Tim Stephens.cover.J#7B6373

Note: this is NEXT WEEK’S forecast. To read the present week’s column, please scroll down to “RECENT POSTS” on the right margin, and click on “April 12 – 18, 2015.”

ALL TIMES/DATES ARE PDT (Pacific Daylight Time Zone). PDT is 8 hours “before” Greenwich (England). (As long as Britain is also on Daylight time.) For example, when it is noon PST, it is 8 pm in Engand. The “World Clock” in the right margin gives you some clues. (You can also Google “time zone converter.”) PLEASE NOTE: THE TIME SHOWN IN THE WORLD CLOCK ON THE RIGHT HAND MARGIN FOR CHICAGO IS 1 HOUR “FAST” — THE CORRECT TIME FOR CHICAGO IS ONE HOUR LESS THAN THE DISPLAYED TIME. I’VE TRIED TO CORRECT IT, BUT CAN’T SEEM TO.


START NOTHING: 4:06 pm Sun. to 4:28 pm Mon., 10:38 pm Tues. to 9:25 pm Wed., and 10:04 am Fri. to 6:13 am Sat.




Well, I told you, a month or two ago, that the EU should be a little more charitable with Greece and its debt, or they would push this seat of democracy into the waiting arms of Russia, which has never been democratic. So what was Greek PM Tsipras doing April 7 and 8? Meeting with Putin.


This week I’ve written Cancer and Virgos’ Love Forecasts, and next week, hopefully, I’ll write Taurus and Scorpio, and be finished. (This after my friend Anita scolded me for being so slow.)


Notice Scorpio Hillary officially kicked off her campaign (April 12) when the Moon was in Aquarius, her sign of domesticity, of “folding the tents and going home.” Fittingly, her initial campaign stop was a small intimate affair. This is a sector of tiredness, or “hibernation.” Now, I suspect Hillary is an Aquarian rising – hence her marriage to Leo Bill, and her dimpled cheeks, an Aquarian feature. To some degree, then, starting the campaign when the Moon was in her rising sign gives her some boost. Even so, if her heart was really set on winning this election, she should/would have begun the campaign when the Moon was in Leo, Scorpio’s sign of ambition, and Aquarius’ sign of opportunity and dealing with the public. It’s almost as if she’s scared to take to that big stage. I suspect that, deep down, this election is a sacrificial move for Hillary, she’s running because she’s expected to. She has my sympathy.


I often write long, long preambles that I think most readers will find boring. Often they have little to do with astrology, but are just my venting (or coolly considered opinion!) on some moralistic/political subject. To spare you all, I have this week put such a long “essay” at the end of this column, after the Weekly Forecasts. If you don’t like it, that’s cool.



Aries.svgARIES March 21-April 19
A month of money starts now. Buy/sell, find bargains, collect what’s owed you and pay your debts, insure possessions, learn, take rote or memory tests, and pursue sensual attractions. (This last could be a person, a fine painting, or a plush pair of drapes.) Your energy remains nicely high. This whole area of money is quite intense now – perhaps you’re in pursuit of a large fortune, or perhaps money comes flowing by in larger amounts than expected: in any case, if you can slow spending, you’ll end richer. You might spend on travel now into late May, tickets or a vehicle. Short trips and errands can bring you into contact with sweet people, even potential mates. Communicating with your spouse is easier, more pleasant, also. Sunday’s steeped in $, and goes well except for some confusion about love or a “gift.” Buy only routine items Mon. Errands, travel, communications and casual friends fill Mon. night to Wed. Confusion and rejection (isn’t it funny how these two often occur together?) mar Monday night, Tues. am, but otherwise Tues./Wed. flow smoothly and productively – your intellect is “right on.” (New things won’t work Wed.) Home, family draw you Thurs./Fri. Thursday’s fine, but Friday’s a but disruptive early. Romance, beauty, pleasure, charming kids, creative surges and speculative urges Saturday – you’ll win!

