Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Actually I just like how it catches the light

On Saturday I went to the artsy bit of Exeter. While I was browsing some earrings in a little shop, the lady behind the counter was telling a customer all about the manifold properties of some crystal or other. I wasn't really listening until I thought I heard her say that it boosts broadband function -- which sounded pretty useful in a rural area. Probably I misheard, but it's interesting how sometimes these sorts of superstitions relate to the mundane. Recently I have read a few horoscopes in papers left on trains, and I have noticed that they tend to have one of the twelve giving some sensible practical advice about life. In among the stuff about romance, etc, they often have one that says something like "a conjunction of Saturn and retrograde Mars means it's time to make sure your bank statements are filed properly" or "this weekend the sun will be in the house of Jupiter, making it a good time for big chores like defrosting the fridge". So if you strip away the superstition that the movement of planets affects us in these big broad ways, and just look at the structure of it -- imagine that you're allocated to one of the twelve by drawing lots -- then it's quite an interesting thing. Presumably there are people out there who do believe in it, and who are influenced by their horoscope for a day or week, and behind it all there are the horoscope-writers, who come up with little schemas for the lives of strangers. It's the same with the healing crystals. It seems to me self-evident that lumps of semi-precious stone don't have emotional powers, and any sort of discussion about whether or not they do is going to be very dull indeed. But if you ignore that bit then you can just look at the stories. It's as if someone has picked a structure for belief without bothering about what it's based on, like a house without foundations. The lady in the shop was warning the customer not to wear a haematite ring twenty-four hours a day, because it would cause a bulge in her energy field, and I suppose this taboo emphasises the idea of the stone as powerful. In the end the customer settled on a stone which was guaranteed to dispel nonsense, which boggled my mind for a moment -- she clearly has a complex love-hate relationship with nonsense. Anyway, people = quite interesting.

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