I imagined the wind moving through all these places, and many more like them: places that were separated from one another by roads and housing, fences and shopping-centres, street-lights and cities, but were joined across space at that time by their wildness in the wind. We are fallen in mostly broken pieces, I thought, but the wild can still return us to ourselves.
Then I looked back out across the landscape before me: the roads, the railway, the incinerator tower, the woodlands – Mag’s Hill Wood, Nine Wells Wood, Wormwood. The woods were spread out across the land and all were seething.
Wildness was here too, a short mile south of the town in which I lived. It was set about by roads and buildings, much of it was menaced, some of it was dying. But at that moment the land seemed to ring with a wild light.
Robert MacFarlane, The Wild Places (Granta 2007).
It rings in intergalactic space, not even an answering machine. Like he doesn’t exist, that his place of work doesn’t exist – in the MIR station, the Russian cosmonaut who’s been orbiting for the past 107 years, drinking his lukewarm tea from his bubble pack, finding anything and everything a good laugh, he sticks his lips on to the kiss of the lukewarm water, on the swollen sides of the shrinking bubble, as it goes down his oesophagus because of the combined action of sucking and swallowing, thus creating a depressurization of the surface of the liquid. The tea-time cosmonaut glances at the blue planet, he could drink up its oceans, spinning on and on and righting himself, only the earth to look at, or the starry darkness, with neither top nor tail, the big black dragon spitting out flames for nobody …
Marie Darrieussecq, A Brief Stay with the Living (Faber 2003, translated by Ian Monk).
Oh, no, there’ll be a Space Age some day, perhaps thirty, forty, or even fifty years from now, and when it comes it will be a real Space Age! But it will depend on the development of some new form of propulsion. The main trouble with the present system – all those gigantic rockets sailing up off the launch pads consuming tons of fuel for every foot of altitude – is that it just hasn’t got anything to do with space travel. The number of astronauts who have gone into orbit after the expenditure of this great ocean of rocket fuel is small to the point of being ludicrous. And that sums it all up. You can’t have a real Space Age from which 99.999 per cent of the human race is excluded.
Far more real – and we don’t have to wait fifty years for it – is the invisible Space Age, which exists already; the communications satellites, literally thousands of them, television relay systems, spy satellites, weather satellites. These are all changing our lives in a way that the average person doesn’t yet comprehend. The ability to pass information around from one point in the globe to another in vast quantities and at stupendous speeds, the ability to process information by fantastically powerful computers, the intrusion of electronic data processing in whatever form into all our lives is far, far more significant than all the rocket launches, all the planetary probes, every footprint or tyremark on the lunar surface.
‘The Space Age is Over’: J. G. Ballard, interview with Christopher Evans, 1979, in Simon Sellars & Dan O’Hara (eds.) Extreme Metaphors: Interviews with J. G. Ballard 1967-2008 (Fourth Estate, 2012).Gagrina
What do you do about it? You consider. You begin again, from a different angle: you begin with desire. What would you like to do? What do you enjoy most of all? And is it possible to turn that into a trade? Yes, of course. Someone who enjoys thinking, does everything she can to become a philosopher. Someone who likes writing, does all she can to become an author. But you’re already an author, and you have no philosophical ambitions. Your favourite thing, after writing and thinking, is walking. Surely you must be able to turn that into a trade: a vagabond. A vagrant. A drifter. A wayfarer. There have always been vagrants. But today it’s a trade and a status that’s in the process of dying out. At least in welfare Norway. And you think: someone ought to preserve this trade. Someone ought to shoulder this responsibility. Someone ought to save this freedom, this pride, re-establish this trade and its standing; yes, you will be a wayfarer.
Tomas Espedal, Tramp (Seagull Books, 2010, translated by James Anderson).