|Management of Measurement Constructs
Notebook: 9/30/07The Simple and the Good
What is simple isn't always good, but what is good is almost always simple.
For fifteen-hundred years, astrologer mathematicians worked to simplify Ptolemy's technique of Primary Directions. The technique was impressive for so long because it was intelligent and complex. [Please see chapter one, Solar Arcs] It's part of human nature to doubt the simple.
All inventions simplify! And all inventions have doubters at the beginning. Could frozen foods ever be as good as mother's afternoon-long toil-intense preparations? Will money come out of that machine after I click in a few numbers? Can I really talk to someone in Moscow through a tiny, thin oblong case of gadgetry while walking down the street in Phoenix?
Working creatively with the simple or working with the sophisticated in a simplified way requires that we know what we're doing. We have to trust that.
I was at a nice luncheon with six people a while back. A gentleman at the table brought out a deck of cards to show everyone a trick that had impressed him. People were ready for dessert-time entertainment.
[People may know that I have studied sleight-of-hand magic for some years; it is a strong hobby for me.]
The trick this senior gentleman, sitting across the table from me, performed was laborious, mathematically mechanical, and complicated, but he enjoyed it and everyone was polite with their applause.
Afterwards, we got to talking about cards and their magic. –Then, seizing the moment, I suddenly asked him to cut half the cards off the deck in front of him and to set them aside neatly to his right. He did. And then I asked him to please put the remaining half of the deck on top of the cards just cut off, at right angles to those cards ... and to cover the exed cards with a napkin. He did.
Then we talked for about thirty seconds about mental telepathy, etc. Everyone knew something might happen that would be completely unusual.
I asked the gentleman then to remove the napkin carefully and to pick up the crossed top packet of the cards and look privately at the bottom card of that packet, "the one to which he had freely cut." He did. I asked him to take that card and put it aside face down, and then to put the remaining cards together and place them out of play.
We just looked at each other and the tension grew. –How on earth was I to know this card???? That's what everyone was thinking!
We went through some banter about the meeting of the minds, etc., and then I said, "You selected a red card, a ... a face card ... I sense that it was the Queen of Diamonds"!
The gentleman was totally startled! He quickly turned over the card for everyone to see, and there it was, the Queen of Diamonds. Much applause followed.
Well, this had impact ... --People were almost speechless. Everyone's mind was trying to figure out extraordinary ways to accomplish this "telepathy experiment", while constantly overlooking the simple.
The Solution When the gentleman had finished his trick earlier and was putting all the cards back together, I spied the bottom card of the deck in front of him. –After my "experiment" was introduced, when he cut off the top half of the deck and then put the bottom half cross-wise on top of the cut-off packet, that original bottom card (the one I had noted) became the bottom of the top half, the card "to which he had cut." --The napkin cover and a bit of talk are misdirection so that no one could follow the process and figure it out, staring at the packets etc.
Removing the napkin then brought fresh anticipation. Saying "The card to which you cut" implies that this was a middle-of-the-deck card randomly chosen. The rest of the effect is showmanship.
[Be sure to point out that you never touched the cards!]
What could be simpler? In relation to the drama of the disclosure, everyone thought that a difficult process was involved, just as it had been in the automatic trick presented by the man first.
In our astrological work, what could be simpler and high in impact than the orientation to the deep concept of Hemisphere Emphasis (see ‘Analytical Techniques' archived essays, July 15, 1999; see Synthesis & Counseling, pages 5-35).
What could be simpler and high in impact than the subtle re-wording of Sun-Moon relationships, i.e., energy and need, respectively? (see ‘Analytical Techniques' essay, August 21, 1999; Synthesis & Counseling, pages 65-102).
And the list goes on ...
These innovations at the beginning of the synthesis process are indeed magical: each step leads productively to more knowledge. Cut away mechanical, old habits and streamline what is simple and what is good. Everyone needs to be at their simple best; to know really what we're doing in astrology. Complications don't help.
Then so much is possible.
Next Update: October 31, 2007