taurus weekly forecastTAURUS April 20-May 20
Your energy, charisma, effectiveness and clout soar now through the weeks ahead. Start significant projects, get out, see and be seen, ask favors – you’re in charge. (However, though your energy is nicely buoyant Sunday, don’t start any projects this day – wait until at least Tues.) You’re both assertive and talkative the rest of April – if this “aims toward” romance, good; if you’re just gossiping (or arguing with civil servants) bad. Your money luck remains solid into early May. This is a good time to pick up a luxury item. Your energy and charisma are strong Sunday/Monday; impress someone Sunday. Monday night to dawn Tues. is illusive, confused, and rejecting. Chase money Tues./Wed. Shop Tues. – stick to routine (and routine items) Wed. Errands, trips, communications, paperwork and casual friends fill Thurs./Fri. All’s good, so charge ahead Thursday, when you might stumble upon great people and a possible friendly romance. Friday morning’s a bit disruptive. Head for home, family, Mother Nature and your “napping couch” Saturday. Remember, your best luck until mid-August lies in home, real estate, family, security, retirement and gardening/nutrition. These are emphasized Sat., and the whole weekend.

Gemini.svgGEMINI May 21-June 20
A month of quietude, weariness and sweet solitude begins. Retreat from the bustling crowd; rest, protect your health. Eat, sleep and dress sensibly. Be charitable, reconnect with your spiritual self, contemplate and plan future moves. Despite your quietness, others will continue to be attracted – don’t let social demands make you over-extend your energy. You’ll hear secrets. Avoid dark alleys and belligerent people through May 11. You’re quite tired Sunday/Monday, but most things go well – just avoid political, legal and religious discussions. Stick to routine Monday. This eve, your energy and charisma rise mildly, but rejection and indecision face you, so wait until Tuesday to act. (Show someone, in a quiet way, that you like them.) Your intellect has seldom been sharper than it will be Wed. – but that don’t start projects, even intellectual ones. Read, revise, edit, work with ongoing ventures. Money’s lucky Thursday, okay Friday. Watch disruptions Fri. morning (PDT): they have little to do with money. Saturday begins a friendly weekend, filled with errands, trips, calls, visits, siblings or casual acquaintances. Absorb the news, ask questions, be curious – and rest!

Cancer.svgCANCER June 21-July 22

CANCER, PLEASE NOTE: This is your Love Forecast for the year ahead, not your regular weekly message:

