Road Map for Relationships

Share Button

All about Charles and Di’s, Woody and Soon-Yi’s … and yours.

By Carolyn R. Guss

THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF RELATIONSHIPS: Your Complete Personology Guide to Any Relationship With Anyone
By Gary Goldschneider, C’59, G’65, and Joost Elffers.
New York: Penguin Studio, 1997, 824 pp., $34.95.
Order this book

“No one is an island,” the old saying (amended) goes — an adage Gary Goldschneider embraces in his second astrological volume, The Secret Language of Relationships: Your Complete Personology Guide to Any Relationship with Anyone, which he created with Joost Elffers. The book certainly delivers on its comprehensive title. Readers of the authors’ previous collaboration, The Secret Language of Birthdays (a stout coffee table book still garnering significant interest and sales) will recognize the intensity and thoroughness that goes into their endeavor. Reading The Secret Language, the word “perceptive” comes frequently to mind, though at times, so does “contrived.” On one level, the authors offer the prurient reader insight into why Prince Charles and Princess Di’s union ultimately didn’t work, while Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s did. On another, deeper — and riskier — plane, they proffer wisdom regarding our own interpersonal connections.
   In his introduction, Goldschneider quotes ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who wrote that “The Tao begot the one. The One begot two. Two begot three. And the three begot the ten thousand things,” a passage Goldschneider equates to the creation of a relationship by the two people involved in it. “Surely relating to others is the crucible through which most of us experience our greatest sorrows and most ecstatic joys,” he writes. “Often it is the locus of our greatest personal lessons and growth.”
   Relationships, though significant, remain enigmatic, so any help we can get in understanding them is welcome indeed — which is where this book comes in.
   In true sequel fashion, The Secret Language of Relationships draws on a system outlined in the authors’ previous book: that of personology. “The theory of personology posits that astrology, history, and psychology are related to the congruence of three cycles: the astrological zodiac, the earth’s rotation around the sun as represented by the seasons of the year, and the typical path of a human life.” These three cycles interweave and unfold into what the authors refer to as “The Grand Cycle of Life,” a complex and far-reaching astrological philosophy. Personology replaces the traditional 12 astrological signs with 48 periods: 12 cusps (the weeks in which two neighboring zodiac signs overlap) and the 36 weeks in-between, which the authors creatively label with such titles as the “Cusp Of Oscillation” and the “Week of Depth.” Using this system, Goldschneider extrapolates the personology periods to analyze the nature of a relationship between any two people. Thus, the bulk of the book provides a description of the 1,176 possible combinations of the 48 personology periods with each other. Goldschneider addresses five of the most typical relationships: [Romantic] Love, Marriage, Friendship, Family, and Work.
   The coffee-table aspect of this volume is certainly seductive, as one browses the pages to discover the variety of notables considered, from Bogie and Bacall to Marx and Engels. Having recently watched the Ken Burns and Duncan Dayton, C’71, documentary on Lewis & Clark, I turned to an uncannily accurate entry about the explorers’ partnership (involving a “Week of Authority” member and a “Week of Leadership” one): “This relationship is outstanding for initiating and taking control of group projects and endeavors … Loyalty and unswerving dedication to a cause in the face of monumental obstacles are characteristic here… “
   The only thing that concerns me is that by using the relationships between notables, might there not be a tendency to tailor the analyses to the couples at hand? Woody Allen’s connection with Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn includes the advice that the “Week of Independence” partner (Allen) most often adopts the master role, with the “Week of Society” partner (Previn) “the student or the obedient one … The whole question of trust is paramount here, and acting in an honorable and respectful way, particularly when age differences are pronounced …”
   While reading, I found myself puzzling over chickens and eggs. And at times the strain of having to match each two-week combination stretches the seams of credibility, as when Goldschneider connects Herman Melville with John Huston — the “relationship” being that Huston directed a film version of Moby Dick (why not Melville with Nathaniel Hawthorne, who were friends and literary contemporaries?).
   That said, Goldschneider does an admirable job of analyzing the relationships of each combination. He also skillfully illuminates the book’s premise that a relationship can have its own identity separate from the two persons who comprise it.
   It is ultimately more rewarding, however, to consider the text with regard to our own personal relationships, in order to determine the success of his endeavor. I did and found significant insights into my connections with family members and my spouse; with regard to a close friend and some former romantic attachments, I felt as if Goldschneider had laid claim to my diaries.
   And isn’t that the primary role of the divinatory arts — not so much predicting our future but providing us with a road map (or in the case of astrology, a sky map) for the journey. While hardly a pocket companion, The Secret Language is a worthwhile guidebook to our fellow travelers and the roads we walk together.

