Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Space, the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of humankind into the hostile unknown.

Really, you couldn't have two more divergent points of view of humankind's future in 'space', or of whether the phrase "Space, the final frontier" makes any sense.

On one hand, here's an article critical of the whole notion and its sensibility.

On the other, here is the trailer to the next Star Trek movie.

Have a look at both (they each open in new tabs/windows), and then read on.

It so happens that I totally agree with a number of the criticisms advanced in the first-mentioned item. 'Space' isn't like any 'frontier' we've ever known, and to equate it with its obvious historical counterpart and close relative, the 'Wild West' frontier, is just plain silly. In a great number of ways, the writer of the article is so obviously correct, that only fools would even consider otherwise.

Yes. Indeed.

And then there's Star Trek—and any other number of written and filmed works of fiction that presume that such a comparison isn't all that silly at all. Of course, it's fiction, and I also happen to be in that business, at least in my spare time. And you got to know the difference bewteen fiction and reality.

Yes. Indeed.

Thing is, that I also happen to think, as longer-term readers of this blog will know, that we won't survive as a species unless we ignore 'reality' and aim to make real what currently just is fiction and dream-weaving. I'm saying 'species' survival, because that's indisputable; excepting, again, by fools. Maybe not tomorrow—though it might well be, or even sooner; maybe as you read this article—we could be wiped out of existence lock stock and barrel, by reason of our own stupidities, or else just plain cosmic contingency. I will not withhold from you the fact that this does scare the shits out of me every time I care to think about it; for not only do I have an abnormally heightened awareness of my own mortality—as you should have, too; and would have, if only you shed your inherent denialist tendencies!—but I also grew up in a period when annihilation, of the nuclear kind, was very close indeed; and never mind asteroids.

You know that song...

Yeah, I know, it's not really about all that, but I like the refrain, because that what's it all about. One day, no matter how much we love this planet of ours, it's going to become a death trap.

Yeah, yeah, gloom and doom and all that. For what else can there be, knowing what we know—which seems to be that there really is no way to get out this place in the Star Trek way. And there are no Stargates either; more's the pity. And wormholes in general will not be as nicely obliging as they are depicted in either Stargate or, say, Farscape.

It's one of my personal burdens that I happen to have had a scientific education and, at the same time, have been...ahh, let's call it 'marinated' science fiction and fantasy virtually all my reading and movie-watching life. Meaning that I know what things are supposed to be like and at the same time really wishing they weren't, because it kind of screws up our future that they are.

If they are. If.

Thing is—and this, is admit, comes from the 'fiction' part of my psyche—that, even in a sci-fi context, it's just possible that we simply haven't asked the right questions of the cosmos. We have asked a lot of questions that led to very fruitful answers, I admit; but is it possible that maybe, just maybe, that, like the antioxidant thing I wrote about in the previous blog, things aren't as obvious one following another as we think they do? I can't help but think that...

Truth is, it's not that "I can't help but think", but that I really would like to think that...


And now, for a total, complete non sequitur to anything that went before—excepting maybe the clip above—here's another classic and never-die Eric Burdon & The Animals song.

And, just to prove that old rockers never die either—or at least try, and good on them!—here's the same again (kind of) from a number of years later.


Haszari said...

I don't understand why space is _not_ the "final frontier"?

I.e. space isn't like any other frontier we've ever known, but neither were any of the other frontiers until they were explored/breached/whatever?

I'm totally in the "space IS the final frontier" camp.

I only watch Star Trek sometimes and don't know klingon or anything, by the way?

I should read that article to see if the guy has a point...

Till said...

I think that probably would be a good idea. 8)

Nice to hear from you again, BTW!