Ampersand Gazette #56

Susan Corso
11 min readFeb 19, 2024

Welcome to the Ampersand Gazette, a metaphysical take on some of the news of the day. If you know others like us, who want to create a world that includes and works for everyone, please feel free to share this newsletter. The sign-up is here. And now, on with the latest …


You are no longer the same after experiencing art.

We’re overpoliticized while growing increasingly undermoralized, underspiritualized, undercultured. Ralph Waldo Emerson argued that we consume culture to enlarge our hearts and minds. Culture introduces us to the range of moral ecologies that have been built over the centuries and come down as sets of values by which we can choose to live.

Cultural experiences help us understand ourselves in light of others — the way we are like them and the way we are different. As Toni Morrison put it: “Like Frederick Douglass talking about his grandmother, and James Baldwin talking about his father, and Simone de Beauvoir talking about her mother, these people are my access to me; they are my entrance into my own interior life.”

[P]erception is a creative act.

Artistic creation is the elemental human act. When they are making pictures or poems or stories, artists are constructing a complex, coherent representation of the world. That’s what all of us are doing every minute as we’re looking around. We’re all artists of a sort. The universe is a silent, colorless place. It’s just waves and particles out there. But by using our imaginations, we construct colors and sounds, tastes and stories, drama, laughter, joy and sorrow.

Your way of perceiving the world becomes your way of being in the world. If your eyes have been trained to see, even just a bit, by the way Leo Tolstoy saw, if your heart can feel as deeply as a K.D. Lang song, if you understand people with as much complexity as Shakespeare did, then you will have enhanced the way you live your life.

Attention is a moral act.

Culture gives us an education in how to attend.

from an Opinion Essay by David Brooks in The New York Times
“How Art Creates Us”
January 25, 2024

Have you seen the lamentations rampant in the news about the loss of culture? I don’t understand how you might have missed them if not.

Personally, I believe cultural education is a necessity — for everyone at every age for all time. Why? Because it shows us ourselves. We attempt to bypass culture at our own peril. Culture is where mirrors of our true humanity reside.

We don’t think of art this way, though. We think of art as luxury, not necessity. It’s true, too, buying original artwork is indeed a pricey proposition, but putting your niece’s drawing on your refrigerator is just as much artwork as a Basquiat or a Rembrandt.

I liked the title of Mr. Brooks’ essay: “How Art Creates Us.” Have you ever thought about it that way? That art actually creates you?

Think of the books you’ve read, the movies you’ve seen, the really good television you’ve watched, the paintings you’ve noticed, the dancers you admire, the symphonies that inspire you, the plays that made you think, the sculptures that took your breath away, and the musicals that tie life up so beautifully with happily-ever-after Tiffany bows. All of these images, sounds, colors, vibrations, all of them add up to make you who you are.

This is why it’s so vital that each one of us becomes aware of how and where we choose to place our perception. As Mr. Brooks puts it so baldly, “Attention is a moral act.” That’s the sentence that brought me to a full stop.

I’m sure you’ve heard marketers talk about how we used to live in an Information Economy, but that now we live in an Attention Economy. Every single seller of anything from shoe laces to Louboutins to shopping plazas wants your attention.

Are you being intentional about your attention?

Most of us aren’t, but it’s getting to be crucial that we get intentional about it, and fast. Why do you suppose so many of our beloved elders are suffering from dementia these days? I view it as their motherboards quite literally melting. Too much information, and not enough learning about how to filter out what needs to stay out, and let it what needs to come in.

That’s one of the issues of moving from an Information Economy, and God knows, all Americans seem to think more is better, to an Attention Economy. You only have so many conscious hours in a day. We have to train our attention. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

So let’s get to the spiritual germ of this, shall we? How do you find your own version of Winged Victory, the image at the top of this issue? Because the core of all of life, really, is one of the two gifts given to each one of us by the Divine when we incarnate.

The first gift is the Life Force. Something animates your Being. The Divine Spark.

