Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why the Journey is more important than the Destination

DARPA announced a call for papers in order to start preparing for a manned interstellar journey ( But how can humans withstand a journey that may take thousands of years to complete? How can humans start a journey which they will not end if not many generations pass?

Kavafis said “When you set out on your journey to Ithaca, pray that the road is long”… This phrase along with its philosophical implications must be well understood by the Starship 2111 designers if the mission is to succeed. An interstellar journey is something much different than any other human endeavor undertaken so far. The people in the spacecraft heading towards another star will have to come in peace with living and dying while travelling. We too live and die, but most of convince ourselves that we “belong” somewhere and that we “reach” our destination at some time in our lives, thus forgetting the vanity of temporal existence. Star Travelers will not have that luxury, since their whole lives will be dictated for aeons by the “travelling” itself. Art, in its more paradoxical forms of poetry and painting, can help the minds of the people endure the journey. Sleeping and waking up in the middle of silence for many generations is as illogical as a Picasso painting or as T.S. Eliot poem. You don’t need to understand Art, as you don’t need to understand a 4,000 year journey: you just have to awaken to its wonder and love it.

(Submitted for the Starship 2111 Symposium)

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