After the announcement that Sofia Pontén will no longer be updating Scorpio Rising after June, we are reprinting her essay on astrology from Issue #2.
HAVE A BODY - GO TO THE BEACH
To have a body is to be disconnected. To have a conscience is to employ fantasy.
We dream about being connected to the universe so we apply human qualities and concocted meaning onto planets and stars. As an astrologer, I do this for a living.
We dream about being connected to computers (i.e. each other?) so we apply a way of thinking about our brains as computers. We become plus and minus, or substances and deficiencies. I wish we would stop talking about our bodies and our brains as machines.
“Did you know you can trick your body to feel happy by smiling?”
Maybe we want to be robots, programmed, manageable. We know it would fit the economy better. “Organic” is for plants, veggies and fruit. T-shirts and wine. To put in and on our scientific bodies.
I used to think of my PMDD as a way to understand how I work. Now I’m trying to see it as an outcome of how a neoliberal capitalistic society built on patriarchy clashes with being a female-bodied person. Why do I need to be medicated and written lengthy articles about where the word “monster” pops up more often than in 90s horror movies? Why not society.
I used to see astrology as a way to talk about differences in personalities and open people up to dialogue about themselves. Now I see it as a much-needed place to breathe for young girls in a machine of “fix yourself”.
They not only want to know what the stars have in store for them. They want to know in what constellation they can be themselves.
“It will be good for your personal brand,” they told me. The word “brand” in Swedish means “conflagration”. I really hope that’s what they meant.
“Number one listicle: 1 cool way to trick your brain (and get clicks)”
In the shop of stars we discuss spring, summer, fall and new year. Each season a new flavor. Each season a new goal. I’ve never used the word “career” in my horoscopes even once.
In progressive Sweden, where women in hijabs drive busses and you don’t have to declare personal bankruptcy when you get sick, the teen magazine I work for, an equivalent of Seventeen, writes: “How to get the perfect beach body! Step one: Have a body. Step two: go to the beach.”
Have a body - go to the beach.
And if I have a body I go to the beach. When I can. If I can. As I can.
The enchanted beach. On the deserted hills of an island off the Bali coast, not yet exploited by tourism, kids drive their motorcycles on dirt roads for miles to take pictures of themselves at the beach. Get off the motorcycle, go down to the water, stand by the water, take pictures, go home. What is going to the beach anyway?
An ultimate western luxury. The sign of vacation. Not popular until the industrial age, when a tan no longer meant “worker in the fields” and shutting eyes at the beach no longer meant homelessness. Have a rich, wealthy, proportional body. Go to the beach.
The beaches of the Mediterranean and the Adriatic, known from history and from my childhood, provide water as clear and turquoise as the soul. These are shores where fortress Europe is now built, built on bodies. Built on constellations of bodies. A shimmering promise of a sunrise on a new continent, swept away by overcrowded boats and drowning. Order a frappe and snack on olives. You are what you eat.
Eat your body.
And my mind? In what beach-like landscape of dunes and blues is there a mental peace as great. On the outskirts of consciousness, where am I supposed to go?
I see a vast sea of beings sharing experiences but not knowing that they do. In solitude, being with your body as the only other body. To be the only body at the beach.
Alone with your body at the beach, you and I keep photographing it. Your body is still in the technological proximity of other bodies. Constellations of bodies on the beach of internet.
”In solitude with your body” could be the title of a great book on American health care. My teeth hurt and I do pseudo-surgery on myself with a toothpick. Who can afford to see a dentist? I have a body – it’s all I have. My beach is my bathroom. Ain’t got no beach.
I go to a New York emergency room just once. I bare my breasts and quickly regret it. For a simple inflammation they hook me up to an IV of antibiotics and want to submit me over night. ”We have to cut you up” – I have a cut-able body – ”or it will get worse”. I sign the papers that I’m not following their advice and leave the hospital against their will. My body is not for you to squeeze and cut. It doesn’t get worse.
“Trick your body to heal – eat meat”
Does your flesh heal well? In Swedish the word läkkött (healing flesh) is nothing unusual. It refers to how well your organic tissue heals. Do you have good läkkött, or bad läkkött. The healing flesh of your celestial body on the shore of an ocean full of refugees. The healing flesh as you enter a crowded boat in the hopes of surviving. Guarded by heavenly bodies on a heavenly vault spread thin over a night of slim chances.
Ain’t got no beach. Vehicles of souls moving around endlessly, roaming streets and beaches, destined and unsure of where to go. Have a destiny – go to the beach. There’s a blackout in the tiny tourist village on the coast of Croatia. We lie on the beach, looking at stars. I whisper secret messages to them as they twinkle, these heavenly bodies. These heavenly teenagers.
Celestial bodies, filled with human narcissistic meaning, gas and solitude. On a universal shore of constant expansion, constant change, coming and going into black holes of wonder and awe.
“Your breathing is like a wave, moving trough your body”
My breathing is my body going from organic to tricked. Trick your mind to believe in astrology. Trick your mind to believe in society.
All these suns shining on uncountable beaches all over the universe. Libra is the one sign without a body. A heavenly body to comfort you on life’s lonely beach. The one sign balancing justice and negotiating. A sun bed for the day is €10. €15 plus umbrella. You can ask your astrologer for the week’s forecast.
Your body is not your problem. Your brain is not your problem. The clash of virtues they individually are allegedly trying to battle – maybe.
A constellation of tired bodies at the beach. Filled to the brim with vitamin D.
Beach your body. Wash it off and clear your mind.
You and your one organic machine. You and your knight in shining armor.
Sofia Pontén, b. 1985, is a writer and novelist who now lives in Sweden after 5 years in Brooklyn. She has a BA in philosophy and comparative literature and has worked as a producer at Lilith Performance Studio in Malmö, Sweden and as a collaborative writer with New York based artist Liz Magic Laser. In the spring of 2014 she was the Critical Writing Fellow at Recess Artist Workspace in New York. For the past five years, Sofia Pontén ran Sweden’s biggest astrology blog, Scorpio Rising, with over 30 000 readers a week, for Sweden's largest teen magazine VeckoRevyn.