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Free Will Astrology: June 30 through July 7

ARIES [March 21–April 19] Time to diversify your energy sources, Aries. It’s as if you’ve grown too dependent on oil—metaphorically speaking—and have neglected to develop relationships with wind turbines, natural gas, and other means of generating power. What if, in the future, oil becomes scarcer or wildly expensive? And what if, over the long haul, its by-products degrade your environment? I suggest you start now to expand the variety of fuels you tap into. It’s a perfect moment to adjust your plans for your long-term energy needs.

TAURUS [April 20–May 20] Your mirror may lie to you this week. Even pets and heroes and normally reliable suppliers might not be completely there for you. Fortunately, I expect that secondary sources will come through. Other people’s mirrors may reveal a clue you haven’t been able to find in your own. And a previously overlooked connection might become your own personal wellspring. Moral of the story: If you’re willing to be flexible and forswear all impulses to blame, you won’t be deprived of what you need.

GEMINI [May 21–June 20] Having discovered I can read the minds of animals, I’ve started a new sideline as a ghostwriter. Here’s an excerpt from an interview I did with Prestige, a Gemini pig. Brezsny: What do you like best about being a potbellied pig? Prestige: I’m greedy, but cute. I get to eat like a pig, yet not be victimized by the negative judgments people usually project onto pigs. B: Is there anything you’re worried about? P: I need to make my caretaker understand that for the next few weeks, we Geminis will need more than the usual amounts of food, love, praise, everything. B: Anything you’d like to say to my Gemini readers? P: Don’t let anybody make you feel guilty for wanting what you want.

CANCER [June 21–July 22] The ancient Chinese sage Lao Tse said, “People of the highest caliber, upon hearing about Taoism, follow it and practice it immediately. People of average caliber, hearing about Taoism, reflect for a while and then experiment. People of the lowest caliber, hearing about Taoism, let out a big laugh.” Now substitute the words “your splashy new ideas” for “Taoism” in Lao Tse’s quote, and you’ll have your horoscope for this week. Also remember that he said, “No idea can be considered valuable until a thousand people have laughed at it.”

LEO [July 23–August 22] Nietzsche’s dictum might be useful for you to keep in mind right now, Leo: “If it doesn’t kill you, it’ll make you stronger.” Since I’m sure that the turbulent waters through which you’re navigating will not kill you, I’m looking forward to how this journey will upgrade your confidence. But there’s more to be gained, beyond what Nietzsche formulated. It’s also true that if it doesn’t kill you (which it won’t), it will make you wilder and kinder and smarter and more beautiful.

VIRGO [August 23–September 22] According to my projections, you will not, in the coming weeks, meet a secretive stranger who’ll play you like a violin. Nor will you be lured to the warehouse district after midnight to pick up the “missing stuff.” And I highly doubt that you will be invited to join a cult that’s conspiring to seize political power following the events of December 21, 2012. No, Virgo. Your fate is far more mundane than that. It’s more likely that you will soon meet a forthright stranger who will play you like an accordion. You will be drawn to a location at midday to pick up the “missing stuff.” And you will be invited to become part of a group that has the potential to play a significant role in your quest for meaning in the coming years.

LIBRA [September 23–October 22] For years, I’ve remembered most of my dreams every night, so I’m good at spotting trends. Last week, I dreamed that three of my Libra friends were pole vaulting at the Olympics. Four nights ago, I dreamed that my two favorite Libran astrologers were rappelling up a skyscraper. Last night, I dreamed that four Libran celebrities—Mahatma Gandhi, Gwen Stefani, Sacha Baron Cohen (a/k/a Borat), and Kate Winslet—climbed a gold ladder to a café on a cloud where they drank magic coffee that made wings sprout on their backs. Is my subconscious telling me that it’s prime time for you to raise your expectations and upgrade your goals? Do my dreams mean you should rise above the conventional wisdom and rededicate yourself to your loftiest ambitions?

SCORPIO [October 23–November 21] Spiritual epiphany alert! Uncanny revelations imminent! Hope you don’t mind being awoken in the middle of your scheduled life by a delivery from the Great Beyond. Yes, my cute little bundle of psychic sensitivities: It doesn’t matter if you’re a believer or an unrepentant infidel—you will soon be invited to have one of your logical certainties torn out by the roots and replaced with a throbbing vision of cosmic whoopee. Brace yourself for the most pungent fun you’ve had since your last mud-wrestle with the angel.

