The Twelve


The field of the Chase:  (Back row from L-R) Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon;  (Front row L-R) Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer.

NASCAR’s Chase class was finalized following Saturday’s Air Guard 400 at Richmond. Their names were pretty much a foregone conclusion headed into the race; the only spot in mathematical question—the 12th seed—was sealed by Clint Bowyer’s sixth-place finish. But the all-important lead position heading into the Chase–determined by greatest number of wins for the season—was decided when Richmond hometown boy Denny Hamlin beat teammate Kyle Busch to the checkers by .537 seconds.

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NASCAR’s New Year’s Eve was the Richmond race, with one kind of time (the regular season) passing while another (the Chase) became the new reality.

Forget the 219-point lead Kevin Harvick had over second-place Jeff Gordon in the regular-season points standings. He now shares third place with Kyle Busch in the starting Chase grid, thirty points—or three wins—behind Hamlin.

Jimmie Johnson, who had been languishing in eighth place in the regular-season points standings, 338 points out of the lead, leaps into the No. 2 position to start the race, on the merit of his five wins. Five winless drivers -– Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer-—take up the back of the pack, all 60 points out of the lead.

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Not sure why every driver each receives a 5,000-point base going into the Chase—gravy? A sense of gravitas to their Olympian status?

Now Sprint two races will happen simultaneously every week of the next ten, with those in the Chase racing alongside those who didn’t make it: in the first race, the Twelve Elect battling against each other for Chase position; in the second race the whole field going at it, including those 30 preterit drivers who didn’t make the cut but still duking it out for purse-money, bragging rights, even a chance to alter the fate of the Chase, as when Sam Hornish wrecked Jimmie Johnson on the third lap of the Chase Texas race last year.

So begins the Chase.

Here come  the Twelve.

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The number 12 is freighted with significance. A day is composed of two half-cycles of 12 hours each, and there are 12 months to the year. 12 constellations form the Zodiac, which some believe rule their starry fates. There were 12 Olympian gods, 12 Tribes of Israel and 12 Disciples of Christ. 12 stones comprise the altar of Elijah. Jesus broke 12 different breads at the Last Supper.

Hercules completed 12 great labors in Hell. There are 12 days in the old Christmas festival of Yuletide. 12 Immans  are the legitimate successors of Muhammad and there are 12 names for the Hindu sun god Surya. Twelve seats are ccupied by King Arthur’s knights at the Round Table (the 13th, known as the Perilous Siege, sits empty, symbolic of both the betrayal of Jesus by Judas and the perfect knight who is destined to find the Holy Grail, which was brought to England by Joseph of Arimathea and his 12 knights.

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King Arthur’s Round Table.

Twelve is a good number for business, that is, by selling things by the dozen. It’s a familiar count, perhaps the most primitive one. Things are cheaper by the dozen; a baker’s dozen (also called a long dozen) is 12 donuts plus benefits. If something is going cheap, it’s a dime a dozen; 12 dozens is a hefty gross.

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Hollywood brought us 12 Angry Men and The Dirty Dozen, 12 Monkeys and Ocean’s 12.

Hugh Hefner brings us 12 Playboy fresh centerfolds every year.

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Our measurement system (resolutely averse to decimals) begins with the inch and stretches to a foot or 12 inches. Three feet is a yard and people are buried six feet under, also the depth of one fathom. Twelve feet is a short choir. While it’s said that no knight is long enough, most gals agree that one whose Johnson stretches for 12 inches is plenty to joust with. If you want to make up for an erring Johnson, try a dozen roses.

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Priapus, Roman god of Frank Fertility, was lord and guardian of gardens. Shown here trying to make amends for overdoing things.

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The Chase originally had ten drivers, but since 2007 it has numbered 12. For some reason, though, although all 12 drivers of the Chase are invited to NASCAR’s awards ceremony in Las Vegas, only ten are honored.

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2009 Chase honorees in Vegas.

