Planetary Radio • May 03, 2024

Space Policy Edition: The power of the lunar sublime

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On This Episode

Chris cokinos

Christopher Cokinos

Poet and Author of Still As Bright: An Illuminating History of the Moon, from Antiquity to Tomorrow

Casey dreier tps mars

Casey Dreier

Chief of Space Policy for The Planetary Society

Should policymakers spend more time looking — really looking — at the Moon? Chris Cokinos thinks so. He is the author of the new book, Still As Bright: An Illuminating History of the Moon, from Antiquity to Tomorrow, which explores the role of our nearest celestial neighbor in culture, art, and our dreams of space exploration over the course of human history. It’s about the power of looking and seeing something beyond what you’d expect.

But the conversation goes beyond that. We discuss the role of the sublime in our everyday lives, how to find beauty in the quotidian, the role of language in conveying the beauty and power of space, and even why he thinks landing cremains on the Moon is disrespectful.

Copernicus crater from Lunar Orbiter 2
Copernicus crater from Lunar Orbiter 2 This highly oblique view of the floor of Copernicus crater was declared the Image Of The Century when it was taken in 1966. However, the image was quickly overshadowed by the stunning photos returned by the Apollo program just a few years later.Image: NASA


Casey Dreier: Hello and welcome to the Space Policy Edition of Planetary Radio, the monthly show where we talk about the politics and processes behind space exploration. I'm Casey Dreier, the chief of Space policy here at The Planetary Society. I am really excited about this month's episode and we are taking a small step away from the focus on policy to kind of policy, but something more. I'm talking to Chris Cokinos, the poet, and also author of a brand new book called Still As Bright, An Illuminating History of the moon, from Antiquity to Tomorrow. Now, obviously there's a lot happening at and around the moon these days. Just this year that I record this, we are seeing the first Commercial Lunar Payload Delivery Services. We are seeing multiple new missions going through multiple different countries to the moon for the first time. And of course, NASA's Artemis program is marching along and very likely next year we will see humans at least orbit the moon for the first time in my lifetime and a lot of your lifetimes. What's so interesting about this book, which of course talks about the history of the moon as we see it, why it came to be the physical processes, some of the exploration of it. But it's ultimately a book about looking at the moon and actually seeing it. Chris Cokinos would argue that all of the people that are working to go from the astronauts to the engineers to the policymakers themselves, should pause and spend time just looking at the moon. Observing it, watching it, taking it in at a deep level, not to necessarily change what they're doing, but to understand the place to which they're going. But Chris's book, which is just beautifully written, really captures this interesting tension between something so familiar and quotidian, the moon. That we see almost every night or sometimes during the day just up in the sky that sometimes we'll remark on it if it's low or big or particularly beautiful little crescent. But oftentimes just acknowledge that tension between something so familiar. But then once you at it something so profoundly alien to really understand as the Apollo astronauts did when they were there. This magnificent desolation, the complete opposite of a fertile planet Earth, is just a few hundred thousand miles away. And I really love this exploration, of his process of seeing it. And he's an amateur astronomer and it talks about his process of seeing and studying the moon at these incredible levels of detail. And something happens in your mind, something happens in your brain when you really soak in the alienness of something so familiar. And this is the idea I think, of the sublime, this strange feeling that's hard to put a name or actual description to. Where we become simultaneously smaller, but also we open up to something bigger. And it's a strange feeling. There's some uncertainty in that experience. Seeing a gorgeous mountain vista, communion with the night sky, I think is another way to do it. And seeing the moon giving our brains an opportunity to feel something alien in a world that is ultimately really trying to convince us and grab our attention with the familiar, with the nostalgic, with comfort, and giving us these small hits of dopamine. That while satisfying in the moment, leave us feeling somewhat empty. So having the moon, as Chris will say, is an opportunity to experience wonder. And we talk about this, we talk about literature, we'll talk about how the moon has been seen by different cultures over time and our evolving relationship with the moon. Particularly now as a species, we are making a sustained effort to go back. Chris himself just published an article which will be linked to in the show notes on space news arguing, for example, that we should not allow companies to deposit cremains on its surface. Now, you may agree with Chris or you may not, but he makes an impassioned and thoughtful argument for how we treat this alien world so close to us with his approach of humble respect. I hope you'll stick around for that conversation. It was a delight to speak with him in his book, of course, I recommend. It was fun to read, it was obviously inspiring to me and really hit on some ideas that have been flowing around in my brain over the last few years. But before we do so, I would be remiss if I did not say that this show, the Space Policy Edition is here because of members of The Planetary Society, my organization. We are an independent organization. What we do and how we do it and who we are is not funded by aerospace, corporations or government. We are funded by people just like you, to co-opt a phrase, but members all around the world who enable us to exist. So if you are not a member and you are enjoying this show or Planetary Radio by my colleague, Sarah, please consider joining us. You can go to join, membership level, start at just four bucks a month. That's not that much. And if you are a member, first I just want to really thank you. Thank you so much for making this all happen. And if you can, consider increasing your membership level to help us do more work like this, to do all the great advocacy work my colleague Jack does in Washington, D.C. Our outreach and our great projects, all of that happens because of membership. It's at Okay, so we've got that out of the way. Let's talk right now with Chris. Chris, thank you for being on this episode of the Space Policy Edition.

Chris Cokinos: Well, thank you for having me. I think I might be the first poet ever to be on the Space Policy Edition, but I'm not sure.

Casey Dreier: Depends, what you take for the poetry and written policy for the most time. It's a relatively austere medium, openly acknowledged poet. It's delighted to have you here. I have to just say from the outset, I just truly enjoyed your new book. And obviously I read a lot of space books either because I have to or because I want to, and this was a nice combination of both. I think because of your background have a quality to your writing that is just enjoyable to read. And I kept noting and underlining passages, some of which I'll read today. But the quality of your writing was just a lot of it was just beautiful. And I appreciated that lineage, I think to what got me into this field. Kind of that Saganesque subjective, but also scientific connective approach of bringing forth the humanity in the process and the enjoyment of literature itself. So just want to put that right out there, that it was nicely done, and I hope you write more of these in the future.

Chris Cokinos: I hope to write more of these in the future. It takes me a while, and I really appreciate that Casey. I think the moon is important and beautiful. And actually talking about it cuts to a lot of the reasons why those of us who are interested in space exploration and science and potentially settling on the moon or Mars. I think it cuts to all of those things.

