This is the lunar new year. This mobile feast (in the best sense of the word mobile) is based on the Moon’s circumnavigation of the Earth and is based on the counted phases. Each orbit takes 27.32 days (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbit_of_the_Moon) and both Earth and Moon orbit about the common centre the combined mass. This is called the barycentre, and is about 4,670 km from the Earth’s centre. The orbit of the moon is not at the equator, and there is an angle between the two bodies, so the moon appears to move up and down in the sky relative to the horizon. This resolves over a longer period, with the moon at its maximum angle to the equator once every 18.6 years, when the angle of reaches its maximum of 28°36′.
The cultural differences between a nation which is based on the observations of the sun, and one which is fixed by the gaze of the moon should not be overlooked. The Inuit people used the lunar calendar to calculate the period a woman should remain in isolation during childbirth (Fraser). A hut, constructed by her partner, which seems the least he could do, under the circumstances, provides shelter for mother and child through a quarantine period to protect the rest of her community from the pollution of childbirth. The dark skies of the northern latitudes must privilege the moon, with its silvery beauty shimmering over the ice and tundra.
The lunar new year is a time when the eyes of news hungry media turn to the science of the Chinese horoscope and the animal spirits that offer a metaphor for the spirits of society. I have successfully weaned myself off of the distraction of reading fictional predictions in favour of the fictional predictions of utopian academic, but I slipped and wondered how will the year of the rabbit impact the glories fire horse?
I didn’t even get to the predictions as I faltered at the character analysis of my nobile steed. “Prone to overconfidence” nailed my current condition to a tee. Under prepared and under compassionate, willing to blame others for my own failings, and prone to associated misery; none of these descriptions was actually present in the text, but my fantasy was able to spring, fully formed from the briefest of descriptions.
Money shaky, career testing, love smooth and “predestined”. For luck, wear and display a “lucky tiger-related token”. A beer possibly?
Now, let the calmness return.
Is this a balance that each and every person strikes throughout their time on earth? Not necessarily, as surely a small infant must be immune to this kind of self-analysis. Is this a component of the mirror stage suggested by Lacan? Or, is this moment of self-recognition a stage for later self-interpretation? Thee kitten who discovers their ears in the reflection of a chrome bar of a lounge sofa doesn’t appear drawn back to reconsider the discovery. The ears are there, move on. It is the need to review the image of self that drives the self-knowledge of later years.
For the older worker/thinker/writer the paralysis of the past has an impact on the willingness to create in the moment. The self-indulgence of rediscovery, as demonstrated by the response of the kitten, needs to be largely ignored to enable the discovery of something beyond the self, knowledge that communicates and resonates beyond the momentary and individual. The confidence needed to support the willingness to try again, for self, or the sense of self that this creativity indicates, has to begin with the moment the ears are acknowledged and assumed to be part of the whole. The knowledge can be safely assumed, ears are not like the moon after all, they don’t disappear to return another night, another year. So why was the distraction of the horse/rabbit so attractive at that moment?
There is something of the digital cultural expression about this horoscope reading. Beyond the astrophysics and broader cultural issues that pertain the new lunar year, the significance in its observation. The science as it were, is through discovery and recorded outcome. The observations that became part of the culture of China (as a nostalgic-utopian fantasy rather than the current autocracy) is the simplicity of the fable that shapes the animal spirits in the first place. We are all alone together, and our willingness to hear from our other is the basis of culture. This storytelling shapes the flow of the stars around us, and shapes our relationship to our planet as well. The process of mediating this culture in a ubiquitous, ephemeral manner, appears to offer the ideas weight and longevity; believability and authority.
This is not an argument about China particularly; this could just as easily be mounted for the distraction of western astrology or some contentious aspects of quantum physics. The issue that concerns me most here is the failure to accept and move on. The processes of nostalgia have become a key component in the development of digital addiction in a manner that is frightening to comprehend. Our photographs are captured and returned to us as moment, filtered and animated with a tasteful selection of copyright free musical highlights. Rather than being constantly reminded of how cute and amazing my son is by the proliferation of images on my phone, I would rather just be allowed to talk to him and celebrate the now. Ears and all.