Crooked Piece of Man. Or, Odd Saint: Sir Thomas Browne

Sir Thomas Browne was born in 1605 in London’s Cheapside. He went to Oxford, became an apprentice-physician, but stayed invested in religion and what it meant to be a religious practitioner of the healing arts. He ponders—often thoughtfully and sanely—his own temptation to follow typically “Catholic” conventions, like kneeling or removing his cap in church, praying for the dead, etc. He believes in witches and has quite lovely things to say about friendship and teaching. I feel I should mention too that his Religio Medici is the book Harriet Vane pulls out of Peter’s pocket and peruses while he sleeps after their day of punting.

I give you a few utterly unfair highlights from the Religio Medici that deal with (among other things) marriage and Saturn’s return.

On Sex:

The whole world was made for man, but the twelfth part of man for woman. Man is the whole world and the breath of God, women the rib and crooked piece of man. I could be content that we might procreate like trees, without conjunction, or that there were any way to perpetuate the world without this trivial and vulgar way of coition. It is the foolishest act a wise man commits in all his life, nor is there anything that will more deject his cooled imagination when he shall consider what an odd and unworthy piece of folly he hath committed.

On Marriage:

I was never yet once, and commend their resolution who never marry twice; not that I disallow of second marriage, as neither in all cases of polygamy which, considering some times and the unequal number of both sexes may be also necessary.

On Turning Thirty:

Some divines count Adam thirty years old at his creation because they suppose him created in the perfect age and stature of man.

Earlier: If there be any truth in astrology, I may outlive a jubilee; as yet I have not seen one revolution of Saturn, nor hath my pulse beat thirty years…

And Finally:

Then shall appear the fertility of Adam and the magic of that sperm that hath dilated into so many millions.

Again, this is admittedly the cruel Bartlett’s version of Browne. I’ll have kinder things to say about him later.



Scopes and ‘Scopes


It was so lovely to chat with you yesterday.  As I have more free time than usual at the moment, and have decided to use the time to work my way through the tasks repeatedly written (and undone) in my planner, I am instead looking up my horoscope.  2009 has been strangely focused on astrology for me.  Before this year, I considered astrology a fun way to parse personality types, or an echo of my mother telling me “that is so Sagittarius of you,” etc.  But, then, this year, I find myself actually relying, at least playfully, on this unexplained science.

The new year started with a visit from you, dame Millicent, and we ate up hours on the internet reading about ourselves and our astrologies.  It is the ultimate sleepover feast: you can cover all aspects of one’s life with the helpful talking points of a horoscope.  And like most slumber party gossip, it lets all parties revel in their own esteem and possible improvements, and offer opinions and reflections in turn.  It was also the New Year, and I liked the hope and promise that all the online and astrologers were offering for 2009.  They said 2009 was looking like aces.  Yes please!

And then, my mom called and told me that a psychic she sees was very excited about something in the works for a Sagittarius.  This again, suggested that 2009 was aces. Yes please!

But, the trouble with horoscopes is that they lead to expectation.  If they are right, the most you can get is a “oh, wow, that is weird,” and if they are off, then the entire idea gets shirked to “that isn’t true at all.”  It’s a strange little past-time.  I found myself all worked up because my mom called again this month to say that the earlier psychic must have been full of crap because nothing amazing had happened to me.  I was irritated because she was dismissing it so easily after offering it so ripely to me months before.  I felt duped.  But I also still cling to the idea that good news is out there, and that all the very good horoscopes are right on target.

And then I read about what is supposed to be coming my way in March, and I want to dismiss it all again.  Apparently, I’m going to be broke this month, have an ornery boss, and have a tough time with my spouse.  I also shouldn’t get a haircut this month or by designer jeans.  Fantastic.

So, if I chose to believe the good stuff that doesn’t quite appear, can I  believe in the rough stuff in hope that it’s a case of opposites? Or, do I need to start looking other places for rah-rah cheers that the world is a delicious oyster with some life lessons on the side?

Or, do I just need to quit religiously flipping through the Sagittarius calendar I got as a gift for Christmas? I really never thought that there was a tear off calendar that I would use for anything besides scrap paper.  But this one is actually open to today’s date.

Maybe astrology is good for me?

Maybe I need to get out of the house more?



A Virgo We Will Go

Dearest teapot,

I hope this finds you well.  It has been so long since we corresponded in this little plaza that my fingers feel rusty, and a bit unwilling.  But, it is January gudummit, and we will resolute!  I offer, as a wading pool to lead us to our ultimate synchronized swimming routines, that we perhaps start with a list?  25 things we may turn our attention to in this new year?  Or, 10 things we promise to never try to fix (a resolution against resolutions)?

Also, in my rootling of astrology, it appears that our little correspondence is a Virgo.  We missed Leo-ization by a day.  Interestingly enough, this is the sign of Sexual Conduct, and Virgo is suggested as “the vessel” according to Starsky and Cox’s Sextrology (a book that melds the egoism of reading about yourself/destiny with the added delight of reading about yourself/destiny/and sex).

So, if our correspondence was a gal in the world, she’d be a bit of a giver, and apparently try to save the world.  She is built–“a peasanty body that would seem to demand rigorous attention” (272). We can be generous or withholding, as we choose.  Beyonce is one of us, as is Agatha Christie.  If our little blog is straight, she has a good chance to be turned on by bikers, ribbed condoms, corsets, garters, doctor/nurse fantasies, and crotchless underwear.  If she is gay, she is likely into blindfolds, chastity belts (!), slaving, voyeurism, and kinky lingerie.

We have quite a gal here, no?

Hope this finds you well, enjoying sunshine or fog,