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Where Does Imagination Exist in a Starless Night Sky?

Viewed 2042 times 2018-1-22 02:07 |System category:Life| Stars, Nightfall, human, imagination

What is the limit of human imagination?  Depending on the era and location, some would say, “It is as limitless as there are stars in the sky.”  It was a saying that I took to heart as a child.  More often than naught during night trips, I would stare out of my back window, looking as the various constellations, occasioning glimpsing a ‘shooting star’.  While my father did not care much for ‘too much stargazing,’ he did understand the underlying sentiment.  As much as I was a child of the 1970s with the likes of Star Wars and Star Trek, he was a child of Buck Rogers, all based on imagining ‘what was out there with those celestial lights?’ 


So it was no real surprise in the summer of 1985 that he brought home from work a company branded ‘SCI Astro Disk’ that I could use to track Halley’s Comet that fall, winter, and spring.  As seen in the photo for this article, it is an item that is still being made and sold to this day (minus the comet tracking).  Yet, even then living in the ‘farthest suburban outskirts’ of the Detroit back in those days, it was not hard to see the creeping issue coming over the horizon, as a traditional night was slowing being replaced by a pale glow of ‘progress’.  Fast forward a few decades to where I currently live and work in the Chicagoland area, and I am lucky on a good night to catch a faint glimpse of Orion, Ursa Major, or any other sign of the Milky Way.  To my kids, the only time they ‘see stars’ is through a few school books or web searches, with my father’s gift looking more like a museum piece like the astrolabes they see during their museum trips.


In some ways, the stars are not the only thing that is being consigned to the history books.  Looking at the breath and scope of what is being offered to children to stretch their imagination, it has been more and more defined and limited to the computer screen in front of their face.  The concept of ‘what lies beyond’ has slowly faded from the collective conscious just as much as the stars in the night sky – to which has given rise to a great malaise.  Why reach when everything has been given?  Why explore when everything has been defined?  If nothing else, it reminds me of the story ‘Nightfall’ by Issac Asimov, in which a civilization that is bathed in constant light is left utterly dumbfounded once confronted with its first true night.  To quote a Klingon Proverb, “If there are gods, they do not help, and justice belongs to the strong: but know that all things done before the naked stars are remembered.”  I shutter to think what would happen if my children were subjected to such a fate.

A Relic of Another Age? I would hope not...

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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