The number 10 has an uneasy relationship with the number 12. The world twelve comes from Germanic compound twa-lif, meaning that two is left after you take away the base 10.  There are 10 commandments of Moses, but Jesus added two (to love the Lord with all one’s heart, and to love one’s neighbor as one’s self). In 2009, U.S. Customs and Border Protection initiated their Ten Plus Two rule, requiring two pieces of information about cargo be added to the standard 10 data elements shippers are required to report. Something about a ten needs a two, even if ten disagrees.

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There is the sense that the traditions of ten and two had a shotgun wedding with the number 12, Apollonian decimals hitched to lusty moon-goddess integers.  Kenny Chesney tried to make sense of it in his song “Ten With A Two,” but the booze kept him from seeing how the two numbers add up:

Last night I came in at 2 with a 10
But at 10 I woke up with a 2
I’ve got 20/20 vision when I ain’t drinking
But lord when I do I lose
I ain’t never gone to bed with an uglier woman
But I sure woke up with a few
Last night I came in at 2 with a 10
But at 10 I woke up with a 2.

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Or maybe there isn’t any making sense of Twelve, not in a decimal world. But the number persists, perhaps in our resistance to decimal clarities. So we cling to inches rather than millimeters, pour gallons of gas into our cars rather than litres, use letters to measure bra cup sizes (imagine a D-cup in the French decimal of 100 millimeters), and use natural referents for distance (a sheppey is defined as the closest distance at which sheep remain picturesque, which is about 7/8 of a mile)

Something about The Twelve has clout over The Ten. It’s old yet bold, even golden. Angelic, at least.

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Our beginning and end is fraught with the number 12. It was believed that 12 days passed in the battle between Chaos and Cosmos in the formation of our universe. The ancient Mayan calendar’s comes to an end in 2012.

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Mayan calendar, where time’s reckoning–on one side at least—in the year 2012. Maybe there’s more time on the other side of the stone. Or inside.

Not surprisingly, the Eve of the finalization of the Chase Field of Twelve -– I mean, last Saturday, the day of the Richmond race –- was strange.  Think of fierce, brilliant shadows at play inside killing heat. Think of time out of joint. Think of the deal that was sealed at Richmond International Raceway. And wonder what time we have now entered.

When I went out to work in the yard on Saturday morning, it felt surprisingly, infernally hot, even at 9 a.m. A sweaty, skin-burning heat. I couldn’t believe it. Maybe it was all the steroids that had been dripping through my vein for the past three days in attempt to knock out the migraine that had been clawing at the back of my head almost continually since last June. I felt good –- no fucking headache –- but I sure was sweating hard.

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After piddling with some minor landscaping details (like cutting back the jasmine vines which had overgrown on the garage and chimney, I started to mow. On the second row the mower coughed and died. What the? I’d just had the sucker serviced in the spring; it was like some hand reached up from the soil, grabbed the whirling mower blade and stopped the thing in its tracks.

I wheezed in the heat, swearing. Up the street a neighbor was conducting an auction of crap, one of about six she conducts through the year. Maybe someone had sent a curse my way to shut me up.

Whatever. I packed the mower in the car, showered and made a grocery list, figuring to drop the mower off for service and then pick some things up on the way home.

Umatilla is a small town a ways to the north of us, the last lonely town before US-19 disappears into the Ocala National Forest. I go to the mower shop there because it’s one of the only ones around that service Honda mowers (my wife’s father had given us his around 15 years ago when he started paying a lawn service).

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Around that shop there must have been thirty high school girls in bikinis, fervently washing cars for something at Umatilla High–cheerleading squad, glee club, teacher’s salaries (Lake County is strapped), who knows. I tried not to leer as I muscled the mower out of my car and into the shop, but c’mon. They were enthusiastically lathering about five cars, bending into their work wearing their shorts and bikini tops. On the road, twos or threes of them waved signage at traffic up and down the road, hollering at cars and holding the signs over their bikinis. A veritable harvest of jailbait adding something to the brilliance of the day which was even brighter, albeit forbidden, maybe because it was.

