ZIGZAGZINE 20: Story #6: 'A man of principle'.


Who was the real man behind the idealised father?

At the beginning of the quest I mentioned that I find clashes very interesting if one wants to get to know oneself better. The stories have corroborated that idea. Up till now my mother took up the first place in my stories, even when I thought when starting with a particular story that it would be about my father. I wonder why I do not remember many personal facts about my father. Perhaps because we never had a chance to really clash. When he died I was left behind with a question. On account of the idealistic image I had of him the question was unclear and I was only partly aware of it. This time I want to put him at the centre in another attempt to illuminate his picture. Possibly more of the real man will show through now.


fig.1 Principles

A man of principle

'Certainly, father was a really positive and enthusiastic person with a keen sense of humour and an independent, critical mind. He had friends of every rank and station and being active in a variety of fields he was held in great respect. He could get very angry if somebody was wronged for he had a strong sense of justice. However, towards the end of his life he seemed very disillusioned and disappointed due to injustices which he experienced.

In the course of 1944 father had undergone two operations and had come home from the hospital with tuberculosis. The months before and around the liberation of Breda in October of that year he had been weak and vulnerable but thereafter he recuperated. It started with short walks and gradually he seemed to regain confidence in the future. Shortly after the liberation in October 1944 of the southern part of the Netherlands, the American Coca Cola company sought contact with lemonade manufacturers in the newly liberated region. They had the intention to build a big bottling plant in the centre of Brabant where they would produce the cola under licence, and they needed a manager. Father, like other colleagues, was invited for interview and seemed to be a serious candidate. He made inquiries and thus it became clear that the recipe with which he would have had to work was a secret and would remain so. He would have to produce something of which he would not know the quality of the composition. Later mother used to tell us that she tasted cola at that time but didn't like it. The parent company would deliver the basics which would be mixed with carbonated water, be bottled in the Dutch plant and be sold from there. He would get financial security for his family but lose his autonomy. Father and mother discussed whether they wanted this and said no on principle: they would not be able to work with a product of which the quality would be unknown to them. The financial security set against this apparently could not seduce them.

About the same time, at the time after the liberation when his health seemed to improve, an important event took place.
Father had been to a meeting of the Association of merchants in beer and mineral water. He was very disappointed, angry and anxious when he came home and sat down in the big chair near the window. I was there when he gave an account of the events at the meeting to mother and told her that the voting procedure worked in the advantage of the few larger factories in such a way that their interests would always be favoured. The strict standards for fruit lemonade and carbonated beverages which had been laid down clashed, in his opinion, with the interests and express wishes of the many predominantly small factories. In the future a lemonade manufacturer would no longer be able to compete with a product of better quality, as he himself was used to doing.
When I try to reconstruct bit by bit the events at that time, I meet with the difficulty that I do not know whether the meeting of the Association had already taken place before he, supported by mother, decided not to continue the discussion with Coca Cola. Of neither event have I been able to trace the exact date. Whether this fact happened before or after the cola-deliberations (I have a hunch it was afterwards), father was fully aware of this being the deathblow for the lemonade factory. Later, in the 'Jam and lemonade decree 1948', the standards were regulated by law. The recipes of our lemonades have never been adapted and shortly after the decree came into force, mother had to stop making lemonade gazeuse on the basis of fruit juices and fibres. Lemonades became soft drinks with 'juicy' names which better fitted the new advertising strategies and forms of trade that after the war with the arrival of the liberators became the new trend.

Father knew that he was no longer able to take care of his family. Gradually his illness grew worse. He became almost isolated from his many bridge, billiards and bowling friends, from the contacts that go with his executive and social functions and from the relations with clients. Except for mother, sister Barbara and doctor Houben he was also literally without physical contacts because of the TB of which he by then knew that he would slowly die. He knew that he would have to give up everything and leave his family in an insecure situation.
After that one time when he came back from that meeting I never saw him disappointed, angry or anxious again. Evidently he accepted his powerlessness and could die peacefully on November the 4th of 1946.
His function was fulfilled; his task accomplished.'

