Here’s a riff on the sign Gemini excerpted from the Gemini chapter of my book Signs of the Zodiac: Clothing of the Self
Let’s get metaphysical. How about this famous contention of French philosopher Rene Descartes, which to my mind captures the very essence of Gemini: ‘I think therefore I am’. What do you think? Is that true? The satirist Ambrose Bierce succeeds me thinks, in casting doubt on that celebrated ‘proof’ of one’s individual existence with this witty rejoinder: “I think that I think, therefore I think that I am.”
And further, the question also arises, does it not, of precisely who is this ‘I’ that thinks that it is thinking?
St Augustine surely gives pause for thought when he opines “There is one within me who is more my self than my self.” And consider too, this contention of Osho’s: “To realize who you are, is to realize that you are not.”
What does that mean? I think it means that I am not who I think I am. Which is to say that I am not a skin-encapsulated individual personality named Varij, who is separate and different from all other individual beings, but rather, in truth, “I am That” as the Indian Upanishad would have it, with ‘That’ referring to the one indivisible Cosmic Consciousness referenced as ‘I’ by all beings, and known as Brahman or the Self by the sages who wrote the Upanishads. [See also the section on Barry Long in the Leo chapter.]
Moving along now, as Gemini likes to do, here are some quotes to still for a moment that insatiably curious Gemini mind, forever darting about and trying to figure it all out.
“If you understand, things are just as they are / If you do not understand, things are just as they are” – Zenrin Poem
“Sometimes the solution to a problem can only be found by giving up trying to find an answer – Carl Jung
“Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved”
– William Butler Yeats
Influential Gemini exemplars characteristic of the sign include French philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre, author of the philosophical tome Being and Nothingness and the much-quoted line, ‘Hell is other people’. Sartre had an open relationship with his central life partner Simone de Beauvoir, and a whole string of ‘contingent’ lovers as well. American President J.F. Kennedy, similarly had a primary relationship with his wife, Jacqueline whilst compulsively engaging in a string of amorous escapades ‘on the side’. His long list of lovers included another famous Gemini, Marilyn Monroe. Monogamy is indeed monotony, it seems, for many a Gemini.
Such Geminis might well assent to Oscar Wilde’s contention that “people who love only once in their life are shallow people. What they call their loyalty, and their fidelity, I call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination. Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellect – simply a confession of failure.”
Biographer Hazel Rowley in a recent appraisal of critical responses to her revelations of the lies Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre told to third parties in her 2005 book Tête-à-Tête: The Lives and Loves of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, takes up the issue of the wisdom and morality of lying addressed earlier in this chapter. She writes apropos of their lies:
“[Those] lies were harmless enough deceptions. The girlfriends simply could not accept the truth: that there were other women in Sartre’s life, and that Simone de Beauvoir was the most important. As Sartre and Beauvoir knew better than most, it takes considerable strength and courage to [live] one’s freedom, and it takes even more to [allow] the freedom of those we love. There are some people who are not up to the challenge. Wouldn’t we all agree that there are people to whom we tell the truth, and people to whom we tell fibs? If we sometimes tell fibs to some people, is it always our fault”?
I’ll leave you to answer those questions for yourself esteemed reader. Meanwhile, here is an excerpt from Sartre’s autobiography Words to give the pure taste of the Gemini love of conversation and also of Sartre himself in lover mode. It is from a letter to a ‘contingent’ woman in his life, Louise Vedrine, and recounts the events of a happy evening with Beaver, his intimate name for Simone de Beauvoir:
“Toward evening we had an immense philosophical conversation in which you were intimately involved. First I explained to the Beaver the new method I had used to tell you about my life, and, one thing leading to another, we argued about the value of psycho-analytical-Marxist-historical explanations of a guy’s life and their relationship to freedom. Then, still talking away, we had dinner by the Vieux-Port .. and kept on talking. I told her that Levy [Raoul Levy, an historian, and former student of Sartre] would say, “A person never knows what he’s doing,” and that you and I didn’t share that opinion. But she brought me back to my senses, showing me that it was Levy who was right .. It grew dark .. and we talked about philosophic reality and we became existential and I looked at an illuminated ad on the opposite sidewalk, and I perceived it as existential. And then we went to bed, completely blissful, heads still full of words.”
As might be expected, many talented writers are born under the sign of Gemini, for example, Dante, Walt Whitman, Thomas Hardy, Thomas Mann, William Butler Yeats, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Saul Bellow, and Salman Rushdie. Also Australian Nobel prize winner Patrick White; creator of the Sherlock Holmes character Arthur Conan Doyle; creator of the James Bond character Ian Fleming; author of The Mists Of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley; children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak; author of The Decline Of The West, Oswald Spengler; author of The Road Less Travelled M. Scott Peck; esoteric astrologer Alice Bailey; Rumi scholar Andrew Harvey; and Sufi author, translator, and teacher, Idries Shah.
Here is an eloquent quote from one of those writers, Arthur Conan Doyle, to further evoke the essence of the sign: “My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram, or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my proper atmosphere. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation.”
The influential twentieth century political philosopher and historian of ideas, Isaiah Berlin, also typifies Gemini when he offers this reason for his happiness: “I am happy because I am superficial .. I live much more on the surface than people suppose.” His biographer expands on this: “His life he wanted me to understand was a testament to the virtues of the lightness of being .. The playfulness of both the lightness of his being and the gravity of his best ideas were all one of a kind. In a dark century he showed what a life of the mind should be: skeptical, ironical, dispassionate and free.” A paradigmatic Geminian tribute!