From 2008 to 2024, Cancer, your romantic planet, Pluto, travels slowly through your marriage sign, Capricorn. This is almost certain to bring a romantic marriage. However, the person you fall in love with will likely be diplomatic, inscrutable, secretive and resistant to change. You actually like all those qualities except the last one. If, for example, you hate smoking, and you fall in love with a smoker, don’t automatically assume you can make him/her change after you merge. Be prepared to accept the whole package.
If you’re married, this same period (08-24) can put an unusual strain on your relationship, for its “purpose” is to transform you and your marriage in deep, deep – sometimes unconscious – ways. If you do change, this can bring your bond to deeper and deeper levels of love. If you don’t change, it’s result is usually alienation followed by separation.
In the most general way, June-born Cancers have already lived through the peak of this influence; July 1-10 birthday Cancers are presently at a peak intensity; and July 11-22 Cancers will enter the strongest influence from about 2017 onward.
That’s the big picture. In a smaller way, July 2014 to August 2015 brings luck in forming sensual bonds – polite, friendly links in which sex is easy and natural, and causes very little embarrassment or blushing. The only flaw is, such a sensual, easy relationship tends, after time, to grow a little stale or boring. (As far as marriage goes, even fighting is healthier than boredom.) In such bonds, you might find that after time either you or the other person is making emotional demands that are difficult to answer. (If you form a sensual relationship with a Scorpio, Capricorn or Pisces during this time, give it a chance, for there might be something deeper and more splendid working under the guise of a mere sensual affair.)
In April and May (’15) your social circle, or any club, political party or other group you attend, can bring someone talkative, sweet and attractive – and assertive. If you have more than one suitor, pick the less assertive one. (In this case, right into mid-May, assertiveness – rather than being a true gauge of passion – is an indicator that the person might have a hidden problem, or could exercise a negative influence on your reputation or career.) In May, your charms speak for you – good hair days pop up everywhere. You might quickly lead someone by the hand from your favorite social group to cozy interludes at your home. In June your charisma and energy are low: if you’re attached or married, snuggle together. If single, give this month a pass.
From late June to early August your energy and charisma rise, but your sexual magnetism soars. You might be determinedly ambitious during this cycle, but that will only make you even more attractive to the opposite sex (and yes, same sex if you’re gay). In the second week of August, things change. You become more talkative, restless, curious and friendly – right into September 2016. This will bring you more contacts, and hence more potential romantic situations/links. At first (August to October) these will tend to remain sensual – with all the potential drawbacks mentioned in the fourth paragraph above. But as autumn progresses, true romance and deep passion starts to arise. November can bring a quick, perhaps young, amour – one who can talk their way into your heart. By December, this person might start talking about living together – and the idea appeals to you. If you’re married, you and your mate spend a beautiful December at home, perhaps decorating or nurturing a new arrival. However, in both November and December, be diplomatic at home – skirt arguments and sources of friction. (Your ambitions might be a point of contention.)
January brings “sparking” relationships – vibrant, challenging – perhaps too challenging, or perhaps just right. This month also begins an unusual streak of passion that will last into early March, then return from late May through July. (During this same period, your romantic courage will be strong.) January might also bring word from an “ex” – seeking union. If you originally split due to circumstances (which might have changed) be open to a renewal. But if you broke up due to incompatibility (or cheating) then move on. February continues the affection and sweetness of January’s involvement(s) but starts to steer you into more intimate, sexual, even financial waters with someone. If you want this, good, proceed – you know better than most that to every commitment there is a consequence – maybe a very good one!
March is gentle. Wisdom and harmony flow over you. This is a good month for a wedding. A love affair started now could be one of the more memorable ones of your life – and/or could eventually lead to marriage.
From 2015 through 2017, your marriage ruler travels through your employment sector, so you might meet a potential life companion at work, or in co-worker circles.


Leo icon, Luck ForecastLEO: July 23-Aug. 22
Time for ambition, Leo. Sit up straight, clear your throat, and ask for bigger responsibilities: you can do it, and you can handle them. Everything else in your life is expanding during this unusual, fortunate year, so why not your career also? You’ve recovered nicely since the dent put in your reputation or worldly position in 2012/13. Now’s the time – through late May – to forge ahead, UNLESS you are pursuing (or are pursued by) a lawsuit, foreign trade or travel, or are trying to earn a(nother) degree, or are in a religious, publishing or academic field (e.g., priest, prof). In these cases, you would be wise to “hold your thunder” until May 11, and shortly after that, to reprise an old or former position, career or project. Whatever your “state,” be careful with bosses and authorities – higher ups are impatient, temperamental until mid-May. Keep a sense of humor! This applies strongly Sunday/Monday. In general, you can judge your month ahead by these 2 mostly benign days. Social joys, popularity, optimism and flirtations visit Monday eve (terrible, dejection/illusion possible) and Tues. (great, push forward) and Wed. (joyful, but stick to routine). Retreat, rest and plan Thurs./Fri. Thursday’s inspired, follow that little nudge in your thoughts. Friday’s mildly disruptive, but good luck outweighs bad. Saturday your energy and charisma roar back. Start significant new projects, but not huge or long ones – a period of delay enters in 3 weeks.

Virgo.svgVIRGO Aug. 23-Sept. 22

VIRGO, PLEASE NOTE: This is your Love Forecast for the year ahead, in place of your regular weekly message.

