The French Republican Calendar begins with Libra Season.
1 Vendémiaire (from vendangemeaning grape harvest), New Year’s Day, commences when the clock strikes midnight at the Paris Observatory, on the day of the Autumn Equinox.
Implemented from 1793 to 1805,
again during the Paris Commune,
& forever in our hearts,
this calendar was designed to remove oppressive religious and royalist influences from the ways of marking days.
It was part of a larger attempt at decimilisation OR, simply: the queering of time.
Every day of the year has a special name–
1 Vendémiaire or Raisin (grape).
11 Vendémiaire or Pommes de terre (potatoes)
17 Vendémiaire or Citrouille (summer pumpkin).
i.e. “Vous voir à la soirée Citrouille?” (“See you at the party on Summer Pumpkin?”)
It’s paradise. But that paradise belies a sick sense of humor, a healthy pessismism. It is as beautiful as it is insidious.
We are all in the gutter. To begin a calendar with Autumn, with Libra Season, is to begin in a state of free fall. Libra commences at a place of equilibrium (the scales, after all), as does Aries, Libra’s opposite. But unlike Libra, Aries isn’t known for balance. Aries has no use for staying at the point of equilibrium. Aries ascends! Aries is The Believer!– expectant, ready to skip the fuck up the goddamn mountain for her breathtaking view. VERY HAPPY TO BE HERE! Aries just can’t wait to begin!
But for Libra, the stroke of the Autumn Equinox means there is nowhere to go but down. This is why Libras desperately try to make things beautiful, to keep the balance, keep the peace. One hand clings to the equilibrium as the rest of them swings above the dark abyss. It’s a long way to fall.
We are all in the gutter. The other two Fall signs, Scorpio and Sagittarius, are better equipped to handle the days of waning light. Life is a pleasure in a Scorpio’s murky cave of wonder, and a Sagittarius thrives while partying till the dawn of the imminent Winter Solstice. Libras aren’t suited for the dungeon or the fantasy, so they must do their best to stay afloat.
We are all in the gutter. We think of Libras as romantics. But they often love love– the idea, the chase,far more than they love the physical comfort, the mechanism, the mundane experience. This is because they know that real love can be dark. It can be painful and boring.
They’d rather put their heart on their sleeve,
install it like a permanent exhibit,
wear it like embroidery on a Gucci dress.
We are all in the gutter. Libras know themselves their tastes very well. Too well (It might be a free fall, but they know their corner of the well.) But does anyone else ever know a Libra? Cancers will splash us with their emotions; Capricorns will reveal their soul meticulously, through their dedicated work. But to know a Libra, we must be sleuths.
We are all in the gutter. Libras are muses. Patti Smith worships Rimbaud (a triple Libra). But in what way? She is captivated by his style? His air? Wears loose pants, a hat, made collages, posed for photos–
BUT WHO IS RIMBAUD, REALLY?
WHO IS USHER?
WHO IS KATE WINSLET?
WHO IS PAUL SIMON? (it’s…who and Julio down by the schoolyard?)
We are all in the gutter. Libras cling to their partners for equilibrium. With their partners, they can be known. They can just be. Let it be. John Lennon had Yoko. Nico had The Velvet Underground. Jim Henson had Kermit.
We are all in the gutter. Libras want nothing more than to give themselves to the descent. To fall. Their nature is active after all. Some keep the balance by upsetting it. Susan Sarandon voted for Jill Stein. Simon Cowell is literally the bad judge. Sacha Baron Cohen built his career on alienation. He could only thrive as long as he was unrecognizable. Once the world watched Da Ali G Show, he could no longer trick passersby in the UK, or in America. He needed to go further, deeper. To Kazakhstan. So Borat was born and then Bruno, and then another, and another: one offensive & vile caricature after another until he dug himself into obscure oblivion.
We are all in the gutter. Scorpios may make a kingdom of the underworld, but Libras wield their power by turning to the dark side. Libras are hard to read. Though they love beauty & balance, they don’t care at all for making sense. (“Vous voir à la soirée Citrouille?” ) A Libra will turn in an assignment on confusion when they were meant to write about clarity. They don’t believe in the difference. This is their genius.
“We are all in the gutter. But some of us are looking at the stars”
-Oscar Wilde (Libra Sun, Leo Moon)
We are all in the gutter. Nothing could possibly be more bleak. But some of us are looking at the stars. For there is no beauty without decay. There’s hope on the vertical horizon. We just need to look.
Nonsense is sense.
Everything must contain what it isn’t.
It’s not a poem, but a map.
It’s not a story, but a song.
It’s not a fantasy, but a cautionary tale.
“If we say, ‘these are the clothes,’
It’s all very usual
So we said ‘these are not the clothes.’
It sounds like a Zen dialogue, but it is very simple.”
Comme des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo is a Libra.
Her clothes hold space for phantom curves.
From a single pattern, she creates a constellation of skirts, a constellation of forms.
This speaks to the Libra’s ability to walk in anyone’s shoes, to acquiesce to anyone’s needs, to agree to disagree, and to do so not righteously, but politely. To be the lock, and let someone else be the key.
Compromising does not mean giving in.
on our sleeves,
on the train of our ballgown.
We must look to the stars.
1 Vendémiaire, Raisin, Autumn Equinox, Libra Season.
The harvest. Let us share what we’ve sown.
Let us match our extremes.
Let us go forth with nonsense.
Our pain cannot be solved in a vacuum.
Because the more we take,
And the more we give,
Then the more we get,
And the brighter it seems.
We are all in the gutter.
But we’ll float.
This piece first appeared in moon missives: fall.