SAGITTARIUS [November 22–December 21] While appearing on I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here, ex–pro basketball player John Salley gave some advice I’d like to pass along. “When you see crazy coming your way,” he philosophized, “you should cross the street.” I do think crazy will be headed in your direction sometime soon, Sagittarius, and the best response you can have is to avoid it altogether, preferably in a way that it doesn’t notice you. That’s right: Don’t shout at crazy; don’t bolt away; and certainly don’t run up and give crazy a big hug. There are far better ways for you to gather your fair share of intriguing mystery; I’d hate to see you get bogged down in a useless, inferior version of it.

CAPRICORN [December 22–January 19] Everyone wants a piece of you these days, and they don’t care about how it will affect you. So beware of emotional manipulation, subliminal seduction, and the temptation to believe in impossible promises. To make matters more extreme, I suspect you may be pleased that everyone wants an extra piece of you—and might be tempted to conspire in your own dismantling. Instead, how about letting three trustworthy people—no more—take an extra piece of you? And be very certain that they have enough self-control to know when to stop taking.

AQUARIUS [January 20–February 18] You’re almost never one brick short of a load, know what I’m saying? Your elevator almost always goes all the way to the top floor. Rarely, if ever, do I have to warn you against playing with a deck of 51 cards. So I hope you won’t be offended when I say that it’s time to find that missing brick and service your elevator and buy a new deck. In other words, you’re due for your 40,000-mile checkup.

PISCES [February 19–March 20] magic (ma’-jik), n. 1. A mysterious event or process that seemingly refutes the known laws of science. 2. A willed transformation of one’s own state of mind. 3. A surprising triumph that exceeds all expectations. 4. Something that works, though no one understands why. 5. The impossible becoming possible. 6. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” (Arthur C. Clarke.) 7. A quality predominant in the lives of Pisceans during the period from July 1 through July 20, 2009.

Homework: Send testimonies about how you’ve redeemed the dark side to Sex Laugh, at uaregod@comcast.net.

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Free Will Astrology: February 11 through 17

ARIES [March 21–April 19] I invite you to get all the mind-blowing sex you can this Valentine season, Aries. The cosmos will be on your side if you generate erotic wonders that rearrange your thought processes. For best results, cultivate the attitude Voltaire described to his partner Marie Louise Denis: “Sensual pleasure passes and vanishes, but the friendship between us, the mutual confidence, the delight of the heart, the enchantment of the soul, these things do not perish and can never be destroyed.”

TAURUS [April 20–May 20] Gertrude Stein defined love as “the skillful audacity required to share an inner life.” That’s the perfect idea for you to meditate on this Valentine season. It suggests that expressing the truth about who you are is not something that amateurs do very well: Practice and ingenuity are required. Courage is also an element of successful intimacy. You’ve got to be adventurous if you want to weave your life together with another’s.

GEMINI [May 21–June 20] A mischievous voice in my head rose up as I was contemplating your astrological omens. It said I should tell you to make love in a bed covered in $10 bills. When I asked the voice if this was a cracked metaphor for more practical advice, it just cackled. It could either mean that you should make a business proposition to your lover or spouse, or somehow collaborate with each other to increase your prosperity, or that you should spend money on enhancing romance by taking a workshop to upgrade your intimacy skills or getting creative about fostering togetherness.

CANCER [June 21–July 22] Over the course of your lifetime, if you’re average, you will spend about 336 hours kissing. But why be average? Especially now, when the cosmos is begging you to use your mouth to incite ingenious bliss and explore the frontiers of closeness? To be in maximum alignment with the great cycles of nature and make God happy, I suggest you experiment with Guinness Book of World Records–levels of smooching and licking and sucking. If you can’t find a human partner to collaborate with, then kiss the sky, the trees, the rivers, and even the mist.

LEO [July 23–August 22] It’s a perfect time to cast a love spell on yourself, and it may even be better if you improvise your own homemade conjurations and incantations. I can think of two main goals for you to accomplish with your spell. (But feel free to add others.) First, rouse your imagination to visualize romantic possibilities you’ve been closed to before. Second, make sure you banish the curse that you yourself cast on your love life once upon a time. PS: For best results, stand naked in front of an altar crammed with magical objects that symbolize both lust and compassion.