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The story in review

As I have been doing in the last two zines, I shall discuss each time one or more of the functions, which every process has at its disposal, from the place they have in my life. This time I shall put the (sub)process of relating and transferring or analysing at the centre. Especially when communication is under examination it is of great importance to study not only all aspects of Mercury but also every other related factor. I shall, in order to complete the picture of my relating and - in my case - transferring, briefly take a look at the sign of GEMINI and the 3rd phase. It is remarkable but not surprising that these two are also involved in the transits during the described events.

Concise descriptions relevant to the story

Terms and symbols
(move the cursor over the links)


To ask, listen, compare; in short: relating and transferring.

Mercury is the starting point and end of the process of relating, transferring or analysing. In my case, with Mercury before the Sun, the working of the function is more like an extrovert interrogative relating and transferring, than introvert attentive relating and analysing as is the case with Mercury following the Sun.

The chart of the process of my approach of the world (move the cursor over the figure) indicates that I can actively employ the relate function in its fourth phase. The aspects which the relate and transfer function makes connect it with Venus and three more functions in the eighth and ninth phase of its own process. In short it amounts to this that I, working together in unity with the attraction function and in a strong way employing the presence function, continually relate my knowledge to new information and exchange it in my environment. In exchange with the activate function I interpret, in a later cycle of the process, my knowledge untill I develop understanding with which I, of course in a still later cycle, can elaborate my choices in detail in interaction with the integrate function.
It may be clear that this side of my thinking faculty works in breadth and groping so that at a later stage enough information will be available for other, also the not directly involved, functions.
My Mercury function works, together with the Venus and the Saturn function, on the development of my basis as a subject.

Mercury or the relate function:

As seen from MERCURY or the relate function, the Ascendant is found in SCORPIO, in the 9th phase which in its entirety is defined by the LIBRA colouring;

fig.2 The process of the development of Mercury and Venus
Click for the birth chart

conversely, seen from the ASCENDANT or the presence function, Mercury (primary) is found in the 4th phase - together with VENUS (primary) and SATURN.

- My extrovert relate and transfer function starts this process in order to attain her goal to stake boundaries, with opening herself to information about equivalence, that is to say, about the workings of social intercourse.
The potential of the function is amplified by the following connections:


  1. the need to relate and transfer exerts pressure on the presence function to explore and get to know the environment in a concise and practical manner;
  2. the need to relate and transfer forms an inseparable couple with my need for exchange with the environment: for sensations from the environment via the senses and for expressing noncommittal reactions.
    Via the need for sensorial exchange with the environment the need to relate and transfer is also amplified in a self-evident way with my need for activity to explore ideals, always seeking alternatives along roundabout ways, and thus learning and growing;
  3. the need to relate and analyse together with my need for exchange with the environment continues to work and search for a connection with my need to minutely empathize and clarify how choices are made and how denial works.
- MERCURY (primary), starting point and end of the process of  relating and transfering or analysing uses, with the 1st phase in AQUARIUS, the Aquarius pattern.
Mercury is connected with other functions via the following aspects:
  1. square with the ASCENDANT in SCORPIO in the 9th phase in LIBRA;
  2. conjunct with VENUS (primary) in the 1st phase in AQUARIUS;
    via Venus, in triangle with MARS in the 9th phase in LIBRA, Mercury also has a connection with Mars;
  3. and inconjunct with NEPTUNE in the 8th phase in VIRGO.

supplementary information:
the relate and transfer or analyse process

supplementary information:
the beginning or presence process

In the MERCURY process the planets Venus (primary) and Saturn are located in the 1st phase. That means that they participate actively in the process;

the relate and transfer process as a whole occupies itself with social equivalence (Aquarius);

for that purpose the support function is activated which in the 3rd phase initiates energetically (Aries);

to that end the activate and initiate function is called in which in the 9th phase, together with the ASCENDANT, collects alternatives (Libra);

for that the planet Venus is included, with which we come full circle.

The 3rd phase is already involved in the relate and analyse process.


The sign of Gemini refers in this process to Mercury from the 5th phase. There are no planets in this phase.

Above has been stated that Mercury (primary) for his function in the 4th phase is being amplified by VENUS (primary) and SATURN;

the 4th phase, and the three functions, are in the sign of AQUARIUS;

that sign refers to the planet URANUS in the 6th phase in ARIES;

that sign refers to the planet MARS in the 12th phase in LIBRA;

that sign refers to the planet Venus, with which we come full circle.

