Dec 29 2020

Artstrology: Capricorn 2020, Take Stock

by Pamela Wong

Illustration by Tiffany Tam for ArtAsiaPacific.

It’s not exaggerating to say that the years 2019 and 2020 were ruled by Capricorn. The outer planets Saturn and Pluto (later joined by Jupiter in December 2019), which have a larger influence on sociopolitical events, have transited the sign over the past two years. As Capricorn symbolizes social structures, power, and authority, we have witnessed an increase in oppression globally throughout these two years. The tide against hegemony and patriarchy will likely turn in 2021, after both Saturn and Jupiter moved into Aquarius, the sign of community and innovation, on December 17 and 18, respectively.

Capricorn is usually considered the coldest sign, like a gigantic and immovable wall of ice. You can’t blame them—Capricorn season begins on the day of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of the coldest time of the year. People born under this sign are usually accused of being unapproachable, judgmental, cruel, harsh, ruthless even, but all this stems from their rational (sometimes rigid) mindset. The reason for their demanding personality is that they are often forced to be mature and satisfy high family expectations from early childhood. Capricorns are thus prone to criticizing first before expressing themselves in a more sensitive way. In fact, they tend to ignore their own feelings even when they are in pain, instead becoming stuck in a loop of rationalizing their problems. 

Due to Capricorn’s preference for rational thinking, there are more critics than artists born under this sign, notably Susan Sontag. Interestingly she published an essay collection in 1980 titled Under the Sign of Saturn, about the writers she greatly admired. While the title originates from a Walter Benjamin essay and I’m not sure if Sontag had any knowledge of astrology, it is a coincidentally apt reference to her sign, as Capricorn is ruled by Saturn. True to type, Sontag’s criticism is sharp, witty, and at times cynical. Her 1966 essay Against Interpretation, discussing the differences between content-based and formalist analysis, influenced the way people understand art and culture. Her later book on trauma and spectacles of war, Regarding the Pain of Others (2003), signals Capricorn’s need to rationally examine human suffering.

Capricorns have the clearest understanding of reality, which is why they are good at analyzing how things work and where things go wrong. Their excellent grasp of systems and structures allows them to be the perfect candidate to break established rules. This principle applies to a lot of musicians, from David Bowie and Alex Turner to Hikaru Utada and Mac Miller. Capricorns are sensitive to beats, and their mastery in constructing and deconstructing different rhythms helps them to jump genres and revolutionize the industry. 

This Capricorn season, which coincides with Christmas, may see a period of personal and societal truce. As we celebrate from home during our socially distanced holidays, we should hibernate and recharge as we prepare for an energy shift in 2021. Farsighted Capricorn teaches us to be patient, introspective, and strategic in the face of upcoming challenges.

This article is written for entertainment purposes only.

Pamela Wong is ArtAsiaPacific’s assistant editor.

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