Daily Archives: August 26, 2012

Neil Armstrong (and the Face of the Moon)

So apparently Neil Armstrong died today.

I don’t know how old he was, or where he was living at the time, or anything about him, really, except that one day, when my parents were kids, he took a walk on the face of the moon.

My girlfriend is in awe of him. Him and Buzz and the rest of the guys who flew a bomb out of Earth’s orbit and to an entirely different piece of rock.

And I feel really conflicted about that.

Because everything around it – funding the U.S. space program, building rocket ships, trying to get there in the first place – was all done within the context of an arms race against the U.S.S.R.
Because – rather the same way I feel about Curiosity and the confirmation that there’s water on Mars – I’m really afraid that Space Exploration is just a big, huge manifestation of the whole “earth = bad; sky = good” mess that leads to the attitude of “when this planet’s ruined, we’ll just move to another one“.

I don’t want to be in awe of someone who contributed to that in such a massive way, who played fucking golf[1] in a holy place. Who left footprints on the face of a distant, yet dearly familiar god.

And yet. I see a picture like this one, and he looks like he’s in love. And so I can’t hold it against him, either.


[1] Okay. Yes. I realize that we play golf on the face of a very, VERY familiar god all the fucking time, and that doesn’t diminish the holiness of this place. But that’s still how I think about this.