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Back home, after having lunch with my wife (one weary and unhappy camper with all the work and worry and family illness on her plate), I settled in for a couple football games—Saturday afternoon being my only downtime during the week.

Flipping around stations on the remote, I was surprised to find almost no coverage of the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Unless you have a spouse who died in the attacks, or are one of the 50, 000 emergency providers suffering from the toxic dust and fallout from the towers’ destruction (some were embedded with human flesh that hurled from the exploding jets), the events of that day, like the cities they occurred in, are a long, long ways away.

The circus everyone had been expecting–the Terry Jones Qu’ran Burning Bonfire Event in Gainesville –had been called off. About 300 people joined the Students for a Democratic Society for a demonstration outside the small church. (The only coverage I saw on it was in the online edition of the Gainesville Sun.) A few media outlets hung around outside Dove World Ministry Church, suspecting that some shenanigans might get pulled off anyway, but there was strong media resolve not to give Terry Jones & Co. much airtime. A woman got busted for trespassing on the land behind the church, and four men in a pickup were detained after guns were found in their car (for which they had permits). After all that hysteria, nada.

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Gainesville is a liberal college town, so it isn’t surprising that the community showed up on 9/15 to advocate values other than what were proposed for the cancelled World Dove Outreach Qu’ran Book Burning. No media except the local paper picked up the event.

Too bad news of the cancellation took a while to get out to the less-wired world. Too long: an Afghan man who was shot to death during one of two violent protests on Friday outside NATO reconstruction bases in Kabul. Twelve persons were wounded, one of them critically, in addition to the killing. Those guys just don’t like their holy book dissed. Too bad intolerance always feeds intolerance; its the bad guys who always benefit from radical acts, whether it’s terrorists on a jihadist vacation or American right-wingers jack-booting their way to the polls to vote for Tea Party extremists who proclaim holy war against everything they can’t tolerate. (Sigh.)

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Over at the Swamp in Gainesville, the Florida Gators were beating the South Florida Bulls. Temps soared into the 90s soon after the noon kickoff; the announcers said they had never been at a football game so hot. About 400 people were eventually treated for heat-related illnesses; but in the Swamp, home Gatorade and Gator Bait, heat is a holy thing. Gator fans like it hot.

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Here in Central Florida, the sun beat down on the us like a dude rancher trying to stomp the dickens out of a scorpion he’d just flushed from his tent. September is that way, with light ebbing from the ends of the day yet remaining blisteringly bellicose in the day’s middle; but this was steal-your –breath heat. Even though our a/c was cranked up on full, it couldn’t get things down to 78 inside until after the sun went down.

Maybe the weirdness was enhanced by the massive migraine which returned that afternoon, one day after finishing three days of massive infusions intended to banish the  migraine which has illed me since June. That night I slept as if some cold phantom had laid on me, breathing lead fumes through my nostrils. I woke with my head still thudding away and the evil sense that I was still a long, long way from coming out of these ill woods.

A strange day, too, for NASCAR, as Saturday was the final race of the regular season and the Eve of the Chase. A border-time, like the eve of the New Year, time settling in its hinges, creating an in-between-ness when the order of things is neither here nor there, is turned upside down.

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Take Hallowe’en, the eve of the Celtic New Year. On that night it is said that the veil between our world and the otherworld is thinnest; graves open and the dead walk alongshide the living on the dark lanes of night, or worse, just behind, whispering sweet eternal nothings in one’s ear.

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Or Saturnalia, Roman festival dedicated to Saturnus, god of seed and growing. Saturnalia was celebrated over the six last days of the year leading up to the New Year (December 25 in the Julian calendar). It was a time of feasting and merry disorder. Restrictions were relaxed and the social order inverted. Slaves were allowed to wear their masters’ clothing and were waited on at mealtime by their owners. So declares the god in Lucian’s Saturnalia:

During my week the serious is barred; no business allowed. Drinking, noise and games and dice, appointing of kings and feasting of slaves, singing naked, clapping of frenzied hands, an occasional ducking of corked faces in icy water—such are the functions over which I preside.

