The Lunar Codex, Or…

Lunacy Codified as a Dick Pic?

Like any artist, notions of posterity occasionally creep into my consciousness: Will my work outlive me, or will I outlive my work? Right now, me and my work are neck and neck, though I sometimes suspect my work is killing me (though the result, I suppose, would be a kind of Pyrrhic victory).  

Another person interested in the shelf life of creative expression is semi-retired physicist and author Sam Peralta, who has launched (almost literally at this point) an initiative to send art to the moon. Yep, another one of these guys whose heart is in the right place (maybe) but wants his art in the wrong place.

Collectively known as the Lunar Codex, this effort, according to the New York Times, is a digitized collection of contemporary art, poetry, magazines, music, film, podcasts, and books representing the efforts of 30,000 artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers from 157 countries. I’ll note here that I’m not one of them, though I’m checking my spam folder now, just in case.

The codex is actually four separate time capsules containing NanoFiche — think MicroFiche but smaller, so small in fact that the media can “hold 150,000 laser-etched microscopic pages of text or photos on one 8.5-by-11-inch sheet,” according to the New York Times, which profiled Peralta and his charmingly analog efforts.

As explained on the Lunar Codex’s website, the project marks “the first significant placement of contemporary arts on the Moon in over fifty years.” 

Wha…? I wasn’t aware of the previous placement of contemporary arts on the Moon, but then, the machinations of the art world have always been somewhat inscrutable to me.

Apparently, there was a ceramic tile representing the efforts of a handful of American artists covertly attached to the Apollo 12 spacecraft and left on the lunar surface in 1969. This so-called “Moon Museum” included a scrawled graffito by Andy Warhol, which the artist contended were his initials but is totally a dick pic.

The anarcho-adolescent in me admires Warhol’s fuck-off attitude about projects like the Moon Museum and the Lunar Codex, seeing as they merely underscore humanity’s desire to smear evidence of itself on every available surface, lunar or otherwise.

I’ll give a pass to the prehistoric humanoids who tagged the walls of Grotte de Lascaux with cartoon cows 17,000 years ago. Hell, I’ll even give Banksy a pass, but littering the Nobile Crater on the Lunar South Pole with 150,000 laser-etched microscopic pages of anything, let alone a selective sampling of human-made art by some rich dude? He’s a rich dude who also happens to be a sci-fi writer. Better save some room on the NanoFiche for that punchline.

I know, I know, I’m being the human equivalent of “Killjoy was here.” I don’t think I’m jealous — but I am tired of these guys. Here’s a related question:  If you were to chuck a message-in-bottle into the Sea of Tranquility, whose rocket would you hitch a ride on? Not Putin’s (pffft). Or China’s. Maybe India’s (congrats, guys), but who are we fooling? We know it’s Elon’s — specifically, his SpaceX Falcon Heavy / MoonBox / Astrobotic Griffin Lander + NASA VIPER Rover. I presume these are all parked in front of his Mojo Dojo Casa House.

While the boys are busy doing moonshots, I’m writing this at The Interval, a San Francisco bar, café, museum, and the home of The Long Now Foundation. I’m in the shadow of a floor-to-ceiling library of books that one “might need to rebuild civilization,” their site explains. The foundation encourages “imagination at the timescale of civilization — the next and last 10,000 years — a timespan we call the long now.”

This is ironic since Climate Change and other contemporary headaches betoken a future we might as well be called “short then.” This little screed and its author and readers will be long gone by then, and the earth itself is just a cinder.

But maybe, just maybe, some future alien archeologists qua art critics will contemplate what happened to the intelligent species that once lived there and what they were doing when everything was going to shit. Then, they will find their answer etched into some space garbage called the Lunar Codex.  

Posterity.

Rabbit Hole:  

• Kilroy Was Here: The Story Behind the Phrase at ThoughtCo.

• Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/561F1zqRwGPCTMRsLsXVtL

• Message in a Bottle by The Police:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/1oYYd2gnWZYrt89EBXdFiO

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