Katarchic astrology is a type of astrology that studies the beginning of things. What do the heavens, at the moment of conception, have to do with the unfolding of the thing conceived? With the nature of the thing conceived, the future/destiny/or fate of that thing. Katarchis (really it would be Katarches) is not Katharsis although they both begin with ka. καταρχή vs κάθαρσις. Beginning vs cleanse. Perhaps the katharsis comes after the katarche … katharsis is the middle game. For ending we could have καταργέω (katargeo) .. to cease, or to separate from. I don’t have my Liddell and Scott lexicon here in pandemic paradise, so I don’t know where this word has been used. And that my friends, is another unwritten trilogy… maybe the beginning of a trilogy.
In my personal past I have not paid attention to beginnings, I have been only focused on endings. When I started a company I thought about the exit, when I started a paper I thought about the delivery or publication, when I got pregnant I thought about the birth. This is doubly unfortunate because by predisposition I am really really bad at endings. You should see my terribly pathetic breakups. I recently taught a yoga class and a friend said you sort of crapped out at the end. Mind you I did not feel this, I thought I did a pretty okay job, but I am not surprised at this turn of events. I am not a closer. I do a killer opening meditation however.
Emphasis on finishing, on closing, is a cultural bias of late capitalism. The process is not important only the product. And how you start the process is something to rush through, something to just do, so you can iterate on it and improve on it. This is the mind set of the minimum viable product, and lean startup methodology. It almost does not matter what you begin with. It is like a seed number for a random number generator.
In culture there are particular areas where we do end badly. Where we are not as practiced at endings. In act our destruction of the environment, disregard for black lives, trans lives, and so forth, are the inability to end certain practices and beliefs, to say that something is enough, or to just STOP. In a literal sense, our cultural attitude towards death is a literal representation of this. All our emphasis on endings, but only certain endings, and as it turns on perhaps the least important of endings. If art is the unconscious of the culture, I will now complain about the truly horrible state of affairs when it comes to novel endings. Contemporary novels just don’t know how to end well. Is this something about the ending, or about the beginning about how a novel begins. Because my idea now is, if something is attention is paid to the beginning, then the ending will have similar intentionality.
Curiously though, we as a culture love first lines. So many lists of books with incredible first lines. There are listicles of great first lines. It is a big deal to write a brilliant first line. We really do not remember last lines (probably because they mostly are crap). Although my favorite line in literature is the last line in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Who are the experts in starting? When I played soccer as a young woman, the goal was to be a starter. If you were an ender you were perhaps less skilled, unless the game was close. Then the starters just ended as well. But the starter was a communal activity. All the players on the field at the beginning were starters. There was not a person skilled at starting. In baseball Mariano Rivera, the Yankee’s relief pitcher, was a closer. He was brought in to finish the game. He was skilled at closing. I don’t really know much about pitchers skilled at opening. There is also the famous line from Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross “Always Be Closing.” I am a starter, not a finisher. That is perhaps more accurate.
I am writing about this because I am an opener not a closer. I am a starter, not a finisher. The value of the end over the beginning has so many assumptions: epistemological, ontological, metaphysical. Within this disregard of beginnings is the idea that all parts of a process are of equal importance, like the the minutes of a clock are all 60 seconds. I am just going to name check Bergson … essentially the experience of time has texture and a shape… and move on… maybe I will name check Proust.
And in this commodification of time, making all moments of time, or parts of a project equal, we also make time or process subordinate to the end, time is the build up to the THING! And here I am reminded of the Alan Watts recording that I have pinned to Twitter. So even if all moments of time are equal, the end point, the boundary between process and product, between private development and public launch is given priority… Liminal spaces, moments between worlds or stages are important and should be given particular attention. The beginning is the creation of something out of nothing, and equally important boundary land.
In astrology there is the Doctrine of Origins, that entire outcome of a thing is contained within its origin. That the plant is contained within the seed, that the human is contained within the foetus. This is also a very Goethean scientific world view, that things have forms that they unfold into, that parts are interrelated and cannot be separated.
In any case as I meditate on this, I have decided to lean in to being a starter, and not a finisher. What is the role of the starter once the thing has starter. I feel a bit sad writing this, I want to be around for the ending, the glory, the rewards. This, in itself is a particular world view, because why can’t the glory be in the beginning, in the separation of the waters, in fixing the stars in the firmament. Tomorrow is a new year, a beginning. Although this is an arbitrary beginning… maybe the real beginning began on Dec 26 the day after the solstice when the days began to get longer.
But a new year is a beginning none the less. I wonder how I should end this year, should I reflect, should I journal, should I do a bunch of things I wanted to do before the end of the year. We call it New Year’s eve, not Old Year’s End, which maybe is a look towards starting well, starting before the start, the gestation and the incubation.