Much of the year ahead is not exactly romantic, Virgo. There are many kinds of love. In astrology, these are generally: self-love, friendship and sibling love, love of family and children, (deep) romance, spousal love, lust, mental or intellectual love (often called a “personality” attraction) and light or friendly romance.
Until August, your energy and charisma are mildly restricted (in fact, are in a 13-year low) while retreat or solitude creates luck for you – not exactly a recipe for romance. However, in April and May (2015) lust can combine with a gentle, intellectual bond, to create a different kind of love. This is likely a somewhat hot, dry passion, for it lacks the emotional “moisture” of two hearts in tune. It is also probably not an especially lucky love, as lust, for you, can be a subtle trap until November. However, May does bring affection between you and someone you meet in a group; this person is a nurturing type, who might want to take care of you. A happy round of entertainment, socializing and flirtation ensues.
In June, your career and status are much more important to you than romance, but late this month and July bring group activities, entertainment and light, flirty romantic options again – this time, with a definite sexual heat. (Remember lust’s subtle trap to November, though.) By late July, someone might even start pursuing you – then they stop, quickly. There’s nothing wrong here: it’s just that something has interfered. By October this person might be back, to pursue you once again.
In August, your luck changes – for over a year – to September 2016 – you will now be the luckiest soul in the zodiac! Your optimism, cheerfulness, friendliness and open honesty start to attract admirers and new friends. Your charisma climbs, which both attracts love, and makes you much more confident in pursuing it. In September, your charisma soars even higher, with predictable results. Only one thing: part of you is going to be very strongly (and luckily!) focused on real estate, home, security, privacy and family. For married Virgos, this is a splendid time. Pregnancy or a new baby might arrive; and/or you might be buying/renting a better home, finding a tonier neighborhood. If you’re single, the year that starts in August ’15 brings a schism: you will either want to “bring” a romance or lover into a domestic situation, start a home and a life together; or you will want to end an affair – especially if the first, domestic option is rejected. This year, but especially September ’15, is an all-or-nothing time for love.
October braces you with courage, determination, grace and a pleasing appearance, and strong sexual magnetism – but there’s that lust again, which isn’t good for you until November. On the plus side, the “trap” of lust has grown so minimal that you will have little to worry about. Still, realize that if you enter a bond for purely sensual reasons, you will probably end up with someone who eventually bores you or burdens you with emotional weights.
November brings travel, friends, and many casual meetings – and the end of my many warnings about lust! From this month on, you will find yourself blessed, right into May 2017. Your path will be smooth, your direction true. Don’t be afraid to be independent, to forge your own way, if need be – you, and only you, in most instances, will know what (and who) is right for you. December leans mostly toward home and security, but someone you consider just a friend starts showing affection, and you could become quite fond. By January ‘16, passion flares into the flames of deep romance. Either that December smoothie or another person turns casual friendship into hot desire. This month and February, physical intimacy is almost certain.
March brings partnership themes – but, oddly enough, the “physical link” of December-February might now balk at commitment, and you could change partners almost overnight, to someone sweet yet teasing; or, the physical link might morph into a sweet, marital one. In the months ahead, to September, you might yo-yo with the “physical” person, on-again, off-again.
All year – and until late 2017 – your planet of romance travels through Sagittarius, your sign of domesticity and endings. So these 3 years (15-17) if you’re single, will tend to bring amour that turns to domestic bliss, or love affairs that keep ending. You might find yourself attracted to Sagittarians during this time (especially Aug. 15 to Sept. ’16) but in most cases this will be an “interim” love. If you’re married, your home can hold a bit of stress, temper and tiredness from March to September. At the same time, your mate might seem a little unattractive, self-pitying or simply unlucky. Give this a pass, Virgo, for he/she will bounce back later. You’re an expert at two things: criticizing, and lending a hand. Do the latter, and you’ll earn even more love!
Libra.svgLIBRA Sept. 23-Oct. 22
The weeks ahead (especially this Sunday/Monday) emphasize secrets, mysteries, mutual monies and possessions, sexual desires, intimacy, large finances (investments, debt, etc.) lifestyle choices, health diagnoses, commitment and consequence. Your intuition is high; your subconscious bursts to the surface. Take care that the pull of these things doesn’t land you in an irrevocable contract, business partnership, or marriage, especially now to May 11. Avoid violent or overly-assertive people. Your view of the world has begun to improve; it seems a nicer place than even a week ago. Sunday’s lucky, though you might be a bit starry-eyed. Don’t invest nor commit Monday. A mellow, wise mood steals over you Mon. night to Wed. Be patient Mon. night – barriers and confusion exist. Tuesday’s a fine time to apply for school, travel or buy tickets, solve a legal matter, or attend cultural and social rituals (e.g., weddings). (So are this week and next, generally.) Stick to routine Wednesday. Thursday/Friday bring career pressures, ambition, prestige relations, status concerns – these go well Thurs., when your work abilities are strong. Social joys, popularity, entertainment, wish fulfilment, light romance and optimism fill Saturday, and start a beautiful weekend.