Casey Dreier: Exactly. And I think the interesting part is that it's the medium itself sometimes about how you share a message. And I think again, the quality or how you wrote this book and literative aspect of it, I think really again, resonated with me as someone who grew up reading Sagan. But also you and I have a mutual appreciation for Loren Eiseley who's not necessarily as well known today as he was back in the 60s and 70s. But he was an anthropologist who had, I think kind of this wistful, somewhat sad, almost inevitability to his writing about progress, his very kind of mixed feelings of it. But was able to, through language, tie that experience and share that with the reader and evoke something more deep than just look at the scientific results that we're finding. Maybe to put it crassly more than just a left-brain communication of ideas, but this more right-brained evocation of experience. And I felt that a lot reading your book, and I thought that it had a clear line also to Eiseley in terms of how you wove your personal experience and the reflections of when you stare to the moon over time. So again, just really nicely done in that sense. And I think that tone was really refreshing for me. And in this book, I mean obviously you talk about the moon in a historical context, you speculate in its future, you talk about how it's changed over time. But you personally just spent a lot of time looking at the moon and I think crucially seeing it in a way that most of us haven't. So tell us a bit about that and how has your experience of looking at the moon evolved from when you started to study it through your backyard telescope to where you are today on the other side of this book?

Chris Cokinos: Sure. And I think that... I've been joking that it's the story of a boy and his telescope. And it is, I mean, there is a memoir element to it. So part of it is there's a little narrative about rediscovering the telescope my father gave me when I was a child as he then is dying of cancer. And thinking about mortality, which the moon happens to be wrapped up in a whole lot of cultural symbolism. So it's convenient in that way for blending the individual stories that I do up to having having a backyard telescope. And the story is somewhat ironic in that I was a child of Apollo, I'm a child of Apollo, so I watched the moon landings. I tape recorded Jules Bergman and Walter Cronkite reporting on these later missions. And that for me was a form of aspiration to listen to those in my little childhood trailer, dark bedroom, wishing I had a different family and wanting to be an astronaut. So that is kind of the basis of it. And yet when I started becoming amateur astronomer, stargazer or whatever you want to call it, I didn't really pay attention to the moon. Because it's both really easy, you know there it is, it's not hard to find in the sky when it's up. But it's also really confusing when you first look at it through the telescope, it's astonishing. And I love showing kids especially and adults who become like children when they see the moon through the telescope for the first time. So it took me a while to find the moon in that personal sense and to find the stories, the historical, cultural and scientific stories that would become kind of the lyrical heart of the book. So looking at the moon initially through my backyard telescope was... There was a night that I clearly remember I write about it in the opening of the book. Where I have this kind of epiphany when I'm sort of in a Loren Eiseley-esque melancholy state and decide, "Okay, well I haven't looked through my telescope in months and I'm not going to haul it out to south of Tucson," where I was living then. So there's the moon, I'm going to look at the moon. And it was breathtaking literally, and I felt in the presence of this sublime landscape. So it all kind of flooded from that moment. And as I tell in the book, part of the individual story is just my learning how to navigate this terrain, treating it as another landscape akin to the American West, which is I think interesting. Because a lot of the initial descriptions of some early lunar photographs reference the Dakotas or they reference the Wasatch in Utah where I live now. And learning my way around the moon became also the way of learning its stories. So over the years, that's been a huge sort of part of my life. And it's interesting you asked that question too, because I've just had a pretty decent run of looking at the moon here. And as we're recording this last week, there were some clear nights and I was just out there just kind of going back to how it was initially. Which, I know the names of a lot of features, I know their stories, I know the science, but I was just sort of settling into looking at it. And I feel like that foundational level of appreciating something outside of yourself is the basis for a sense of wonder and a sense of connection. So I don't know if that's answering your question. I mean it really has evolved over the past five or six years. I know more about it obviously than I did, but sometimes just being at the telescope at the eyepiece that knowledge is sort of a substrate. It's not in the forefront of my mind.

Casey Dreier: That's interesting because I mean, what I was getting at in a way with that question was also... And what you touched on is that the moon has this fractal level of information. The closer and deeper you look, the more and more there is to see. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have the iPhone moon wallpaper on it. So literally every time I look at my phone to unlock it, the moon is presented to me. But I couldn't name a single... I mean, I could name some of the very, very big ones, but I wasn't looking at it. And what I like about this book is that it's the story and it's also kind of this quiet lesson in the value of looking. And exactly what you're saying, kind of experiencing something that is in some ways so quotidian, it is right there. Sometimes we notice it-

Chris Cokinos: We see it all the time.

Casey Dreier: We see it all the time, but also we're not familiar with it anymore. And that's what your book kind of opens with, is that this early relationship humans had with the moon would've been profoundly different. It would've dominated their awareness. My amateur astronomy era is like, you're taught to wait for moonless nights. The moon is your enemy. And you're trying to avoid it. So I was very moved by the fact that like, "Oh, what if you just looked at the moon?" And again, you have these beautiful descriptions of seeing it and it was inspiring. And I think maybe the highest praise you can give from reading this book is that I had my binoculars out in a next clear sky. I'll bring my telescope about to look at the moon. It was very inspiring to do it, but the act of doing it itself is the important part. And almost melting into that knowledge and just appreciating what you see is itself, I think a rare experience, particularly in our modern culture.

Chris Cokinos: Yeah, I think so too. And at the end of the book, I bring this sense of wonder, the childlike or childhood sense of wonder, and I try to come full circle. And I talk about how a number of scholars, astronomers, sociologists myself feeling like that's the basis for a certain kind of ethical relationship to others and to place. And because we're going back, right? We're going back to the moon and it's going to be very different from Apollo and we can talk about that. But underneath that, I think we all want to know things and we all want to live well. If you're talking about real reasons and acceptable reasons to use the dichotomy from last month with Michael Griffin, a former NASA administrator's famous speech, maybe that's the ultimate real reason that we do anything. We want to live well and we want to know things. And there's the moon. It's the closest world that we can see with our naked eye. We can make out landscape details with our naked eye, with binoculars. If you don't have to have a telescope, you can borrow one from a library. There are nearly a thousand libraries in this country that have telescopes. And my plea is to just find those moments. And it's difficult, like you and your wife are raising a nine-month-old, right? I'm just in retirement. I get there are questions of privilege and demographics and just who you are and the time you are in your life. And yet we can try to find those pauses and try to craft those pauses in our lives. And maybe it's not the moon, I was reminded of... As I was thinking about the interview. There's a beautiful story about a philosopher named Arthur Schopenhauer who's one of my favorite philosophers, and he's wandering around this park in Dresden. This is in the early 19th century, and he's just enraptured. It's early spring, the flowers are blooming and he's wandering around in this kind of fugue state and a guard or some official comes up to him and says, "Who are you? What are you doing?" So the guard asks him, "Who are you?" And Schopenhauer turns to him and says, "I wish you could tell me". Those moments where we are taken out of ourselves and put in a sort of relation with another being or another material object like the moon are really crucial for our well-being. And I think in case of the moon, it's also something that should be foundational for the people who are writing policy, who are doing the engineering studies for the human landing system, who are thinking about space law and safety zones around the Artemis landing sites. All these very technical things that are important, they're crucial and we all should be talking about them or those of us who care about it. But I would think especially for them really getting to know the moon as a world and as a world that we have had a very long relationship with is important.