VIRGO [August 23–September 22] “The person one loves never really exists,” said Arthur C. Clarke, “but is a projection focused through the lens of the mind onto whatever screen it fits with least distortion.” Your assignment, Virgo, is to prove Clarke wrong. Figure out a way to dissolve or elude your own projections long enough that you can see the raw truth about a certain person you crave or adore or care about. Not a reflection of the dream lover who hides in your heart, not a fantasy you wish your beloved would become, but the perfectly imperfect soul who is actually there in front of you.

LIBRA [September 23–October 22] The Madonna of Orgasm Church is a Swedish institution, whose leader claims that the sect is not obsessed with sex and that orgies are not included in the regular worship services. Instead, deifying the orgasm is a symbol for cultivating a lust for life. Making love is just one of many ways to experience peak states and explore the spiritual potencies of pleasure. You don’t have to be a member of the church to experiment with this approach. I hope you’ll have fun with it during this Valentine season, which happens to be a time in your astrological cycle when seeking intense bliss and cathartic release is your sacred mandate.

SCORPIO [October 23–November 21] In creating this oracle, I’ve borrowed words from the poet Wolff Bowden. Please use them in affectionate communiqués that will deepen your connection with someone who makes your heart sing: 1) “You belong to love as wheels belong to roads, as grapes belong to the blossoming of taste, as corn belongs to crows, as shadows belong to the ache of heat, as happiness belongs to the capricious pangs of the soul”; and 2) “May the color blue behold your body while sun washes your shoulders near the window. May your lips refuse the kiss unless your heart is home. May euphoria find you in the place where you are lonely. May you light a billion candles with your mind.”

SAGITTARIUS [November 22–December 21] “Greet one another with a holy kiss,” says the Bible’s first book of Corinthians. What I take this to mean is that when you come together with someone you care about, bestow a kiss that’s more than merely affectionate or polite. Use it to invoke a sense of sacred space, surrounding the two of you with a mood of deep gratitude for the privilege of being alive. Even further, make your holy kiss be a prayer for the well-being of your ally, an affirmation of your desire that he or she will thrive and prosper and become the gorgeous genius he or she was born to be.

CAPRICORN [December 22–January 19] Would you like to stir up deeper and smarter intimacy? Are you interested in attracting good surprises that would air out your romantic dogmas? Do you think it might be fun to discover a new love secret? To encourage these happy developments, Capricorn, carry out the following assignments. First, practice loving something or someone you don’t understand. Second, any time you start longing to be loved more than you are, make it a point to go out and love someone more than you have in the past. Third, visualize your heart growing softer and warmer and more receptive.

AQUARIUS [January 20–February 18] “When we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours,” wrote author Robert Fulghum, “we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love.” I mention this, Aquarius, because the Valentine season will offer you ample opportunity to bask in the wonders of mutually compatible weirdness. It could come in the form of friendship or romance or some other collaboration, but one way or another it will help you feel less alone in the world, suggesting that maybe you’re not an extraterrestrial time-traveler from the 29th century after all.

PISCES [February 19–March 20] We’re faced with an economic downturn as well as the need to take strenuous measures to heal the environment. Are we obligated to have less fun and deny ourselves pleasure? I say no, as do the editors at TreeHugger.com. One of their articles, for example, gives extensive advice on how to have great sex in small, fuel-efficient, low-emissions cars. With this as your inspiration, Pisces, identify five other ways to enjoy yourself without having to spend a fortune or hurt the earth. It’s an excellent time, astrologically speaking, to experiment with the hypothesis that cutting down on consumerism can help you discover new approaches to feeling really good.

Homework: Proposed experiment: Carry out an act of love that’s unique in your history. Testify at FreeWillAstrology.com.

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Horoscope

ARIES (March 21–April 19): “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom,” wrote Norwegian philosopher S Kierkegaard. That’s vividly true for you right now, Aries. According to my reading of the astrological omens, you’ll thrive on the whirling gaga that overwhelms you as you play in vast, open spaces. Your best decisions will arise as your mind is boggled and wobbled by liberating dramas. So let’s celebrate the disorientation you’re feeling and do everything we can to make sure that more is on its way.

TAURUS (April 20–May 20):I know how you’re feeling, Taurus. I’ve done time in the same psychic prison you’re trapped in. Because of my exemplary behavior while incarcerated, luckily, I was freed well in advance of my scheduled release date. Would you like to know what I did to win my early release? Four things: (1) I took responsibility for the ways I had perpetuated my own suffering. (2) I practiced feeling grateful for the lessons my pain had taught me. (3) I thought deeply about the actions I could take to atone for how I had hurt other people. (4) I vowed to use the shame I felt as a motivation to become smarter and kinder and wilder.

