Friday, May 12, 2006

We Don't Come in Peace At All

Several months ago, I posted a video of an NASA animation that I set to Radiohead's 'National Anthem.'

Here's a reminder:

Another enterprising gent on YouTube has mashed together digital artist Daniel Maas's animations for NASA's Pathfinder mission to Mars with Nine Inch Nails' 'Sunspots.' The results are pretty bad-ass, if I dare say so.

Something about this video gives me the chills, and part of it has to do with the fact that I know we as a species are savvy enough to actually do this for real. I've said it before (click the link and scroll down), that humans are the admirable and terrifying vermin of the universe. All that scary alien stuff we see in sci-fi movies is sheer projection: we're the real techno-savvy monsters, adaptable, ruthless, and getting close to needing a new host planet.

My attention span makes a fruit fly look like a chess grandmaster by comparison, so it is easy for me to forget that this video starts on Earth. Mentally, I fade in once the chute on the lander deploys and starts floating to earth.

In my mind, I am a little boy -- maybe my own grandson -- playing in the vast red dust behind my family's trailer in Arizona. I see the lander bounce like a massive superball and I run towards it, arms outstretched, wanting to play. Then it deflates and hatches like some kind of egg, and I get really, really frightened.

When the small Pathfinder robot comes out, bristling with instruments and antennae, I try to play with it. But it just turns one of its scopes towards me and emits a series of whirring clicking sounds and rolls away, purposefully and uncaring.

The terror grows, and I cannot finish my dinner that night, knowing that in twenty years' time, there will be no dinners and none of my people left to want them.

It sounds grim, but man, if we can go to war under false pretenses and melt our own icecaps, we'll have no problem terraforming some sweet and peaceful planet and raping it for all it's worth.


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