Carolyn R. Guss, who was born during the “Week of Intensity,” was acting assistant editor of The Pennsylvania Gazette. She is a Tarot card reader and teacher in Ardmore, Pa.

A selection of recent books by alumni and faculty, or otherwise of interest to the University community. Descriptions are compiled from information supplied by the authors and publishers.

THE ORIGINS OF THE URBAN CRISIS: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit
By Thomas J. Sugrue, Faculty.
Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996. 408 pp., $35.00.
Order this book
   Once America’s “arsenal of democracy,” Detroit over the last 50 years has become the symbol of the American urban crisis. In this reappraisal of racial and economic inequality in modern America, Sugrue, assistant professor of history, explains how Detroit and many other once prosperous industrial cities have become the sites of persistent racialized poverty. He challenges the conventional wisdom that urban decline is the product of the social programs and racial fissures of the 1960s. Probing beneath the veneer of 1950s prosperity and social consensus, Sugrue traces the rise of a new ghetto, solidified by changes in the urban economy and labor market and by racial and class segregation. He focuses on urban neighborhoods, where white working-class homeowners mobilized to prevent integration as blacks tried to move out of the crumbling and overcrowded inner city. Weaving together the history of workplaces, unions, civil rights groups, political organizations, and real estate agencies, Sugrue finds the roots of today’s urban poverty in a hidden history of racial violence, discrimination, and deindustrialization that reshaped the American urban landscape after World War II.

LIVING BEYOND BREAST CANCER: A Survivor’s Guide For When Treatment Ends and the Rest of Your Life Begins
By Marisa C. Weiss, M.D.,C’79, M’84, and Ellen Weiss.
New York, N.Y.: Times Books, 1997.
506 pp., $27.50.
Order this book
   This book is a guide for breast-cancer survivors that begins where other references leave off — helping women adjust to their life after the treatment has ended. Breast cancer is not something you “get over” once it is in remission. It’s something that affects survivors’ lives every day. This book offers advice on every aspect of life after treatment, answering nagging questions that cancer survivors face like, “Am I really cured?”; “Is my daughter likely to get breast cancer?”; “how should I tell my new employer?”; and “Can I get pregnant?” Marisa C. Weiss, M.D., is a physician who specializes in taking care of women with breast cancer and founder and president of the nonprofit educational organization, Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Her mother, Ellen Weiss, is an editorial consultant to the organization.

By Jean E. Howard and Phyllis Rackin, Faculty.
New York, N.Y.: Routledge, 1997.
248 pp., $17.99 (paper); $65.00 (cloth).
Order this book
   Adopting a feminist analysis, this book examines the place of gender in contesting representations of nationhood in early modern England. Taking the Shakespearean history play as their point of departure, the authors argue that the transition from dynastic kingdom to modern nation was integrally connected to shifts in cultural understandings of gender, and the social roles available to men and women. The cultural centrality of the Elizabethan theater made it an important arena for staging the diverse and contradictory elements of this transition. Rackin is a professor of English in General Honors and has published widely in the field of Renaissance studies.

By Leslie Esdaile, W’80.
New York, N.Y.: Pinnacle Books, 1997.
316 pp., $4.99.
Order this book
   Esdaile weaves a tale of mystery, intrigue, and suspense using scenes from her native Philadelphia. The novel features an African-American heroine who has lost her faith in humanity, and an Afro-Caribbean attorney who has fallen from his original stature of power to become a recluse in the world of real estate. Claudia Harris is in a dangerous real-estate power struggle that begins with a suspicious fire in University City. Only through the help of the murder victim’s clues, which come to her from the spirit realm, and through the aid of attorney Nate McGregor, can the two extricate themselves from peril. Esdaile is also the author of the novels, Sundance and Rivers of the Soul.

