But let us pass on --- to Saturn. Saturn, and our moon likewise, when seen through a magnifying lens, are impressive to the layman in a way which the scientist must instinctively deplore and deprecate. No facts or figures about Saturn, no magnification, can explain the unreasonably disquieting sensation which the sight of this planet produces upon the mind of the spectator. Saturn is a living symbol of gloom, morbidity, disaster, fatality. Its milk-white hue inevitably arouses associations with tripe, dead gray matter, vulnerable organs hidden from sight, loathsome diseases, test tubes, laboratory specimens, catarrh, rheum, ectoplasm, melancholy shades, morbid phenomena, incuba and succuba, war, sterility, anæmia, indecision, defeatism, constipation, antitoxins, feeble novels, hernia, meningitis, dead-letter laws, red tape, working class conditions, sweat shops, YMCA's, Christian Endeavor meetings, spiritist seances, poets like T. S. Eliot, zealots like Alexander Dowie, healers like Mary Baker Eddy, statesmen like Chamberlain, trivial fatalities like slipping on a banana peel and cracking one's skull, dreaming of better days and getting wedged between two motor trucks, drowning in one's own bathtub, killing one's best friend accidentally, dying of hiccoughs instead of on the battlefield, and so on ad infinitum.

Saturn is malefic through force of inertia. Its ring, which is only paperweight in thickness, according to the savants, is the wedding ring which signifies death or misfortune devoid of all significance. Saturn, whatever it may be to the astronomer, is the sign of senseless fatality to the man in the street. He carries it in his heart because his whole life, devoid of significance as it is, is wrapped up in this ultimate symbol which, if all else fails to do him in, this he can count upon to finish him off.

Saturn is life in suspense, not dead so much as deathless, i.e. incapable of dying. Saturn is like dead bone in the ear --- double mastoid for the soul. Saturn is like a roll of wallpaper wrong side out and smeared with that catarrhal paste which wallpaperers find so indispensable in their metier. Saturn is a vast agglomeration of those evil looking shreds which one hawks up the morning after he has smoked several packs of crisp, toasted, coughless, inspiring cigarettes. Saturn is postponement manifesting itself as an accomplishment in itself.

Saturn is doubt, perplexity, skepticism, facts for fact's sake and no hokum, no mysticism, understand? Saturn is the diabolical sweat of learning for its own sake, the congealed fog of the monomaniacs ceaseless pursuit of what is always just beyond his nose. Saturn is deliciously melancholic because it knows and recognizes nothing beyond melancholy; it swims in its own fat. Saturn is the symbol of all omens and superstitions, the phony proof of divine entropy, phony because if it were true that the universe is running down Saturn would have melted away long ago. Saturn is as eternal as fear and irresolution, growing more milky, more cloudy, with each compromise, each capitulation. Timid souls cry for Saturn just as children are reputed to cry for Castoria. Saturn gives us only what we ask for, never an ounce extra. Saturn is the white hope of the white race which prattles endlessly about the wonders of nature and spends its time killing off the greatest wonder of all --- MAN. Saturn is the stellar impostor setting itself up as the grand cosmocrator of Fate, Monsieur Ie Paris, the automatic pole-axer of a world smitten with ataraxy. Let the heavens sing its glory --- this lymphatic globe of doubt and ennui will never cease to cast its milk-white rays of lifeless gloom.

This is the emotional photograph of a planet whose unorthodox influence still weighs heavily upon the almost extinct consciousness of man. It is the most cheerless spectacle in the heavens. It corresponds to every craven image conceived in the heart of man; it is the single repository of all the despair and defeat to which the human race from time immemorial has succumbed. It will become invisible only when man has purged it from his consciousness.

--- From The Colossus of Maroussi
Henry Miller
©2010 New Directions
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