The 3rd phase of distinguishing and relating differences is located in CAPRICORN;

that sign refers to the planet Saturn.

The sign of GEMINI refers from the 8th phase to Mercury. In that phase are no planets to be found.

Since the planet Mercury is primary in my birth chart, especially the 3rd phase and the sign of Gemini are of interest for the overall image of relating and transference. In case of a secondary Mercury I would have studied the 6th phase and the sign of VIRGO more closely. In both the 6th phase and in the sign of Virgo there is in my birth chart one planet so that both introvert factors can play an active role in my life.

fig.3 Values

Belches as first attempts at fathering myself?

'Some time during the first weeks of my years of training at the public library I was asked to fetch the books of Mrs X (the wife of the president of the library board). "Do you mind calling at her house? It's not too far out of your way, is it?". I did go there but afterwards I went to see the head librarian. I told her that I did not want to do this in the future and why I did not want to do that. To my surprise she reacted understandingly to my point of view although I had been rather nervous about expressing it. I was never asked again.
It had been customary that one of the trainees performed this service. It was a privilege of the wife of the president. It was 1953, changes in the Dutch library system were announced and in Breda the time seemed to be ripe for it. The all male board was in more than one respect still very paternalistic at that time. At board meetings the head librarian took care of coffee, wine and snacks and was only called in at moments that the board needed further information. Shortly after the errand-incident the board room could be used for library work, the head librarian was present during the full duration of the board meetings and by the middle of 1956 the library building had got an extension, among other things with a children's department. I was asked to take the training for children's librarian. Which I did.
I have much respect for the way in which the head librarian [ note ] handled the domino effect.

Does this attitude reflect a principle? I feel in this a scent of father's principle of equivalence of people. It is certainly not bad for a start and it still feels good.
But how does it stand with my convictions? Do I have other, really personal values? How does it stand with the 'father' in me, with the person who is master of my life?

There is a point on which I have always tried instinctively to act really out of principle and consequently. But often I fail to stick to that aim. When I catch myself using expressions like "That is a good portrait" or "The weather is beautiful", then I correct myself with an additional "... at least, I think so". I have wondered why I, although there is no general standard of quality or beauty, persistently make this type of mistake and just as persistently correct myself. I suppose it is a general custom with which I avoid the expression "I think it is a good portrait", or "I like this weather". But why do I, and most people around me, avoid these expressions? I think it is because it is not "proper" to give your personal opinion: "There she is again with her view". Naturally you mean it subjectively but hide yourself behind a more concealing, quasi objective and detached form as though you need to defend your subjective opinion while rather the opposite is applicable. I have been alert to this since I was a child but still, even now that I know that subjectivity is unavoidable and essential and that I certainly need not be ashamed of it, I catch myself regularly in the act. I still find "I find" and "my perception of ..." have a constrained sound, but I experience these forms as more open and less pedantic or nagging. On account of this I have tried to get better informed about the world of thought in which I grew up and about the use of is- and be- sentence structure [ note ].

Another word with which I try to be careful is "must". Whenever others use it with me I react extremely negatively. It reminds me of mother's attitude and coercive expressions when I was little.
When I tried to stop smoking for the third time I noticed that it did not work if I tried to force myself with an attitude of "and now you must stop". I went in consultation with myself and tried to find out what held me back, or even stronger, what seduced me to smoke [ note ]. The principle of starting with consultation suits me well; consulting myself strengthens my self-respect, with my succes in consultation with others I am less satisfied.'


Review of my own experiences

Skip this part just now?
In order to illustrate the development of my process I need to use a progression technique, namely the transit on the birth chart. In doing so I anticipate the discussion of progression in time in the structure-line. Waiting till this subject has been treated there would take too long. Therefore this short explanation.

