Sunday, July 27, 2014

I had convinced myself that the shuttle was doing some valuable science, but after seeing a Saturn V launch itself to the moon I realized that I loved science because I wanted to explore.

"What space program?! We're breeding fruit flies over there.."

With the present space policy, the U.S. will never reach another planet.

Even if NASA could shake off the bureaucratic stupor it has fallen into and propose a new program, Congress will never pass an appropriations bill for the hardware.

Because now that we have touched a heavenly body, the rockets themselves no longer seize the imagination. In a field near the Houston Space Center, the last Apollo lies like a beached whale amid a trickle of visitors.

The space program will stand with the cathedrals and pyramids as one of the great “central projects” of history, epic social feats embodying the worldview of a culture and the spirit of an age.

On the launch pads, the rockets point heavenward like Gothic spires. To reach for the heavens seems almost the signature of the central project. The pyramid was called the “stairway to heaven,” the cathedral the “gate of heaven.” The archetype is in Genesis: “let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven.”

Literature on the pyramids, cathedrals, and moon shots has tended to miss the significance not only of great height as the signal feature of central projects, but also their function as means through which whole cultures have found symbolic expression.

Though some have noted that the central project focuses the energies and educates the consciousness of a population during periods of cultural transition, attracting the best and most adventurous minds of the age, most of the interpretation has been narrowly political, reflecting the pedestrian, power-oriented, if not paranoid, slant of contemporary social science.

Thus the pyramids become a ploy for political control, the Gothic cathedral is rooted in royal squabbles, and the space program is but a product of WASP prejudice or cold war hypocrisy—themes that lack all perception of the projects as spiritual quests in the broadest and deepest sense.

 This video is a memory to those times.