It's a piece by Gustav Holst from his suite The Planets. I admit I prefer works from the Classical & Baroque periods with an occassional fondness for the Romantic but there are a few 20th Century pieces that I enjoy. The Planet suite is one of them. The opening piece starts off in 5/4 time but shifts to 5/2 & then later 3/4 (told ya I liked uncommon time signatures). Its dissonance & dark haunting melodies have made it one of Holst's most recognizable works & in it you can almost hear premonitions of William's Imperial March from the Star Wars soundtracks. Wikipedia's media section on The Planets' page has the first four movements of the suite (Mars, Venus, Jupiter & Uranus respectively) in "play in browser" as well as downloadable formats. If you scroll down to the 2002-2003 season you'll find The Peabody Institute has MP3's of The Planets suite as well. But for your convenience here's the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's vid of their performance of Mars, the Bringer of War (Part 1 & Conclusion) (& on the right side of the screen you'll see vids of them doing more of The Planets suite if you care to listen - & I do recommend checking out Jupiter if nothing else).
What follows will be about war. One in which we are currently engaged.
Holst is said to have used a book called What is a Horoscope? by Alan Leo as a basis for ideas for this suite. It has an astrological rather than an astronomical theme even though Holst didn't set out to write a composition glorifying the Zodiac (he was more into Hindu mysticism & presumably Jyotisha). When I was a kid I delved into astrology. Although I didn't spend too much time in it I learned quite a bit about how the Zodiac is supposed to work & influence lives & events. & I will admit that while some aspects of western astrology could make sense from a certain point of view it never really clicked with me as being a decent or reliable system to follow. But to be fair a lot of that has to do with the "pop" astrology out there; the daily horoscopes or pages that claim to tell you about yourself solely from your sun sign (look up "Scorpio" on Google sometime - you'd have to be a libertarian in the Oval Office to see such libelous treatment as they give us! & donít bother looking up Scorpioís compatibility with your sign; weíre apparently bad for everyone, even ourselves). I have seen almost believable explanations of western astrology on occasion but it's still too vague to rely on for insight or guidance - at least in my world. All that was to explain that I don't buy into western astrology but I can understand its allure.
So I'm not trying to say that the following event will play any significance in the world in general or anyone's world in particular - unless you just like stargazing (which I'm kinda fond of myself).
"It is a lovely demonstration of the celestial ballet that goes on around us, day after day, year after year, millennium after millennium,' said Horkheimer. 'When I look at something like this, I realize that all the powers on Earth, all the emperors, all the money, cannot change it one iota. We are observers, but the wonderful part of that is that we are the only species on this planet that can observe it and understand it."
While it's not something Clayton Cramer would settle for you'd be surprised how much detail a 45x spotting scope can bring out.
But let us
speak type of Mars for a moment. In astronomy Mars is the 4th planet in our solar system. In western astrology Mars is the ruling planet of the sun sign Aries & traditionally a ruling (or co-ruling) planet of Scorpio. In Chinese astrology it's associated with fire & in Indian astrology it's associated with confidence, energetic action & ego. In classical mythology it refers to the Roman god of war (the Greek equivalent was Ares).
The planet Mars received its name from the Romans who named it in honor of their god of war & it has retained (mainly through astrology) its association with those war-like traits that the Romans envisioned in their dedicated deity of destruction.
Now does this mean that since Mars is aligning with some other planets that war is imminent? That the celestial representation of the god of war getting together with Mercury (the heavenly messenger, god of trade & profit & psychopomp) & Jupiter (god of laws, social order & justice) means troubled times are on the horizon?
Probably not. Unless there's a fight for your favorite viewing spot to see the skyline tonight or tomorrow night then it depends on how fervent you are about securing your chosen panorama. But those who would see this astrological event as having some pragmatic earthly significance may not be wrong. There is a war coming.
But there's always a war coming. Saying that one is on the horizon is using the same trick that astrologers have used for centuries to convince folks of their validity - they predict the inevitable.
The type of war is up in the air though. Certainly they'll be battles fought with arms & blood. They'll also be ideological & spiritual & political wars as well. What concerns us though - at least those who read this blog - is the ideological one.
We've all been watching & in some cases actually fighting a war for a principle that we hold much esteemed in our minds & emotions; that every person have the most efficient means of defense available to him. I'm speaking of the War on Guns as it has sometimes been called. It's been going on for several thousand years (though only in the last few hundred have guns been the object; prior it was longbows or swords or whatever the most effective arm of the day was) & it will likely not cease anytime soon unless human nature suddenly changes (& you can hold your own breath on that one).
But it's a subset of the bigger war that's been going on; a tactical front line in a greater strategic theater if you will. That war can best be surmised as a fight over who will dominate a society - the individual or the collective.
