Monday, February 4, 2019

Five books that reconnect us to astrology

Julia Whicker is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She’s had her poetry and essays published in the Iowa Review, Word Riot and The Millions, among others, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her debut novel is Wonderblood.

At Whicker tagged five books that reconnect us to astrology, including:
Kepler by John Banville

In this second installment of Banville’s (underrated) Revolutions Trilogy, Johannes Kepler, the famed astronomer who discovered the scientific laws governing planetary motion, unhappily whiles away his time concocting horoscopes for the eccentric and probably insane Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. Despite Kepler’s frustration at having to cater to Rudolf’s manic astrological whims, he is firmly a man of his times: at the turn of the 16th century, most people believed the configurations of the heavens truly affected human destiny. However, Banville takes pains to demonstrate that Kepler is endlessly tormented by his desire to reconcile astrology with the increasingly complex mathematics required to prove his scientific laws. Kepler may have proven the elliptical orbits of the planets, but he also drew up over 800 horoscopes, speculated on the outcomes of wars and weather events, declared a supernova in 1604 to herald the conversion of America, and correctly predicted the month of a patron’s death. Banville’s writing style is excellently suited to describing Kepler’s apparently dour personality: some turns of phrase are so surprising and gross and gorgeous that they have never left me.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue