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"Jai Guru Deva Om" flies across the universe...
by Alexandra Pereira
2008-02-04 09:23:27
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…literally. At midnight GMT (Monday 7 p.m. EST) on Monday 4th February 2008, NASA will beam The Beatles’ “Across the Universe” literally across the universe. Travelling 186,000 miles per second, John Lennon’s lyrics will be the first human song ever to be transmitted across space to mark both the 40th anniversary of the song’s recording session by The Beatles and the 50th anniversary of NASA’s founding, as well as 45 years of the Deep Space Network and 50 years since the launch of Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite.

People around the world have been invited to participate in this event by playing the song simultaneously, at the same time NASA is aiming its transmission at the North Star, Polaris, located 431 light years away from the planet Earth.

A friend of mine, who’s an astrophysicist, says it’s all bullshit and a NASA media campaign, as we would have to teach the aliens how to decipher radio signs, tell them the wave length and give them sign receptors first. I think this friend of mine is too rational and human-framed about the whole thing, besides underestimating aliens (I just knew about how low he rates humans... well, to say the truth, I really didn’t know, but I got to know through this fast chat, something which truly shocked me, in such way I won’t quote here his opinions about human race).

But it makes me laugh to think about how he “humanizes” aliens so much and can only imagine them subdued to very strict human patterns, concepts, laws and even technologies, for as scientific as they can be (and even if I risk getting severely or sarcastically mocked, e.g. “Last time I went to Mauna Kea I couldn’t see any UFO, but I’ll send aliens your regards if I can see them on next March”).

I mean, aliens are a totally different thing in my head or, at least, there is such possibility for me: that they are quite distinct from humans. A great possibility under my own point of view, which he immediately considers scanty and irrelevant due to an argument he calls “astroselection” and, as far as I could understand, is the “cosmic equivalent of Earth’s natural selection”.

To get him pacified after an alight discussion on how “objectively, we can only communicate effectively with some 0,0001% of the species on our own planet, and we must start from that” – which arguments I disagreed upon without presenting any serious mathematical estimations or proofs instead of an “intuitive communication” and “adventurous spirit” remark that made me feel like a complete jerk –, I answered maybe-who-knows-perhaps-it-can-be this message beamed across the universe can turn out to be much more important for us here, among us and between us humans, now and in the future on this planet Earth, than to aliens themselves. Who knows... Can you see anything happening on Earth from Mauna Kea?

One thing is true, the lyrics of the song, which Lennon described as purely inspirational and “coming to him as boom”, thus not belonging to himself, couldn’t sound more appropriate: “Images of broken light which/ dance before me like a million eyes/ That call me on and on across the universe/ Thoughts meander like a/ restless wind inside a letter box/ they tumble blindly as/ they make their way across the universe (…) Sounds of laughter shades of life/ are ringing through my open ears/ exciting and inviting me/ Limitless undying love which/ shines around me like a million suns/ It calls me on and on across the universe/ Jai Guru Deva Om/ Nothing's gonna change my world/ Nothing's gonna change my world (…)”

Jai Guru Deva Om is a praise to God in Sanskrit language, and as Om represents all the birth, growth and death of the Cosmos, as well as a kind of onomatopoeia for the sound or vibration of the Cosmos itself (which Yogis hear in deep meditation, and practicers imitate in order to bring in that natural vibration), the whole expression can be translated as “I give thanks/hope to the heavenly teacher, Om” or even, more audaciously, “Victory/Glory to the heavenly teacher, Om”.

Lennon was not a religious man, but a spiritual one. He was praising Love and a cosmic order inside cosmic disorder, in the humble way an ignorant but curious man or woman does. I think he must have loved the double meaning of “heavenly teacher/God” as translation, because of the restricting and religiously mundane connotations a definite English “God” would have bared.

As Paul McCartney reacted to the news with a simple enthusiastic and/or ironic message: “Amazing! Well done, NASA! Send my love to the aliens. All the best, Paul”, Yoko Ono emphasized that she sees this “as the beginning of the new age in which we will communicate with billions of planets across the universe." However it goes, one thing is sure: this event will make words fly out like endless rain into a paper cup, they will slither while they pass and slip away across the universe... “Jai Guru Deva Om/ Nothing’s gonna change my world”. Is there something changing our world?

