The Importance of Being Oscar

I’ve been having a spirited e-mail exchange with a correspondent who wants to know why I’m so fond of Oscar Wilde. I usually have a quote from the playwright, who was a Libra, as my signature at the bottom of my e-mail and also have one in the About section of this Web site:

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Prodded by the question from my e-mail pal, I decided to investigate. Why I am I so partial to Oscar Wilde, the Irish man of letters who was imprisoned in Victorian times for “the love that dare not speak its name.” That phrase, by the way, is not Wilde’s; it was coined by Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred Douglas.

I love word play. I’m no literary lion, but I believe it’s the tension of opposites in many Wilde quotes that makes them sizzle. However, they can also appear contradictory or downright silly. No matter, I love them.

Here’s a Wilde sampler:

We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.

Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.

The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.

There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

What accounts for this sparkling wit? If you look at the natal chart for Wilde, born Oct. 16, 1854 in Ireland, you see a T-square in fixed signs. Mercury (communication) in Scorpio opposes Uranus (electricity) in Taurus, while both planets square the Moon (woman) in flamboyant Leo.

I think the Uranus/Mercury opposition reflects the dynamism of opposites in Wilde’s aphorisms.

Many of the witticisms for which Wilde is known were the lines of female characters in his plays. One of my favorites is from Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest when she is informed by Jack Worthing that he is an orphan: “To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

Here’s one the economists always appreciate, also from The Importance of Being Earnest. When Miss Prism leaves Cecily to her studies, she tells her pupil: “The chapter on the fall of the rupee you may omit. It is somewhat too sensational.”

Because the North Node in Taurus is conjunct Uranus, Wilde’s quotes were a hit with the public (North Node).

At first I was suspicious that Wilde’s time of birth could be known, but a 3 a.m. time is used by many sources. That produces a Virgo rising that puts Neptune, the planet of deceit and illusion, on the descendant. Given that Wilde once said: “The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived,” the chart seems to make sense.

I don’t have time to do a full treatment of Wilde’s life and I’m sure other astrologers have already done it, but now I know why I’m wild about Wilde.