Casey Dreier: I think there's a theme in your book about, in a sense that tension of the moon is both familiar and regular presence in our lives, but also utterly alien, when you do look at it. And I feel like a lot of the experience or part of this thing that will... Of the sublime or the experience of wonder that you describe comes from that tension that when you do look, it is a strange place. You have a quote here, and if you you allow me to read your words back to you. You say here, "The curved moon, a real place made of the real. Rock and fact and light and shadow. The steep sides and the shallow dips and the cracks that dance across the crust so dark and alone. And so bright in the dark sky that my contact with deep past, with my own, dissolves redemption into kinship with its lovely certainty of death, I experienced that." I love that line. That's a great line.

Chris Cokinos: Thank you.

Casey Dreier: That emphasis that this is a real place, but we cannot use our experience to understand it. And I think that's the value. That's why I keep thinking about this, the value of looking at it and kind of what you were saying to the policy makers, there is a value to it. Even if you think you know what it is because you've seen it in the sky, it is not what you maybe intuitively feel like.

Chris Cokinos: Yeah, exactly. It's deeply paradoxical in that it is utterly familiar and it's like, "Oh, beautiful full moon tonight," and we will notice that. But I think that sort of glancing familiarity and our reliance on abstract language and frankly cliches when talking about places terrestrial or otherwise. Those things can put places and lives at risk. There's no indigenous life on the moon, so that's not a concern here. So I think having the chance, and again, crafting your life so you have occasional moments, occasional chances. In this case to look at the moon and maybe to get to know its history a little bit will recalibrate your relationship with it. It's like any other thing. Aldo Leopold, who's a famous conservationist who wrote a book called A Sand County Almanac, which remains a really important book. He talks about how we reach certain ethical values and certain linguistic capabilities initially just by finding something pretty. We look at it's like, "Oh, that's pretty." Well, if we move beyond that, it's foundational and it's necessary but not sufficient to establish a relationship with what David Abram has called the more-than-human world. Well, the moon is part of the more-than-human world, and time has been on the moon longer than we've been around. So we can look at it and find the strangeness of that landscape. Just to give you an example, one of my favorite landscape features to look at on the moon is Vallis Rheita which is on the eastern limb of the moon. You could kind of see it curving across this gouge that's curving across the landscape. Well, it's essentially equivalent to the Grand Canyon, but it took seconds, not millennia to form. So having both that chance to look and the ability to just slow down to the extent you can and perceive something through. We're talking mostly through telescope or astronomy club telescope or library telescope or your own. And having just a little bit of information about it, I think really does recalibrate your relationship to the moon. I mean, it's a profoundly interesting world. It's so funny to me. You mentioned of course, Carl Sagan and he's so important and so crucial to a lot of us who care about planetary science and exploration. But he's the one who said the moon was boring, he was wrong. He was just flat out wrong. And even at the time when the science seemed to suggest that there really wasn't that much to get from the moon, and that's changed radically. Get, I mean in terms of knowledge, not just material commodities or what have you. It's endlessly dramatic, looking at the change of light and shadow on the moon, and I'll never get tired of it.

Casey Dreier: Gosh, I want to ask four different things there because of that. Let me say, you talk about this idea, you hinted at this idea of the evolution of romanticism as a cultural movement. Being able to unlock nature as something, finding beauty in nature, whereas before, prior to that, a mountain range would just be intimidating or irritating or problematic-

Chris Cokinos: Or grotesque, like a reminder of satanic evil actually.

Casey Dreier: Right. And then we have this-

Chris Cokinos: So we're talking early Middle Ages to the early 18th century, I guess.

Casey Dreier: And then of course I thought a lot about when you talked about Chesley Bonestell's painting, the tradition of American sublime landscape, romantic painting, and he was born basically kind of on the tail end of that. And I wonder if he kind of brought that maybe intuitively into his representation of lunar scapes, which you point out are scientifically wrong. But evocative in a way that was probably helpful to the selling of the moon as a destination. But even going back to my original point of Sagan's critique, which is I'll get a heresy in this show for the first person to critique Sagan... No, but the idea that it takes a certain kind of romantic sublime is almost key to unlocking beauty in a seemingly desolate and hostile environment. And the idea that you almost have to quiet parts of your mind in order to see through that initial reaction to the beauty. And you use the desert in Tucson as an example of that, of your personal experience. But I wonder how much of that is the moon being scientifically almost too accessible, but also maybe visually too accessible that people would just instinctively look past it and assume there wasn't something more there to be seen?

