Though on the short timescale, stars appear to mantain nearly fixed positions in relation to each other, long-term observations show that all stars indeed move and all constellations gradually change over time.
This chart shows how the various constellations and asterisms on the night sky(namely the Big Dipper, Orion, Crux, Leo, Cassiopea and Lyra) changed throughout the human history and how will they look to an earth-based observer in the distant future, due to the proper motion of stars in our galaxy.
Okay, this is my favorite thing about constellations. Everybody knows that we carve out semi-random shapes from patterns in the stars, and then assign those shapes characters and stories accordingly.
The thing is, even the semi-random shapes, the so-called patterns, prior to seeing them as a constellation and then an element of mythology, are accidents. They’re not real.
After the Copernican revolution, a constellation isn’t even a constellation. Instead, it’s a two-dimensional flattening of a three-dimensional reality. Actually, we should probably say a FOUR-dimensional reality. The light from stars at varying distances, leaving their sources at various times in the distant past, gets mistaken, from our earthbound point-of-view, as a simultaneous two-dimensional pattern.
BUT! That distortion, that accident, produces something extremely powerful — both imaginatively and practically.
Take “constellational thinking” and apply it to something besides stars in space. Let’s say — history.
Over here, you’ve got the Roman Republic, over there, the French Revolution. Distant in time, distant in geography, no kind of causal proximity let alone a relationship between them.
But bam! Slap them together. View them as a single event, a collapse of time.
Now you begin to see the French Revolution the way part of the Revolution saw itself, as an explosion of the continuum of history.
Now — and sorry if I slow-played this — you’re in Walter Benjamin’s “On the Concept of History.” Now you’re performing a genuinely three-dimensional nonlinear reading of historical time.
What else is amenable to constellational thinking?
mike watt thought this was so good he ate his fucking guitar. when is mike watt ever wrong? never. BIG CRUX on iron lung records (slices, eddy current suppression ring, etcccccccccc) rocking like it’s pedro in the 80s and there’s only econo to be jammed. 10/10 party rating.