An armed individual can resist (& sometimes effectively) the will of the collective. That's it. That's it in its entirety. Sounds too simple to be believed doesnít it? But that's why we're arguing that 17 round tube fed .22 caliber rifles shouldn't be outlawed as "assault weapons" in some states. That's the root of the conflict; some folks want the collective to brandish the power & see an armed individual as a danger to that level of control.
But while we get caught up in the details (a specific law affecting specific types of arms or people) we should look at the broader picture. The War on Guns isn't the only front we have (though it's arguably the most important). There are the various attacks on personal property (such as the infamous Kelo decision), the assaults on our ability to travel (flown lately? That's because you didn't make the "do not fly" list), & the way various other abilities of a free person are impinged upon.
Occasionally I'll harp on some other aspect of the battles we're engaged in. Most notably I think I rant about the evils of Marxian thought as I see it as the greatest threat we face. Its allure & popularity make it a danger we should notice & sadly its consequences are often unthought-of of by its proponents.
I previously typed something that -B thought was a good summation of the problem with Marxian thought. If you'll excuse me for quoting myself:
"Marxian beliefs when realized afford the greatest tool of the tyrant that modern day man has known. In order to exercise enough power to control an economy to that degree you necessarily have the power to control the individuals within that economy & most people do not have the will power to resist using that control. Sure, they rationalize it; it's just to hasten the ideal state, etc... but they use it just the same. & to the same ends. Those ends are invariably the limitation & in some cases the extinction of personal freedom. Whether it's the main goal or just an unintended consequence is irrelevant."
Marxian thought is the biggest weapon that the collectivists have in their arsenal. It's appealing on an emotional sense & despite its repeated failures it can be described vaguely enough to cause someone to think it's workable (again not too different from what astrologers do). I admit that in my misspent youth I thought some Marxian ideas were good enough to be followed but I did eventually see the light before I ever did any real damage in their furtherance.
A semantic aside; I use the term "Marxian' rather than "Marxist" because most folks simply don't understand Marx. In short according to Marx's ideas a socialist/communist society would emerge after the natural death of capitalism, whereas most proponents of socialism &/or communism see it as causing the death of capitalism right now. I think that difference is significant enough to use a bit of semantics to highlight that most supporters of socialism &/or communism really don't understand what they're really talking about. Some do but most that I've encountered in print & in real life do not.
What concerns us though is that age old battle between those who would have the collective dominate our society & those that would have the individual dominate our society. It's never been about totally replacing one with the other as that'd be an impossibility. Even as individuals we are social creatures & have a need for some sort of collective in our life (be it family or a military or what have you). & even the most ardent supporters of the collective wouldn't want all vestiges of individuality wiped from existence. The stakes are who controls the direction of society, not eradicating the other side.
That makes the war for control a seemingly eternal one. It may appear dormant at times but it can flare up almost without provocation into a heated contest in just about any form. It's what we're engaged in now along multiple fronts. & there's likely not going to be a clear overall victor anytime soon (say in the next thousand years) but there will be victories & defeats for both sides.
I am no grand strategist & have no insights on how we can win. I won't even say that winning is possible (though I do believe it is I just cannot confirm it) but losing enough battles will be noticeable. If we give up the fight then we will know defeat along enough fronts to suffer the pragmatic effects of losing the greater war.
I do have opinions on tactics which is mainly what you see represented here. Civilian disarmament is arguably the biggest danger we face as it removes our last ditch ability to resist. Marxian thought as represented by socialist & communist programs is another very big danger as it empowers the collectivists to a degree that is hard to resist through peaceful means (conversely Marxian thought is often imposed by force). There are other dangers but those two seem to me to be the greatest that individualists face in this struggle. & quite honestly thatís enough for me to be getting on with. But feel free to point out to me other dangers you see as I never made claims of omnipotence (well not seriously at least).
So those who predict a war is coming or that personal strife is around the corner in your life are correct. But they're not prophesying, they're just pointing out a pre-existing condition. Such is life & what matters most is how you approach this great unspoken of war. Should the collective dominate our destiny or should we hold the individual in the highest regard in our society?
If you think that the people should not be denied arms then that's a good indication that you've already chosen a side. But it's a much broader front than you may have realized so it's worth taking stock on how you view things in totality.
As for me - well I'm too much of a loner to really side with the collectivists anyway. Being treated like cattle doesn't appeal to me & I prefer making all the wrong decisions to having them made for me even if they'd be better for me in some way.
But the question is not about what I would decide or which side of the front my foxhole will be on, but where will you make your stand? & perhaps most importantly why? Course those questions will remain unanswered until you see for yourself that there is a war going on right now & that is something that you will have to realize for yourself.Posted by Publicola at December 9, 2006 04:33 PM | TrackBack