… my memory of the moon landing …

News reminds me that today is the fifties anniversary of America’s moon landing.

I was in Prague. My then companion, for his birthday celebration, had organised a small group of friends to spend a weekend in this beautiful city, coinciding with the moon landing. We could afford a 5 star hotel, due to a bargain currency exchange rate in the wake of the short-lived Prague Spring … the invasion of Czechoslovakia by members of the Warsaw Pact, and then the country’s occupation. We found an eerie hush hush atmosphere, but once rapport was created, people were keen to treat us cash-spending visitors like royalty. Hotel staff attended to our every need, insisting on polishing our shoes overnight. Restaurants, beyond serving exquisite goulash, entertained us with stories and life music. Our luxury was tinged with sadness. These people had had a rough time. It would take many more years before the collapse of Communism.

Buzz Aldrin walks on the surface of the moon. Photograph: NASA

We watched the moon landing on a black & white TV in the lobby of our hotel, outnumbered by American tourists. The atmosphere was electric. All our eyes were glued to the small screen, witnessing the eagle’s landing, feet stepping down the ladder into the moon dust. And them Armstrong documenting Buzz Aldrin imprinting the dust with his heavy shoes. Given the lack of air-movement on the moon, these imprints may still be there, unless the later take-off erased them.

We took in the iconic exclamations … one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind…

Americans around us burst into high decibels and fell into each other’s arms for joy. So yes, it was a memorable moment, and, without doubt, a magnificent achievement for the visionaries, like J.F. Kennedy, who sadly missed the event, and the many thousands of technicians and supporting staff involved in the project.

Earthrise, Dec 1968

However, for me it amplified a more significant image from the year before, a photograph called ‘earthrise.’   I sincerely hoped that beholding the wonder of this beautiful planet floating in dark space would widen political perspectives and bring people’s consciousness around the world to the realisation that we are in this adventure of life together.

That weekend in Prague, I visited the old Jewish cemetery. Stirred by a brilliant slanting light, I took a series of b&w photos, only to destroy them later, incl. negatives. (The scene became incorporated in my novel ‘Course of Mirrors.’) I regret the loss.  The photos were stunning.

Wars, atrocities and poverty continued, nothing changed. Technological progress only worsened injustices. Protesters during the moon landing proclaimed “Billions for spacePennies for the hungry.”

I came to the conclusion that the exploration of deep space requires the balance of another exploration … a deep exploration of the human mind. A befriending of the unconscious, the objective psyche, which we can’t control.  The latter study inspired my subsequent vocation.

I grew up with this lullaby, my favourite …

Der Mond ist aufgegangen
Die goldnen Sternlein prangen
Am Himmel hell und klar:
Der Wald steht schwarz und schweiget,
Und aus den Wiesen steiget
Der weiße Nebel wunderbar.

Click here for the whole text with notation, and translation …

What do you do there, moon, in the sky? Tell me what you do, silent moon … Giacomo Leopardi

16 Comments

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16 responses to “… my memory of the moon landing …

  1. So sad to hear the words of protesters from 50 years ago which are so similar to those we hear now.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for visiting. It’s beyond sad … a repeating loop on insanity, rotating over and over like this: poverty & injustice – unrest – dictator – war – revolution – a little peace – opportunists on the rise – poverty – unrest – dictator – etc. etc. etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Moving Ashen. The promise long betrayed! tragic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So we imagine and trust in what’s still held in Pandora’s jar …

      “Hope” is the thing with feathers –
      That perches in the soul –
      And sings the tune without the words –
      And never stops – at all … ‘

      Like

  3. I was surfing every day that summer, dreading the day in October when I would have to report to Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas. From Leonard Cohen’s “Sing Another Song, Boys”:
    “Ah, they’ll never, they’ll never ever reach the moon,
    at least not the one that we’re after;
    it’s floating broken on the open sea, look out there, my friends,
    and it carries no survivors.
    But let’s leave these lovers wondering
    why they cannot have each other,
    and let’s sing another song, boys,
    this one has grown old and bitter.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • This must have been an intense summer for you, evoked in your novel, ‘Penina’s Letters.’
      Forgotten about the Cohen song.
      … “Ah, they’ll never, they’ll never ever reach the moon,
      at least not the one that we’re after … ‘

      How would you call the moon we’re after?

