Space is Matter But Does It Matter?

Many-many years ago already, Carl G. Jung put forward the notion that the persona is a mask for the collective psyche; that it is a mask that pretends [or aspires] to be accepted as unique. The persona’s end-goal is that the self believes in the reality of that mask.

However personalised, this initial pretence or aspiration overlooks the reality that our persona’s antics amount to nothing more than well-rehearsed roles. By and large, the roles we play are limited, trite and often dysfunctional. They tend to foster at-risk behaviour – often taken as normal or modern – that leads to mishaps of a physical or emotional nature. They lead to illnesses, too. They seldom lead to deep joy and contentment.

We, as a part of the collective psyche, find many of these antics comforting because, in that dysfunctionality, we recognise ourselves.

Excerpt from the book, C.G. Jung Speaking – 1987- Interviews with Carl. G. Jung – edited by R. F.C. Hull: “All factors which are generally assumed to make for happiness can, under certain circumstances, produce the contrary. No matter how ideal your situation may be, it does not necessarily guarantee happiness.”

When Carl Jung was asked what he considered as elemental factors for happiness in the human mind – the place where, presumably, androgyny of the spirit is essential – his well-documented answers covered five elements:

  1. Good physical and mental health.
  2. Good personal and intimate relationships, such as those of [partnership] marriage, the family, and friendships.                                                            
  3. The faculty for perceiving beauty in art                                                                    
  4. Reasonable standards of living and satisfactory work.                                                   
  5. A philosophic or religious point of view capable of coping successfully with the vicissitudes of life.

Since my mind-meanders are inspired by concepts of spiritual philosophy, it is appropriate to address the ‘white elephant in the room’ – or should I say ‘in space’ -when it comes to space endeavours: are astronauts and the related mega-billion dollar industry REALLY essential for anything REALLY vital to our personal well-being and therefore to our well-being as a civilisation?

Of course! Progress implies not only looking forward but downward and upward, too. In many ways, deep underwater and outer space are our business, but underwater research does not seem to fire imagination in the way that space exploration does. Perhaps, though the current habitats and the surrounding darkness appear similar, the possibilities of living weighted down by thousand meters of water are not perceived as liberating as living miles up in space closer to galaxies and nebulae.

The great collider: The Large Hadron Collider, the focus of several sci-fi films and novels preoccupied with doomsday scenarios cost $US13.25 billion. It is called ‘collider’ because it accelerates protons into two beams travelling in opposite directions. Then, it collides them to see what particles come out.

Beyond this basic understanding, it all quickly becomes densely obscure to the average ‘Joe’ or ‘Jane’ but … physicists hope that this collider will help answer some of the fundamental open questions in their field and bring the world closer to understanding the deep structure of space and time.

The Hubble telescope still in operation since 1990 has, so far, cost $US2.5 billion.

Prepared for launch in 2018, JWST, formally known as the James Webb Space Telescope, is a space observatory which will incur an estimated life-cycle-cost of about $US8.7 billion.

Serious question: Beyond challenging the brains of some and titillating the imagination of others – beyond rewarding our faculty to perceive beauty in space – what, of vital importance to social betterment and/or our survival as a species, have contributed the mind-blowing, majestic, humbling, images of deep space? If only we allowed them to be mind-expanding!

Surplus money, anyone? The International Space Station, our stepping stone to Mars, has so far cost US$ 150 billion over the past ten years. It is said to be working for humanity in at least 15 ways. For example, technologies developed for use in the space station such as advanced water filtration and purification methods can be applied to drought-stricken, war-torn areas. A space-age robotic arm has been developed to extract tumours that, previously, would have been impossible to reach.

Granted: on par with China’s military budget of $145.8 billion, the total cost incurred by these space endeavours amount to peanuts when compared to the United States’ defence budget of some $597 billion [and rising] in 2015.

More Serious Questions: Still, at the risk of perhaps over-simplifying, it could be said that with less sectarianism but a lot more earthly cooperation, collaboration and goodwill between political factions here, there and everywhere, there might be a lesser urge to turn our backs on the mess created down here on planet Earth.

