That’s the promise of the Richard Branson venture, and I hate to be such a luddite, but has anyone pondered what we’re not doing on good ol’ planet earth while Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Bieber are booking their commercial flight beyond the stratosphere…? Anyone?
Oh, wow! I can see how cool it is. I can appreciate the challenge, and the temptation for the Virgin Galactic owners and stockholders. And I can even recognize the correlation (and the correlative argument to be made) with the early automobile’s displacement of the horse-drawn carriage. What’s that? Just prior to the mass production of the Ford Company’s Model-T, the stench of manure in Central Park seemed more pressing than the visionary highway system!
Yes, yes, yes… this blaze of glory is just like that… Let the analogies fuel the entrepreneurial spirit. Except that, with the foul odor of the equine waste, the ozone layer had no holes in it (yet), the epidermis of the earth had not (yet) been smeared with asphalt and slicks of motor oil, and perhaps most importantly, people were not (yet) compelled to move around so quickly to accommodate a pseudo-sense of transcendence.
And again, I’m not interested in holding back the inevitable progress of technology, or in being a thorn in the side of every imaginative CEO… My concern is that, given the expenditure of resources (both financial and cerebral), our priorities seem a little bit like those of Caligula and his first century Nemi ships. Is it that we want to make that mark in history? Or is it that we’d like to escape the crush of history that doesn’t care about the elaborate investments we make in our pet projects?
Osseous, aqueous, cardiac, hepatic–
back from bone the echoes stroke back
fromt he halved heart, the lungs
three years of weightlessness have cinched to gills.
From a leather chaise, the astronaut’s withered legs
dangle, as back they come, sounds
a beaked percussion hammer startles into shape.
The physician cocks his head and taps–exactly
as a splitter halves his slate, the metamorphic rock
chisel-shocked, then shocked again, halved
and halved, until a roof appears, black as space.
I’m gaining ground, he says, the astronaut,
who knows, from space, earth is just a blue-green glow,
a pilot light he circled once, lifted, swiftly flown
above the rafters and atmospheres, half himself
and half again some metamorphic click,
extinct as memory. I’m gaining ground,
he says, and back it comes, his glint
of cloud-crossed world: a pilot light
or swaddled leaf, green in the season’s infancy.
Diana Nyad has done it!
And, if you’ve been reading this blog since September 26th of 2011, you understand how amazed I am with the tenacity and the fortitude of this colossus of a woman…
The only thing left to say about this endurance-athlete is that she’s accomplished what she’d always wanted to do–swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida–and now, she may turn her sights to those Portuguese “men of war” in the U.S. Congress… That is, now that Diana has conquered her own demons and dealt with the jellies of the Caribbean, which might have embodied those Jungian archetypes quite nicely, my sense is that she is well-suited to take on the debates and the deliberations that ought to be happening (with results) in Washington, D.C.
And yet, is it unfair even to inquire?
Well, I don’t assume that she’ll change out of her swimwear and into her congressional outfit overnight. I’ll give her the time to allow that swollen tongue to shrink down to its civic size. A year or two should do the trick. Next question…
Is there precedent for this sort of thing–the drafting of a pop-culture celebrity–someone other than the late, great, Sonny Bono–someone who’s performed with amazing stamina? Ummm… Charles Lindbergh, we know, never ran for office, but sure made his political views known. And… ummm… John Glenn served from 1974 to 1999 as the Democratic Senator from Ohio, with his only qualification being that he orbited the earth in 1962… He had, of course, what Thomas Wolfe called, “the right stuff” for his generation, and saw the mythos of his life as the means to muscle us all to an even greater end.
Ummm, Diana? Are you listening?
I know for a fact you have a social conscience; your plans to swim in a pool for the benefit of Hurricane Sandy victims is laudable. Rock on for Rockaway! And yet, after that, it may be time to kick Marco Rubio‘s ass… I don’t even know if you have a residence in Florida, but my guess is the state would be glad to have you represent its constituents, which (did) include (as of your 3rd attempt to swim from Cuba in 2011) nearly 10,000 gay and lesbian households in Broward County alone.
You see, while you’ve been doggedly pursuing your dreams in the ocean, another sort of undulating sea has been churning and churning and we’re desperate for a heroine like you.
Plus, when I look at your face and ponder the elegant wisdom of its brazen wrinkles, I sense something wholesome and healthy that never really ages; and if it does, it grows old with a beauty that I’d like to honor in some sort of social contract. Teach us to swim, Nyad. Many are just treading water and don’t know how.
When I heard today about Tesla Motors and their Model S receiving the Best Safety Record from the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, I thought about the namesake of the company and how he was depicted in the film, The Prestige, by none other than David Bowie…
Bowie, of course, sang the infamous lyric, “This is ground control to Major Tom,” and what the song-writing cross-dresser of the 1970’s had been doing until the 2006 film is anyone’s guess. He sort of fell off the cultural radar screen, or at least my reclusive section of that screen…
And yet, now that Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) and the English artist (born in 1947) have become synonymous, my head is reeling with the unlikely possibility that the latter is the reincarnation of the former’s obsessive soul. Or, if that gives you the hibby-jibbies, I might capitulate by suggesting that just as our bodies conduct electricity, who’s to say that our spiritual identities don’t spark with the friction of our mutually creative energies?
Anyway, as far as the car and the company, which has only been in existence for ten years, it’s clear that wisdom, innovation and free enterprise have combined to do something that may be good for the environment and good for increasingly mobile, self-conscious hominid. (You will notice that I don’t include the Sasquatch as a beneficiary of the Tesla gadgetry–only because that biped is content to maneuver the woods on foot.) What’s also painfully evident from the company press release, however, is that 15,000 electric cars scattered about 31 countries (and a base price of $60,000 per vehicle) will not make a dent in the driving habits of most commuters around the world. Not any time soon.
And so, I wonder then about the potential for cloning cars as the Tesla/Bowie device does with cats and hats and magicians in the motion picture. And I wonder about the ways imagination actually threatens the status quo, and makes Thomas Edison the hero while other modes of genius are shunned and shoved aside. Why is it, for example, that science and mystery are held at such great distances from one another that we assume to believe in the method of one we must preclude the thrill of the other. My hunch is that the physicist/futurist had more than patents on his mind. My intuition suggests that he had more than hotel bills to pay:
The gift of mental power comes from God, Divine Being, and if we concentrate our minds on that truth, we become in tune with this great power. My Mother had taught me to seek all truth in the Bible.
Is that simplistic? Is that a naive statement from a superstitious man? I don’t think so. You can find other quotes at TeslaUniverse here. And when you ponder them I hope you’re struck as I am about the integrity and the essential value of change. Perhaps, contrary to popular belief, the truth sought by Tesla and others is not some entity or proposition that we conserve. Or preserve for posterity.
Perhaps the very nature of truth is change.
The impulses that fire us up most have very little to do with money or becoming a successive CEO or BFD (Big Fucking Deal). Unless you’ve already been calloused by the hegemony of capitalism, there’s still a venue for your embodied soul to make a new thing.
And perhaps be a new thing in the process!