Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sputnik, Deep Ecology, and Reading Over My Head

So...despite the fact that I'm not capable of doing it, I'm going to take up with reading Hannah Arendt's THE HUMAN CONDITION. I'm just stymied in so many other directions, I might as well be stymied in my attempt to understand something worth the attempt. I've read about her, mind you, but I haven't read her. And I find the following passage compelling—I read it over and over.

"In 1957, an earth-born object made by man was launched into the universe, where for some weeks it circled the earth according to the same laws of gravitation that swing and keep in motion the celestial bodies—the sun, the moon, and the stars. To be sure, the man-made satellite was no moon or star, no heavenly body which could follow its circling path for a time span that to us mortals, bound by earthly time, lasts from eternity to eternity. Yet, for a time it managed to stay in the skies; it dwelt and moved in the proximity of the heavenly bodies as though it had been admitted tentatively to their sublime company.
This event, second in importance to no other, not even to the splitting of the atom, would have been greeted with unmitigated joy if it had not been for the uncomfortable military and political circumstances attending it. But, curiously enough, this joy was not triumphal; it was not pride or awe at the tremendousness of human power and mastery which rilled the hearts of men, who now, when they looked up from the earth toward the skies, could behold there a thing of their own making. The immediate reaction, expressed on the spur of the moment, was relief about the first 'step toward escape from men's imprisonment to the earth.' And this strange statement, far from being the accidental slip of some American reporter, unwittingly echoed the extraordinary line which, more than twenty years ago, had been carved on the funeral obelisk for one of Russia's great scientists: 'Mankind will not remain bound to the earth forever.'"

Reading Arendt may help me think about alienation and deep ecology and shipwrecks. Those are all things that interest me right now.
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