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Emanuel Paparella2008-02-04 16:00:30
Thanks for this perceptive article on the wonders that is the universe and the human being contemplating it. It brought me back to a passage from Kant's Critique of Practical Reason perhaps worth mentioning here:

"Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and more steadily we reflect on them; the starry heavens above and moral law within. . . The former view of a countless multitude of worlds annihilates, as it were, my importance as an animal creature, which must give back to the planet (a mere speck in the universe) the matter from which it came, the matter which is for a little time provided with vital force, we know not how. The latter on the contrary, infinitely raises my worth as that of an intelligence by my personality, in which the moral law reveals a life independent of all animality and even of the whole world of sense--at least so far as it may be inferred from the purposive destination assigned to my existence by this law, a destination which is not restricted to the conditions and limits of this life but reaches into the infinite."

Sand2008-02-04 17:36:17

Each day, as the mindless sphere
Tumbles through its empty diadem
Around the Sun, herding a stone dead companion
Bereft of feeling and of thought,
The motes of consciousness that breed
Upon its moist promontories
Like mold on Roquefort cheese
Which claim significance
That resounds through vast four dimensions,
Each particle of this infestation
Insane with ego and its modest modicum
Of capability declares itself
Inextricably involved
With whirligig configurations of the planets
And the stars. This impertinence to the dignities
Of mass and momentum
And the topology of time
Adds a whiff of comedy,
A trace of trollish drollery
To the imperturbability of fate.

A.P.2008-02-04 23:39:21
Dear Sand:
I think you din't understand my point. Anyway, I don't believe in astrology. But at least I believe in human will. It stuns me that our genius scientists who spend their time analysing stars can't look around them and change something in our own world. Or that they present as an excuse that all humanity sucks and is abject, so that they won't have to care or act. How can we defend we should learn effectively languages of other species and worry much about doing so, when individuals in our own species can't communicate effectively between themselves, even speaking the same language? How realistic is that?

About the aliens, I just felt like answering: when you tell me how black holes can literally fold space and time and what's inside them, I'll tell you how aliens will decode the message ah ah ah

A.P.2008-02-04 23:53:54
I mean, our own science is so rudimentary, who are we to say?? When we can't even explain nor tell what the hell on space are common things like black holes nor how do they do what they do nor what happens inside them, how can we believe we are omniscient? (something today's physicists do quite much, considering mathematics as a God and deifying the genius among themselves, which is well express in the physicists current joke that "the black holes are where God divided per zero", the only place where Einstein formulas are divided per zero, something you can't mathematically do, and Einstein being the God... I mean, for a inch they would almost affirm black holes were a physicist creation!!! How out of reality and self-centered can you be??!).

AP2008-02-05 00:00:44
for an inch

Sand2008-02-05 06:06:11
It seems we surely are poor in grasping each other's points since my poem is in perfect agreement with the concept that human hubris is so powerful that it proposes that humanity has a good deal to go to accept human insignificance. But to discard science is an unfortunate conclusion. Science never claims it has all the answers, merely that it has a valid method for discovering a few. So far it has been more successful than any other in this direction.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-05 13:45:19
Indeed AP the concept of self-centerdness is surely appropriate for the coming theme essay call by Ovi. I wonder if you too have noticed the hubris of those who loudly proclaim the insignificance of mankind while at the same time vigorously peddling their own opinions and individual self-importance? Perhaps they do not belong to the human kind. They may be humbots afer all.

A.P.2008-02-05 14:50:33
I didn't discard science, I just have critical abilities about it. :) "Science never claims it has all the answers, merely that it has a valid method for discovering a few." That's very beautiful in theory, and we all have learned it like that, but the thing is some scientists and scientist-students don't behave accordingly, they can be incredibly arrogant and think they know it all (or if they don't, they will some day!!). This makes me laugh, you have to be very naïve to believe in that - Father Christmas Science.
Science has been unarguably useful for us in practical terms, and harmful as well - it depends of how you choose to apply it. However, in theory, who says a method is or isn't valid? Science?(this always made me scratch my scruff) So the methods we don't understand and/or can't explain, they aren't valid, is it as if they didn't exist at all? And do we always have to follow a method to achieve answers? Not really. Not even to achieve the valid ones. But again who says something is valid or not? Science always. Scientist students should be warned about this "validity" bias.

