WEDNESDAY, NOV 2, 2016

A Voyage to the Moon

And back to the present

Eric Lee, A-SOCIATED PRESS

TOPICS: POLITICAL, FROM THE WIRES, DISCOURE, GROWTH UNTO THE MOOON

TUCSON (A-P) — I seem to live in a universe of discourse inhabited by few, so few that, though there is evidence they exist (I've read their books), I have not met any. As to my universe of discourse I can say little in terms understandable to those outside it. I can offer an analogy:

Imagine you live in a society (circa late 17th century) wherein all thinking people, all the politically astute and religious luminaries, realize (assert) that the most important thing, that which would give meaning to human existence, fulfill our human potential, right all prior wrongs..., would be our going to the moon and to know the place for the first time. The intelligentsia, the men and women of words, prate of many things, but their highest passion is reserved for the vision of growing to the moon—which is the axis about which their thoughts and hopes spin in glorious consensus. All political and religious factions agree that going is essential, but disagree as to how and why. Coalitions between political and religious believers form.

They have transcended "modernity" and trust only in the eloquent. They are, by their own standards, impeccably well educated, know all the great books, and can quote the nuanced literary and philosophical scriptures at length. They know that Cyrano de Bergerac was not merely a character in a play, but a writer of the book that provides a prolegomena for getting to the moon.

There were factions. Some were sure that only saltpetre would do as it did for Cyrano. Others favored raising in a dew. Others asserted that Phoebe must intercede. To ascend by magnetic lift or to capture the tidal pull were favored. Each of five means of going to the moon attracted a circle of believers (a few favored a sixth or seventh way), but all kept company only with one another, cheering their David to slay the solemn pretenders to learning of the other camps who met to debate (to correct those who begged to differ). Candidates for public office had to speak from five sides of their mouth to tread a path to office, being all things to all parties. Each faction published its verities and keen eyes watched to see who Liked and Shared which to know who was favoring whose bed. Public support for each Lunar Proposition was needed as all parties clamored for funding. The striving, as usual, lead to two dominate party narratives. The best way to get to the moon was finally put to a vote. The wisdom of crowds spoke, and the National Academy of Selene Associates was formed and funded to put the first man on the moon. The rest is history as told by the winning party.

When the time came to decide which plan to favor, to do my civic duty, I neglected to vote as I did not know enough to have an opinion. The Five Parties of the SYSTEM had argued their case ad nauseam before the media that, being fair and balanced, reported each. I considered each, but failed to see how any might actually put a man on the moon. I also neglected to express my view that no one else knew enough to have an opinion. All assumed they did know enough, typically far more than needed, and were entitled to their deeply held opinion. The certitudes were deafening, as they shouted each other down. Still, I understood nothing. I was a know-nothing too stupid to have an opinion, one who just didn't get it. I questioned the how-why of politio-religio "solutions," the nature of alledged needs to go to the moon, the wisdom of crowds, what voting had to do with how to get to the moon..., and was ignored.

I favored going to the moon, assuming a creditable plan, to see what might be seen, of knowing the place for the first time, but I failed to have any firm expectation, unlike everyone else, of who or what might be found. I failed to understand the supreme existential need to know Diana or taste the cheese. Only a few knew me to be a sympathizer of the Scientistic Philistines who occasionally meet, somewhere or another, to speak of the works of Copernicus, Kepler or Newton. It is seemingly pointless to speak of such things the public mind and their men and women of words know not of nor want to know of. I had spent nearly two years working on a treatise attempting to explain why humanity had no greater chance of going to the moon in the 18th century without Newton (or descending to a prosperous 22nd century without Odum) than a dog has of understanding calculus. I was told there was no market for such a book, that it had too many numbers in it, that if I wanted to talk stupid shit, I should go to a tavern (or Facebook) and make myself heard like others do. If no one wanted to hear what I said in the marketplace of ideas, well, I can't be speaking sense so why say anything?

The imagined supreme importance attached to going to the moon (a stand in for all other supremely unlikely narratives), even if hundreds of merely eloquent books had been written by political and religious apologists, is not clear to a know-nothing like me. The supreme importance of "progress," of the "freedom" for consumers to consume in "dignity" or vote is not clear. As Cassandra told me, when humans in America decided it was important to go to the moon to beat the Ruskies, their Scientistic Philistines were valued for a time, and tolerated more so than before or after putting a few men on the moon. Postmodernists and football coaches were forced to ignore the merely nerdy who on occasion managed to serve the SYSTEM. The level of public discourse hasn't changed fundamentally, remains fundamentalist in it political and religious discourse, and is as science illiterate as it was in the 18th century.

Those who major in science are expected to serve the SYSTEM. They are "free" merely in choosing how, and outside their chosen specialty, they are expected to be as ignorant of other fields as the intelligentsia so proudly is of all the merely mundane. Those who use their education, even with tenure, to think outside the SYSTEM box, who neglect to serve (or worse to threaten) the SYSTEM are marginalized—those who cannot be ignored completely.


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