I Understand You. (Your Permanent Horoscope).

May 13, 2009

For Birthdays Jan 1 – Dec 31:


There is the “you” that everyone around you knows, and most of them like the person they see.  However, in addition to this side of you, there is another side of you that almost no one sees, that you keep to yourself or to only a few people very close to you.  You value your family, yes, but you are also a strong individual; you do not completely depend on them.  You have an idea of how to fulfill your goals and dreams, and occasionally the determination to go along with them, but you have doubts about if they will happen, and you largely keep those doubts secret.  You are very passionate with your romantic partners, although a lot of others may not have guessed so. Very intelligent, even if you do not always appear this way at first; your intelligence lies mostly in your common sense.


I gave horoscopes to my 12th graders while student teaching.  We were talking about fate versus will power for some reason, during the Macbeth unit.  I asked them their birthdays and handed them strips of paper accordingly.  Each paper had this exact paragraph, which I had written the night before, though I changed the order of the sentences for each sign (in case someone glanced at their neighbor’s paper).  So everyone had the same horoscope, though they didn’t know it.  I asked them to rate theirs on a scale of one (not accurate) to five (extremely accurate).  Almost everyone said five.

Even more surprisingly, no one called out the horoscopes for being vague.  They were actually rather excited and convinced that this piece of paper knew things about them they didn’t even know about themselves.  And when I read it to myself, I still think, yeah, that’s me, totally.  If we initially grant the horoscope some authority, then with each sentence our brains will choose, from their infinite reservoir of memories and experiences, the correct ones that fit that description.

– read. like. support. –

textbookx.com (Akademos, Inc.)

– read. like. support. –

And that is perhaps why the students were mostly unmoved when I revealed these were “fake” and all the same.  A few insisted the paragraphs were accurate for them and didn’t seem to care what point I was trying to make.  While they loved the teacher who, just a couple minutes earlier, seemed to believe in fate and cosmic connections, they were annoyed by the know-it-all who insisted on pulling back the curtain on their daydreams.  I guess the joke, then, was on me.

p.s.  I didn’t come up with this idea; I saw a video years ago where someone pulled the same trick – on a bunch of astrologers, using a serial killer’s horoscope.  But I couldn’t find it so I just wrote my own.

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9 Responses to “ I Understand You. (Your Permanent Horoscope). ”

  1. Lonnie on May 16, 2009 at 12:09 am

    that sounds like a sweet activity–call me an eleventh grader, but can you explain the macbeth connection?

  2. gimmeshelter on May 17, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    first of all, that's a great picture. soooo creepy!

    second of all, this is great story. so interesting how easily one can become convinced of the truth, if one truly wants to believe. also, the italics make it sound like an old romanian fortune teller is tapping you on the chest and declaring your innermost secrets. way to format!

  3. Pantsdeva on May 19, 2009 at 3:05 am

    i agree, no one likes to have their daydreams ruined by a know-it-all!
    This story reminds me of the time we were talking about religion and i tried to make the point that even though god cannot be proven to exist, the belief in god is almost universal and has quite a few positive side effects….
    on the flip side, how many rational people today will admit how little they know about the world and themselves? the rabbit hole goes right into the abyss… that's why Axl Rose said 'use your illusion'!

  4. mr.killstudent on May 20, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    in the beginning of the play there are three witches that prophesy that Macbeth will be king. he had no such ambitions before hearing this (and was actually a decent guy) but i suppose, after beginning to believe it was his rightful fate, Macbeth kills the current king and then anyone who he believes suspects him of the murder. so i think i asked my students if his murderous rampage was fate or will power, something like that.

  5. mr.killstudent on May 20, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    show me your palm, gimmeshelter ~

    "you generate a lot of positive, life-affirming energy, externally; but have an occasional brooding introspection and social conscience that shows up behind the scenes. like bruce springsteen."

  6. mr.killstudent on May 20, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    you can't just *decide* to believe in God, can you? i don't think it counts. that's like pulling back the curtain, seeing the midget at the controls, then still pretending to be scared of the booming voice of authority. it would be like people who believe in Santa to be ironic. sickening.

    as for the second part of your comment, i don't know – i assume you refer to 'rational people' as tongue in cheek. all i know is sometimes i wish i lived at a point in time when humans didn't know anything. that way, i could know everything and be done with it.

  7. [...] horoscopes. Or those placemats at Chinese restaurants. Forget cootie-catchers, and forget MASH.  There are [...]

  8. RustedJesus on June 13, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Sometimes–no, I should admit it, a lot of times–I wish I was a survivor of an apocolyptic event. It would be scary, cold, hungry and all that stuff. But I wouldn't be getting fat in front of a computer fantasizing about such an event. And if someone asked me what's the use of trying to survive, I could just shrug my shoulders and say, "Because dying is boring."

    Come with me if you want to live.

  9. nonpretentious on June 15, 2009 at 3:33 am

    I know why you can't wait for an apocalyptic event. I hear you're really good at killing zombies.

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