Wednesday, 25 March 2009


Somebody has said that nostalgia is a wrong notion, we don't long back to a place, but to a time. Chronalgia.

The post-conference trip goes to Kennedy Space Center. I am not sure I want to go, but I have a whole day to kill before my flight, and there is nothing else to do on the Magic Mountain. How wrong I was to think I wasn't interested! It is a nostalgic trip - or rather chronalgic, a trip back in time, to the past that once was a future. I am so old that I remember the sputnik, and the first man in space. (I guess for my children it feels as if I remembered the French Revolution). I remember it from my childhood perspective: we were the first in space! Here at the Kennedy Center it's "They were the first". But "We were the first on the moon". I remember it too. By that time I was grownup enough to think "We are on the moon". I wept of joy.

When I was a child I knew I would be an astronaut. Space exploration expanded so quickly that it seemed absolutely plausible that within my lifespan humankind would fly to the moon, to Mars and beyond. I told everyone who would listen that I particularly planned to visit Saturn because of its gorgeous rings. In the Kennedy Center, they show a video of "the last man on the moon". It all stopped so unexpectedly. I feel sad.

The strongest impression is the International Space Station building. That's where they assemble units to go up. It is not a museum, it's a working place like any other. There are some capsules that have been up and down a few times; others are yet to go. The exhibit of "Early Space Exploration" is a graveyard of hopes. Mummies and pyramids.

The area is huge, and they take us from spot to spot in buses. It feels like a Tarkovsky movie. On the way, we see alligators, herons and eagles. The visitors seem to be more fascinated by these than by rockets and space shuttles.

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