Obviously with all this Werewolf stuff going on recently, I’ve been feeing kind of caught up with the moon. Perhaps it’s that. But also it’s because I see the Thames everyday and the river’s radical tidal shifts up and down in level bring the lunar influence into London right here and right now.
The first moon landing was such a wonderful and terrible thing wasn’t it? Wonderful because it still seems such a technically crazy and dangerous thing to do and terrible because it definitively proved that the moon was not made of cheese.
In our steady march down the information superhighway, the old myths are being overtaken one by one – indeed I assume that there will be nothing mysterious at all left one day – just plain FACTS as Dickens’s Mr Gradgrind would have been pleased to note:
“What I want is: Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts”
But of course you can’t really get rid of myths entirely and when Neil Armstrong made his one small step / one great leap, he actually became a myth himself. True, he lived on quietly in relative obscurity in the American mid-West but that didn’t really matter. The old gods were gone, the new ones were here and they were made of The Right Stuff.
They were lantern-jawed, techno-heros. They were the new Olympians.
Well, for a while at any rate.
And now Neil has made another final small step / giant leap. And he has beaten his deputy Buzz Aldrin to it – again. Whist I’ve not been particularly interested in reading about Armstrong’s post-lunar life, that of Buzz Aldrin is fascinating, punctuated as it has been by mental illness, family trouble, depression and eccentricity.
Was it being second in line for such a world changing event that has grated for all these years and has slightly unhinged Buzz? (I can completely understand and sympathise if this is so). Or is it the moon’s revenge – a kind of karmic lunacy, an inability to make sense of earthbound things after the greatest adventure it’s possible to have was followed by the biggest come-down it’s possible to have?
I wrote a song about him a few years back. I always meant to finish it but I don’t suppose I ever shall now. So here it is,
rough and ready, cratered and crumbly.
There is something so dreamlike about the footage of them on the moon surface, looking back on the earth’s blue beauty hanging there in space. How would you ever get over such a vision? It would shake you and take you right back to your deepest prehistoric root.
RIP Neil – and Buzz too – when it’s time.
Video: Clive Painter