Chris Cokinos: I think you're onto something there, and I think that we're essentially talking about an individual's relationship with the environment, right? And the moon is part of our nightly environment when the skies are clear and it's up and so forth. So it might also have to do, in Tucson... I'll talk a little bit about that because this is a book about place and it's about in part a struggle I have with finding a sense of home in the Sonoran Desert and the Southwest versus the time I've had here. And I'm back now in northern Utah, and my thinking about the moon is inflected through that. I'll definitely want to come back to what you're asking, but it makes me think of these dichotomies of language in which we still hear people talking about colonies on the moon. We don't say a home on the moon or we call it a frontier. What would happen if we called it a heartland? So I'm jumping ahead a little bit, but those kinds of questions, we can answer them better I'd think. If we have the ability to step back from our ordinary and daily relationship, whether it's enriching or alienating with the environment that you're in right now. And I think part of the difficulty with experiencing the sublime with casual views of the moon is that you're very much grounded here on Earth. The paradox for me is that that doubling sense actually made it possible for me to feel a sense of wonder, in the sense of sublime more, because I was thinking about how I felt about literally palm trees in Tucson, which they still bother me. But they're there and they belong there. So there's certainly a deep element of subjectivity here. I feel more at home in this place. You feel more at home in that place. What I'm saying is that the investigation that I've had with the moon of that question gives me maybe a little bit more of an ability to step back and see why I'm reacting the way I am to a particular place, whether it's the Sonoran Desert or the moon. The last thing I would say about this is one of the things that I found so fascinating, you talked about Chesley Bonestell, and of course his work is so iconic. He knew that he was painting an inaccurate moon, and a lot of people knew that they were painting or illustrating inaccurate moons. The selenographers, the 19th century astronomers who were mapping the moon. It's some really amazing stories in the book about these guys are literally going blind mapping the moon, the telescope being the 19th century version of the Apollo spacecraft as it were. And they know that the moon's mountains are rounded. They're not sharp peaked the way the Tetons or the Himalayas are. But it just felt like that sense of the romantic sublime, they should be sharp peaked. It's the moon as it ought to be. I think one of Chesley Bonestell's defenders says, but it's like, "Well, that's not how it is." So how can we step back a little bit from those preconceptions like Nevada is a great place to dump razor blades as a general once said, or let's put lawn, Kentucky bluegrass on the deserts in Las Vegas. That kind of imposition of one place onto another place is something that we, I think, are going to have to think hard about now because of the Artemis program and going back to the moon.

Casey Dreier: We're almost accelerating a trend that the U.S. went to with its western expansion that took a hundred years. We're jumping forward a little bit, but I just love the section on Chesley Bonestell and the other artistic depictions of the moon of the early 20th century. Here in Seattle, in the Seattle Art Museum. There are a number of these, again, kind of momentous, epic landscape paintings of the late and mid-nineteenth century. Really famous one, reminded me of was Albert Bierstadt's Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast, which is a fantastical landscape that does not exist. And it wasn't... I am sure they probably knew it wasn't real, but it was the Pacific Northwest as it should be. To kind of cop the same language. And it was used in a sense to inflame the passions of Americans on the Eastern Seaboard and elsewhere to kind of inspire this now obviously outdated ownership and taking of this land. And that's what I just see. And I think that we forget how close in time the early 20th century was to that period of the frontierism just being extended to the moon once that kind of concept seemingly closed off in the late 19th century. And ultimately, as you point out, there were some pretty negative consequences, particularly for the indigenous people who lived here to begin with. But it was, as a propaganda and as a motivational piece of art, it seemed to be effective in pushing that narrative, which I think Chesley Bonestell's was as well. But now with Artemis, we do have to actually face in now the next coming decade, exactly what this place is. And I liked how you point out that using the words colonized versus making a home are very different implications.

Chris Cokinos: They're very different implications. And I just want to jump in and say Casey too, I think that the 19th century landscape tradition in concert with exploratory surveys of the West and the politics and racism of that moment, it's a very complicated story. We could also say a lot of the artwork that was produced in that time helped create national parks. And the movement [inaudible 00:32:26]-

Casey Dreier: And that's what led to that as well, yeah.

Chris Cokinos: And also displacing of indigenous cultures. But hey, the counter argument here is the moon, well, there's no indigenous culture, so it's fine. We could just go do our thing, right? But you're hinting... You're pointing out [inaudible 00:32:40], I think one of the arguments of the book is, well sure if we want to strip mine Mare Imbrium so that's visible from the face of the Earth, we could do that. But do we want to do that? Because the moon is not just a real place, which I think has some worth, intrinsic worth, but it also plays this outsized role in human culture. The moon, we can do the lawyerly thing. Well, there's a difference between saying it doesn't belong to anyone or that we own it all. But essentially I think we understand what we're saying when we say that, which is the moon has been in relation with our species for a very long time, and we need to respect that. And I say that as somebody who wants to go back, I want to go back. I want humans living on the moon.

Casey Dreier: I have in my notes again that this romantic painting did help establish the concept of preservation. And then maybe that's where, with this type of observation I think that you're talking about here is maybe one of the potential better outcomes. Or that you would like to see this idea that this is a... It's sacred to a lot of people-

Chris Cokinos: It is.

Casey Dreier: ... But there's also kind of a secular sacredness to it. In a sense, I think connecting it to this wilderness aspect that it's our closest celestial wilderness. Again, just to kind of extend this metaphor to the western romantic painting, which I've probably belabored too long at this point. But I find it very fascinating to kind see those connections come up.

Chris Cokinos: Because it sets up a whole series of expectations. A couple things occur to me here. One would be, again, I want humans to return to the moon. I want us to have a just vibrant life there and anywhere else and on Earth. And I think we can solve a number of things at once. So I don't believe that this is setting one thing against another in a certain sense. But I don't want to look through my telescope and see a billboard for Arby's on Clavius Crater. Now, that's an exaggeration. But one of the things we were talking before the interview, I had a piece in space news about the issue of putting human remains on the moon. And one of the arguments... I think it's disrespectful, I think it's bad policy, and one of the reasons I think it's bad policy is there is a slippery slope. And one of the examples I came up with is, well, what would stop somebody from projecting advertising on the side of the descent module of Apollo 11? There's nothing, I mean, you could do that. I think that that is tacky at best and disrespectful. But that relationship or that sense that I'm sort of drawing on here is coming from spending a few years of looking at the moon. And admiring that landscape and feeling it as a sublime place. So there are two kinds of sublime here that we could talk about. And then there are two reactions to the moon from two Apollo crews that I think all sort of plays in together. One is the idea of the sublime, which has an intellectual history in the West that we don't have to get into. But one of the philosophers who really begins to talk about the sublime in serious fashion is Immanuel Kant. And he basically put professional philosophers, the three or four who might be listening to me right now, I don't know, will probably cringe a little bit. But simplistically put Kant's saying, "Yeah, you have these experiences and they can be overwhelming or nearly overwhelming." And he has these great categories for what the sublime is out in nature. But at the end you have this rational realization that you know conceptually what just happened? So in the end for Immanuel Kant, it's about human rational power, it's a kind of mastery. That there's another kind of sublime, which is I think really much more accurate, which is that sense of being embedded in something much bigger and having that sense of being overwhelmed. Not in mortal danger, but being overwhelmed and having a sense of your smallness in the vastness of the more-than-human world. And it's paradoxically really enriching for us to have those experiences. And the neuroscience is showing that. So that's one part of this. The other part of it, it's how we talk about these things and still is bright. I put some stuff on Apollo 8, like the Apollo 8 crew goes to the moon and the reactions are largely negative. Frank Borman says it's a vast expanse of nothing. Well, I'm sorry, it's not okay. You spend some time at the telescope, it's not. The crews that spend time studying the moon as the moon and studying science of it, especially Apollo 15, which I write about. They are enthusiastic. They think it's majestic, sublime, they think it's beautiful. They compare it to landscapes on Earth. Jim Irwin said it looked like an Idaho landscape in winter, and all three of those crew members felt like it was a version of home. And home becomes a real theme in this book because I'm trying to find my sense of home in second half of my life using my telescope as a part of that compass. And we're going to either build homes on the moon that are in right relation with human needs and values or we will just... As one of my sources, Alvin Harvey is a Dine' aerospace engineering student at MIT says, "Well, or we're going to tear ass through the moon and we really shouldn't do that." So those reactions I think are really interesting. Apollo 8 coming at it without the scientific backing, the sort of scientific grounding, because it was a different kind of mission. Apollo 15 going there going, "Well, this is an incredible place and I feel like I'm at home here," because they knew the moon better.

