It Means Mars To Me!

The moon and stars have long held a special place in songwriters’ hearts. “Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars. Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars.”* How about: “When you wish upon a star — makes no difference who you are.”* And here’s a new one for you: “I’ve got Mars on a string.”*

It won’t be long now before we’re immersed in a slew of new idioms. Think about it. A wave of new speech will be the by-product of something else grand; idioms will come from new song lyrics, from new rap and poetry, from new works of fiction and nonfiction. Humans will go to Mars, and inherent in this experience will be the spirit to create – to create a new life in a new place, and to create ways to describe, portray or embody that reality. One can imagine that in the moment just before sleep consumes an exhausted crew member, images or words will emerge. Jokes and puns will be made during the day. Diaries will be dictated. Photographs will be taken. Comparisons will be made. And the world, oops – the worlds will amass a new sense of what is right and good.

Advertisers will tout adventures in a land that is neither verdant nor ultramarine, and yet this land will be beautiful. Beauty shifts as one gets used to one’s surroundings. A resident of an area that receives rain on summer days may have difficulty grasping that a rocky barren landscape can be a romantic site, at first, anyway. New renderings will expand our notion of what is beautiful. Add to this an economic perspective, and enterprising minds will cultivate not only ingenious business opportunities, but also add glamour to what is considered, for good reason, a formidable place.

Generations before us have sung and danced to tunes referencing the moon in a dreamy way. I remember my elders singing “Shine on, shine on harvest moon up in the sky.”* The old-time favorite “By the Light of the Silvery Moon”* scores the trifecta with the “moon,” “June,” and “tune” rhymes. Of course, lyrics can be more sophisticated; an updated effort for rhyme gives us the likes of: Mars, Stars, Ours, Quasars, Lodestars, Memoirs, Superstars and Repertoires. But the scope of engineering a habitable base on another planet is almost beyond comprehension, and it’s hard to imagine that simple rhymes can convey the depth of such a colossal undertaking. Our language had to suffice for previous lift-offs, EVAs and lunar landings, but for going to Mars? I wonder. Perhaps we’ll see new languages emerge. At the very least there will be huge additions to our lexicon. Human Martians (“Hutians”?) will necessarily live in an environment of conservation. People will have to conserve all of their resources, their oxygen, their fuel, food, even their own personal energy, and live in a way that maximizes everything. Is there a language more economical than Base Two? Time will tell.

Yet I doubt that Hutians will be chucking the standards of our archaic language any time soon. While a precise numerical system or language may best enable Mission Control specialists to understand accurately, react to, and provide for pioneers as these explorers routinely communicate their progress in building a base, their challenges to survive and ultimately thrive, and their physical and mental stresses, there’s still something to be said for feeding the soul. This will require different approaches, and our forward-thinking explorers will have to rely on their wits, their reactions, their own creativity and their knowledge of things past to create something new.

The times – they are a’ changin’,* and I’m over Phobos and Deimos just thinking about it!

*Here’s some info on the songs I reference:

“Fly Me to the Moon” (originally called, “In Other Words) was written by Bart Howard in 1954. Lots of people have recorded it, but it’s the Frank Sinatra version that many recognize.

When You Wish Upon a Star” was sung by a cricket — Jiminy Cricket, to be exact. You can hear Jiminy (Cliff Edwards) singing the song in the beginning and in the final scene of Walt Disney’s “Pinocchio,” released in 1940.

“I’ve Got the World On a String” was very popular. Harold Arlen composed the song in 1932; Ted Koehler wrote the lyrics. Lots of famous singers have recorded the piece; the “Chairman of the Board” Frank Sinatra recorded it in 1953.

The Ziegfeld Follies performed “Shine on Harvest Moon” in 1908. Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth are credited for writing the piece, but there is a bit of controversy over the credits. 

“By the Light of the Silvery Moon” was published in 1909. Gus Edwards wrote the tune, and Edward Madden composed the lyrics. Lucy and Ethel performed it in an “I Love Lucy” episode.

“The Times They Are A’Changin’” is Bob Dylan’s song and album by the same name. The album was released by Columbia Records on January 13, 1964.

Kathy Galgano

January 6, 2015

Copyright 1/8/2015. All rights reserved.