Today I was trying to think of a nice word for “shallow.” So it seems like a good day to write about Mercury in Gemini.
There has to be a nice word for shallow, right? It has all of these negative connotations, of not being serious, of being swayed by appearances, of being kind of flighty and frivolous. But someone has to think about surfaces, right? There are, after all, so much of what we see. And now even psychologists acknowledge gossip served important, evolutionary benefits.
You might cover 20 topics in four sentences exchanged with a Mercury in Gemini person, but it all makes sense to them. They see the connections between disparate parts that no one else does.
It’s all about connection with Mercury in Gemini: connecting to others through conversation, connecting to an idea by seeing it through all its different facets, connecting to the world by hopping on a train and chatting up their neighbor. Every Mercury in Gemini I know is a serious reader, but in a “I have nine books I’m about halfway through, and did you read that article in the New Yorker last week here I will email you the link, I was archiving this hashtag Twitter conversation but I got distracted when I remembered I hadn’t updated my Women Artists Throughout Time Tumblr in like 45 minutes” kind of way.
So here’s something to add to that giant stack of books you keep by the bed that is in danger of crushing your cat to death the next time she rubs up against it, you should at least move some of them to beside your bathtub.
Pluto in Gemini brought us Modernism, from Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring to Ludwig Boltzmann’s mathematical breakthroughs to all of the amazing things James Joyce was doing. (We will find out everything that James Joyce was doing in approximately 250 years.)
And the idea that joins all of these disparate parts, the simultaneous breakthroughs in math, art, science, and society? The idea that, actually, the world is not smooth and continuous. Atoms are mostly dead air, which means we are mostly dead air. It is not 1, 2, 3, there are an infinite number of fragmented numbers between every single number, and there is an infinite number of numbers, so… Pluto in Gemini was a big mind fuq. The world is not stable, it is gloriously unstable. It is fragments and shards and the geniuses of this Plutonic era showed all the fun and beautiful ways to play with the pieces.
So you can read any of the modernists, from Joyce to Stravinsky’s writings about his compositions, or you can read the best book about modernism that exists (in my opinion):
He writes easily understandable essays, each one focusing on dynamic figure who blew apart his particular field (his essay on Stravinsky is outstanding), and eventually, through the parts, you get a very good idea of what the movement was all about.
If you are thinking, thinking, thinking all of the time, you should at least understand a bit how the brain works. I’m bored by 98% of books about neuroscience, they have a very primitive idea of how the brain functions. (Here, we scanned someone’s brain while they chewed gum and listened to trumpet music and while someone tickled their feet, these are the very important things we learned.) It’s actually not easy to find people who understand the mind and can explain it in a non-tedious way.
You have to find a writer who respects the mystery of it. I would recommend Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and His Emissary to you, but it’s a billion pages long and it explains the whole world, and I fear you might give up on it. (More for a Mercury in Sag type, perhaps?) Let’s instead go with something more digestible:
Sacks recently wrote a beautiful essay for the New York Times about dealing with a terminal diagnosis and facing his death. Read that, too, although all of you twitchy Twitter addicts probably already have. But this book, about how the brain works and doesn’t, how it misfires and malfunctions, tells us a lot about how mysterious and bizarre we humans really are. By describing the dysfunction with such humor and compassion, Sacks has so much to tell us about how bizarre we are, even when our brains are functioning perfectly well.
Gemini is Mercury in his Trickster aspect, and almost every culture that has ever existed has had a god or goddess trickster. There’s Coyote, there is Loki, there is Gwydion. In the way that we can’t bring things together unless they are first scattered, we can’t have Apollo without Dionysus. The undoing is as powerful and important as the doing. The best book on tricksters is:
I once read this book on a train going from Odessa to Berlin, and somewhere around the Ukrainian-Polish border, a smuggler joined me in my compartment. She casually started taking apart the paneling, to hide cartons of cigarettes and bottles of vodka. She made light conversation with me as she was doing this, and I couldn’t help thinking that by reading the Hyde book on this train, I accidentally manifested her. (When the police came looking for her, and they did, I and another woman covered the smuggler in blankets and pillows and sat on her. “Nope, haven’t seen her, maybe try the next train car?”)
For Mercury in Geminis, it’s important to find someone who can synthesize a lot of knowledge very quickly. Someone who is comfortable mixing high culture with low culture and understanding and respecting both.
No one is better at this right now than the Croatian writer Dubravka Ugresic. She can write about American Idol while bringing in post-Yugoslavia nationalism and politics while also discussing the inability of contemporary adults to actually be adults and stop dressing like teenagers while also talking about the subway system in Moscow. And in the end, it makes sense why she is doing this, why she needed all of these parts.
Ugresic is a brilliant critic and observer of contemporary culture, and she had to go into exile from her native Croatia because she was labeled a witch! Witches are the ultimate tricksters. Who better to guide us through this bizarre world in which we live?
NOTE FROM MYSTIC: Trickster Makes This World is one of my fave books – it’s super Uranian. And, like Jessa, i felt like i manifested Trickster energy just reading the thing. It was as i began reading Trickster that three people came to my door saying that the mistress of Charles Darwin once lived where my house was, in an estate that had been built over with Edwardian Terraces. I swear they were time travelers. Their clothes were strange, like Lannister meets Versace crushed velvet cape things with digital looking brooches. They seemed sane. They said they were academics and that the mistress had been more influential than anyone knew, that there was even more to evolution than people realized. They listened intently to my every insane utterance on the subject of Darwin’s Mistress. Trickster Energy which i connect with Mercury-Uranus specializes in such encounters, the strange quantum workings of synchronicity.
Jessa Crispin is the editor of Bookslut.com and Spoliamag.com. She is a tarot card reader, specializing in issues with creativity and writing. For more information, go here. Her first book, The Dead Ladies Project, about love and travel and art, is forthcoming from the University of Chicago, October 2015.
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