Casey Dreier: We'll be right back with the rest of our Space Policy Edition of Planetary Radio after this short break.

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Casey Dreier: The knowledge as a key, as you kind of imply here, to unlocking the experience of the sublime. It's been very much in my mind over the last few years and you have an extended discussion of this. And again, another theme through your book, and I am glad you highlighted kind of the definition of it. Because it is a strange contrast of... In a sense, it's a version of temporary ego death against the density of nature. And I think classically it has associated with feelings, I think of religious exaltation. And you can kind of see your soul against the immensity of the divine. And you could see looking at celestial experiences, and this is again, I think what Sagan keyed on as such an important way to communicate the value of space itself is that that's a secular way to access that feeling. That there is nothing bigger than the cosmos and considering yourself within it, an aspect of that experience is the sublime. And what I like about it is that you make a distinction. It's not beauty, it's more than that and it has strangely an aspect of... Some level of existential terror is required, but probably stating it too strongly there that you need some level of unsettlement to access that state. But it is important, and I think it is probably something that our ancient ancestors felt much more often. And I wanted to actually go back to the opening chapters of your book where you go through some of the historical relationships with the moon. And maybe I'll open it with... Something that struck me was how strange it is or difficult it is from a modern perspective to place ourselves in the mind of a human 10,000 years ago who did not have modern scientific understanding and didn't have the systems of the world. Had nothing to work with and just yet saw the moon every night and depended on that as in a sense, a source of time, marking of time. Have you tried to put yourself into that experience and how successful have you been to try to forget everything that you've been inculturated to and just experienced the moon de novo?

Chris Cokinos: Yeah, it's not too successful.

Casey Dreier: It's hard, right? I mean it's like how do you-

Chris Cokinos: It's hard. And how do you know that you've succeeded?

Casey Dreier: Right, yeah, that's true.

Chris Cokinos: There's no control group here. But no, I think... Well, let me say this. I do open with that prehistoric sense of timekeeping. And again, that was one of the things that deepened the moon for me. It's like, "Oh yeah, this makes perfect sense." And I had not given it any thought at all. I was thinking as I was starting to write the book that scientific history and so forth, and there'll be some folk tales about the moon, and we'll move past those. Well, that became actually rich. I'm a secular person. I'm a hard materialist, but thinking about how someone 45,000 years ago was making sense of this light crossing the sky. And if you spend any detailed time looking at the moon, its motions are very complicated. They're not easy to track. So this was a sort of science. They were tracking the moon and understanding what it was doing in terms of motions across the sky. And using those phases to create an intermediate level of time between the day and the season in many parts of the world. That's pretty sophisticated. That's one of those sort of things that sort of deepens my level of appreciation for our relationship with this object. One of the things I would say about the sense of the sublime when I was teaching and when I would teach the sublime, I love talking about it with my students. I would say, "Look, there's a difference between standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon and being awed by its immensity." And neuroscientists talk about awe, A-W-E versus the sublime that we're talking about the same thing. So there's that, and that's accessible if you're ready in a sense, you have your phone off and whatever. Sometimes you go to those places and you don't experience it. The other side of it would be you're standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and it starts to crumble and you start to slip. Well, now that's not sublime. That's just sheer mortal terror, right? When you have a sublime experience, when you have that sense of being awed or overwhelmed or nearly overwhelmed by a phenomenon in nature. Whether it's static, not just the size of a mountain or a canyon, or for me also the view of the moon, it is wordless. You pass through a stage of wordlessness. So you talked about ego death, and that does happen. So I don't know if that puts me in touch with a kind of long pre-historical narrative of silence, of being awed by the larger world. But I'd like to think that probably that does and that that's part of why we still have the sublime. We think we're hardwired to have those moments. And again, because of the way most of us live, at least in the first-world, or the developed world. We have fewer and fewer opportunities for that, which is why looking at the moon, there it is. You can see it from anywhere. And maybe that gives you a chance to sort open that space up.

Casey Dreier: Right. Well, that's kind of what I was getting at with the idea of a prehistoric human staring at the sky that without a system... They had metaphor, they had beliefs, but they didn't have a system for the reliable modeling of the natural world in a predictable way. And the sublime in a sense would be they were constantly beset by seemingly impossibly powerful things around them. And tracking them was a way of asserting at least respect, if not some level of perceived control, but at least awareness. But that's a far-

Chris Cokinos: And some predictive power too.

Casey Dreier: Predictive power. But that's a far... Being able to predict, and that's continued for thousands of years after that. Predicting the motions of the moon is a far cry from understanding what it was. And again, I just had these moments, reading your early chapters of the book of just... It is so hard to place oneself in that mindset of seeing the moon, but having no idea what it was. And it was just this thing that was completely distinct. It seemed to have some kind of pairing with the sun, but the sun obviously completely different in kind. And that the moon would change and shift and had all of these strange patterns-

Chris Cokinos: Appear and disappear over time, grow, and then become desiccated in a way, and then just go away. Yeah, absolutely.

Casey Dreier: Share some of the stories that you found associated with the moon in this time. Because I think that's really fascinating how human cultures tried to integrate that into their using. I think again, we're always limited in a sense by our experience. So how did human cultures try to integrate what they saw without a model of the world?

Chris Cokinos: Well, Freud would be happy in that we could just say it's all about love and death-

Casey Dreier: That seems to be our two major instinctive issues.

