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  • Writer's pictureKarey Pohn

Correlations in Culture at the time and in the Cultural Piece

The turn of the Twentieth Century was the threshold not only of new century, but, as we have seen, of a new consciousness reflected in breakthroughs in science and the arts.  Disneyland too, a half a century later reflects this synthesis.  At the turn of the Twentieth Century, Uranus and Neptune were opposite each other from 1899 to 1918.  [link to Walt Disney's chart as an example]. During the 1950s these two planets were 90° apart from, or square to each other.  As will be recalled, the Uranus-Neptune archetypal combination deals with the awakening, breakthroughs, illumination, or liberation, often through technology (Uranus) of the imagination, the unconscious, art, dreams, the dissolution of boundaries, and nonordinary states of consciousness (Neptune).

Just as we saw at the turn of the century, during the Fifties, these characteristics were very pronounced.   Tarnas (2005) notes that:

Technological innovation (Uranus) in the service of image and illusion (Neptune) is especially reflective of the Uranus-Neptune archetypal complex, and the major advances in this domain are closely associated with the unfolding alignments of this planetary cycle . . . .  The cinema rapidly emerged as a major cultural phenomenon and art form during the following opposition of the 1899-1918 period.  The immediately following square alignment of the 1950s coincided with the rapid dissemination and public embrace of the television with all of its characteristic Uranus-Neptune elements, both positive and problematic.  (prepublication manuscript)

The film industry in the 1950s gave us flights of fancy on the silver screen—lavish musicals with elaborate production numbers, as well as religious spectacles.  During the 1950s Peter Pan (Geronimi and Jackson, 1953) made it to the silver screen, in Disney’s classic animated film.  Peter Pan also graced Broadway, starring Mary Martin as Peter Pan.  James Barrie had written Peter Pan in the spring of 1904, and the play premiered the London stage on December 27, 1904 and it was groundbreaking as Andrew Birkin (2003), author of JM Barrie and the Lost Boys, discussing Barrie explicates:

he delighted in putting on a bit of a risk.  The idea of doing a full scale West End production about a boy who didn’t grow up didn’t bode well on particularly a play that would involve a lot of flying, as no one had ever attempted on the stage, it involved crocodiles and swallowing alarm clocks and all these kinds of nonsense. (Forster, 2005, DVD)

Barrie introduced these new technological (Uranus) and imaginative (Neptune) ideas to the theater and since then, things have never been the same. Finding Neverland (Forster, 2004) is the story of the man behind Peter Pan, James M. Barrie, and about his relationship with the family that inspired him to write the play. Finding Neverland was filmed during the last stages of the Uranus-Neptune conjunction (of 1989-2003) and was set to be released in the fall of 2003, but the movie had to be postponed a year due to contractual considerations. Columbia Pictures had the rights to Barrie’s play for their film Peter Pan (Hogan, 2003), and in order to use some of Barrie’s words in different scenes, Miramax, the Disney owned company that produced Finding Neverland, had to agree to delay its release for a year. As we will see as we explore Disneyland in these two chapters, Walt Disney, with Disneyland, gave us Neverland. True to the Neverland that Barrie created on the London stage, Disneyland uses technology in service to the imagination. Disney himself was born in 1901 during the Uranus- Neptune opposition.

Sci-fi thrillers were popular at the movies, too, during the 1950s. Television brought mass entertainment into the home, and the medium itself tended to blur boundaries (Neptune) between news, entertainment and commercials. Although television was invented in the late 1920s, it wasn’t until the 1950s that television’s technology (Uranus) caught on in a big way.

Religions experienced a revival at this time with record church attendance; charismatic clergy enlisted television to spread the word. Again, we see another version of the Uranus-Neptune combination, mixing television technology (Uranus) with religion (Neptune), to assist the awakening of spirit. Disney, too, made use of television technology to let people know directly about Disneyland, with his television show Disneyland. Disneyland park is the land that television helped build. Disney thus used television technology in service to the imagination, being the first major Hollywood producer to do so.