GEMINI (May 21–June 20): Does one of your pretty-good relationships need a boost? Does one of your challenging partnerships need some slack? If so, I’d like to help. Here’s my offer: I’ll perform a healing ceremony for a relationship of your choice. In return for doing you this favor, all I ask is that you too carry out a ritual on behalf of the same relationship. Think of it as being akin to a matching-funds grant: I’ll help you if you help yourself. It is the perfect astrological moment to do this—to make splashy gestures that invoke blessings for relationships that are in need of a shift. Now send me a brief description of the relationship you’d like me to shower some magic on. Write to uaregod@comcast.net. I won’t be able to write back, but I will definitely carry out a ritual for you.

CANCER (June 21–July 22):“They might be small, spiky, and spineless, but they’re still family.” So begins a
National Geographic story about sea urchins, creatures that biologists now know have far more in common with humans than anyone realized. (They share 7,077 genes with us and are actually on the same branch of the evolutionary tree of life.) Let that opening sentence be your motto during the coming week, Cancerian, as you adjust your attitude toward not only the runts and outcasts of your tribe, but also toward the parts of yourself that you tend to neglect and underestimate. Now say this: “They might be small, spiky, and spineless, but they’re still family.”

LEO (July 23–Aug. 22):I hope that one day you will learn how to give all the extraordinary love you have to offer. Another one of my greatest desires for you is that you will cultivate, earn, and seize all the freedom you need in order to become yourself completely. To my great pleasure, you’ve recently begun to tune in to the possibility that these two goals might be extremely fun for you. During the coming weeks their hold on your imagination should heat up considerably. In 2007, I hope they’ll become your modus operandi, your weltanschauung, and your raison d’être.

VIRGO (Aug. 23–Sept. 22):In one of Aesop’s fables, a donkey becomes enamored of the crickets’ serenades. Longing to produce the same sound himself, he goes to a cricket for advice. “What kind of food gives you that sweet-sounding voice?” he asks. The cricket says, “My food is the air and the dew.” The donkey then begins a new diet, hoping that by eating nothing but air and dew he too will be able to make beautiful, whirring melodies. It doesn’t happen, of course. The donkey merely starves. Let this be your teaching story for the coming week, Virgo. Sing your own song with your own voice, whether that sounds like a hee-haw or a warble. And get the exact nurturing that will help you sing your own song with your own voice, not the nurturing that helps others sing their special tunes.

LIBRA (Sept. 23–Oct. 22):As a general rule, standing your ground and dealing squarely with a problem is the best policy. But for you right now, escape is a viable option. In fact, I think that running away is actually preferable. All I ask, though, is that you choose a specific place to flee to, so that you’re not just running
from something but also running toward something. As long as you’re driven solely by a big
no, in other words, dashing around will weaken you and aggravate the problem you’re dodging. But if you’re also motivated by a vivid
yes, you’ll find the strength and wisdom to make all the right moves.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23–Nov. 21):Earth Island Journal says scientists have discovered natural ways to clean up old munitions sites. If you plant periwinkle and parrot feather plants in soil that’s been bombed with TNT, they’ll soak up and neutralize the noxious stuff. Likewise, pondweed absorbs and transforms nitrogly-cerin in land where explosives have been detonated. I urge you to find the metaphorical equivalents of periwinkle, pondweed, and parrot feather plants this week, Scorpio. It’s a perfect moment to detoxify the places in your life where past battles left behind toxic debris.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22–Dec. 21): On Jupiter’s moon Europa, there is an absolutely straight, narrow line about 125 miles long. NASA’s photos show it clearly. Commenting on this improbably regular feature, renowned author and inventor Arthur C. Clarke says he finds it hard not to conclude that it was constructed by intelligent life. “I’m beginning to think the unthinkable,” he writes. Make that sentence your watchword in the coming week, Sagittarius. Be ready to imagine the unimaginable, see the unseeable, and think the unthinkable. And I mean that you should do that with the most optimistic attitude possible. According to my reading of the astrological omens, the almost unbelievable prospects coming into your sphere are interesting and invigorating.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22–Jan. 19): As I see your situation, it’s like you’re acting famished even though the cupboards are stocked with goodies. You’re pining and moaning to be close to a treasure that’s right next to you. You’ve got 98 out of the 100 things you need, yet you just can’t stop obsessing on the two that are missing. If I’m wrong about this, Capricorn, just ignore what I’m saying and rejoin me next week. But if you suspect I may be onto something, please act fast to purge your delusions.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20—Feb. 18):This week I propose that you feel gratitude for every person who has ever told you that you were inadequate, that there was something wrong with you, that you would never amount to anything. You might even carry out a little ceremony in which you bow down to an altar containing their photos or slips of paper on which their names are written. And why am I suggesting this? Because those jerks helped motivate you to become as cool as you are. And if I’m reading the omens correctly, it’s time to summon a huge new burst of creative energy as you disprove their misbegotten ideas about you even more completely.