Chris Cokinos: That seems to be our things that we most are interested in. Those early mythological stories and folk tales and religious... Cross-cultural, all around the globe, the moon has mattered, and the stories tend to be largely about stories... And I mean that not in a disrespectful way. These are narratives that are still powerful for a lot of people and for a lot of cultures. Those stories, those narratives were a kind of protoscience, right? A way of trying to explain as you're saying, and well, one of them is The Descent of Inanna. This is a Sumerian poem. It's about 5,000 years old. It's sort of on the order of the Epic of Gilgamesh. And she's a goddess who rises in the night, and then after she descends and the light wanes, she disappears. She's a piece of rotting meat on a hook, but then she's resurrected, right? So birth, death, resurrection, there it is. And the other aspect of it is sort of explaining these changes on the light of the moon. Because of love achieved or love spurned, all kinds of stories about the moon as either a male or female, actually depending on time and place. But a lot of them have to do with the creation of some sort of love affair. It's like the affair between the sun and the moon, say. So a lot of mythology, a lot of folk tales. And speaking of that pre-scientific mindset, I mean, I decided to... This is my wife's favorite story in the book, although the experience of it she thought was pretty gross. When I took a recipe from an occult book of magic, a 1500s, a 16th century occult book of magic that involved blood and a cow eye and a dead frog and trying to make a wish under a moon. And it was sort of my sort of half-hearted attempt to immerse myself in that mindset. And it was just kind of gross, but it was also a small homage that I can make to, okay, here's this ritual that certainly people would've enacted in their time. This is in Europe in the 1500s and possibly later. And I don't believe in it. That's not who I am or my belief set, but also a lot of people did, and they had a different kind of relationship to the moon. And even today, I think understanding that history, the mythological history, the folkloric history, the occult history, and the religious history, which continues today, as we've said. The moon continues to be an object of importance and religions and other cultures and a divine presence that still matters. Even if you and I might say primarily it's a scientific relationship that has also this emotional value. The science that I talk about in this book, especially... Starting from Galileo, Galileo makes... He looks at the moon through a telescope. Anytime we look through a telescope, we are in the lineage of Galileo and we are seeing the moon as a world, it's a real place. And as such, then we can bring a scientific mind to that. That mind is not barren, that's lyrical, that's rich. And I think it is also enriched by these adjacent stories that the moon is a real place, but it's also an archive of culture.

Casey Dreier: Why do you think it took so long for humans to accurately represent the moon as it exists in reality? You'd say in your book, the first painting that we can really point to that even closely tries to represent the moon as we see it would've been in the 1400s. The Jane Van Eyck, which I actually, I went and looked that up and have had a picture of that in my notes for this. And I remember I had actually seen this in the Met. It's a very striking painting, and I did not realize that was the first time we saw... It's the crucifixion, but there's a realistic looking, not quite accurate, but realistic looking moon in the background. So I mean, if the moon was so important and meant so much and was so critical to just the vision of the night sky, why did it take so long to... You would think you would honor it by representing it as we saw it?

Chris Cokinos: Yeah, that's a very good question, and I don't have an easy answer for that. And I don't think the art historians or historians of astronomy have an easy answer for that. I think it's probably bound up with taboos and with sort of conflicting views of the moon within the Church. And our focus here, just say... I'm not trying to sidestep the... I don't really have an easy answer for that question, but the other thing to say about this is that the relationship to the moon in this representational way does go back a long time, right? There's rock art, there're petroglyphs, Aztec codex, cultures seeing different shapes, animals and so forth on the face of the moon. So I don't really know why it took so long, but I do know that when Galileo looks at the moon in 1609 and he publishes The Starry Messenger in 1610, which is still a really beautiful piece of writing. He both changes the moon because we're seeing it as a real place. But then he, in a sense, reignites this debate about its reality. So there's this counter push that other painters will then start painting the moon in a non-realistic way again, because they don't want to accept what Galileo is offering as evidence from the telescope.

Casey Dreier: It's almost by putting it under the telescope, he brought it into the domain of scientific inquiry.

Chris Cokinos: Totally. Yeah. No, I mean-

Casey Dreier: Like in a literal and metaphorical sense. A figurative sense.

Chris Cokinos: Yeah. I mean, it is one of the origins of modern science. He uses an instrument for the first time that extends our senses. And he brings different things literally in focus that we would not have seen had we not used this instrument to extend our senses. So the telescope is right at the beginning of science, and his contributions are... They're enormous. So I talk a little bit about that in the book.

Casey Dreier: Yeah, well, one of my fixations recently has been the dualism inherent within the Aristotelian cosmology. That we have this corrupted ever-changing Earth that we experience but then the cosmos is something fundamentally different. It is perfect. And then there are these kind of intervening or intermediary celestial spheres or what have you, one of which is the moon, which is closer to Earth. Because it does change, but it is still not the Earth. It is inherently different. And I wonder if that's part of this... Some DNA or some core essence of that idea was so firmly rooted in human culture for so long, and not that it was created by Aristotle. But that it named an intuitive feeling that people had of the sky being literally not the Earth in the most direct way. So why would you map something... That's what you do on the Earth, it's only relevant to what you do on the Earth. And even what you were saying with Galileo, why making the moon a world is a threat to this idea... It's all the same domain ultimately. So that is an idea that kind of rose up in this idea that we see this expressing itself over and over again in terms of human history and relationship with the cosmos.

Chris Cokinos: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that inherent in that might be one of the explanations why it took so long to have in western art this realistic, mostly realistic representation of the moon. So that-

Casey Dreier: Right, because we would see the shapes of the moon represented. The moon existed as its silhouette in a sense-

Chris Cokinos: It's sort of stylized, a silhouette or a stylized shape-

Casey Dreier: And that's why it was useful, was its shape as a way to measure things. But it itself was so in a sense, profoundly alien, it was irrelevant to study. Moving forward after Galileo... This is actually one of my favorite parts of your book, was the story of mapping the moon before we kind of still knew what it was. Through the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries and various levels of success in doing so by various individuals. And one of the ones I was quite tickled by was the British astronomer who asserted basically Britain's ownership... He named all these features after British names. And as almost you kind of sense as an instinctive British colonialism attitude being immediately applied. It's like, "Oh, we'll name it like Britannia or Victorian crater," or something-

Chris Cokinos: Right, right.