But the second, and final, gift is a humdinger. We spend our whole lives learning to use it, and use it well, for ourselves and others.

Free Will. (It’s no mistake that the gifted author Madeleine L’Engle dubbed it “the terrible gift of free will.”)

It is terrible, and it’s ultimately the key to our freedom as well.

Learn to use your Free Will, Beloved. The simplicity of it is — use it to attend to what you like, and use it to filter out what you don’t. And no, I’m not saying because you don’t like to do your tax prep, you don’t have to. All of life has its icky parts. That persistent Polarity Principle, remember?

But what I am saying is, if you don’t want to spend your conscious attention on schlock television, don’t. Get some ear plugs, listen to music, or a book on tape. Choose where you put your precious attention.

Are you tired of all the political circus-ing? Stop attending it. I find that I read fewer and fewer articles in the news these days. There’s not a lot therein that draws my attention.

On the other hand, when I notice something on art or theatre, I often choose that. What we’re all looking for is to be enriched by that to which we attend.

Remember the Marie Kondo query: Does it spark joy? That’s one way to ask it, but for my money, here’s a better way:

Do I feel enriched?

If you do, attend, by all means. If you don’t, change the subject. The more of us who learn to use our free will as the boon that it is, the better, and the faster we’ll all get to Ampersand living.


Aside from doing the right thing by returning plundered goods to their original owners, Ms. Thompson’s suggestions of how best to honor ritual artifacts, by placing replicas in meaningful cultural and historical contexts, might just lower the hype and remind us to see, in quieter and richer ways, what she defines as a museum’s goal: “to educate us about other ways of being in the world.”

Cathy Bernard
New York

from a Letter to the Editor in The New York Times
Re “
Accountability for Museums’ Plunder, at Last,” by Erin Thompson
February 14, 2023

The ongoing controversy in the art world about who really owns what rages on. I loved the idea of using excellent replicas — let’s put all those forgers to real work — to educate us about other ways of being in the world.

So much of my reading, for years now, has been about educating myself for whatever next book I’m writing. When I’ve learnt what I need, and written the book, I donate them to those who also want their everyday lives to be a learning continuum.

Right now I’m reading a fiction book on Mary Magdalene’s imagined journey through life, the second Gerda Lerner volume on the creation of patriarchy, a book on the origins of sexy things, and vampire popcorn.

The Mary Mags book is for The Phoenix Initiation, the Gerda Lerner volume is too. The book on sexy things is for the fourth of The Subversive Lovelies, and the vampire popcorn is just for fun.

Each opens my world a little more. Each is something I choose to read. Each sends me via whatever I learn therein to the next learning.

I fully believe that we come here to learn. Not lessons, or not punitive ones. This is why I coined a new word for what we’re doing here.

We’re accumulating blessons — the blessings in the lessons. The fastest way I know to learn and grow is to practice gratitude — for everything. No exceptions.


Here’s a universal affirmation. It works every time, for everyone, always and forever …

Antony Corso


And in publishing news …

I’ve finished the Gemma Eclipsing edits, and am proofing it once more before we start to read it aloud. I’m shooting for a late March/early April launch — ebooks and paperbacks.

Speaking of which, I am in a serious muddle with Amazon. I published the two-volume sets of Jezebel Rising and Jasmine Increscent, and I seem to have single-handedly scrambled Amazon’s algorithm. The series page is a disaster! I promise to take two orange patience pills and call them in the morning.

If you’re wanting the paperbacks, look carefully. There are two volumes for each book.

Here again is the new cover for Book Three of The Subversive Lovelies —

The first two of the tetralogy, Jezebel Rising and Jasmine Increscent can be found at these live links, and I’m expecting to publish book three within the late first quarter/early second quarter of 2024.

The Jacqueline Retrograde research nears completion. It’s getting close to starting time. I am so delighted at where the story is going. These subversives are determined to have their stories told, and soonish! Plus, I’m missing fiction writing.

