One of the worst parts of the 21st century is the return of the “me generation”. First coined by Tom Wolfe (he wrote The Right Stuff, you uncultured swine) to describe the Baby Boomers back when they didn’t wash, had long hair, went barefoot everywhere, and didn’t get off my god damned lawn. In short, he condemned the unrelenting hedonism and selfishness embodying really bad skin flicks you’d catch on Showtime back in the late eighties. As a whole, their rejection of traditional values shocked a generation once secure in the thinking that they could set their watch by Neil Armstrong’s crew cut.
Part of this social revolution was turning away from staid religious establishments, embracing the teachings of visionary Charles Fort, the mad Briton Aleister Crowley, his psychosexual forebear Helena Blavatsky, and John “I needed Yoko like I needed a hole in the head” Lennon. Just like the Quakers got their collective panties in a bunch over Titan Leeds publishing astrology in ye olde almanack1, grumpy WWII vets who gave their kids everything were aghast at the perpetuation of ‘black magicks’, kabbalah, and the old chestnut of horoscopes.
Where was I? Oh yeah, the recapitulation of the “me generation”.
Twenty-first century kids with their so-called blogs, instagramming their dinner, tweeting while they pinch out the remains of dinner, and making “selfies” the Word of the Year 2013 because Obama did a duckface at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, tagging it #YOLO. Feeding into this absurd techno-solipsism are horoscopes. They’re big business. So big, that those fluffy witches of Eastwick went ahead and screwed up the perfect twelve zodiacal signs and introduced Ophiuchus, a.k.a. the Serpent Bearer. It pisses me off for two reasons.
Over at the Telegraph, Amy Willis has found a conflicting pair of studies on astrology’s impact on different personality types2. She begins with the respected, peer-reviewed Journal of Consumer Research (suck on that, MIT) showing gullible people were more likely to change their behavior for the better upon seeing an unfavorable horoscope.
Just think of it, that white girl sipping her pumpkin spice coffee wearing her North Face jacket, yoga pants, and Uggs doing a duckface on her iPhone 6 when suddenly there’s an alert saying Scorpios are more likely to die in a fire. This is counterintuitive since Scorpios are a fixed water sign, ice for the laity, and remain chill even in the face of the furnace of lust known as the Sagittarian personality profile. Still, Ashley’s going to quit smoking for three weeks and completely beef her finals because she can’t relax with a smoke outside since some stupid, lifeless planets and stars gave a random configuration which could be interpreted as ‘challenging’. On the bright side, she’d end up a pregnant soccer mom with a husband earning six figures, and keeping a horny poolboy on the sly.
Here’s the rub, most modern horoscopes aren’t even written by the hidden masters of Tibet. Media companies go out, buy the name of famous soothsayers then hire college interns3,4,5 with a basic understanding of cardinality, quincunxes, houses of the zodiac, and a link to Astrolabe6 to wing it over 900# lines, in newspapers (REMEMBER THOSE? OMG CALVIN AND HOBBES NOSTALGIA BOMB), or with a shitty app that’s probably a markov chainer full of feel-good words restrung every day under a different sign.
On the obverse, my fellow forteans, boffins at the University of South Carolina and some backwater mail-order diploma mill known as Johns Hopkins discovered an opposite trend. Alternate universe Ashley, after an unfavorable astrological reading, would ditch tobacco, start smoking meth, acquire a voice like Patty and Selma Bouvier, then leave a semi-beautiful corpse in the gloryhole at Happy Go Sucky. Look at Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Count the number of gullible people you know who insist accepting astrology as gospel.
Carpe diem, mothertruckers.
Bringing us to a terrifying article, also from the Telegraph7 (via disinformation8 ) how stock traders trust financial astrologers. Let me rephrase that, “The Minions of the One Percent trust Financial Astrologers”. The same people who threw our global economy into the toilet, extorted Washington D.C. for bailouts, bought votes for Republicans via Diebold^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Premier Election Solutions, and set fire to litters of tiny little kittens for the lulz.
These trust kids with their paid-for ivy league educations are serious when it comes to astrology. By no means are these suits hiring some lady with a turban and more charisma than 2008’s Barack Obama. Instead they’ve got science and statistics on their side. Enter Arch Crawford, Wall Street’s reigning guru of the stars, who caught the zeitgeist of esoterica back in the sixties. On a hunch, Arch discovered correlations between the viscissitudes of the market and the cosmic ballet of constellations enabling him to rake in the dough while others profited from his advice. Craford charges $200 a year (CHEAP!) for his newsletter, while others demand higher prices for their visionary services. This is where things get interesting.
Crawford’s was the top-performing financial newsletter in 1987, 1994 and 2008. “And I was number two in 2002 – in the whole country,” he adds. “I’ve had bad years when I was neutral or down, but I also have a very strong history of hitting big movements.” Indeed, Crawford claims to have foreseen all the crashes, including the most recent, in 2008. His newsletter dated September 4 2001 even stated the position of Mars could lead to war and a dramatic fall in stocks.
Bringing us back to the study performed by the University of South Carolina and Johns Hopkins. Each omen of avarice, each portent of war, spelled out in the stars. Did the empty suits on Wall Street do a damned thing to avert this sea change in the global marketplace? Oh no, these entitled and self-absorbed day traders charged hell with a bucketful of gasoline crying “YOLO”. After all, if the world’s going to end might as well go out with a blaze of glory and let Charon sift through their ashes.