Casey Dreier: And again, it made me think of this connection back to this older idea of this almost biblical level of power of naming things. Like once you opened up the moon as a place, it's almost like as in [inaudible 00:57:53]... The early parts of Genesis where you have Adam and Eve going around, they're naming the things that they see in the Garden of Eden as a way to demonstrate their dominion over them. And you saw a version of this happening with the moon once it became open to the natural world, an early race to name the features on it as a way to assert some sort of control.

Chris Cokinos: Yeah, ego.

Casey Dreier: Yeah, [inaudible 00:58:19] dominion over it.

Chris Cokinos: Yeah, ego, national politics, human dominion. No, absolutely. I'll just circle back here too for a second. I just want to say too, that there certainly were attempts in the sort of pre-Christian tradition too, and into the Christian era of philosophers trying to figure out, "Well, what is the moon?" It's a perfect sphere, it's a kind of alabaster light or what have you. So there are these attempts, but you're absolutely right that once the telescope reveals the moon as a place, as a world with landscape, with topography, then it has features. "Well, we need to know what those features are." So yeah, they're all these competing astronomers with different political agendas and all fairly egotistical wanting their naming system to be the one that fits. [inaudible 00:59:14] threatens a fine for anybody who tries to usurp his naming rights to the moon. Sounds familiar, like corporate naming arts. And this continues until finally it settles down, and we have the names that we have today. But it's also... Yeah, it's simultaneously mapping the moon and its features, naming them and trying to understand what they are. So there's a story here about what created the craters, the most prominent feature of the moon, when you look at the moon. And you see... Even those giant impact basins, when you look at the moon with the naked eye, you see those what Galileo called the ancient dark spots, the maria that look a little bluish, in the sky here from Earth. And those are giant impact basins. So huge asteroids caused those. Well, this was also an argument of science and subjectivity. So the inability to imagine a cosmos with so many flying rocks that would create so many impacts, it was inconceivable. So the paradigm was volcanoes caused this. Now again, this may seem a little obtuse or sort of off to an adjacent sort of interesting, but narrow by way of the history of science. But it comes back to that question of how capable are we of stepping outside of any possible point of view that we've inherited. A kind of discourse, to use a critical theory term, we inherit a certain kind of discourse. That's our paradigm box. Can we step out of it? Science helps us step out of it. Science is predicated on our stepping out of it. Like I will make a proposition here and it's falsifiable or verifiable, and that may be inside the box or outside the box. And I think that's sublime. That's a sublime activity. So all of these things seem of a piece to me. I had somebody ask me, "Well, how can you write about science lyrically?" And I'm like, science is lyrical. The act of science is lyrical, even if the practice and the diction of science isn't.

Casey Dreier: This is one of the reasons why I argue about space science in particular, as such a crucial activity. As a generative process for pushing our ideas and hypotheses beyond what we think is possible given the data that we have to integrate into our understanding of the world. That was a really great example to me of this push away from gradualism in geology to catastrophism or punctuated catastrophism maybe is a term for it. But you had to integrate, like looking at the moon, they were trying to... It's like, no, things have to be slow and gradual because we're trying to get away from creation in seven days type of stuff.

Chris Cokinos: Exactly.

Casey Dreier: But the data forced that to be wrong. And you got that by going to the moon and taking the rocks back with you. And then you have undeniable data from it. And without that external process to... And as I always say, to stress test your hypotheses you develop on Earth, which is our otherwise kind of one data point planet, you don't know how accurate those are because you have one data point to test your validity of the world. So you push these to various extremes and it's like, "Do we really understand how things work?" And we do that by going to places that pushed our boundaries of the possible, and we find where we have these blind spots or blind alleys or inability to see past ourselves. Again, this aspect in a sense of the sublime, where we push ourselves through in a sense, this keyhole of logical engagement with the world into some other state of being, however, briefly by this ironic ego death. It's like the immensity and the extremity of the cosmos helps push our brains and our understanding of the world into these new directions by the very interrogation and effort to pursue it.

Chris Cokinos: Yeah, absolutely. And I think the other thing... Couple things I would just say quickly in response to that one is the idea... And of course hindsight it's 2020, right? So I try not to make fun of the people who were saying, "It was all volcanoes that caused craters on the moon." [inaudible 01:03:35]-

Casey Dreier: Yeah. I would have sacrificed so many people during a solar eclipse back in... If I had no idea what was going on, it was so scary.

Chris Cokinos: Yeah. "All right, I'm cutting my arm off to get this sun back," right?

Casey Dreier: Whatever it takes. Absolutely.

Chris Cokinos: So we have to... It's like we'd be mindful of that, but when you look at that history, it's really clear, and there were contemporaries who were beginning to argue this too. You're taking the data point from Earth, you're applying it to the moon. Volcanoes on the Earth do not look like craters on the moon. So we come back to this idea of being maybe a little too ready to overgird on this other world. The closest world that we have are various terrestrial assumptions. That's a history of science point. But that also becomes, I think, a policy point. So if we're going to overgird certain assumptions while there's no indigenous life on the moon, ergo we can do whatever we want to it. That to me seems like not the right lesson.

Casey Dreier: Or even that markets would work on the moon the way that they would work here or a settlement of people living on the moon would have the same dynamics and access to the way it would work here in our various things. I think that's an interesting parallel there that you've found. I don't know if it's unfashionable these days because I'm out of touch, but to talk about Karl Ove Knausgaard. Because I know that was like 10 years ago now, but I'm reading through his series of books, My Struggle, and I'm on the last one. And he talks a lot about this idea of... I wanted to talk about lyricism in science and how you wrote about things. And the theme, again, you've been running through and we've talked about a little bit, is how do we use words to express the inexpressible? And it was just an interesting... In his book as I was reading that, and I was reading yours, there were these overlapping discussions of it. And I just wanted to... A lot of what we were just talking about, he was writing here, "What we see is never detached from the person we are. The mind has its limitations. They are personal, but cultural too. And that there is always something we cannot see and places we cannot go. If we are patient and investigate the words in their context carefully enough, we may nonetheless identify these limitations. And what is revealed to us then is that which lies outside ourselves."

Chris Cokinos: Beautiful.

Casey Dreier: So he's talking about poetry in particular there, which I thought might resonate with you. And then he goes on to say, "This is what learning is, seeing that which lies outside the confines of the self." And that thought about how to access these various aspects of being, using words as a tool and using something... Again, looking at the moon in a sense as a tool to allow yourself to shift into these different modes. These are the transitory, these are the steps to be at that place, but because they're fundamentally inexpressible, you can't talk about them, but these are the ways that they lead you to that path-

Chris Cokinos: So we try.

