Childish Gambino’s “This is America” has a very different feel when you purely listen to it. Despite knowing what is happening throughout the video, my heart beats through the video. Relying on only hearing, I’m held hostage to each tonal change, genre change, and diegetic and non-diegetic sound. The result is the song feels more immediate but the message surrounding the duality is missing without Gambino’s very strategic use of his body.
For this last tutorial, I wanted to have a deeper understanding of why astrology is still appealing to the modern person. Belief in astrology is not a new trend, it is ancient and yet it has stayed prevalent and relevant despite advances in technology and medicine. For my grad-project next semester, I am writing a series of new myths in the form of micro-fictions and I wanted to tie in this research with that project. I conducted a series of five interviews with folk of varying beliefs in an attempt to understand what it is about astrology that makes it still so universally appealing. My expectation was that I could use this research to aid me in writing new myths that would be just as relevant today as the old ones were when they were written.
The first thing I discovered when conducting the interviews was that astrology hasn’t stayed prevalent despite the advances in technology—rather technology has helped in creating interest and spreading it. All my interviewees mentioned at some level in using the internet to discover, learn more and/or find a community of people also practicing astrology. The internet has become a tool of information, both the cultivation and spread of it. The flow of information available allowed astrology to be a bit of a self-discovery whilst providing communities of people to connect with and share that information. Despite the stigmatization that surrounds astrology and those who believe in it, the internet can provide a safe pace for people to learn and grow their knowledge. When writing micro-fictions, I can use that self-discovery and sense of community that can be found online into my myths. Issues today—such of gender, class, race, the environment—can be found circulating the internet: where people go to learn more by themselves or from others and where others can find safe communities of like-minded people. However, one thing to keep in mind both when dealing with astrology and myths is the prevalence of misinformation. Most of my interviewees questioned who they can trust online with being credible. With the torrent of information found online, they noted the need to be careful and selective of what they were reading. The internet can be a dangerous place and that is also relevant to keep in mind when writing myths. It simply isn’t possible to take the internet out of mythology in this day in age and traditional myths often delved into the perilous side of life.
The second—and perhaps most important—note I found to be most appealing to my interviewees was how astrology helps them understand themselves and how they relate to others. For them, astrology starts by understanding their inherited personality traits. Once they got a firm grasp on who they were, they can look at others’ star-signs to better understand their relationships with those around them. Both by reading their own charts to see what signs they were compatible with and by reading others’ charts to better understand the personality of those they were dealing with. Some of my interviewees even planned relationships—romantic and platonic—around who their signs said they were compatible with and forgive behaviour from others because it was their “nature”. Being an active member of the world means you will face the joys and perils of relationships—be it familial, friendship, romantic, professional or other. Understanding each other, and how or why we get along with some people and not others can be daunting, but astrology is a guide for some on how to navigate these relationships. This need and outsourcing for understanding each other can be used in my writing to show how far we will go to try to understand the people in our lives and the basis of how we categorize them.
The final thing I learned was that people weren’t generally interested in forecasting the future. It was the aspect of astrology that my interviewees found the most unbelievable and they didn’t often search for ways to be convinced by it. They didn’t care so much what their horoscope told them what was going to happen next month. Rather, it was about being-in-the-world and finding their place among other people.