"The Voyagers," a love letter about humankind

The Voyagers from Penny Lane on Vimeo.

Comparing the relationship of Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan to the twin Voyagers, filmmaker Penny Lane records that the craft and their cargo, The Golden Records, are, as Sagan said, "remarkably hopeful expressions about human life on this planet." Agreed. And while our civilization has moved on - few people beside club DJs even use a phonograph anymore - Lane uses the symbolism of the Voyagers to great effect in the film.

It must have particularly moving for her. Marrying during the making of it, she dedicates the work on Vimeo to her "fellow traveler into the unknown."

I instantly recalled a Dennis Overbye review of the book "Flyby," which chronicled the history of the two spacecraft. Having flown outward for the past 24 years, they are now the furtherest human made objects in the cosmos and will, before long, pass into interstellar space. They still send letters home. Like Lane, "Flyby" meditates on what it means to explore. Like Lane, Flyby finds exploration central to our nature as humans. And like Lane, the book finds, in the form of those two machines, an appeal to our better selves. They take us metaphorically home.

This is beautiful - Dennis Overbye:

This book blooms with such glorious rushes of exalted prose that I was dog-earing almost every page until I gave up. Contrasting the mission with human explorations from earlier eras, for example, [the author] Pyne writes that Voyager was 'a modernist machine loosed onto the cosmos. The Voyagers would not be blinded by gold or the mirage of fame. They would not abandon wife or child, or enslave unwary indigenes. They could not despair, could not be crippled by loneliness, could not fight for the cross or suffer for science, would not know epiphanies or endure tropical fevers. They would lay no claims, issue no proclamations of sovereignty, raise no toasts to king or republic, sign no treaties of trade or military alliance, nor send out reconnaissance parties to lay out routes for folk migration. . . . The Voyagers confronted no Other, or even life.'

A brief question and answer with Lane has been posted at the Atlantic.

Wayne