Casey Dreier: Well, yeah, and it's... They open that pathway to you. So that seemed to be also this theme within the book yourself and the meta aspect of the book is how you wrote it to be lyrical. And your background in poetry and unlocking these aspects of experience that aren't literal.

Chris Cokinos: Yeah, yeah. No, what a beautiful quote too. I'm humbled by the comparison or the juxtaposition here. One of the ironies here... We've talked about the sublime and that sense of wonder and how it is typically, often it's a wordless experience in the moment. And then there's this subsequent stage of recovery and you're like, "The most amazing thing happened to me." And language always fails in that way. And yet, especially those of us who are writers try to do that. And the toolkit is rhythm and sound and metaphor. I was very deliberate in the book thinking about metaphor because the common understanding of metaphor is that it's a comparison. But it's not, it's like a multiple exposure. You're asserting this thing over another thing. In a weird way, it's a kind of a assertion of mastery which I hadn't really thought about until just now. But J.G. Ballard is one of my favorite writers, and he's a master of metaphor in this sort of assertive and often surprising way. So I was trying... The struggle was to... In the book, there are photographs in the book, but how do you describe the lunar surface to someone who's not seen it? The way that I've seen it-

Casey Dreier: Yeah. Can I just say one of my favorite quotes and-

Chris Cokinos: Yeah, of course. Yeah. Please read-

Casey Dreier: [inaudible 01:08:36] I read your book back to you.

Chris Cokinos: Read the book, man.

Casey Dreier: "If brutalist architecture had curves, it would look like the southern highlands." I just wanted to jump in the air as I read... I thought that was such a great-

Chris Cokinos: I'm so glad.

Casey Dreier: I just love that line so much.

Chris Cokinos: The southern highlands of the moon are incredibly rugged. So there you go. So incredibly rugged, a bit of a cliche, a bit of an abstraction versus the metaphor. So hopefully the metaphors will be more memorable-

Casey Dreier: Well, and it sticks with you and it's evocative. So you kind of hinted at this a little bit in terms of policymakers and people who are going to go and people who study it. But why do you think it's so important to think about how you talk about and write about this? Because I'd say not to... And I'm not going to... There's no one specific I'm thinking of in mind, but there is a style of science writing I think has become very dominant in the last 10, 20 years that I would call whiz bang science, right?

Chris Cokinos: Yeah, sure.

Casey Dreier: And there's a role for that, and I think it can be very effective, but I've seen it maybe become too dominant of like, "Wow, golly, look at this. And that's neat." But that's why I think one of the reasons I found your book so refreshing is that it had a style of lyricism to it that was able to bring out a deeper level of connection and humanity to the subject.

Chris Cokinos: Yeah, I appreciate that. And there's room for all kinds of discourse and diction in this endeavor. But in particular, going back to the moon, I think social media posts and photographs will dominate that. For an article I'm working on, it might be out by the time this airs, On Arts in Artemis and How We Describe the Moon. I spoke both with Jeremy Hansen and Victor Glover from the Artemis 2 missions. That crew is so authentic and media friendly and savvy, and they're great storytellers. They're going to have 12 different public relations, communications, events during that mission. So they're going to have a lot of opportunity to do that. My contention is that abstraction and enthusiasm only goes so far, and that metaphor and fresh diction takes us to different places. So here's my example. I could tell you it's raining cats and dogs at a subway stop. Okay? That's informational. It gives you... Its cliche, but it tells you what's happening. So here's a two line poem from Ezra Pound called In a Station of the Metro. So the metro in Paris or subway stop. He says, "The apparition of these faces in the crowd. Petals on a wet black bough." That's poetry, that's metaphor, that's descriptive, and it has connotations, it's rich, and it will last in ways that cliches and abstractions will not.

Casey Dreier: Why did you choose then... Kind of swing at this here. It's a piece of poetry from Byron as the title of your book. Explain maybe, is there a story behind that or is it just something that caught your eye and heart?

Chris Cokinos: So the story behind it, you'll appreciate this and the listeners who I'm sure almost all if not all of her science fiction fans. So famous Ray Bradbury short story that also references that poem, And The Moon Be Still as Bright, which is about sort of the colonization of Mars and this expedition that goes wrong. And one member of the expedition has this sense of identity with the Martians that have been devastated by the human presence. So I was re-reading that story and I was like, "Oh, that's such a beautiful poem."

Casey Dreier: Is that the one where they cross in the night, the two beings?

Chris Cokinos: No, this is where... I think it's the third expedition lands on Mars, and one of the members, Spender, he's the archeologist. And the other crew members are whooping it up and making a lot of noise and getting drunk, and he finds it offensive and disrespectful. I guess I'm the Spender of the moon, I hope I'm not, because then he goes on a killing spree. He tries to kill the crew to keep humans from sullying, the ruins of Mars. But that poem is the origin of the Bradbury short story title. And he quotes that poem. So I went back to it and the book is, as I said, it's a search for place. It's a search for equanimity, and just coming back to this idea that, "The heart be still is loving and the moon be still as bright," those two things coexist and they coexist in me. My sense of self is now bound up with this other world that I value and respect and hope that others will as well.

Casey Dreier: Chris Cokinos, I really appreciate you spending time with us today. Again, I love your book called Still as Bright-

Chris Cokinos: Thank You.

Casey Dreier: ... An Illuminating History of the Moon from Antiquity to Tomorrow. I recommend it heartily, and hopefully we will speak again soon.

Chris Cokinos: A pleasure. Thank you so much.

Casey Dreier: Thanks, Chris. I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did, and thank you for enduring me, geeking out on book stuff and literature. It's a part of my brain that doesn't get to be exercised on the show often. I hope you pick up the book and maybe some of the other authors we discussed, particularly Loren Eiseley, I think underappreciated in these days, incredible writer of the mid-twentieth century. And some of his melancholy writings about progress and science and space are really fascinating and moving. As always, you can find more episodes of this show, the Space Policy Edition, as well as our weekly show, Planetary Radio at, and pretty much any major podcast distribution app. If you like this show, well please subscribe to it. If you don't share it with your friends and review it, drop us a positive review, if you like the show. That really helps us be found by other people and grow our audience. The Space Policy Edition, what you're listening to is a production of The Planetary Society, an independent nonprofit space outreach organization based in Pasadena, California. We are membership based and anyone, anyone, including you can be a member. Memberships start at just $4 a month at So until next month, the next cycle of the moon, I will talk to you then. Thank you so much for listening, and as always, ad astra.