Scorpio.svgSCORPIO Oct. 23-Nov. 21
The weeks ahead feature relationships, partnerships, relocation, interfacing with the public, negotiations and agreements, especially this Sunday/Monday (better Sunday). These are generally good, but don’t form a working partnership (especially not with a co-worker) and don’t sign any employment contracts nor buy into heavy machinery, a vehicle, etc. (These do better after mid-November. Meanwhile, focus on career, status, politics, prestige – for these zones are packed with luck until August.) Love partnerships are fine – you could find yourself deeply attracted to someone. Your financial and intimate sectors are blessed until May 7, so do invest, re-organize debt, seek closeness and commitment with someone sweet. Sunday/Monday emphasize these partnership themes, while Monday night to Wed. emphasizes the sexual, intimate, and financial good fortune – except Mon. night to dawn Tues., when dejection and confused motives prevail. A wise, mellow mood floats in late Wed. night to Friday — a splendid period, at least Wed./Thurs., to travel, pursue intellectual, publishing, advertising or educational ventures, legal matters, or religious/philosophical goals. Love is alive! Friday’s a bit disruptive: routine’s best. That great luck I keep talking about in career and prestige zones? It’s evident Saturday (and Sunday the 26th) if you just seek it.

Sagittarius.svgSAGITTARIUS Nov. 22-Dec. 21
The weeks ahead emphasize work and minor health concerns. In some ways, a month of drudgery, but we all have to pay our dues. If you just plod along, the time will pass. A bit of advice: don’t plunge into work with vim and vigor; somehow this can lead you astray and even increase your workload; instead, just go steadily. It’s even better if you can work with someone – whether peer or boss. The work will be lightened by a thread of sweet relationships until May 7; even ordinarily neutral links will give you a warm smile. Some Sages will meet a future spouse between now and early July. (At one point, late May/early June, you might have to handle two prospects, as a former flame returns, also – but that’s down the road.) Those work and health issues balloon Sunday (good, productive) and Monday (stick to routine). Relationships, opportunities, fresh horizons, challenges confront you Mon. eve to Wed. night – mostly challenges, some insecurity until Tues. morning, then good stuff Tues., and an odd combination of good luck and nil “future results” Wed. – grab what you can this day, but don’t try to sow seeds for the future. Secrets, life’s depths, sexual yearnings, financial opportunities arise fortunately late Wed. night and Thurs., but a bit disjointedly, unreliably Friday. Saturday brings a weekend of gentle love, mellowness, and intellectual flight – or real travel.

Capricorn.svgCAPRICORN Dec. 22-Jan. 18
Romance, creative and speculative surges, charming kids, nature’s beauty, vacation, the pleasure of the moment – these fill Sunday/Monday, and the whole month ahead. You’ll ride a winning streak, Cap! Love might entail endless conversations, phone calls – someone you chase seems very active. One probably unnecessary bit of advice: don’t end a love affair before mid-May, nor try to talk a lover into living with you. Be patient, not hasty/aggressive. Sunday’s smooth, but Monday’s a bit argumentative – in fact, both days the “sandpaper subject” is sexual intimacy. If you sense any resistance, be good humored and await a better time. (It will come.) Tackle chores and minor health issues Monday eve to Wed. night. Monday night to Tues. morning brings barriers (could be people in charge saying your solution won’t work, when it just might) and some mis-communication, bad directions. After this, all is fortunate, productive. Wednesday’s odd – lucky, productive, active, yet yields nothing that you can build on. So embrace your luck where/when you can. What you see is what you get. Relationships please and bless you Wed. Night, Thurs., challenge you Fri. Saturday starts a weekend of depths, mysteries, sexual desire, financial opportunity, commitment and consequence. Research, seek a health disagnosis.