ROMANTIC THEATRICALITY: Gender, Poetry, and Spectatorship
By Judith Pascoe, Gr’92.
Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1997. 252 pp., $39.95.
Order this book
   Pascoe, assistant professor of English at the University of Iowa, shows how English literary culture in the 1790s came to be shaped by the theater and by the public’s fascination with it. Pascoe focuses on several historical occurrences of the late-18th and early-19th centuries, emphasizing how writers in all areas of public life relied on theatrical modes of self-representation. In their uniting of theatrical and literary realms, Pascoe maintains women writers were inspired by the most famous actress of the era, Sarah Siddons; her shrewd deployment of her public persona served as a model for such disparate poets as Charlotte Smith and Mary Robinson.

By Michael Eigen, C’57.
Northvale, N.J.: Jason Aronson Inc., 1996. 234 pp., $40.00.
Order this book
   Many people seek help because they feel dragged down by a sense of inner deadness that persists in an otherwise full and meaningful life. These individuals seem filled with emotions that somehow remain untouched by even their own inner experiences. Eigen, an associate clinical professor of psychology at New York University, questions, “What kinds of personal and social destructive forces are we up against? How do we work with self-deadening processes in our own lives?” This book whittles away at the deadness that runs through the social fabric and scars many individuals. It portrays attempts to fathom psychic deadness, but more important, it shows what is involved in enduring and working with deadness on a day-to-day, session-by-session basis.

By Ian G. Strachan, G’93, Gr’95.
Boulder, Col.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 1997. 284 pp. $35.00 (cloth); $16.95 (paper).
Order this book
   This coming-of-age novel traces the lives of Tree Bodie as he grows up in the Yellow and White House and the nameless streets of Pompey Village, far (though not in distance) from the sanitized world of Santa Maria’s luxury hotels. Against the backdrop of the internal struggles of a Caribbean island nation, Strachan tells the story of Tree’s adventures (and misadventures) “backadabush,” his joys and pains, the conflicts within his family, and his ambivalent involvement in Santa Marian politics. Sometimes in Strachan’s own voice, sometimes in Tree’s, and often as seen by the iron-willed Maureen Bodie (Tree’s mother), the air, the scenes, even the language of Pompey Village — and the triumphs and disasters of the people who live there — become palpable. Strachan is lecturer in English at the College of the Bahamas, and this is his first novel. His plays include No Seeds in Babylon, performed both in Nassau and in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Fatal Passage, televised nationally by the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas.

By David Shobin, C’65.
New York, N.Y.: St. Martin’s Press, 1997.
346 pp., $6.99 (paper).
Order this book
   Imagine a hospital that operates without any human interaction — where treatments are dispensed by a voice-responsive computer. An automated lab draws blood and performs all diagnostic testing, and operations are performed by robotic surgeons in cyberspace. This novel, written by practicing physician, Dr. David Shobin, describes just such a facility. When a young child disappears without a trace at the Center, her older sister enlists surgeon Chad Dunston to find out what happened. He checks in as a patient, entering a machine-made nightmare, where the only way out may be death. Shobin, who lives in Long Island, N.Y. is author of the New York Times bestseller The Unborn.

LEARNING DISABILITIES A to Z: A Parent’s Complete Guide to Learning Disabilities from Preschool to Adulthood
By Corinne Smith, Ph.D., and Lisa (Wilson) Strick, CGS’70.
New York, N.Y.: The Free Press, 1997.
408 pp., $25.00.
Order this book
   With the idea that the students most likely to succeed are the ones who have informed, supportive parents on their sides, this book takes parents step by step through the process of identifying learning disabilities and shows them how to work with professionals to develop an individualized educational program. It also discusses how to address some of the most persistent problems that can upset life at home.
The book offers strategies to help youngsters with learning disabilities become successful, from their earliest days in preschool, through the college years and beyond to adulthood. Strick is a freelance writer in Syracuse, N.Y., and Smith is associate dean of education at Syracuse University.

Share Button

    Related Posts

    Good Grief
    For My Oldest Friend
    Into the Dark