Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Greetings from Earth

I’ll read any book and watch any film about astronauts. If this seems like an odd thing for a student of the everyday to be interested in, let me explain. Sometimes it helps to look at the mundane like a visitor from outer space might do, deprived of the universal narcotic of habit. That’s what the Martian school of poetry was trying to do in the 1970s, and it’s presumably why Julio Cortazar and Carol Dunlop, after a spending a month on the French freeways, wrote a book about it titled The Autonauts of the Cosmoroute.

I'm particularly interested in the Voyager project, those space probes sent off into the farthest reaches of the galaxy in the 1970s with a disc containing music (Bach, Chuck Berry, Peruvian panpipes) and images (Sydney Opera House, the Pyramids) for the bemusement of hypothetical extraterrestrials. The disc also contained a series of messages composed by different nations in various languages. I found these messages strangely moving in their collective decision to break the silence of space with the phatic communion of the cocktail party. So I made this sort-of-found poem out of them.


Hi. How are you?

Greetings to our friends in the stars. We wish that we will meet you someday.
Good day to the entire world. Are you well?
Welcome home. It is a pleasure to receive you.
Hello! Let there be peace everywhere.
Greetings to you, whoever you are: we have good will towards you and bring you peace across space.
Dear Turkish-speaking friends, may the honours of the morning be upon your heads.
We greet you, great ones. We wish you longevity.

To all those who exist in the universe, greetings.
How are you?
Welcome, creatures from beyond the outer world.
Wishing you a peaceful future from the earthlings!

Hope everyone’s well. We are thinking about you all. Please come here to visit us when you have time.
Greetings from a computer programmer in the little university town of Ithaca on the planet Earth.
How are all you people of other planets?
Greetings from a human being of the Earth. Please contact.

Hello to the residents of far skies.
We are sending greetings from our world, wishing you happiness, good health and many years.
We wish you everything good from our planet.
Greetings to the inhabitants of the universe from the third planet Earth of the star the Sun.

Friends of space, how are you all? Have you eaten yet? Come visit us if you have time.
Hello to everyone. We are happy here and you be happy there.
Good health to you now and forever.
Good night ladies and gentlemen. Goodbye and see you next time.

(Source: Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record, eds Carl Sagan et al (New York: Random House, 1978).)

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