Aquarius.svgAQUARIUS Jan. 19-Feb. 18
The weeks ahead shine a spotlight on your home, family, soul, nutrition, garden, retirement plans, property and security – especially this Sunday (smooth, easy, lucky) and Monday (stick to routine). Both days, the only point of dissension might be between you and your spouse over future plans. Keep this light, good-natured, for nothing’s set in stone. (When the future comes, you both will respond to an opportunity, anyway.) Monday night to Wed. night is romantic, creative, pleasure-filled. Exercise caution Monday eve to Tues. morning, as refusal and confusion result (and money’s misspent) – but after this, welcome pleasure, beauty, charming kids, and a minor risk that wins. Tackle chores Thursday (good, productive) and Friday (careful, small disruptions). Saturday brings opportunities, fresh horizons, challenges – and a viable partner for singles, this night. All week (to May 7) romance is affectionate, children charming. At home you face a choice this week and next: be loving, romantic, sexy, or argue. If single, DON’T start living with anyone before May 12.

Pisces.svgPISCES Feb. 19-March 20
The emphasis, this Sunday/Monday, and the four weeks ahead, lies on errands, communications, siblings and casual acquaintances, short trips, visits, news media, and curiosity. It’s a busy time, but not an important time. You can make one mistake, but that’s about all. The mistake: chasing money, income, or purchasing bargains through all this “busyness.” Instead, chase affection, especially among relatives (send little cards, notes, make calls) chase a home, rental, warehouse, business premises (i.e., real estate searches) or chase a fresh horizon, a new set of opportunities, a new partner or co-operator (in life or business) – these hunts capture the fox. Sunday’s good for these, but Monday advises sticking to routine – and both days advise against job/career searches or busyness (because that’s money, income). Home, family, nature, nutrition, delicious naps and soul contemplation fill Monday night (strong barriers impede you) and Tuesday (superb, success) and Wed. (lucky, but take what’s there, don’t try to build for the future or launch anything). Romance, creative and speculative success, beauty and pleasure arrive Wed. night to Friday – Friday’s mildly disruptive, but the whole interval pleases, rewards! Tackle chores, improve health Saturday.
The End




