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  • tastemaking in our little corner of the galaxy

    2011 - 01.04

    This quote from the beginning of Cosmos; I’ve been thinking about it often.  I completed watching the series some months ago now, and boy how I wish there were more.  Now all that remains is to go back and rewatch the episodes, a ritual that certainly gleans satisfaction, if lacking a bit in that smack across the face of resounding freshness that accompanies the first viewing.  Seeing it again, there are little hidden facets which reveal themselves, a secret kept from the new inductees.

    And there’s the pleasure of watching Mr. Sagan in action.  Through this series, I have arrived at a state of unmitigated admiration for this man.  Carl’s magnetically eloquent language, masterful comprehension of science, and retainment of such rapturous wonder at the beauty which surrounds us are a model to aspire toward.  There is something about his persona, the emphasis in his oratory, which imbues him with the overwhelming zest of a virtuoso at the peak of their form.  I would say that Carl is to the scientific world what the Beatles were to the music world.  Both were tastemakers who popularized complex ideas, making them accessible to people who might not otherwise enjoy 7/8 time, traditional Indian music, abstract lyricism, unconventional chord changes and recording methods.  Or in Carl’s case, the concept that heavy elements (and the ones that we are made of!) come from the insides of stars, the sheer vastness of the universe we exist within, and the towering influence of our understanding of the cosmos upon our ultimate fate.  And in both cases, these people were admired not just by outsiders who had only rudimentary grasps of their work, but rather they were both looked up to by generation after generation of experts and even geniuses within their respective fields.  In the recent NASA press conference concerning the arsenic-based bacteria, they invoked Carl three times (along with Stephen Hawking once, and Neil deGrasse Tyson once, to put it in perspective).

    At the same time that Carl is an archetype, he is very much a man, somewhat laughable in his dryness, but adorable in his sincerity.  Clad in his favorite orange coat, sitting in this overly-ornamental fake time machine, he looks a bit ridiculous, and I can’t help but giggle a bit.  But I love him for ‘going for it’ so unabashedly.

    I sort of wonder when I watch Cosmos, if they recorded the very beginning of it last, after the whole of the series was done.  When Carl gives that opening oratory, it feels to me as if it is the conclusion, the glorious end-result of his wanderings, disguised as the beginning.

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