Saturnalia is similar to the pagan festival of Yuletide which was transformed, in the Christian era, into Twelfth Night or the Twelve Days of Christmastide, running from Christmas Day to Epiphany on January 5.  During the Middle Ages it was a time of continuous feasting and drinking and carousing, with the Fool taking the place of the King, wearing clothes upside down (or cross-gender) and the staging of elaborate masques and plays. (The ultimate Yuletide party is Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.)

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The Yultide King of Fools, where servant becomes master and everything else goes merrily topsy-turvy, zany in the name of a brief respite from reality. These festivals of inversion are like ripping a ripe one in mixed company — the animal body getting comeuppance against an over-civilized brain.

In all of these celebrations there duplicity is celebrated: farewell to the old god with his scythe and grey cloak, welcome to the new year babe mewling at his feet: chaos given a chance to return to a too-ordered society, bleeding off the gamy humors of repression with an indecent corker; remembrance, perhaps, of more pristine animal times when the god of the body was more in charge.

And always a shuffling out the door of one tattered Twelve – last year’s elders, Olympians, Arthurian Court – while bursting through another door the next exuberant young-buck Twelve bounces in – months, Playmates, Chase class. Always the two, old and young, facing off against each other, the one snarling at whippersnappers and the other sniffing and old farts, eternally dissing each other as one generation replaces the last only to find that it is standing on the shoulders of an immensity it can never equal.

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The Chase itself is a new invention, its Twelve not so long ago Ten, and before that more reliant on points mastery over an entire season, none of this green-white-checker restart with ten races to go, making moot the first 26 races.

Next year there will be a new next Chase, I’ve heard, something the stony Elders of NASCAR try to whip up to generate more noise, more flesh, more excitement for it’s ever-distracted younger fan base. One rumor has the Chase newly constructed thus: The top 16 in points after 26 regular-season races qualify for the Chase. After the fifth race, points will reset and the top eight will stay in the Chase. After the seventh Chase race, only the top four stay alive and the points reset again. After race No. 9, only the top two will remain in the Chase, with points reset again. All drivers will continue to run every race as they do now, but only two will be Cup-eligible going into the season finale.

Apparently NASCAR chairman Brian France wants to create a more enhanced “winner-take-all” atmosphere, so that that as the final races approach there is a true feeling of a battle of the champions, two drivers duking it out for rights to Wynona’s black velvet bed in her Airstream at the bottom of the wave.

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So the Dirty Dozen may have a short tenure in NASCAR’s history books, replace next year by more of a March Madness Chase format, with a Sweet Sixteen at the outset halving into The Eight and then the Final Four, whittled yet again into The Final Final Two.

Could be exciting. But more dicking around with what used to be a simple formula -– haul ass and turn left -– could just be more wrong-headedness, more larding of bells and whistles over what is simply and only racin’. NASCAR’s golden years were commercially unviable, unsafe and wide-open; today, there is so much glitz, rules and authority that the beast wears Armani and votes Republican, desiring that tax cut on their stratospheric wealth more than winning races.

As William Blake once said: “Improvement makes straight roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of Genius.” Give me ovals, round boobulous bibulous periolous ovals, and I will scream my profane joy as the reaper’s scythe kisses my obsolete neck bye-bye.

