Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Earth To America, Space To Earth

Earth To America, Space To Earth: "

Aiming to prove that laughter is the best medicine–even for what’s ailing the planet–Earth to America! is a two-hour comedy event featuring America’s funniest superstars.

Talent includes Jack Black, Will Ferrell, Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Robin Williams, Cedric the Entertainer, Ray Romano, Ben Stiller, Al Franken, Christopher Guest, Julia Louis- Dreyfus, Kevin Nealon, Wanda Sykes, Stephen Colbert, Rob Corddry, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and the cast of ‘Avenue Q’

It appears the entire show is available online via AOL — I’ve watched a few acts already and I’ll probably finish it over the holiday.

Especially striking was a segment from Act 2 with about three and a half minutes left on the video, featuring Leonardo di Caprio, an actor I can’t name, and Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell (image 1, image 2). Quoted from this:

American Astronaut Al Warden had this to say when he got to the moon: ‘Now I know why I’m here, not for a closer look at the moon, but to look back at our home, the Earth.’

(…) Astronaut Fan Twan from Viatnam had a similar experience. ‘During the eight days I spent in space, I realized that mankind needs height. Primarily to better know our long suffering Earth — to see what cannot be seen closeup. Not just to love her dearly, but also to ensure that we do not bring the slightest harm to the natural world.’

I’ve recently become very interested in lunar astronauts, specifically the effect such a journey had on the remainder of their lives. I can’t honestly imagine any problem I currently dwell on that would persist, much less have any significance whatsoever, from the perspective of outer space, looking back at Earth. The mere idea of this is groundbreaking in terms of where we stand as a race of people, how we treat our home, and what kind of future we are making for ourselves.

Journalist Clive Thompson wrote this about Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean, in his review of Andrew Smith’s recent book, Moondust, a book that follows the lives of Apollo spacemen after their return home:

Alan Bean rode the Apollo 12 mission all the way to the moon, and on the way back he made a promise to himself: ‘I’m going to live my life the way I want to.’ So he resigned from NASA, holed up in a tiny condo and became an oil painter. In the decades since, the only thing he has ever painted has been scenes from his celestial journey: the hyperreal sheen of sunlight on a space helmet, the lunar orbiter slicing through the void. Physically, Bean was back on earth — but some part of him clearly never came home.


(Via Centripetal Notion.)