With the elimination of the penny, and the reduction of retail payments to the nearest dime or nickel, the Canadian government has stepped toward a different mathematics. Now instead of writing $ 1.42, we would write $ 1.40. Instead of writing $ 1.53, we would write $ 1.55. There would only be 0’s and 5’s in the units column. In mega-accounting situations, such as a company that charges millions of small transactions every day (e.g., electronic toll booths for bridges or highway sections) a little cheating could lead to millions in extra profits. The elimination of the penny, or the leap to only 5 and 0, is associated with “rounding off,” or rounding to the nearest decimal point, or to the next highest rung on the powers ladder. So, 31 or 32 becomes 30, and 33, 34, 35, 36 and 37 become 5; and 38, 39 and 40 become 0. Notice there seems to be one more in the “0” number group; but this is an illusion, as I’ve used “0” itself twice (30 and 40). So the bias is even and opposite, ergo, a fair system, not biased over the infinity of probability.
What could go wrong? In its early stage (when articles have been priced in hundreds of cents [$ 0.01 to 0.99])this system depends on honesty of reportage. Marshmallows that were priced at 3.36 could be charged at $ 3.40 instead of $ 3.35, a shaving off the mean of 2 points. Taking the whole expanse of 10 cents, this is one-fifth of the units; but by the same method, a merchant could play the other side (raising $ 1.31 and 32 to 35) so that 4 out of ten integers have favoured the charger/merchant. (A utility company with a regulated charge rate would benefit from this, and is perhaps the perfect purveyor of it.) We’re not talking only 4 of ten, but also must include in our sight the honestly deserved 5 of 10 the charger is “owed.” That is, only the opposite number itself is immune from this diseased bias, a bias to the merchant that gives it 9 cents of every dime, rather than the “fair” 5 cents, or half, that probability would grant it. In the beginning, such a conversion could gain a utility company millions a year, until a new regulated rate was set. But even here the bias runs, and spreads like a cancer. It not only survives a rate review, but, because the regulators believe the utility company officers are honest men, they take the inflated results of the past (bloated by very real profit advantage) as the new base line. So, in a percentage less than a percent, perhaps one 1,000th, the merchant gains. So, this gain of, say, 1000th of 10 billion, equals 10 million – so this 10 billion 10 million (rather than 10 billion) forms the new base for any appeal to inflation. Were we in deflationary times, as we might well be soon, the company would be better off not reporting their gain-by-bias. (Unless of course they were caught by honest politicians and – I wish – police.)
But the real cancer here is moral. This is not the only ingrained dishonesty in our culture. Merchants consistently try to inflate their prices in ever-more “concealed” ways. One of these ways occurs in packaging. The food processors, such as potatoe-chip packagers, keep their price consistent – but reduce the amount in the bad (without, importantly, the bag size). This reduction in quantity is not only sneaky, it essentially breaks the contract of understanding, or call it the representation of actuality. In effect, by maintaining a consistent price and quantity, they have led the buyer to believe that they will continue to get the same “deal” in future, unless they are notified in some way. This is a contract of trust between buyer and merchant. The price is always more noticeable. But quantity is often in a bottom corner or on the back, whereas the price per unit is displayed. To change the quantity without notice, in fact, to attempt to hide this unfavourable-to-the-buyer change from the buyer, is a breech of that trust, a moral if not legal, decline. (Evidently tea companies do this, reducing not the number of tea bags in a box, but the amount of tea in each bag. Toilet paper manufacturers/merchants now produce “squares” that are minimally (though not yet troubling-ly) smaller than last year. By saving, say 5 per cent without notice nor price change, the company makes an extra or “free” – or as correctly, “stolen” – 5 per cent a year – which could equal a 50 per cent leap in profit. The trouble with such declines is that they sap a society of its vigor, and are often a step to economic and general weakening, sending the tentacles of weakened (because dispirited) resolve (and therefore weakened or “limp” effort) into almost every segment of society: the military, political, the administration (civil servants) and eventually the working class, the middle class, and, at last, the merchant class. We saw this in the response to New Orleans’ Katrina hurricane. Even Bush’s Iraq invasion was really a display of weakened vigor: the war was undertaken in frustration at its helplessness to pursue and/or find the true culprits of 9/11. The only groups which seem to escape this malaise are sports and entertainment figures. (Although their administrations might still be prey to greed, it is a naked greed. Too, sports has seen steroid use, stars sometimes have substance abuse problems.) The legalizing of a passivity-inducing drug, marijuana, by state after state in pursuit of more tax dollars – itself a rather helpless response to a burgeoning illegal marijuana trade, a trade the war on drugs neither stopped nor slowed – has not an unintended consequence, but an “ignored” or, as lawyers say, “minimalized” consequence. That being the most obvious: passivity, induced by a pleasurable experience, of a significant portion of the population. Such developments do not lead to stronger nations, but to weaker ones. We have at least two morality or “vigour” reducers: dishonesty, and therefore lack of belief (because we can’t admit our dishonesty, we reduce our belief in religion and in social systems generally, and, ultimately, in life) and the acceptance, even encouragement, of passivity in the population by means of drugging them. The sci-fi writers were prophetic.