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An Arabic prayer to Saturn (Saturnus) comes from the Picatrix of the tenth century, which was widely circulated through Western Europe of the Late Middle Ages and found its way down into the cooking-pots of the alchemists as they moonshined for gold:

O Master of sublime name and great power, supreme Master: O Master Saturn: Thou, the Cold, the Sterile, the Mournful, the Pernicious; Thou, whose life is sincere and whose word sure: Thou, the Sage and Solitary, the Impenetrable; Thou, whose promises are kept; Thou who art weak and weary; Thou who hast cares greater than any other, who knowest neither pleasure nor joy; Thou, the old and the cunning, master of all artifice, deceitful, wise and judicious; Thou who bringest prosperity or ruin and makest men to be happy or unhappy! I conjure Thee, O Supreme Father, by Thy great benevolence and Thy generous bounty, to do for me what I ask …

This is the guy – or god, I should say – who was King in the old day, lord of Chaos before the coming of Light, a powerful, vain, greedy Dad who downed “the fiery drink of the black mother” (that’s what the ancient Greeks called booze) and chased every nymph-skirt around his sportive wilderness. Afraid the prophecy that he would one day be replaced by a son (remembering, perhaps, how he took power over things, lopping off the balls of his father Uranos with a sickle and tossing his marbles to the foam of the wave, which gave birth – ta daa – to Venus, or watery Venusian fantasy at least), Saturn ate every child to emerge from his wife Rhea until she connived to delve up a stone which was a decoy for her last son Zeus, who got away while Saturn gobbled rock tenderloin.

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Zeus led the prophecy-fulfilling revolt of the Olympians against the primordial Titans of Saturn and won, exiling old King Saturn from this life and sending down to rule the lower regions of the body–not Hell necessarily, for that belongs to Hades’ realm of souls– but rather to the realm of the past, of past glories, of old age.

He’s the old part of me, reveling in old glories, rememberer of Glorias in back seats, his lust goaty and old-mannish, a wearer of dirty trenchcoats in the fabled x-rated theaters of old, drooling at offended nubile Kardashians who know nothing – for now – of age, sitting here at the ramparts of night defending this post, this Rome whose walls constitute my skull, vigilant against the incursions of youth, spiteful and lustful and fearful of the next generation and keeper of a bursting silo of gold, vendor of it too, doling out treasure and  pleasure and leisure to this one, lack of lustre and slackened libido to the next.

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What Saturn hates most is the seemingly infinite reservoir of testosterone the young bucks have; hates their youth, their bulletproof attitudes, their high-flyin’ ways and daredevil moves. And he has the ability to trip ‘em up with a seemingly casual sweep of his fateful scythe, mowing down the young on highways and on the battlefield and in needles, giving the too-foolish babyfaces a nudge on the precipitous Edge the young are addicted to. The Sons are in charge now – they always take over – but the Father has his clout, rising up from nether regions to bless and curse our days.

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He’s Wynona’s silent partner, you know. There’s always an old man behind the jaw-dropping babe, her charms inked in the sexuality of the father, passed on in that weird way where the shadow of history runs way back and darkens the  present, making it so  damn sexy. Remember Venus was born from her granddady’s floating testicles. Wynona inherited her Airstream when the old man, a no-good drunken fiddler and auctioneer who fucked everything in sight (including a few failed attempts to climb into her prepubescent twin bed) was packed off to jail for trafficking in moonshine.

So when a driver kisses Wynona’s totem gold horseshoe for luck (representing the golden arch over her cleft portal to infinity), he’s also bussing Saturn’s warty wrinkled ass, devotion to the one implicitly arousing the presence of the other. Wynona’s curves were honed by Saturn’s sickle, that rounding blade which harvests and maims, proferring the bounty of booty as well as the chagrin of the deballed.

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A dangerous duplicity, wouldn’t you say? But that’s what racin’ dreams are made of: crooked roads and siloes of luck for better or ill.

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Since the weekend, time has remained in an odd, inbetween, waters-becalmed mode.

The final round of primaries in the mid-term election season were held on Tuesday, setting into the place the final contenders vying for rule in Congress. End the internecine, intra-party slaughtering and get ready for the real hardball policticking.  This week is the last pause before that season begins in earnest.

(Here in Florida, Republican candidate for governor Rick Scott appears eerily, creepily calm in his early ads, saving his vicious attack juice against Democrat Alex Sink for the closing weeks. Something about that calm is redolent of Lurch and the serial killer in “Manhunter” — big bad fish swimming beneath the surface.