      Like

      • Somewhere there’s music
        How faint the tune
        Somewhere there’s heaven
        How high the moon
        There is no moon above
        When love is far away too
        Till it comes true
        That you love me as I love you

        Somewhere there’s music
        It’s where you are
        Somewhere there’s heaven
        How near, how far
        The darkest night would shine
        If you would come to me soon
        Until you will, how still my heart
        How high the moon

        How high the moon
        is the name of this song
        How high the moon
        Though the words may be wrong
        We’re singing it
        Because you ask for it
        So we’re swinging it just for you

        How high the moon
        Does it touch the stars
        How high the moon
        Does it reach up to Mars
        Though the words may be wrong
        to this song
        We’re asking how high, high, high
        high, high is the moon

        Boo bi yoo bi
        Bi yu di di ooh dun
        dabba oohbee
        Boo di yoo di
        Di yu di dee dee doohdun
        di di oohnbee
        Bu di yu dan dan dan
        Dee boognbee
        Aheedee doo doo abbi woo do ee
        Woah ba bee ba bap beya oh
        Ein bap bap dein

        Hey ohndalady deepbap
        bumblebee
        Deedeedeedeedee deedee
        Doo doot doop antdoodly wah
        Vebeeoopm dabba oohbayoum dabie
        oohmbappa eupembappi ah

        Baby ohm bap
        Baby ooh bee bap bey
        Oohtoo undn datley udnda da
        Eun bu! eun bi! un ba! un bey!
        un bey un bey in byron bay

        Moody eetn deeby deepi ah ba
        Beebeeoohdibap Da Bap! un boo bay
        Deeoohdedootundap lah day
        Oohtdee undeedoodee dootn

        dadaploday
        Beepbee oo’bapbee ootndap bobay
        beepbee ootn da loday
        a dooblydoobly dooblydoobly
        dooblydoobly dooblydoobly
        dooblydeetn deepdeedee eudabapoya

        Beebeeum beep beebee bebop
        Beebeeoohbebap dedap un boobay
        Deeodeedoodee dap lady
        Oohtdee undeedoodee dootn

        dadaploday
        Beepbee oo’bapbee ootndap bobay
        beepbee ootn da loday

        Deudedeu deun daudau baubau
        bieubau badee beiu beiu ooh
        Heee he a we ah
        Heee he a eeah hah
        Eeetdee eutandabbie utan
        dooiedoodoon’lyba
        Bieu bau bau n daisy ba

        Beedeedee dedee deDee
        Beedeedee ba-oi
        Adoodlyoohtndo oohntdo oohntdo
        Deedee oothndo baobaobao baeu

        Beet-deet-dee doodly’ap’n’boobie
        Bootbe up’n babba un baw baw ba-bey
        Beedeedee yabadoreda bababo
        Baya baba bobobo bi’yabeeba

        Though the words may be wrong to this song
        We hope to make high, high, high, high
        High as the moon

        Ella Fitzgerald – How High The Moon

        Liked by 3 people

        • Wow. I asked for it. Found Ella’s song on YouTube, never heard anything like it. Had not come across the term scatting either, scattering, yes – that was the name of my first Sufi workshop. Listening to Ella’s voice put my mind to flutter like a butterfly. Lovely to be tumbled along.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi. If humans ever were to colonize other heavenly bodies, they’d end up badly damaging those orbs, just as has happened with Earth.

    Take care. See ya!

    Neil Scheinin

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel the same of the beautiful Earth rise. Just to think, this is our home.

    miriam

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rob

    Thanks Ashen. It’s a beautiful lullaby you quote. Bit of an antidote to human hubris, even if with a Christian “wretched sinners” flavour. But beautiful none the less.
    Hubris is probably the thing I feel least able to stomach in modern human society. I’m sure it’s always been around but quite possibly never so much as now….what with our “triumphant technology”, scientific understanding and what have you, which in many ways look very like “religious certainty”. Not to mention the more blatantly crass kinds like nationalism, dogmatism……lots of isms!
    Interestingly, I’ve just been listening to Rupert Sheldrake saying it’s easier to speak freely and explore philosophical and scientific ideas in the Anglican Church community than at a gathering of scientists….even if an increasing number of the latter express “heretical” notions in private.
    Information is not the same as “knowing”. It’s always incomplete and despite the shiny machines, digital wonders etc, we actually know f…. all. Yet we proceed as if we know something.
    Better to follow our ancestors perhaps, and bow down beneath the Sun and Moon in awe and wonder……and gratitude…..to what lies beyond the surface.

    Like

    • Ah yes, poor sinners is here translated as wretched sinners. Sin, in my book, is simply ignorance, perfectly natural given the conflicting information we daily absorb.
      To bow down in wonder and awe, to sun, moon, stars, beauty, and the amazing creative genius that shines through human curiosities and achievements, which can never be assigned to any one personality alone, however gifted. And those specially gifted are often the most humble. That’s why I keep my mind and heart open to what I call the spirit of guidance, the one being.

      Like

  7. What a wonderfully colourful evocation of Prague, a passing moment, beautiful and poignant. I love the lullaby, and can see why the moon landing and your memory led you to it. A thought provoking post, Ashen.

    Liked by 1 person

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