Studies in Astrology

by

Elman Bacher

Volume VII


Chapter II

Motion Pictures

   The development of motion pictures as an entertainment-art has been one of the most remarkable phenomena of this age. It has brought drama, comedy, music, color, dance, travel, news, educational advancement, and a pronounced cultural influence in its best forms, into the lives of millions of people who might not, otherwise, have actually experienced these things. We are concerned in this discourse not with the technical development but with the occult significance of motion picture acting and its effect on the minds and consciousness of today's people. As in any other art, there are the pioneers who dared to blaze the trail toward a more extended cultural advancement. Then there are those workers who adapt the findings of the pioneers and develop them on a larger and more perfect scale as time goes by. Then there are those motion picture manifestors not particularly interested in or even aware of cultural advancement who "give the public what it wants" in terms of maintaining that which has been established as standards of entertainment-value. The latter group is that which most conspicuously "feeds the public's escapist-tendency;" the first two groups serve to improve, extend, and regenerate the public taste and appreciation and it is they who, for the most part, are responsible for the highest quality of artistic value to be found in this work.

   Many times motion pictures have been referred to as "an escape-mechanism," a "panacea" which serves to help people forget themselves and their troubles. Such an interpretation displays a lack of understanding. The motion picture art is not essentially an escape-mechanism even if some people use it as such. A psychological approach to this "quirk" in human nature should devolve on the human factor, not on the motion-picture factor. The names of "escape-mechanisms " are legion; let us consider their essence. Astrologically speaking, the vibration of unregenerate Neptune in combination with any square or opposition aspect is a potential for escape- mechanism. The square and opposition aspects are points of inner division, congestion of potentials, tendencies to disintegration, points of ignorance, confusion of identities, lack of self-awareness, lack of self-confidence, inhibitions through fear-hatred, etc. The unregeneracy of Neptune is, among other things, our potential to give power to illusions. And, we all do that, in some form or other, until the consciousness is flooded with the light of understanding and clarified perception as the result of learning through disillusionment. When we suffer from any of these negative conditions and we don't know why we suffer, we tend to identify inner truths with something, or someone, outside of ourselves. This is what is, essentially, meant by "escape-mechanism"--the attempt to escape from the pain of inner congestions and confusions.

   If humanity can be said to be motivated by one common objective, that objective is certainly the realization of ideals. The ideal is a music that, once heard, cannot be resisted. The search to realize this ideality is the great evolutionary surge; we have followed this "music," consciously or unconsciously, ever since we first manifested. The realization of ideality is the fulfillment, through regenerated expression, of potentials. Until we fulfill our own as individuals, we tend to be driven to seek its outpicturing in someone or something else. Evolution is dependent on expression; to "not express" or to "not do" is to "not evolve." Even a person who lives in terms of what we call "criminality" is evolving because he is expressing his potentials; he sets up causes which will react as karmic-return from which he may, ultimately, learn more about principles. The possession of money is many people's symbol of life's greatest good and they stop at nothing to realize this ideal; however, in time, and through experience, they learn what money really is and then they are conditioned to adjust their consciousness and actions according to a clarification of principle in their own minds. Gibran said: "Even faltering speech strengthens a weak tongue; " to cease searching for the ideal is to die, in consciousness; to continue to express, as a means of searching for that which is most valued and cherished, is to evolve.

   Our emotional reaction to another person identifies him as a symbol to us. If the reaction is one of envy, jealousy, hatred, fear, etc., he has served to stimulate one of our inner congestions, confusions or unfulfillments; the person we "hate" (wish to destroy) serves, by the stimulus of his vibration, to remind us of a past very serious, as yet unadjusted wrong. We do not ever "hate" another person; we can hate only our unfulfillments and we can destroy them only by regenerated expression. If our reaction to another is one of harmony, joy, love, admiration, inspiration, etc., then, whoever, or whatever he maybe, his vibration has served to remind us of our own inner regeneracies. This explains why people faith-fully and deeply love those who may mistreat and hurt them; the magnetic tie of karma provides the loving one with "pabulum" on which to pour his love. We love the ideal that another person represents to us and that "personalized ideal" is always a pattern of our own deep "dream of perfection." The financially successful older criminal may be an "ideal" to the younger, inexperienced one who has determined to exercise himself in what we call " criminal ways." Yet, in his anti-social, destructive, and unprincipled actions he still expresses in his deep urge to emulate the symbol of the older man. In justice to those who are ignorant and unevolved, let us remember that the person we designate as "criminal" may express a deep devotion to those he works for or with and within his particular limitations of consciousness, he may deal honorably with those of his "profession," and he may utilize much of his "ill-gotten gain" to be truly helpful. No one is entirely a criminal because everyone is seeking to realize an ideal. The parasitic "do nothing" is a worse traducer of his own nature than the active criminal is of his. A thief or what not at least can possess a modicum of courage. The "do nothing" hasn't even that and he is, by his very nature, non-contributory. He will have to make intensified effort in future to compensate for his deficiencies in the present.