AP2008-02-05 15:02:28
A bias which, in fact, corrupts a fat slice of theoretical science. Numbers are manipulable, and that's so reassuring. Feeds some illusions about explaining everything in the physical world, at least.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-05 15:09:51
Indeed Alexandra, you have put your finger on something. Here in America, however, we have had plenty of people who have reflected deeply and corrected that kind of misconception about science vis a vis truth. Just to name a few: Peirce, Royce, Kuhn, James. And in Europe we have Vico.

AP2008-02-05 15:12:08
Mathematics can't be used as a tool to opress others and make them feel whatever exists, you can explain it, like a kind of God (thus increasing your social status and power), because it is so flexible that whatever idiotic thing you decide to say, you can prove it through numbers and equations (that is, "objectively prove it", even if it is fake, biased, prejudiced, ecc.). That's a circus illusion.

AP2008-02-05 15:22:00
Dear Sand: actually I found your poem beautiful :)

Sand2008-02-05 16:04:39
Paparella, your open confession is encouraging,
Of course there are difficult people in every discipline, but I cannot understand why you object so to all the advances in civilization out of science. Science enable us but what the corrupt politicians and the scoundrels do with this enabling should not be placed upon the head of those who reveal all the possibilities available to us.

AP2008-02-05 17:35:36
Dear Sand: I actually found your poem very beautiful.
I don't "object to all the advances in civilization out of science", that's high speculation and, I must say, wayyyyyyyyy far from what I said, which was going in the opposite sense.

AP2008-02-05 17:43:30
Not only politicians use science, some scientists use science as a way of having political and social power over others. That's nasty.
Science is not a domain of pure intentions, naïve inventors and/or unspotted ethics, or purely of simple and humble genius who get used by the system. That's a myth. Often they sell themselves, or they disregard the social impact of their theories. This is just having critics about.

AP2008-02-05 17:45:34
We live in an era when science is over-ranked and all other knowledge under-ranked.

AP2008-02-05 17:47:21
Or should I say science is over-ranked and wisdom under-ranked.

Sand2008-02-05 18:08:53
Glad you liked the poetry. I have about a thousand more anytime you want them.
You ask too much of scientists. They come in all sorts of varieties just like any other sector of our species but I have yet to be convinced they are more evil than politicians or corporate executives. The scientific budget of any of the agencies such as NASA testifies more or less to their basic power. I grew up before there were computers or TV or even home refrigerators and freezers and electric cake mixers and I am not sorry to have their convenience.

AP2008-02-05 18:24:29
Me neither :)

AP2008-02-05 19:46:07
I have some things against theories and scientific theoretical bias which influence societies (and have power over them), but almost nothing against its uses (except for those who had the technical expertise and helped to build the atomic bombs knowing their purposes and holocaust-legitimating scientists and indiscriminate food genetic manipulation), and I'm surely and completely in favor of its practical and technical uses for good things (like treating diseases, allowing global communication, staminal cells research, ecc.). We just have to recognize it has a bright and a dark side, we can't deify it completely, that's dumb.

AP2008-02-05 19:54:37
Send one more poem then, and let's just appreciate it for a moment in its beauty, aside from whichever metrics...

Sand2008-02-05 20:10:29
OK. Here's another.

What will be the dreams
Of our children's children's children?
They will be told
How we took the green Earth
And squeezed it in our fists
Until the blood
Streamed between our fingers
And then inspected our palms
For the dead gold we so love.
"Where," they will ask, "are the elephants?"
"Where are the tigers and the whales?"
"Why kill the peaceful pandas,
The fierce Tyrannosaurus Rex, the dodo,
The passenger pigeon, the shark
And the gryphon. Where are the dragons
That patrolled the clouds?
Did you have to kill The unicorn and butcher Jesus Christ?"
For this guilt will stain like an engine
Pumping blood out of both the real
And the fantastic to engulf and besmirch
All innocence.

