Wednesday, October 23, 2002

You might not even know, love, that I'm a Space Buff. Manned space exploration fascinates me. During space shuttle missions, I endlessly watch NASA TV broadcasts on the web. I dragged Ereck to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry (which has human body slices) so we could watch an IMAX movie about the International Space Station (narrated by Tom Cruise). In a particularly obsessive moment, I transcribed a David Letterman interview with space tourist Dennis Tito and posted it on

I also like my space lore in book form, though breathlessly hagiographic tomes like Andrew Chaikin's Man On The Moon tire after a while. That's why I was pleased recently to pick up The Final Frontier (London: Verso, 1988) by Dale Carter, an American historian at Aarhus Universitet, Denmark. This is a critical-theoretical analysis of the U.S. space program, and it draws heavily on a reading of Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow (which I haven't read, so I find myself skimming a lot). Typically of a Verso book, the methodology of The Final Frontier is appealingly Marxian, and we get bits like this description of the American astronauts: the extent that any propagandized society systematically undermines friendship, trust, independence, and security and systematically fosters feelings of frustration, guilt, inferiority, and the desire for power, a hero, leader, or celebrity will appear effortlessly to satisfy those needs (174).
To me that's even more exciting than a Revell model of Skylab.

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