   So, the person whose potentialities are not being satisfactorily expressed or who has conditioned himself out of line with his inner ideal may, and often does, turn to motion pictures and the players who work in them, to attain a living, if artificial, contact with his personal ideals. It is not the purpose of this discourse to criticize or judge the work of specific players except as an evaluation pertaining to this subject; but certain players will be mentioned because of the remarkable archetypal quality of personality and physical appearance, plus a certain level of technical skill, by which they exercise the power of living symbolism on the subconscious of individuals or groups. Of the many who have exercised a long- lasting influence over the public subconscious we will consider four men, of contrasting type, whose work in American motion pictures represents outstanding examples of symbolic archetypal personality: Lon Chaney, Bing Crosby, Rudolph Valentino, and Clark Gable.

   Mr. Chaney, whose work in silent pictures ranked him as the greatest make-up artist and one of the greatest pantomimists in the American theater, fulfilled, as an archetype, the universal, instinctive impulse of humanity to desire to transcend the hum-drum monotony of "everyday experience." His characterizations were, almost without exception, of deformed bodies and twisted personalities. He gave to audiences a satisfaction of their subconscious attraction to the weird and the horrible. His characterizations resulted in great emotional impact, he had great projective powers and the best of his performances, such as Quasimodo in Hunchback of Notre Dame, were unforgettable dramatic experiences. He epitomized the "quirks of Fate" by which humanity suffers through physical malformation and terrible frustrations of normal, natural urges. In short, his occult purpose was to bring to movie-audiences an awareness of the tragic in dramatic art. He was not an "entertainer" at all, either in purpose or in type of characterization. To have responded truly and whole-heartedly to Mr. Chaney 's remarkable work meant an intensified awareness of the pathos of human suffering. His occult purpose was aimed directly at stimulating compassion in the human heart.

   The author has long felt that the work of Mr. Bing Crosby on the screen is one of the most remarkable spiritual influences in the world. (1951). With much in present-day organized religion in a state of unrest and mutation, the vibration and talent of this man serves to bring, through song and light comedy, a "gently expressed" but powerfully far- reaching stimulus to humanity's ideal of simple goodness and natural friendliness. His vibration, from an astrological standpoint, is strongly Venusian--having Libra as Ascendant, Sun in Taurus, and Moon trine Mercury and Venus. And who personifies more perfectly the ideal of constructive non- resistance? To exercise a (possibly) fanciful analogy, he might be called the "twentieth century 's St. Francis of Assisi," so compelling is the goodness and sincerity of the archetype he represents. Words are written and actions planned but he, in himself, has the specialization of consciousness that projects this archetypal quality. Others act and sing, they are enjoyable and command the respect of the public, but there is only one BING CROSBY, the "world's troubadour" and, archetypally, the friend of all whom he contacts. Who would not love to possess the friendship power that he symbolizes? He melts the hardest hearts and, with his complete lack of tension--his are the most effortless of performances--he symbolizes the un-congested personality, expressive, kindly, persuasive rather than forceful, with a perception of the good that is inherent in all. If people who flock to his pictures would recognize that they, as individuals, need only to emulate this archetype and decrystallize residues of malice, envy, jealousy, hurtful impulses, etc., they would not only enjoy his performances even more but they would be taking his example to heart. Mr. Crosby personifies truths of the regenerated human nature--his work is a series of sermons-through-acting-and-singing. People the world over love him because he outpictures their own inner best potentials of heart and spirit. Do you regard Mr. Crosby--on the screen--as an "imagination-figment" completely remote from you and your life, or do you recognize that he holds up a mirror that reflects aspects of your own innate gentleness, friendliness and harmony? Think this over carefully.