Except for dreamers, it might be less necessary to imagine a ‘new’ world, a blissful, pure one, blossoming somewhere in the dark and mysterious intergalactic space.

Personal and collective karmic ripples notwithstanding, wouldn’t heads of states and specialists working collaboratively in the fields of medical/science/engineering/aeronautic/economy and I.T. research, here, there and everywhere, be able to add real enhancements to life as we know it? Wouldn’t they have means to fix all that got broken over, if only over the past 100 years – from the generation of our great-grandparents and onwards to this very day?

If our collective energies were more bent towards genuine Nurturing and Protecting than towards our need to fragment, isolate and posture, in search of the useful and positive aspects of our ego, wouldn’t our lovely planet be enough for us? At least until a generation in the distant future were able to leave ‘their house’ in order?

Pilgrims Style: Argh … why attempt logic when we know the urge to escape from the known, a.k.a. the drive to explore will always push some, imbued with a sense of purpose, to become space sailors? They will become pioneers on yet another last frontier. No matter the cost or the risks, in time, they will peg out their turf, as did the Pilgrims who sought religious freedom in the New World.

As did the gold diggers who headed west. As tend to do the ones who arrive somewhere … anywhere that appears deserted, i.e. free of their own kind. Regardless of these pioneers’ likely inability to create anything better in the future than they have in their homes and their world, daringly, the space pilgrims will embrace the challenges of creating a brave new world within the same old, persona-driven framework.

Ascend – Transcend or Gravitate? The link that can to be made in regards to space exploration is that our unavowed cultural urge to ‘cut loose and ascend’ pertains to a built-in longing in us, in Man, Woman and Child, for limitless upward expansion.

Reality check: A plethora of modern-day spiritualists, visionaries and highly respected neuro-scientific gurus might object to what I am about to type, but I will risk it anyway.

It is much easier to seek that boundless expansion, the utter freedom of being, by co-imaging, believing in and building yet another ‘tallest building in the world’, massive rockets and spaceships – the 21st-century incarnations of the Medieval cathedrals and their ‘god-reaching’ spires – than to attempt ‘life as we know it’ through our authentic self.                                                                               Should we be so lucky as to actually locate it!

Catch 22: Nothing short of solid rocket boosters will ever help us elevate … to a degree – a mere physical degree. That is, not as long as we maintain the patterns of snap judgements in regards to our understanding of good/bad/evil, pretty/ugly/bitchy, dishonest/trustworthy as well as instant opinions passed on these days – as they were passed aeons ago – via the random neural pathways that make us tick.

Celestial Abode: Six feet under or 250,000 miles way up?

Here is another ‘elevating’ idea – a burial option, most likely to become an affordable fad in the years to come: the launching of cremated remains into outer space. Fifteen space burials have been completed since 1997. Celestis, the company founded in 1994 that pioneered space burials, also known as space flights, offers several options including a $12,500 Luna Service.

As the countdown reaches zero and liftoff occurs, an overwhelming emotion of joy and completion prevails – Celestis

Are you thinking it might be lonely out there at the moment? Think again. In 2014, Celestis Pets launched spaceflight service for the cremated body of our most loved pets. Besides, the Virgin Galactic’s tourism spaceships and Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s are determined to add their own brand of ‘turbulence’ to the space that is way above the mayhem below.

Bottom Line: We, humans, can do no better than take our hard-wired, emotional baggage wherever we go – from one relationship to the next – from one workplace to the next – from one planet to the next. Since we, humans, are incapable of a truly new thought, from whence will manifest the goodwill and, thus, the ability to create a truly new social model, as we colonise a new planet – after having successfully trashed ours?

Is it possible that our species can do better than reproduce energy-empty, mostly dysfunctional relationships across the spectrum and, ultimately, avoid its own rendition of the symbolic destruction of planet Pandora, as graphically captured in James Cameron’s 2009 epic science fiction film, Avatar?

© 2017 Carole Claude Saint-Clair

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