Voyager, Adorno, Mahler

The solar system’s ‘family portrait,’ as depicted by Voyager 1 on 14 February 1990.  Gallery of Voyager photos here (The Guardian)

On the thirty-fifth anniversary of the launching of the Voyager spacecrafts–and on the occasion of Voyager 1‘s apparent entering of interstellar space–some comments from Theodor W. Adorno’s Mahler: A Musical Physiognomy (1992 [1971]), reflecting on the Jewish socialist composer’s “Das Lied von der Erde” (“The Song of the Earth”):

“To the work the earth is not the universe, but what fifty years later could fall within the experience of one flying at a great altitude, a star.  For the gaze of music that leaves it behind, it is rounded to a sphere that can be overviewed, as in the meantime it has already been photographed from space, not the center of Creation but something minute and ephemeral.  To such experience is allied the melancholy hope for other stars, inhabited by happier beings than humans.  But the earth that has grown remote to itself is without the hope the stars once promised.  It is sinking into empty galaxies.  On it lies beauty as the reflection of past hope, which fills the dying eye until it is frozen below the flakes of unbound space.  The moment of delight before such beauty dares to withstand its abandonment to disenchanted nature.”

One Response to “Voyager, Adorno, Mahler”

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