The Stars Down To Earth (2016) trailer
24:09 min. loop, color, sound.
For Adorno, “the stars mean sex without threat.”
Consider the experience of attending astrology classes for five years under The Carroll Righter Astrology Foundation while simultaneously keeping in mind philosopher and musicologist Theodor W. Adorno reading astrology (and astrologer Carroll Righter) as nothing close to an innocent past-time, but instead—in line with ‘authoritarian irrationality’—fascism.
Adorno—in his purposeful, justified and pragmatic critique (myopia as tactic to scorn)—did not conduct evident field research. The film The Stars Down to Earth is named for this 1952/53 text, and acts as its somatic secretary. Shot in early 2015, the 24 minute film acts as part sci-fi thriller, part documentary, part idealist anti-secrecy forecast. Astrologers from the Carroll Righter Astrological Foundation divine events for 2015 and 2016—including, reading the star charts for America (Cancer), Paris (Cancer), Russia (Libra), Snowden (Gemini) and Chelsea Manning (Sagittarius). Coupled with their predictions is the reincarnation of mythological prophetess Kassandra (Henry Hopper, Virgo) and the god Apollo (Afia Fields, Pisces) in 2015 Los Angeles (Virgo) and Athens (???).
In the Oresteia plays, Kassandra, foreseeing her death but unable to change it, considers Apollo's violence more bearable than this denial. This sparks for Kassandra a kind of hysteric anarchy, where she attempts to fool fate and create a dimensional transparency and chaos in defiance of Apollo and those around her (the world). In the film, Kassandra’s divinations and access to past/present/future information see her momentarily and perhaps mistakenly identify with the whistle-blowers the astrologers chart in their predictions; both live in multi-temporality (extreme knowing), and both are threatened with not only imprisonment, physical harm or rape, but worse: erasure. What seemed shame of old is shame no more!
Research and notes for the film are included in the text, Sex Without Threat, which registers the ubiquity of the internet-as-divination-system as a given, and considers the contemporary surveillance era alongside the calcified form of life of a mid-20th century woman, her interior self a split performance for attention and validation. In direct response to this political and internal crisis, the text coyly posits the possibilities of using the feminist strategies of imitation and subversion as antidote. The text further pairs the context of post-war Los Angeles (when Adorno is writing) with present-day Los Angeles and Athens, and contains a short interview with artist, trans-activist and filmmaker Paola Revenioti (who performs in the film as a pythia of Apollo). As Paola returns from Lesbos, Greece where she is making two films and volunteering aid, the EU ignores its status and duties as signatories of the 1951 Refugee Convention—Sex Without Threat also attempts to make the comparison between 2016 EU and the fascism/pseudo-rationalism Adorno relentlessly and carefully foments upon and pin-points in 1950s California.