Thursday, June 25, 2009

To the makers of music

I can't believe we've never made a post about the Voyager Golden Record. There is more to come, but for now here's Ann Druyan describing the experience of making an hour-long recording of her own brainwaves for inclusion in what Jimmy Carter called 'a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings.'

"Earlier I had asked Carl if those putative extraterrestrials of a billion years from now could conceivably interpret the brain waves of a meditator. Who knows? A billion years is a long, long time, was his reply. On the chance that it might be possible why don't we give it a try?
Two days after our life-changing phone call, I entered a laboratory at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and was hooked up to a computer that turned all the data from my brain and heart into sound. I had a one-hour mental itinerary of the information I wished to convey. I began by thinking about the history of Earth and the life it sustains. To the best of my abilities I tried to think something of the history of ideas and human social organization. I thought about the predicament that our civilization finds itself in and about the violence and poverty that make this planet a hell for so many of its inhabitants. Toward the end I permitted myself a personal statement of what it was like to fall in love."

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