PISCES (Feb. 19—March 20):Why do cigarette makers put ammonia in their product? For the same reason that drug addicts use ammonia to turn cocaine into crack: It helps render the nicotine and cocaine into a gas, making it easier for the lungs to absorb them and dramatically amplifying the high. I hope you can find a healthy, legal, and metaphorical equivalent to this process in the coming weeks, Pisces. You have both poetic license and an astrological mandate to squeeze at least three times more fun and insight out of every single thing you do. It’s the intensity season.

Homework What thing do you desperately want that would also benefit other people? Testify by going to freewillastrology.com and clicking on “Email Rob.”

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Moonstruck

President Bush, a man who rarely journeyed outside the United States prior to taking office, has decided it’s imperative for Americans to return to the Moon and reach Mars. “The human thirst for knowledge ultimately cannot be satisfied by even the most vivid pictures, or the most detailed measurements,” he said in a speech on January 14. “We need to see and examine and touch for ourselves.”

While Bush’s announcement drew heated criticism, it has also re-enlivened America’s enthusiasm for Moon-schmaltz. During the Super Bowl pre-game show on February 1, Josh Groban sang “You Raise Me Up” to mark the first anniversary of the Columbia disaster, positioned beside seven jumpsuited NASA trainees. Midway through the song, a mammoth Moon surface was unveiled and a puffy astronaut clambered atop it to plant an American flag. Never has the peculiar link between space exploration and competitive sport been so clearly revealed. One can scarcely imagine another scientific accomplishment—say, Louis Pasteur discovering staphylococcus—re-enacted on the 50-yard line.

Watching the first, actual lunar landing in 1969, the poet W.H. Auden expressed similar suspicion. “It’s natural the Boys should whoop it up for/so huge a phallic triumph,” he wrote. It matters to us only “because we like huddling in gangs and knowing/the exact time.” Even for Auden—often considered the first poet truly to feel at home in the 20th century—America’s engagement with the Moon is cause for cynicism. “Moon Landing” betrays the poet as an old man, pooh-poohing NASA from his parlor. “Our apparatniks will continue making/the usual squalid mess called History,” he wrote. But, “[u]nsmudged, thank God, my Moon still queens the Heavens.”

But Auden’s disenchantment can be seen as a warranted reaction to the Moon rhetoric of his time. Talking about the Moon in America has never been easy. From George W. Bush back to John F. Kennedy, the Moon has inspired in politicians precisely what it inspires in so many heartbroken teenagers: some really meaningless poetry.


President Kennedy’s speech to a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961, came on the heels of the American failure at the Bay of Pigs and a month after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. The president, it seems, tried to distance himself from these failings with a little . . . space. “Now it is time to take longer strides,” he proclaimed, “time for a great new American enterprise.”

But in a speech that also disclosed ambitious plans for weather and communications satellites (and itemized their costs), Kennedy offered virtually no specifics as to what scientific or economic benefits might possibly come from plunking an American on the Moon. The lunar landing was pitched, primarily, as a key piece of warfare in the battle “between freedom and tyranny” against the Soviets. The message is clear: The pursuit of the Moon is an issue of gallantry and triumph, not practicality.

In a world where the politicians sound like poets and the poets sound like politicians, for practicality one must turn to a science-fiction writer. In an essay published six years after Kennedy’s speech, Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, addresses the Moon as “an asset in terms of actual hard cash—not the vast imponderables of adventure, romance, artistic inspiration, and scientific knowledge. The conquest of the Moon . . . can be justified to the cost accountants, not only to the scientists and the poets.”