Here is the blurb for Gemma Eclipsing — Book Three of The Subversive Lovelies!

A rescue. An artistic vision. And her new vicety demands its immediate birth.

Gemma Bailey is the third of the Bailey siblings, yes, those Baileys. Known for being exceptionally talented on the stage, whether theatrical or domestic in nature, Gemma is given muchly to dramatics in the best sense of the word. She can make an occasion out of anything. She loves ritual. She loves pomp. She loves circumstance. She’s good at all of it, and she’s perfectly content with her legion of myriad friendships, no romance necessary.

Now it’s time for Gemma’s vicety — the third of four the sibs had planned upon the death of their beloved father seven years earlier. Since then, Jezebel’s pair of viceties — The Obstreperous Trumpet, a saloon, and The Salacious Sundae, an ice cream parlor — are going great guns. Jasmine’s vicety, The Board Room, the first of its kind in the City, is racking up the profits, all of which go to charitable causes. Gemma has been naming and claiming a music hall as her chosen vicety for years until the time arrives to make it happen.

Then, the extremis of a young painter causes a vision for a fine arts academy strictly for women artists to be birthed full-blown from Gemma’s eternally capacious imagination. And despite her abundant performance giftedness, Gemma discovers a fulfilling talent she never dreamed she had.

Will her vision engender the support it needs from all corners of the exclusively masculine art world? Will she struggle pointlessly to put forth her case? Or will an encounter with an unlikely colorful glass artisan change the whole game completely for Gemma and her vision for a vibrantly creative future for Chelsea Towers?


Now that we’re seriously into 2024, I want to encourage everyone who has a secret dream of writing a book to get started.

Seriously. If you’ve been given the dream to write a book, you’re the one who’s meant to write it. If you don’t, someone else will get the same idea, and do it. It actually happened to Elizabeth Gilbert with her friend Ann Patchett.

Sometimes we all need accountability. That’s where my brilliant editor Tony Amato comes in. It doesn’t matter if “all” you have is an idea. He’ll help you figure out what to do next, and he’ll keep you intent on your goal. Find him here.

We figured out recently that we’ve known one another for 20 years. He’s edited all my books for all that time. Fortunately, I finally got smart enough to marry the man. B.L.T.N.


The Energy Leaks micro-courses might have turned into something else! The more I write, the more I realize that these courses are the backbone of a book on how to take care of yourself through metaphysical means. I’ve made a full stop for the moment, and will schedule a meeting with my Developmental Editor — yes, that very same Tony Amato — to talk through where it’s going before I continue and discover that I’ve veered off course.

I’m definitely going to write a meta-level energy leak course for the serious metaphysicians in our midst. I’ve boiled it down to six categories: Health, Relationships, Mindset, Spirituality, Wealth, and Technology. Now, without pondering, musing, or otherwise contemplating, which one of these makes you flinch?

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.



based upon the chakra system is barreling through my brain at a fantastic velocity. Valentine’s Day was a bonanza for me on the clarity front. Amazing. It was like a window opened in my mind. I got all the titles, many of the characters, what happens, and I’m so, so excited to begin the preliminary research. It will definitely be speculative metaphysical fiction — a rewrite of relatively recent history, but this time, humanity does the right thing instead of the wrong thing.

It turns out that The Phoenix Initiation, thanks to the Valentine’s download, is a completely different project, and pieces of that are starting to come into place as well. A hugely fecund time for this fiction author.


This is the upper portion of a peacock window
designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The peacock denotes the ability to
transmute poison in Buddhist iconography.
One of the ways you can do the same is to choose
deliberately where you place your attention.

I am, without doubt, certain that And is the secret to all we desire.
Let’s commit to practicing And ever more diligently, shall we?
Until next time,
Be Ampersand.





Susan Corso

Dr. Susan Corso a metaphysician with a private counseling practice for 40+ years. She has written too many books to list here. Her website is