pseydtonne: Behold the Operator, speaking into a 1930s headset with its large mouthpiece. (prompt)
I heard about NASA transmitting "Across The Universe" by the Beatles out across the actual universe. It's the fiftieth anniversary of their Deep Space Network antenna program and the fortieth anniversary of the recording of the song. Remember that the tracks for Let It Be got recorded well before Abbey Road but got released when the band was too busy fighting to stop the release.

I'm just wondering whether this is the Beatles song to send to aliens.

Let's assume some extra-terrestrial will hear this song. Such a being will have no familiarity with the Indus Valley and thus not speak anything close to an Indo-European language. Thus sending anything with lyrics is a waste of time (except for Sigur Ros, the band from Iceland that uses a single word over and over per album as a vocalization).

Let's assume said entity will be interested enough to figure out English. Said entity will not have the lyric sheet on hand nor could such an entity read it anyway. What does it matter what we say if we won't be understood? We could send "Kill The Poor" by the Dead Kennedys or "The Ice of Boston" by the Dismemberment Plan (one of my favorite songs about relationships and irrational behavior) and it wouldn't matter.

Why can't it be one that shows stronger compositional presence, such as "Norwegian Wood"? Heck, why couldn't we send track 8 from Sigur Ros's "()" album? (Yes, the album title is a set of parentheses just like this sentence is sitting in.) This is a deadly intense song that shows compositional skill and varies in mood drastically. It starts out quiet and becomes an explosion over something like twelve minutes. It doesn't require any translation but it has the human voice singing. It shows what we're made of -- and what we're really like.

We come on quiet but strong. We don't let up. We think we mean no harm but we always wind up screwing up. We're out here. Please be grateful it'll be another century before we make spaceships that can take off on a rainy day let alone get beyond the Moon. Once we can leave here, we'll bring shrink-wrapped garbage and proselytizers but we'll keep the good stuff for ourselves.

We might as well send "I Want You (She's So Heavy)". All we want is to be heard but we're tossing the desire out into the void instead of toward each other. We still don't listen because we still don't want to be that open.

Last night I woke up to the upstairs neighbors having a Superbowl party. There is no way to turn the volume down on ten or twenty college students screaming about the local team and smashing bottles on my lawn. Actually there is, but the cops didn't show up until 10:45 and I didn't call them.

This is the broadcasting we humans do to each other. Well, the kids do anyway. I guess it's a phase, although I was never that loud and I was a loud kid. Maybe this song to the galaxies is our phase: we send it, we listen and we get no response. We blow a bunch of money trying. It's better than spending it on war, which we'll do anyway.

I don't like the Let It Be version of Across the Universe. The production is fine (who knew Phil Spector could do anything quietly, eh?) but John doesn't really enunciate. Fiona Apple does a great cover of it and adds a drum set. She also enunciates, which adds a sense of effort to the tune. I didn't expect it but it makes the song have an angle.

I still think it's delusional of us to send a song that says "nothing's gonna change my world" to other worlds when we constantly change our world. We're hoping by sending this song that someone will respond, which would really change our world. We are sending yet another hypocritical oath to the cosmos and we hope it's a Frisbee.

-now I'm going back to sleep because I'm clearly cranky, Ps/d

August 2016

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