Tuesday, February 21, 2017

These Lifeless Things

It was a very long time ago when I wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. I wasn't alone; there was a whole generation of us who watched Jules Bergman, 'Science Reporter for ABC', bring us all the rocket launches from Cape Canaveral, later Cape Kennedy, dreaming of being John Glenn.

Our window on the world back then was about fifteen inches diagonal and almost always in black and white. It was our electric fire with a place of honor in the living room. We didn't know any better, or any other, and were happy with what we had. Now we have so much more but there remains a hunger and unease that never leaves us. 

When I was a wee slip of a lad, you had a transistor radio with a white six-foot earplug and if your mom wrote a note to the teacher, you might be able to take your radio to school and listen in to the launches, but you had to promise to be so much more well-behaved than was humanly possible. The note was often not worth the paper you forged your mom's signature on.

Still, we all sat up, in my case on the upstairs landing of the summer house, catching glimpses of the flickering images in the living room from the TV showing the world as we walked on the moon. I saw a story yesterday that put me back on those stairs, and it was nice to be numbed by the majesty of achievement that we humans are capable of when we try, "Discovery of Likely Alien Worlds Has Scientists Buzzing."

I guess the AP style guide frowns on headlines that read "Holy $h*t! Are We Not Amazing?" because that's what we're talking about in terms of the newest addition to our college of knowledge about the ever-expanding cosmos we think revolves around us but really has evolved with us as a small and growing smaller part of it. 

We've made a mess of so many things as a species. We're the hit and run artists of the cosmos in so many respects but when we do something gobsmacking and over the top, there's a nonchalant arrogance, or perhaps an arrogant nonchalance that makes me grin from ear to ear. How's this for a view of the Sahara to put in your wallet, between the happy snaps of the kids and the spouse. Seriously? Seriously.

"Round the decay/Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away."
-bill kenny

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