Disneyland itself is a marvel of technology that is all about the imagination.  In fact Disneyland was the first actual place where the imagination portrayed in Disney’s films came to three-dimensional reality, and it was all thanks to the technology— especially animation and other film technologies. Disneyland, like its amusement park ancestors at the turn of the Twentieth Century was a place of illusion, and fantasy, that used the latest technology in service of these aims. [Explore more about this in the Amusing Ancestry excursion located in Frontierland in Disneyland's Extra-Extra Excursions chapter.]

Tranquilizers were invented in the 1950s and alcohol enjoyed a new popularity; cocktail hour became fashionable. After the two world wars, and the great depression, consumerism became a craze; everyone had to have the latest that technology had to offer, from televisions to appliances for the home.

Brode (2004, 2006) argues that Disney’s opus helped to transform consciousness in the half-century to come, and Brode's books From Walt To Woodstock and in Multiculturalism and the Mouse present these arguments in detail. Brode (2006) argues that Disney strongly influenced multiculturalism, and notes that “It’s a Small World” at Disneyland is a paradigmatic example of the celebration of uniqueness and the dissolution of boundaries that strives to honor differences with a sense of equality. These are definitely Uranus-Neptune themes.

Just as Disneyland created a new world, and changed ours in the process, in 1950, Doug Engelbart had a vision of augmenting human intelligence. His vision was a utopian dream that would later flower into the mouse, personal computers, and the beginnings of the Internet. Forty years later, this led to a leveling of global playing field, as Friedman (2005) argues in The World is Flat. Tarnas (2006) reminds us that these are other qualities of the Uranus-Neptune planetary archetypal combination:

Uranus-Neptune cycle, involving the emergence of utopian social visions and movements.  Again, the underlying archetypal gestalt in this category could be recognized as a distinct synthesis of the two relevant principles, with Uranus’s Promethean impulse towards creative experiment and innovation, freedom, and rebellion against the status quo, as well as its vector towards the future, complexly interacting with Neptune’s association with idealism and hope, spiritual inspiration, intuitive vision, the dissolving of conventional boundaries and structures, and the imagination of a perfect harmony and unity realized in the human community. (p. 375)

Disneyland was at the cutting edge of technology when it was built and has been described in particularly apt Uranus-Neptune terms, as a “technological cathedral” (Thompson, 1972), a gigantic piece of installation art that is “virtual reality” (Bukatman, 1991). Some of Disneyland's technology, audioanimatronics, has been described as “electronic pixie dust” (Bright, 1987).  Stanford psychiatry professor Don Jackson compared his experience in Disney’s Tiki Room in the early 1960s as one of “awe wonderment and reverence” (Bright, 1987), similar to what he had experienced at some of the great European cathedrals.

Carl Jung, carved his Bollingen Stone in 1950, the same year that Doug Engelbart had his vision, and that Disney had his first television show, a "Christmas Special" that featured a look at Alice In Wonderland (Geronimi and Jackson, 1951).  All of these men opened up new worlds, each in their own unique way.  Brode (2004) compared Disney’s effect on culture as similar to Shakespeare, in that Brode feels that both Shakespeare and Disney changed the reality of their times.  The following quote, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, aptly describes as Tarnas (2006) notes “the poet’s own imaginative capacity to body forth a new reality:  “And as imagination bodies forth / The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen / Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing / A local habitation and a name” (p. 392).  Disney’s pen began as pen and ink animation drawings, and from there with the help of a mouse named Mickey, they gave shape to unknown things, and these airy nothings found a home at Disneyland. 

Disneyland is a brilliant piece of bricolage, created by Walt Disney’s genius.   Uranus figures prominently in Walt Disney’s chart, he has Sun conjunct Uranus. Disneyland, too, has the same Sun conjunct Uranus configuration. Tarnas (1995)  notes that Lewis Carroll, Walt Disney, and L. Frank Baum all shared this configuration, and all wrote tales where the hero, or heroine, ventured into fantastic worlds and had different adventures—Alice and her adventures in Wonderland, Mickey’s adventures as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice from the movie Fantasia and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.  Tarnas notes that all of these could be considered “psychedelic experiences” (p. 144).


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