Spaceship, Spaceship, Rick Rude: HappySad Link Round Up, March 18, 2014

When I woke up today I trolled the social networks, as I am wont to do, and wanted to share a few things with, like, whoever mistakenly arrives at this blog looking for recipes that use Eurasian Black Salt.

First, is this little nugget from Tor.com about Jodorowsky’s Dune. You may have heard about Jodorowsky’s Dune…it’s been getting some buzz because there’s now a movie called Jodorowsky’s Dune. Anyway, I don’t want to talk about the movie, or whether or not it should have been made, or whatever. What struck me is the very brief discussion of how Sci-Fi has been trapped in the shadow (and language) of the military-industrial complex, and how Jodorowsky hoped to set the genre free. Specifically, I wanted to share this poem (of questionable literary value, but that’s not the fucking point here) he wrote, explaining his vision.

I do not want that the man conquers space
In the ships of NASA
These concentration camps of the spirit
These gigantic freezers vomiting the imperialism
These slaughters of plundering and plunder
This arrogance of bronze and thirst
This eunuchoid science
Not the dribble of transistorised and riveted hulks.

I want magical entities, vibrating vehicles
Like fish of a timeless ocean. I want
Jewels, mechanics as perfect as the heart
Womb-ships anterooms
Rebirth into other dimensions
I want whore-ships driven
By the sperm of passionate ejaculations
In an engine of flesh
I want rockets complex and secret,
Humming-bird ornithopters,
Sipping the thousand-year-old nectar of dwarf stars…

Yeah, man. Also, Jodorowsky seems to have read some William S. Burroughs. Or maybe not…those spaceships mostly worked via buttfucking. Anyway, in keeping with my title and theme for this blog post: this article made me happysad because it imagines a world where science fiction doesn’t have to be all ray guns and exploding robots…a world that doesn’t exist.

Now on to reality!

Second item on my list today is this gem from NPR about the return of a satellite that was “stolen” in the early eighties. Seriously, a brilliant scientist hijacked a satellite, put it on an insanely complex trajectory to intercept a comet, and wound up making the USA the first country to get a satellite close to a comet. The trajectory he calculated is so insane that Farquhar became…

…the master of getting to places. His genius is inventing esoteric flight plans that take advantage of gravitational boosts from the moon and close flybys of Earth to send space probes zipping around the solar system in surprising ways.

He’s so adept at calculating these exotic trajectories that often, just for fun, he’s made sure that key mission events fall on birthdays or anniversaries.

Crazy talented scientist who hijacks a satellite in the name of furthering human accomplishment? Yes, please! The fact that the satellite has come back, just as a he promised? Magnifique. The current struggle to figure out if NASA can communicate with the satellite, get it running again, and return it to the task it abandoned thirty years ago before it passes by us and is lost forever? A better ticking-clock than Speed, with the added excitement of re-engaging obsolete and discontinued technology (something humanity will be doing a lot more of in the coming centuries…unless we destroy ourselves).

But I want you to ask yourself what would happen if someone tried to pull off something like this “theft” today. There’s probably a clause in the Patriot Act that says they could be thrown into an undersea prison for the rest of time. More than that, it just wouldn’t happen. America has become a country so thoroughly run by accountants that no one even thinks about going radically off-book any more. Back in the eighties I remember my dad going on about how the problem with Japan was that they were too ordered, too trained to avoid risk-taking or wild flights of individualism. Essentially, that they could never innovate the way the States could because in the States people like Farquhar could be geniuses and get away with it, AND win the international space-race to encounter a comet at the same time.

What happened to that spirit?

(Also, disclaimer, my dad’s opinions about Japanese culture do not represent the views of this blog. Don’t send your angry e-mails to me, address them to: Will’s Dad, c/o Death.)

Finally, and least science-related, is this wee blog post from writer Ryan Werner. It’s just Mr. Werner talking about the state of his life. Just little things, like,

2) At the Goodwill in Dubuque, IA I found a record haul worth a couple hundred bucks that I got for about $14.50. Stuff by Swans, Mission of Burma, Jesus and Mary Chain, Brian Eno, Billy Bragg, and a bunch more in that vein. RIP, Dude Who Died and His Parents Took His records to the Goodwill in Goddamn Dubuque.

And,

8b) I ran into my mom at a gas station randomly and she told me that I have degenerative arthritis in my knees, a family trait that had gone previously unmentioned and, because I don’t have insurance, undocumented. Last year she told me I’m Jewish. Next year I’m going to find out I was born on Mars.

He talks about TOOL and Rick Rude tights and some other stuff, and it’s funny and only a tiny bit sad. I’m including it because I’ve been bemoaning the complete elision of contemporaneous details in literature of late (a blog post for another time), so it was nice to read something…anything, really…that so embraces the details of an era and culture that so much of the (young) literary community seems determined to not admit having grown up anywhere near.

Remember, you can’t fake “timelessness” by deleting references to a specific time. That just creates “placelessness.”

Okay. That was my morning. Super interesting, I know. Have a good day!

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