online this week. Over at Soul of Star Trek I noted some of my reactions, especially with Star Trek in mind: how the new "spaceship of the imagination" interior looks like the old Enterprise D (from The Next Generation) but before the stuff got installed, and that even this series devoted to science obeys the Trek convention of space ships accompanied by that unscientific whooshing sound as they fly by. And I note what has gotten the least attention, that the executive producer (and director of the first ep) is Brannon Braga, who was a writer and producer for three Trek series and a couple of features.
I also commented on the Giordano Bruno animated sequence. Unlike the Washington Post's James Downie, my main impression wasn't that the sequence reconciled science and religion by emphasizing Bruno's vision of a bigger universe (the earth orbiting the sun, the stars as other suns with other earths orbiting them) as the expression of a bigger God. I saw a lot of time spent on various 16th century Christian denominations condemning and persecuting him, ending with a fully animated burning at the stake by the Catholic Inquisition. That was my takeaway, and for good or ill, it seemed pretty provocative, especially on Fox. Though the rating suggest not so many Fox watchers were watching. (He also thought the animation was brilliant, but it looked 1950s to me.)
Besides, as new host Neil DeGrasse Tyson pointed out, Bruno didn't come to these conclusions based on science, but on a visionary experience. So what does this have to do with suppressing science or reconciling it? Sagan by contrast told a story earlier in his Cosmos about the burning of the library at Alexandria, which was deeply impressive.
Days later, my lingering feeling is that I miss Carl Sagan. His omnipresence got wearing and his showbiz pizzazz was embarrassing at times, but he could be thrilling ("We are made of star stuff." I can't forget how he said that line) and above all he was erudite and substantive.
Downie, like me, has Sagan's book version of Cosmos (and we both note there's next to nothing about Bruno in it.) It's probably not fair to compare the new series to the book--in the introduction, Sagan notes the differences between his series and his book, and how much more detailed and substantive he can be in the book. But it's a hell of a book. I'll probably watch the rest of the new series online (if I can stomach the same four commercials repeated with increasing frequency--mostly for cars and cosmetics, who do they think is watching this?) But its real gift to me so far is to send me back to Sagan's book.
Beginner's Mind - Finding a very nice hardback copy of Bruce Chatwin's last book in a bargain bin, a kind of miscellany of previously uncollected pieces called What Am I Doi...
4 days ago