Waking up at one o’clock in the morning is not always a lot of fun. Unless you get to watch 2001 – A Space Odyssey , of course.
As I watched, I was reminded of how much those early-ape-people had scared me as a child. The film came out in 1968, and I think I first saw it when I was about 9 years old.
The next time I saw it was in a film club screening at Wits , probably in 1978. I remember being very impressed, then, by the psychedelic visuals near the end, and literally waltzing out of the room and down the corridors of Senate House to the closing credits with a couple of my friends.
This morning, I was a bit more grumpy-cynical. I don’t think the film got the hominids-on-the-plains-of-Africa quite right, for example, and I found myself actually questioning the premise that humans are born war-makers. And I still think those ape suits are scary.
Also, what was up with the twinkling stars in the backdrop of the Jupiter mission? Stars only twinkle when seen through a filter, such as a planetary atmosphere. Or a veil of tears.
But I did enjoy the experience – all the time wondering where’s my flying car?
For I’m old enough to well recall the hopes and dreams those of us born into the early space age had, once upon a time. You know, we were supposed to have a colony on Mars by now, not to mention an established Luna City. Sigh.
It strikes me that that particular narrative was, and remains, way off base. This article and others like it abounded on the internet yesterday, and appears to address some real problems with an interplanetary -never mind interstellar – future for Homo Sap.
See, it seems that the unprotected human is truly a naked ape when outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. Mother Gaia protects us from a large percentage of high-energy particles which probably cause neurological damage, such as Alzheimer’s Disease , in the brain. At least, it does so in mice.
This is not good news for all us ageing space cadets.
Is it possible that we will never be able to leave the planet of our evolution? And if so, how will we alter the human story to accommodate this devastating blow? We’ve grown up with this narrative, many of us. It’s kind of hard to face its possible lack of truth, now.
However, I am certain that we do know – on the deity level – what we’re about. If this planet is to be both cradle and coffin, it is only so to the physical body. The spirit of Life is, I believe, abundant and irrepressible both on-planet and between the planets.
But we’re going to have to do something about our tendency to trash and poison the physical matrix, first, before we allow ourselves into the wider reaches of the cosmos.