8 Jul 2008

Music as torture

I heard a very disturbing item on BBC radio last week about music being used as a form of torture on inmates at Guantanamo Bay. There's probably nothing new in this "technique" - in fact the American representative who was interviewed in the item called it "coercion", claiming it was not torture.

Imagine having a song for children, sung by the Barney the Dinosaur character, played loudly and continuously - way above safe or normal decibel levels - for 24 hours in an environment you can't get away from. Or "Babylon" by David Grey (a favourite at Guantanamo apparently), heavy metal, even classical music. Is this torture? Or is torture defined as beatings and water-boarding? That was the issue being explored in the item.

My response was yes, it is torture to use music in this way. It was described by someone who had experienced it as worse than physical torture because it is disorientating and creates long-term psychological disturbances.

What does this have to do with astrology? Music and its creation relate to the planet Venus, which is the manifestation in form of relationships of all kinds. In the case of music, it's the relationship of the notes, the intervals between them and the emotions and qualities which are conveyed. Shakespeare's opening line in "Twelfth Night" is "If music be the food of love, play on." Venus, like all the planets, operates on different levels of conscious awareness - asleep, waking and awake. At the awakening level, Venus can express aesthetics, creativity and art; at the fully awake level higher qualities such as beauty and a perception of the divine. To use music as a form of torture is so far removed from its roots as to be obscene and profane.

More than the misuse of Venus is involved here. Venus/the use of music is the method, but the intention is fuelled by the lower manifestations of Pluto. This transpersonal planet, which can lead us from the depths to the heights in personal journeys of growth and understanding is here being expressed on the lowest, most asleep level of its energies. Pluto asleep is power for change and transformation used externally rather than internally. In short, forcing one's will on others, megalomania, manipulation and destruction.

The singer David Grey spoke out strongly against the use of his music as an instrument of torture, and the issue of whether musicians whose work is likewise being abused could sue. Sadly and wrongly, it seems that the only grounds they would have for this would be for payment of royalties rather than the immoral and inhuman use of their creative works.

Next time you're choosing to listen to music, whether it be by David Grey or Barney the Dinosaur, remember that someone somewhere is probably also listening in. But they don't want to, and the music is loud, and goes on and on. . . .


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post! I've got a Venus-Pluto-Mars conjunction in the 4th House and really do think of the neighbors' stereos as instruments of torture!

I saw a documentary about Abu Ghraib (sp?) with an interview with one of the Guards who was discussing the music torture. He said that first they put on Rap music. But, after a while the prisoners all started to rap along. So they had to switch to heavy metal and the prisoners didn't seem to respond at all. But then they switched to Country Western music and the prisoners were screaming and whining and begging for it to stop. Don't want to offend. Believe me, nobody gets more upset by these stories, but that sort of is a funny story.

Andy said...

The chart for the summer solstice as I am sure you know has Sun/Venus conjunction opposing Pluto pretty near the MC/IC when set for Guantanamo Bay. In mundane astrology it is possible to see 4th house as representing we the people and 10th house representing them the government. Personally I think it's important to shine as much sunlight as possible on the lord of the underworld.

Joyce Hopewell said...

Hi Anon ( who are you??) and thanks for your comments. Yes, the neighbour's stereo would drive me mad too. I'd forgotten that C&W music was mentioned in the item I heard and I get your drift there. I guess it's music we can't relate to that would be more torture-like, and rapping along would be more revolutionary than C&W!

Hi Andy, thanks for pointing out the solstice chart and the 4/10 configuration of Sun/Venus opposite Pluto, which fits. I agree about shining that light on the lord of the underworld, something we can all do in our own way if we remember we always have the "power of one".