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shadows of echoes of memories of songs
hlor u fang axaxaxas mlo
Thanks to martling's timely post we managed to catch the single showing of In The Shadow Of The Moon tonight. I can't add much to what M writes:
Hold up and think about it for a minute. This is one of the most amazing things that ever happened. There are people alive today who have been to the fucking MOON. Can you imagine what that experience was like? Or what it's like to live after that? Somewhere along the way we got so lost in the tedious detail of the technology that we forgot about those people and forgot about those stories.

The film doesn't tell stories; it shows stories. It lets ten of the men who have stood on the surface of something other than Earth talk about their experience, their thoughts, their feelings. They're not heroes or supermen; they are ageing men who were good at their job, who were chosen to execute a difficult task, and who have had time and space in which to reflect calmly and lucidly on the unique experience that they had as a result. The surprising thing is how unmediated (and un-media-ish) they appear: they don't shout, they don't emote, they don't 'bare all', they don't play to an audience; they talk with interest and enthusiasm and dignity about a mission accomplished, a journey made (and in the making). They've been changed by the experience; how could you not be? To know that you've visited a place -- not a 'country', not a 'world', not a 'planet', something that we can't encompass in our model of countries and states and borders (we can, tellingly, call it a 'satellite', a word for which the most common usage applies to a man-made thing) -- where only 12 living men have been, and where no human has stood for over 30 years. But in most cases they don't give the impression of having undergone some kind of Damascene conversion; rather, they've seen the sun rise, and they've seen the moon rise, and they've seen the Earth rise, and those slow growing lights have illuminated their vision.

Those men were born in 1930. Even granting them the best of good health, in another 40 years there will be no living human beings with that unique (literal and metaphorical) perspective on the world (unless the man from NASA was right about putting a man on Mars by 2037). I say 'perspective'; in the film, Jim Lovell sums it up: "Just from the distance of the moon, you can hide the Earth behind your thumb, everything that you have ever known; your loved ones, your business, the problems of the Earth itself, all behind your thumb. It makes you consider how insignificant we really are." You've heard it, or something like it (Kate Bush's 'Hello Earth', maybe) before. It's what we feel, perhaps, when seeing things we know from high places; it's the total perspective vortex. It can touch the mind (perhaps I should, in lunulae, nod to the etymology of 'lunatic') but it also touches the heart, and something else, something for which we struggle to find the language.

Overhead, obscurity unveiled a star. One tremulous arrow of light, projected how many thousands of years ago, now stung my nerves with vision, and my heart with fear. For in such a universe as this what significance could there be in our fortuitous, our frail, our evanescent community?

But now irrationally I was seized with a strange worship, not, surely, of the star, that mere furnace which mere distance falsely sanctified, but of something other, which the dire contrast of the star and us signified to the heart. Yet what, what could thus be signified? Intellect, peering beyond the star, discovered no Star Maker, but only darkness; no Love, no Power even, but only Nothing. And yet the heart praised.
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brrm From: brrm Date: November 21st, 2007 12:09 am (UTC) (Link)
(btw you have some invalid markup thing going on)

Yes, the moon landings were an amazing thing. I think if I could pick an alternate place/time to be alive (and it'd have to be compelling to forego all the shiny tech of today) - I'd be camped with the other onlookers at the launch site in a VW hippy van.

My Morris dates from the time of Apollo 11. Cars hadn't even begun to DREAM of ABS, and people managed to get to the moon.

Bravo, BTW, for the post-per-day thing. They're all good reads, even if I've not got around to commenting until now.

Edited at 2007-11-21 12:11 am (UTC)
sion_a From: sion_a Date: November 21st, 2007 12:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
An interesting piece of perspective on the fragility of our position in the universe encountered recently is this: Consider a planetary imact on a scale to cause mass extinction—the KT-impact will do, this piece of information actually came from a programme about the Permian extinction. We're talking about a chunk of something (asteroid, comet—the jury's out) about 10 miles across. Although its overall effects are going to be devestating, a 10 mile diameter isn't really that much of the Earth's surface. It's a bit of a pebble compared with our rock.

At the moment the leading edge hits the surface of the Earth, the trailing edge is still in the stratosphere.
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: November 21st, 2007 12:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Argh. We may be going to B'ham for the only remaining matinee of this one.

Just listening to the trailer of the 'beep..... beep' of the signal made the hair on the back of my neck go up. I had no idea how intensely evocative that would be, having listened to the original broadcasts on the ancient 1950s television we still had at that time.

That was my America, the one that bred those men. I wish I knew where it has gone.

j4 From: j4 Date: November 21st, 2007 02:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
having listened to the original broadcasts on the ancient 1950s television we still had at that time.

You know, I don't think I'd ever actually seen the footage of the first moon landing properly (it's one of those things that you see referenced so often that you feel you don't need to see it to think you've seen it, if you see what I mean). I didn't expect it to make me cry.

I wish we still had your America to look up to, and Space to look out and forward to. (Would it be possible to have that without also having The Russians to look suspiciously at?) The film made me feel that it was possible to have technologcial progress without spiritual barrenness; which made it all the more sad seeing what's become of all that hope.

We missed the boat, didn't we. All of us.
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