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May 06, 2014


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She wasn't as universally adored though, like Marilyn Monroe.

But unfortunately, they're both dead. And the world has moved on, to embrace refreshing new artists.

But the classics live on...there never will be anyone like Marlene.

The scene at the end of "Judgment at Nuremberg," when Tracy's character calls her to say goodbye, and she sits frozen, listening to the phone ring and ring and

Dear David,

Allow me to add to your astrological portrait of Marlene Dietrich:

She actually had an astonishing five, fully half, of the 'planets' in Capricorn, and demonstrated the ruthless practicality, determination, persistence, ambition and yogic discipline of the Mountain Goat, coldly wielding sexual fascination as a tool. An acquaintance of mine once rode with her to some event. She entered the cab looking like an aged hag. She said, 'No talking please', closed her eyes, and twenty minutes later emerged a camera-ready goddess.

And it should also be known that D. was an outspoken proponent of astrology, a friend and important client of Carroll Righter, who by virtue of her patronage became known as the Hollywood Astrologer. Her NY Times obit included this:

"A Faith in Astrology, For Herself and Others"

"Deeply influenced by astrology, she regularly had horoscopes prepared for friends. On that subject, she once remarked: "Astrology! Of course. After all, everyone knows that the moon pulls the sea away from the land, and farmers don't plant when the moon is wrong. Why should humans escape?"

In her little wit-and-wisdom book Marlene Dietrich's ABC, she notes of Capricorn's ruling planet "Saturn:
 The celestial taskmaster. He won't let you get away with anything." In keeping with that self-evaluation are many of the dicta in the ABC that are completely unexpected from a "sex symbol".

"Let us take care of our happiness, go into the garden and work."

"Being in the depths of sadness is just as important an experience as being exuberantly happy"

is Unforgivable."

"The more plentiful the work, the less time to be neurotic."

"I can truthfully say that times were always bad as long as I can remember."

Have it. There is always time to cry later."

"There is nothing better than quality."

"Tradition is a treasure and a burden."

"Self-discipline: the most useful of all disciplines."

For some reason you've chosen to make Garbo the recluse rather than Dietrich. But Garbo was never a recluse despite her reputation, while Dietrich descended into extreme reclusiveness, rarely leaving her apartment for the last eleven years of he life, a situation well documented in Maximillian Schell's 1984 film, Marlene. Many Capricorns were or became strikingly reclusive, for instance Stalin, Mao, Elvis Presley, Howard Hughes, Salinger, Deleuze, and Phil Spector, and the sign turns up repeatedly among nuns, monks and ascetics.

And during her final decade as a recluse, her interests turned to politics, the appropriate concern of Capricorn. Old Age, as well, comes under Saturn's dominion, and Dietrich kept her sexual glamour thing going disturbingly into her seventies, "the world's most glamorous grandmother". Here I must recall Simone de Beauvoir, a Capricorn, who devoted her last years to a frank study of Old Age.

One other point. You refer to the Frankfurt school of astrology, surely an inadvertent error. You must have meant the Hamburg School, founded in that city by the astronomer/mathematician Rudolf Witte. Witte, a WW1 expert in ballistic trajectory, inferred the existence of eight more outer planets from perturbations in the orbits of Neptune and Uranus. On the other hand, the Hamburg School does not employ the system of twelve houses, so I doubt whether it would be the source of the remark that Dietrich was "a fifth house dominant personality".

The Frankfurt School would be, of course, the scholars associated with Theodore Adorno, who, living in Southern California in the 50s, was so incensed by the daily horoscope column in the L A Times by Dietrich's guru, Carroll Righter, that he perpetrated an elephantine, obsessive diatribe contra astrology, The Stars Down to Earth, published to little effect in 1957. On the other hand, another member of the Frankfurt school, Walter Benjamin, flirted with astrology, much to Adorno's annoyance, and suggested that the origin of writing itself is to be found in primitive man's connecting the dots of the stars.

Mark, Thank you for your instructive comment -- so informative and so thoughtful. I should revise my profile of MD. And will do. Th Frankfurt School of astrology is, of course, my invention. -- DL

Always a pleasure, David.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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This Way Out

by T.P.Winch

Ringfinger was nervous
Pinky terrified
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.



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