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The news from Atlantic storm season is many storms, zero threat. Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Igor and now Julia, all with grand potential (Igor is at Category 4 now, a perfect monster spiral), none of ‘em a threat.

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Wynon’s elder sister is seducing all of this season’s hurricanes her way.

The loacal weatherforcasters are starting to sweat on camera, they have little news to tell us in what is this Christmas season of big storms. The oceans are preternaturally stilled, the storms drawn up and away to the north by two high pressure rounds I swear belong to Wynona – upon Saturn’s direction.

Maybe their sweating because without real rock ‘n’ roll storm s news, their jobs may become obsolete, replaced by weather bots. The tracking software online is all most of us need. Weathercasters may become obsolete, the way armies and spacemen and newspapermen like myself are losing any sense of belonging to the present.

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Hell, races could easily become obsolete with robot cars – the ultimate safe vehicle – operated by fans – the ultimate indulgence.

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Stanley, a Volkswagen Touareg robot car, won the 2007 DARPA Grand Challenge, a 131-mile robot car race across the desert near Las Vegas.

Pleasured by virtual Wynonas who will perform any act housed in your goaty silo of Penthouse fantasies.

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Not much else is news. Flooding continues in Pakistan. Iran released an American hiker after being held for more than a year on espionage charges. The explosion of a gas pipeline in San Francisco last week has raised concerns about the similar explosions happening in an aging gas pipe system which spiders under the entire country. Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in four sets to win the U.S. Open in Monday night, making him only the seventh man to win all four Grand Slam events. A 3-year-old girl died after being left in a car for 90 minutes outside a Tampa church, Florida Gators wide receiver Chris Rainey was arrested on felony stalking charges. A bacteria has emerged which has been made resistant to nearly all antibiotics by an alarming new gene and is popping up all over the world. Outside it’s hot and still shadowy clouds forming overhead, though there is supposedly no chance for rain.

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Pakistan flood victims scrambled for food on Monday.

With such sophisticated equipage in place for 24-hour news, a quiet news week is almost an impossibility.  I mean, something is happening somewhere, right? Yet the stillness is palpable, a dark body pressed over us in sleep, the silence on the wires, traffic sparse outside, phones not ringing. The mood, the aura, the vibe is Time Out: A pause between seasons of something, a gathered breath which signifies that the readiness is all …

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The Greeks had a different name for Saturn – Cronos, meaning “time.” The rule of time was established when Cronos defeated his prehistorical, primordial father Uranos.  During the rule of Cronos, time proceeded slowly – three million years or so since the human species began to develop consciousness, with innovations coming very, very slowly. It wasn’t until 10,000 BC that agricultural societies formed around the tilling of the soil and civilized time began in earnest.

Fatefully, the sickle of Cronos, used to harvest grain, proved his downfall. Cronos couldn’t keep up with the new time of civilization, so urgent in its productions. Zeus was of a different order, ruling the Twelve Olympians with a powerful ego and a brilliant noodle. Instead of the slow sweeping arc of old time’s scythe, now the flash and thunderclap of inspiration.

The 2,500 years in which Zeus has reigned over Time, things have proceeded pretty damn fast—especially in the whirl of the past 50 years, when human knowledge began doubling every two years. Ditto for computing power; Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles every two years—in 1971, about 2,300 transistors; in 2008, about two billion. Such rapid empowerment of raw crunching power has shifted the acceleration and accumulation of a certain sort of knowledge into warp drive. Think thunderbolt to the twelfth power.

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Map of cyberspace.

‘Nuff said. The speed at which things are changing technologically is gathering up other things as well, taking out industries and workforces which will never return. Obsolescence occurs earlier now, even as maturity gets later. Whatever zone of success exists for a career has become indeterminate and fleeting, a quicksilver which fewer are able to nail down.

Certainly, the hyperfast, ultrared aura of Star Trek almost overpowers that of silver-blue moonlight pouring over this same old ancient night. Almost. But somehow the faster things get going, the greater the sense of things past firewalls any true leap into future.

