a fantastic heart line he has! Be on your guard, girls. Have you ever seen a Hill of the Moon like his? Wow! This is some human being!

Which brings us to the arts, whose purpose, in common with astrology, is to use frauds in order to make human beings seem more wonderful than they really are. Dancers show us human beings who move much more gracefully than human beings really move. Films and books and plays show us people talking much more entertainingly than people really talk, make paltry human enterprises seem important. Singers and musicians show us human beings making sounds far more lovely than human beings really make. Architects give us temples in which something marvelous is obviously going on. Actually, practically nothing is going on inside. And on and on.

The arts put man at the center of the universe, whether he belongs there or not. Military science, on the other hand, treats man as garbage—and his children, and his cities, too. Military science is probably right about the contemptibility of man in the vastness of the universe. Still—I deny that contemptibililty, and I beg you to deny it, through the creation of appreciation of art.

-Kurt Vonnegut
Commencement Speech, Bennington College (1970)

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