With science behind him, Clarke first negates the popular Cold War view of the Moon as a tenable military outpost. (Why launch a missile at the Russians from 250,000 miles away when you can do it from a neighboring continent, using the curve of the earth to obscure it?) What the Moon does readily offer us is “nothing—millions of cubic miles of it”: a ready-made vacuum in which to conduct experiments, and perform many metallurgical and chemical processes which require one, including pharmaceutical production. Additionally, the Moon’s thin, weatherless atmosphere is a safe environment in which to build massive telescopes for cheap, without having to worry about damage from tropical storms.

Most importantly, writes Clarke, the Moon’s minimal gravity has an escape velocity of 5,200 miles per hour. This is about a fifth of Earth’s escape velocity. It is feasible to reach this speed on a land-based track, thus powering your ship with an adjoining, sustainable energy facility. Costly rocket fuel need not be used at all. Moon-mining, lunar catapults, dark-side communications outposts—Clarke’s moon is a hotbed of economic opportunity. He titles his essay, dryly, “The Uses of the Moon.”

Almost 40 years later, Clarke’s science may not always hold up, but his vision does. It is, in fact, front-page news. Bush’s Moon speech referenced (albeit quickly) some of Clarke’s same fiscal and scientific advantages—namely, gainful lunar mining and the use of the Moon as America’s “launching point for missions beyond.”

Bush, compared to Kennedy, may express slightly more utilitarian objectives for the Moon, but overall, his tenor reaffirms that the prime importance of space exploration to the American public is still poetic in nature. The appeal of space is not in what we might find out (the domain of science) but in what we won’t ever quite know (the domain of poetry). It is an adventure, likely to “boggle the imagination” and “test our limits to dream.” The president assured us we will make many important scientific discoveries. “We don’t know yet what those breakthroughs will be,” he said, “but we can be certain they’ll come, and that our efforts will be repaid many times over.” Furthermore, space exploration under Bush will “inspire our young people to study math, and science, and engineering, and create a new generation of innovators and pioneers.” None of this, of course, is definitively untrue. But such agile spin allows Bush to cast a determination to explore strange worlds light years away as a feel-good, election-year message to Middle America.

The president’s grandiose description of his plan severs it from reality and leaves it floating in the vacuum of sheer possibility. The program’s timetable has the same effect. True, it’s tough to manage a complete scientific revolution within an eight-year presidency. But Kennedy pledged to put a man on the Moon—something that had never been done before—within nine years. Bush pledged to return humans to the Moon (something we’ve done numerous times) in 10. He offered no date for a human landing on Mars.

In contrast, it was precisely Kennedy’s gall and hurried timetable that demanded his speech be more up-front about the sacrifices involved. There was hard work to be done, and it necessitated temporarily playing down the poetry. Though Kennedy glossed over the concrete advantages of going, he was certainly in touch with the possible drawbacks. He stressed that “new money” alone would not do the job. Americans would also have to endure a diversion of resources “from other important activities where they are already thinly spread.” Furthermore, “[W]e cannot afford undue work stoppages, inflated costs of material or talent, wasteful interagency rivalries, or a high turnover of key personnel.” Kennedy sounds less like a president than a plant foreman rolling up his sleeves.

But for Bush, space exploration is more recreation than industry—the stuff of pre-game shows. We do it because it “lifts our national spirit.” It presents not great sacrifices—he asked Congress for a cool billion without acknowledging where it might come from, or even that, wherever it is to come from, it will surely be missed—but only “great risks.” Bush solemnly mentioned the Columbia crew, but stopped short of acknowledging that such a disaster may happen again.

“What does it period?” asked Auden of the Apollo landing. “We were always . . . more facile/at courage than kindness.” Is it any wonder that, faced with our politicians’ lunar bravado, at least one respectable artist’s reaction to the Moon is glib cynicism? It is, after all, a common reaction of any artist to that which he loathes most: bad art. But, with respect to the Moon, Auden lacked something Arthur C. Clarke did not: information. And this information spawned vision and a certain giddiness. The advent of man had the power, in Clarke’s words, to “awaken a sleeping moon.” In Auden’s universe, it could only kill it.

Auden was not alone. In July 1969, The New York Times celebrated Neil Armstrong’s one small step with a supplement entitled “Man and the Moon.” The section features profiles and high school photos of the astronauts, congratulatory ads from hotel chains and furniture stores, and a symposium of celebrity opinions. Pablo Picasso, visionary artist, had this to say: “It means nothing to me. I have no opinion about it, and I don’t care.”


Jon Mooallem’s poetry criticism has appeared recently in The Philadelphia Inquirer and Poetry Magazine.