Narrative Transport. The official Michael Pryor website.

March24th

I’ve been re-watching the 1998 HBO series ‘From the Earth to the Moon’, and it got me thinking.Moon

We went to the moon. Can you get your head around that? We, collectively, as a species, went to the moon. That moon, the one way up there – we went to it. We went right around the other side. We trod on its dusty surface. We picked up rocks. We measured stuff. WE DROVE A FREAKIN’ DUNE BUGGY ALL OVER THE PLACE!

We went to the moon.

Yes, we all know that, but I’m not sure if we appreciate it, or appreciate it enough. What an effort. What an achievement. What a batty, glorious, arrogant thing it was even to conceive of. ‘Okay, the moon. Let’s go there to see what it’s like.’ It’s one of the great things about humanity, this ability to undertake something vast, futile and poetic, just because.

We did it, and then we stopped. We haven’t been back since 1972.

I know, I know. It was expensive. It could have been done by robots. It was pointless and there’s so many better things to do down here. Maybe. I’m not going to argue that if we didn’t spend so much on wars and other stupid stuff we could be holidaying on the Sea of Tranquillity right now (even though I just did argue it), but I am going to say how sad it is that we aren’t. If there ever was a species wide failure of imagination or commitment or confidence, it’s the fact that we stopped going to the moon. We could have said, ‘Let’s do everything else, but let’s keep going to the moon.’ Instead, we withdrew, turned back on ourselves and forgot about the high frontier.Aldrin_Apollo_11 small

I, for one, would like to see us out there again. I’d like us to be doing stuff that pushes us to the boundaries of experience, things that enlarge us as human beings. Yes, we’re doing amazing, magnificent, incredible things in biology, medicine and Large Hadron Colliders, but I’m greedy and I want more.

I want the moon back.

6 Comments

  • Comment by Tristan Bancks — March 24, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

    I love this post. I love that it argues for something seemingly superfluous but, actually, essential to our humanness. Surrounded by so much ‘reality’ it is hard to argue for the value of dreams and you have put your case eloquently. I particularly like this passage, the Roald-Dahlness of it: ”What a batty, glorious, arrogant thing it was even to conceive of. ‘Okay, the moon. Let’s go there to see what it’s like.’ It’s one of the great things about humanity, this ability to undertake something vast, futile and poetic, just because.’

  • Comment by michael — March 24, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

    Thanks Tristan!

  • Comment by Stephen — March 26, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

    Dunno… I have a different take on the whole moon thing. I’ll sum it up in three words: The Cold War. Getting to the moon was the podium where the victor of the space race ‘front’ of the cold war would get their medal and hear their national anthem over a crackly radio. It was not about furthering ourselves as a species or even a purely scientific jaunt. It was US national pride (they never got over Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin), and the development of a whole bunch of technologies that as well as being handy for getting to the moon and back could also be turned into some fearsome and effectively inescapable weapons.

    Why didn’t ‘we’ (i.e. The USAians) go back? Where was the military or political mileage in keeping on doing it, once that point had been made?

    Having said that, I agree the moon buggy is all kinds of awesome.

    Stephen
    (who today is playing the stormcloud to this particular parade.)

  • Comment by michael — March 26, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

    Stephen, I totally agree about the whole Cold War geo-political motives for going to the moon, but regardless of that I still want the moon back! Lots of exploration and progress has been kicked off for political/military motives, but the results have transcended those origins. With the moon, we didn’t. As you say, once the political/military point had been made, we stopped. That meant we didn’t get a chance to take the whole enterprise away from those shady beginnings.

  • Comment by Tarran — March 29, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

    Well according to the the new Transformers movie, there is an autobot ship on the moon and that is what inspired the space race…. AND IT”S STILL THERE!!

    I think it is amazing that we made it to the moon and am a litlle disapointed we haven’t done much since, but as a race we are pretty destructive. Who knows what we would have done to the poor space object that controls a lot of our natural weathers and such here on Earth.

  • Comment by Kathryn — April 21, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

    just now I realised how incredible an accomplishment that is, realised instead of just knowing.
    humans are amazing.

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