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It seems that Saturn, the old brooding one, is present exactly here, warding off the Gauls with their Blackberries and iPads with his stony Otherworld grimace, a look which gives even the most fevered early adopter a frightening fit of ennui. Saturn is in our gut, coagulating the torrent of events into scars of experience. He’s brooding while I sleep, digesting my day in the augment of dream. Saturn rules the process of these posts, peeking into the locker room where the gals are changing and putting up a defense against getting anywhere too fast. Saturn sieves history to fathom its mystery, storing the bounty of knowledge in silos which hold up against the rising tide of white noise, that shriek of the present so stoned on futurity. He brings the flying boys back down from their precipitous aeries of ambition and pride, knowing that two feet stuck in heaven are no damn good. He puts the hurt in the moment – the leaden torpor of grief – so we can feel solid and grounded and real for this life.

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Saturn, I suspect, is walking the ramparts of our old-schoolish hearts, rejecting modernity for the fundamentalist version of the past, resisting change with his unchanging Holy Book, refuting new truths with beliefs as old as moon-magic. He keeps this country from evolving its practices about life and death, convincing the congregation that abortion docs should be murdered and that Obama leads a secret cabal of death-panels deciding to pull the plug on Grandma when her catastrophic care exceeds all hope of recovery.

Though he’s been exiled since we became dazzles with the next great thing, Saturn still rules from million-year dreamtime, slow, cold, father of gods and men, devourer of young whippersnappers, the only brakes left as civilization tries to leap into the next next generation of acceleration, into as many dimensions as possible at the same time. He’s the one holding on to our feet as we’re leaping in a plutonium well.

He’s the Counterforce which all drivers curse, keeping their cars from flying off the track to become angels.

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Woke up this morning (Wednesday) troubled by a heavy shade of a dream which in waking had receded so far into my pillow I couldn’t make any of its features out: That oppression I’ve dreamt several times before.

If I try to read the dream literally, it’s Headache and Toothache swelling my sinuses and making my ears ring, informing me that I will have to drag this season’s malaise with me like the man who was forced to walk all Hallowe’en night with a dead man clinging to his back. (Yesterday I spent an hour in the chair while my dentist drilled “almost to China” on a badly-decayed bicuspid, barely saving me – he hopes – from a root canal.)

Or I can read the dream as literature and read Saturn’s presence between my life’s worry-lines, done up in the gear of the Ghost of Hamlet’s father, decked in old medieval military gear, rousing me to swear revenge for the crimes committed against him while at the same time bidding me adieu.

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He is me, I know; age has been laying heavy on me this season as I sense the hyper-fast onset of my obsolescence, which may only be a flag for a generation’s obsolescence. Or a species, the last sands of Humankind draining fast through the upper globe of the hourglass, draining away almost as fast as the world is heating up into an unbearable, unsustainable Future ….

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What a relief to feel a cool note in the air when I opened the windows after coming down to start my day at 2:45 a.m. Sixty-nine degrees: the first moment this neck of Florida has slipped below 70 since last May. The time is changing. The summer is slowing with such infinitesimals. The season of transformation approaches.

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Saturn – Old Man Time, if you will – owns this week. He is father to The Twelve of the Chase. It is he who directs Wynona to offer her favors this way then that as the Loudon race takes shape. Her charms, his favor, their moment, this witchy still hiatus in which I ring this lonely bell, far out on the blasted heath of a day, an age, become more fair and foul than any before.

The Twelve pay little heed to any of this. Their eyes are on Loudon, and Dover, and Kansas, and Fonatana, and Charlotte, and Martinsville, and Talladega (on Hallowe’en, no less), and Texas, and Phoenix, and finally Homestead.

The Twelve are elect; the racin’, now, is all.

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spaxed

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Note: The definitive work on the senex or Saturnu can be found in James Hillman’s essay “Senex and Puer,” anthologized in his book Puer Papers.

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