Astronaut Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 82 quotes )
Thought Experiment: You are a native of New York City, you live in New York, work in New York, travel about the city with no particular emotion except a mild boredom, unease, exasperation, and dislike especially for, say, Times Square and Brooklyn, and a longing for a Connecticut farmhouse. Later you become an astronaut and wander in space for years. You land on a strange, unexplored (you think) planet. There you find a road sign with an arrow, erected by a previous astronaut in the manner of GIs in World War II: 'Brooklyn 9.6 light-years.' Explain your emotion.
He'd always known that the world was an interesting place, and his imagination had peopled it with pirates and bandits and spies and astronauts and similar. But he'd also had a nagging suspicion that, when you seriously got right down to it, they were all just things in books and didn't properly exist anymore.
Don't you believe in flying saucers, they ask me? Don't you believe in telepathy? — in ancient astronauts? — in the Bermuda triangle? — in life after death? No, I reply. No, no, no, no, and again no. One person recently, goaded into desperation by the litany of unrelieved negation, burst out "Don't you believe in anything?" Yes", I said. "I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I'll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.
While the astronauts, heroes forever, spent mere hours on the moon, I have remained in this new world, West, for nearly thirty years. I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first. Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.
Since the lunchroom does no significant harm to the caverns' ecology, I'd like to believe that this is one of those lucky places where we don't have to choose between doing the right thing and enjoying a goof. I look up at the ceiling of the lunchroom, which is, of course, the ceiling of the cave. It looks so lunar I can't help but think of a certain astronaut. In 1971, Apollo 14's Alan Shepard hit golf balls on the moon. Gearing up to face the profundity of the universe, this man brought sporting goods with him into space. Who can blame him? That's what we Americans do when we find a place that's really special. We go there and act exactly like ourselves. And we are a bunch of fun-loving dopes.
A few years ago it dawned on me that everybody past a certain age ... pretty much constantly dreams of being able to escape from their lives. They don't want to be who they are any more. They want out. This list includes Thurston Howell the Third, Ann-Margret, the cat members of Rent, Vclav Havel, space shuttle astronauts and Snuffleupagus. It's universal.
As suburban children we floated at night in swimming pools the temperature of blood; pools the color of Earth as seen from outer space. We would float and be naked—pretending to be embryos, pretending to be fetuses—all of us silent save for the hum of the pool filter. Our minds would be blank and our eyes closed as we floated in warm waters, the distinction between our bodies and our brains reduced to nothing—bathed in chlorine and lit by pure blue lights installed underneath diving boards. Sometimes we would join hands and form a ring like astronauts in space; sometimes when we felt more isolated in our fetal stupor we would bump into each other in the deep end, like twins with whom we didn’t even know we shared a womb.
Readers will recall that the little evidence collected seemed to point to the strange and confusing figure of an unidentified Air Force pilot whose body was washed ashore on a beach near Dieppe three months later. Other traces of his ‘mortal remains’ were found in a number of unexpected places: in a footnote to a paper on some unusual aspects of schizophrenia published thirty years earlier in a since defunct psychiatric journal; in the pilot for an unpurchased TV thriller, ‘Lieutenant 70’; and on the record labels of a pop singer known as The Him — to instance only a few. Whether in fact this man was a returning astronaut suffering from amnesia, the figment of an ill-organized advertising campaign, or, as some have suggested, the second coming of Christ, is anyone’s guess.
If one starts with the anatomical difference, which even a patriarchal Viennese novelist was able to see was destiny, then one begins to understand why men and women don't get on very well within marriage, or indeed in any exclusive sort of long-range sexual relationship. He is designed to make as many babies as possible with as many different women as he can get his hands on, while she is designed to take time off from her busy schedule as astronaut or role model to lay an egg and bring up the result. Male and female are on different sexual tracks, and that cannot be changed by the Book or any book. Since all our natural instincts are carefully perverted from birth, it is no wonder that we tend to be, if not all of us serial killers, killers of our own true nature.
The problem is that people have tried to look away from space and from the meaning of the moon landing. I remember seeing a picture of an astronaut standing on the moon. It was up at Yale and someone has scrawled on it, 'So what?' That is the arrogance of the kind of academic narrowness one too often sees; it is trapped in its own predictable prejudices, its own stale categories. It is the mind dulled to the poetry of existence. It's fashionable now to demand some economic payoff from space, some reward to prove it was all worthwhile. Those who say this resemble the apelike creatures in 2001. They are fighting for food among themselves, while one separates himself from them and moves to the slab, motivated by awe. That is the point they are missing. He is the one who evolves into a human being; he is the one who understands the future.
Once, Lacy had been present at the birth of an infant that was missing half its heart. The family had known their child would not live; they chose to carry through with the pregnancy, in the hope that they could have a few brief moments on this earth with her before she was gone for good. Lacy had stood in a corner of the room as the parents held their daughter. She didn't study their faces; she just couldn't. Instead, she focused on the medical needs of that newborn. She watched it, still and frost-blue, move one tiny fist in slow motion, like an astronaut navigating space. Then, one by one, her fingers unfurled and she let go.
On the day I started college in 1979, no woman had ever been on the United States Supreme Court or served as the Speaker of the House. None had been an astronaut or the solo anchor of a network evening news broadcast. Not one had been president of an Ivy League college or run a serious campaign for president.