   Mr. Valentino, a Latin-European of extraordinarily fine appearance, personified in his time a romantic ideal which superseded in power that of any other actor of his type. Psychology could say much concerning the hold that this man exercised over the subconscious of American women. It is true, un-pleasant as it may be to say so, that the miasma of puritanism has been an influence of blight on the minds and hearts of people for many years, and this influence has deflected people--millions of them-- from realizing the ideal of spontaneous fulfillment of love-relationship. The archetype represented by Mr. Valentino was the complete antithesis of this false, materialistic, corruptive, and subnormalizing "philosophy." The composite factors of ardent Latin temperament, plus handsome face and physique, plus a great skill in projecting the intensities of sexual magnetism, made it possible for this actor to effect a focused archetype of masculine personality which outpictured, to the feminine subconscious, an ideal of love-complementation. Under the spell of his vibration, women re- found their basic, instinctive womanhood--the desire to be conquered, over- whelmed, and transfigured by the projective power of the skillful, cultivated male. Nothing in this man's vibration and personality was at all "American;" he represented a personality-type of masculine graciousness, courtliness, amatory skill, and the cultivated charm of an older civilization. There may or may not be others on the screen today who compare favorably with this man's particular vibration and ability, but he was, in his time, archetypal of that which many if not most, women seek as an ideal love-partner. No one suggests that any man pattern his life after that of Mr. Valentino, but what he symbolized could be thought about and learned from by many men who have permitted their concepts of man-woman relationship to be congested through gracelessness, ignorance, puritanism--with its guilt complexes and lack of perception of that which is true beauty in woman. In his screen- representations, Mr. Valentino paid homage to the ideal of feminine beauty. In personal vanity, many women seek to compel the homage of men by tricks and artifices but man pays homage, ultimately, to his ideals, never to masks and bricks. There is a lesson to be learned, by men, in consideration of the work of this actor. For man to perceive, and to ignite by perception, the true beauty of woman so that woman might become and be the beauty that inspires, was the occult purpose of this actor's work on the screen.

   Mr. Gable, a personification of the Mars-Saturn- Mercury type, is probably the greatest American counterpart of that which, Mr. Valentino represented as a European. He has been designated, and with justice, the greatest archetype of masculine personality on the screen today. He is all men to all people --- his Moon in Cancer designates his occult faculty to "feed the collective subconscious," and his work is attended as enthusiastically by men as it is by women. It is easy to think of him, in his screen-portrayals, as fulfilling a form of "priesthood" in so far as a priest in ceremonial religion is a personification of life-principles. Far fetched as it might at first seem, the occult significance of this actor's work is profoundly religious because he ignites in the subconscious of people an intensified perception of masculine principles of personality.

   Students may not see any connection between the words "religious" or "spiritual and Mr. Gable's tough, hard-hitting, usually unsubtle, and earthy characterizations; but his person and vibration convey a symbol of resourcefulness, endurance, self-reliance, physical strength, genial good humor, and, above all, the quality of courage, which is the archetypal regenerate quality of the Mars-vibration. (He has Mars in the Ascendant-sign, making four major aspects, disposited by the ruler of the chart and trine both Jupiter and Saturn.) People, at times, tend to "sicken inside" with their own futilities, incompetencies, and weaknesses and those of others around them. Mr. Gable presents to their attention the actuality of patterns of great strength of body, mind, and character. His vibration certainly ignites an ideality-pattern since courage, self-reliance, endurance, and physical power are Mars-archetypes, and as such they represent qualities which we are all seeking to realize in ourselves. The trinity of Moon, Mars, and Saturn is the planetary base of each evolutionary cycle; Moon-Saturn, as rulers of the structure-diameter of Cancer-Capricorn, represents the parental source of the "I Am" of Mars as well as its fulfillment in maturity. A strong, well- integrated maturity presupposes a well-integrated Mars and the strongly individualized dynamic qualities of the Mars-archetype which Mr. Gable symbolizes is a vibratory essence which we all, men or women, have as a potential to be fulfilled and expressed. The universal appeal of his characterizations is pictured in the composite of two distinct patterns in his chart: Cancer-Moon and Capricorn-Saturn, with Sun and ruler in Aquarius sextile to Uranus; the twelfth house placement of his Ascendant-Mars gives us a key to the occult significance of his vibration as an archetypal personality-symbol.

   If you are one who has felt "compelled" to "find yourself through motion-picture representations " and you wish to free yourself from this symbolic imprisonment, make a copy of your chart with no degree-numbers; this is what the author calls your "White-Light" chart--it is the symbolic portrait of yourself as an archetype. Study it with an eye to determining what your vibratory focal-points are (forget square and opposition in this study) and start doing something to organize your life so that you can give fuller and freer expression to your essential vibratory potentials. Study the work of the actor and/or actress whose work on the screen "fascinates" you and recognize that something in their personality or vibration is in you too. It is your right and duty to find the truth of you as an individualized expression of the archetype humanity. When you commence this reorganization, you will find yourself gradually freed from the compulsion to identify yourself through another--and your enjoyment of theatrical art and entertainment will take on a greater sincerity because you will be more and more able to enjoy it and appreciate it for its own sake. The art of living is to find out who and what we realize of ourselves.

  



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