Usually considered the non-essential segments of society, sports figures, artists, writers, entertainers and performance artists, are the ones that tend to remain moralized during such declines. Although even these tend to take on the characteristics of their generation and/or ethnicity, they preserve in many forms, or languages, including those intertwined in their cultural influence, the core moral values. And so these types are deeply essential to society; they are, in many ways, society’s teacher, its mirror, its conscience, its protector (against itself, often) its elevator (for such “modern” things as social welfare, Medicare and public pensions are the result of the moral and “character” elevation of society’s leaders – as was the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, the signal of a revolution as broad and significant as the American one, for it bestrode the Chinese revolution, occurring first but much weaker due to corruption and a befuddled population).
Plato, who considered art a disease, was wrong. He was also wrong, as was Marx, who was essentially Platonic. Both believed in an engineered, utopian society. Marx’s vision was implemented, only to prove him wrong in two vital regards about a utopian society: that it was 1) achievable, and 2) desirable. The closest thing we’ve seen to a Utopian society was the U.S.S.R. – Marx’s main offspring – which failed miserably; its citizens became drunkards, criminals, and impoverished, ruled by dictators. Plato failed to recognize that artists (of every kind) are attuned to a more subtle and crucial awareness than that reached by his own logic. In essence, he failed to recognize the validity, even superiority, of the irrational – of, I suspect, the ultra-logical. Most glaringly, promoters of utopian societies fail to recognize the inevitable result of success: boredom and lassitude.
Ultimately, artists, et al, are the seed-carrier of society. Because they revere and preserve the concept of being good, and criticize rather than join the corruption of society. (Picasso’s Guernica, or Lenny Bruce’s “naive” fight.) Awareness is important to these people. They often examine their motives, almost to a fault. They act to preserve the core moral integrity of a society during its declines and troughs, when everyone else has been seduced by that greyness that descends upon the cheaters and the dishonest; these ignore their own light, and almost purposefully befog it, so they won’t experience the agony of seeing their own sins. We in the west – and very soon we won’t think of we in the west as being any different from, in feelings, fashions, desires and goals, and world-consciousness, as we from the east.
This preservation aspect in the artistic segment of society is particularly important now. We the west are in decline, but I think it will be a smooth, relatively gentle decline; east and west, our two cultures have been so strongly affected by the U.S.’s culture, that the youth, even the young adults of today, have built a cultural, if not linguistic, bond that is strong partly because it has cut new ground in the world of human communication – on a sub-literal level, but a complex, brightly-lit and “energetic” level. To create the new always creates the enduring. One can almost see it: a casino, sparkling lights everywhere: these are their memories, their ideas, their logic. Let them have it, for this sharing will save the world from potentially earth-shaking contests, and reduce even the number of smaller confrontations/challenges. The young of today, except in important, extreme segments, are one. (ISIS, evangelistic, militaristic youth in the U.S., are examples; as extremities, they reflect a deeper thing in the social matrix, I find it hard to see further into it, it’s something more than a murderous instinct, more than a random aberration. In one view, it is maintaining the poles, the opposites, of society. It also might be connected to repression’s result. The very pleasant helpfulness and respect of youth today – such a good surprise after my generation’s angry entitlement – must have its opposite, squeezing out from under the weight of all the pleasant youth. Maybe that’s all. But I feel there’s more to it.)
So the declining west might dance with the rising east, as long as the west maintains its weapons superiority, and a reasonable economic health, and engineers a “soft landing” in cultural, economic and intellectual and technological areas. If careful, and God warrants (by which I mean an ordinary good luck, and it fits with the cosmos’ progress) the west can merge as it declines, so that the dancing partners of east and west couple in a thousand, million ways, much as Britain merged with the United States and, except for the two world wars, had a pretty easy time with their former enemy, their rebellious child. (Two wars the Americans would help them win.)
In decline, all technology goes forward in many small steps; the major strides are over for now, the Theory of Relativity, the Moon landing. The lassitude addressed above keeps the fiery heart from taking one, brave, long leap. Divide this by millions, and you get the influence in the ordinary life, even the exceptional life. We are playing for safety.