The progression of a process
Whenever a process, in this case a human being, enters into a relation with his world, a confrontation takes place of the inner space with the environment's space and of the inner time with the world time. Both the process and its environment develop in the course of time and in spacial respect. When we speak about space or about time, if we use aids like co-ordinates and clocks, it is always the world space or -time. For our inner space-time such aids do not exist. Besides, the possibility to be really exact is limited: in the case of confrontations the precise place will often be known, but the date and the time when they took place can be a problem. An exact time not being available has as a consequence that the place can no longer play a role in the analysis of the event which we wanted to carry out.
In the following analyses we study the nature of the relation between the environment and the process over a specific somewhat longer period of time in terms of the world time. We bring data in the radix (=root) birth chart of the examined process in relation with data in the chart of the environment at the time of that (later) event. Because we are considering a trend and the date in the examples given is an educated guess, I limit myself to the five most slowly moving planets. The information of other planets than these five is irrelevant in this situation. The relations are called transits. Planets which from their position in the later chart can make aspects are called transiting planets or planets in transit. Although the data come from two equivalent charts, for convenience and for clarity of the arrangement, the data of the transiting planets are drawn around the radix birth chart.

The elucidating texts are for reasons of clarity placed on separate pages. With a click on the appropriate figure they can be accessed.


The transits in Breda, January 1945:

fig.4Transits Breda, 19-01-1945
Click for the elucidation

The transits in Breda, October 1953:

fig.5Transits Breda, 19-10-1953
Click for the elucidation

- MERCURY (primary) in the 4th phase in AQUARIUS, received in that period

- the SUN in the 3rd phase in CAPRICORN, received in that period a triangle-transit aspect from JUPITER out of the 11th phase in VIRGO;

- SATURN in the 4th phase in AQUARIUS, received an inconjunct-transit aspect from Jupiter out of the 11th phase in Virgo;

- URANUS in the 6th phase in ARIES, also received an inconjunct-transit aspect from Jupiter out of the 11th phase in Virgo;

- the SUN in the 3rd phase in CAPRICORN, received in that period a conjunct-transit aspect from the Northern Moonnode;

- SATURN in the 4th phase in AQUARIUS, received a triangle-transit aspect from JUPITER out of the 8th phase in GEMINI;

- PLUTO in the 9th phase in CANCER, received a halfsext-transit aspect from Pluto out of the 10th phase in LEO;

The other functions received in that period no long lasting transit aspects.
I should add here that the whole network of functions in the birth chart is involved with a transit. The extent of involvement depends on the precision and the directness of the connection within the network.

How do I deal with these things now? Working with bubbles and fruit juice

I am fully aware of my prepossession with respect to drinking cola. I never tested the taste of cola. Once, when I wanted to unfasten a rusted door-lock, I bought a small bottle and established that it is well suited for that purpose. Letting a dash of cola sink home for a while does the trick. After that test I thought it unwise to expose my stomach to it. Another reason why I never even tried it was, probably, that I always did try to remain independent with respect to trends and suggestions like 'everybody does it so why don't you?'. Why should I? This choice seems to be relatively unimportant in my life, to serve mainly as a signal. I see not drinking cola especially as a (small) memorial for father's decision on principle, that it expresses my loyalty to and solidarity with my parents and at the same time looks like an attempt to go my own way, free from the stream.
In retrospect I realise that matters like the use of "is" and "must" are just some of the many consequences of the fundamental principle that is the essence of things for me.
Behind my refusal to deliver the books certainly lay an important principle.

Yet, more than thirty years later a feeling of estrangement and of void had come to the surface resulting in a crisis. It has been found necessary, after all, to look into the principles by which I wanted to act and into my failure to do so. Either my basic standpoint was lacking, or it had not disseminated into every remote corner of my existence in order to be able to apply it in daily life. It has become clear to me now that the basic standpoint indeed was present, but that I still had much to learn both about their consequences and about these, hindering, vulnerabilities.
At present I look at principles as ideals which I have tested and want to realise, from which I draw the consequences, which I in turn remodel into limits and choices. I have discovered that I want to base my thinking and acting, the relation with myself and my reaction to my environment on the principle that all the existing has equal value and therefore equal rights; that I as a human being deserve no more or less respect than the teacup I am using. In retrospect this appears to me as quite familiar (even if it, wryly enough, was absent in the catechism).

The reconstruction of events from long ago has given me a more realistic view of the person behind the idealised father. By being forced to seriously ask myself how I stand in the world I also got a more realistic view of myself and a better insight into the development of my actual philosophy of life and standpoint. I have surprised myself.