These sons of our sons of our sons,
Daughters of our daughters of our daughters,
Will know an angry sky with a relentless sun
That spits blindness and cancer
In cosmic hate.
They will flee from roiling atmospheres
Speared with thunderbolts,
Whirling winds that spin flying corpses
In grotesque glee.
The seas will rise to entomb in green silence
Coastal cities, tropic islands.
And these sons and daughters
Will wonder why
We made the Earth so angry.

Sand2008-02-05 20:22:40
This one is, perhaps prettier.


The chill air tumbles down from the moon
And splashes through trembling leaves
Tainted by the icebergs of Europa.
Silently, like a frenzied animal,
The nightwind pokes its nose
Into tight corners, stirring debris and dust
To fashion merry whirlwinds
Of candy wrappers,dying balloons
Pigeon feathers, scattered popcorn
And torn fragments of a loser's tickets
To the lottery. Suddenly, as if
With a whoop of joy,
It seizes sheets of tabloid,
Triumphantly kites them high
Above the peaks of the central tent
And, like children playing follow me,
They troop through the brass forest
Of the carousel. A frozen lion
Puts on a cocked hat, a rearing horse
Gains a paper mask. As if tired of the game,
The remaining sheets collapse in chuckles
On the central machinery.
The wind runs its fingertips along a line of lights
To make them dance in sinusoidal glee.
It shakes the canvas posters of the sideshows
Distorting even further the twisted human portraits
And then skoots off into the big top.
With skill it coordinates
The pendulums of trapezes.
It tosses handfulls of sawdust on the empty seats
Which shine in fascination at its high jinks.
Then, bored with play, it exits to the night
And back up to the stars.

AP2008-02-05 20:42:07
Yes, it is :)

Sand2008-02-05 20:54:43
Here's something local.


The first cool hint of winter
Came this Sunday morning
From a pale blue sky
To shine
With lemon light on yellow leaves

And fire up maple reds.
It jostled stiff brown stems
To rustle in the flower beds.
So frail and shy a creature
With the slightest touch
Transmutes the summer=s feature
By not much -
In such a gentle evil way
One does not even quail
To feel the softest brush
Of faint death=s tail.

Has this ghost pupa hatched
From out the extra hour
Set to sleep through summer
From the Spring?
Or merely tipped and spilled
From Time itself
Which wobbles
With the planet=s bobbles
In its sunswept swing?

No matter.

It glitters in the weakened sun
To stiffen out its membranes
With their needle spines.
Cooling breezes tease away
The heat of summer
Shed like a sunburned skin
To sweep like flying silken scarves
Far down to Africa.

It needs three months
To gnaw away the green to brown
And brown to black,
To fill its lungs with poison cold and ice
And crack the shell of life,
To spill the snow with frozen birds
And mice
And etch its black-white artistry
On dead gray clouds.

A moon-white sun
Awaits for when
The Earth slides down its path
To certain rendezvous with life
Begun again.

AP2008-02-05 21:02:07
Are those published? Did you ever think about/tried doing so?

Sand2008-02-05 21:10:12
There's no money in poetry. It's not worth the trouble. A friend of mine has a few more at her site at http://www.artvilla.com/mair/sand.htm
if you are interested. If you are really interested my e-mail is jiisand@gmail.com
I could send you a disk with all of it. I'm happy anybody is interested.

AP2008-02-06 13:49:54
Well, yes, they are interesting. How about publishing with Ovi's sponsorship? ;)

AP2008-02-06 13:54:07
And there is this woman, Anne Rouhianen, who writes for Gallery Magazine and Helsinki Sanomat and has some contacts in editors, to whom you could send them.

Sand2008-02-06 16:14:42
I gave the OVI editors much of my poetry quite a while ago. Occasionally they print one. Apparently it requires a special taste. A few people on the web have seen some of it and they sometimes stick a poem or so in their blog. I am not sure of its value, but it entertains me and is amusing to write. I really don't have either the drive or the ego to shove it forcefully at the world.

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