“If you were to attempt to communicate with an alien lifeform, what would you want to say? And, just as importantly, how would you say it? It’s a question that has inspired countless science fiction stories and fueled real debate between scientists involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).
Now, a digital artist and academic has produced his own answer with a collection of mind-bending poems written in an artificial language that was designed for alien communications…
…In this way, Signals can be viewed alternately as a puzzle, an art piece, or as a bonafide icebreaker for interstellar chats. As to whether he sees aliens as the ideal audience, Carter said he is ironically pessimistic about the odds that humans will establish contact with an extraterrestrial species, but added that our urge to search for them is valuable on its own merits. At the very least, our calls to these hypothetical beings can help us evaluate our fragile yet beautiful place in the cosmos.
“I do wonder, in his heart of hearts, whether [Freudenthal] really imagined [Lincos] being used, or whether it was more an intellectual exercise for a human audience, which in many respects, a lot of alien messages really are,” Carter said. “They are not for them, out there. They are for us. They are our attempts at expressing ourselves to the wider cosmos, because the chances of us sending a message out there and it being received and understood is so infinitesimally low as to be almost meaningless.”-Becky Ferreira, “How to Write Poetry to Communicate With Aliens.” Vice.com. June 28, 2022.
Reminds me of a Zuihitsu phrase: “Every signal has a cost. No costs; no need to communicate it.” What does it cost us to create a poem in a language for aliens? And who are we really communicating with?
When it's over, I want to
say: all my life
I was a bride married to
I was the bridegroom,
taking the world into my
—Mary Oliver, "When Death Comes"
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
–Mary Oliver, “Sometimes”
Start with a basic principle:
yauh peng, yauh leng - in English,
inexpensive and beautiful. Empty,
alone, a blank canvas five inches
across, bounded by ears, separate
yet susceptible, social mind virus.
Catastrophe has already happened,
from one view. Another angle, sees
happiness, created whole-cloth out
of disposition and a clean heart.
Sense, nonsense and in between, a line
can't be right, left and/or wrong.
Layers, subcultures of lost, brittle
men coalesce into reply guys, wienie
wagers, and boojeymean lodged in the
Callipygian cheeks of society, coprolite,
surplus to requirements, in places
normalized for deficits of wonder.
Covering what stinks, habitual
evidence of a lunch, long past
Nature's Shitness Protection Program
revealing God in what she's not,
and what she is may be just another
evaporated, dehydrated, Stone being.
An unmagicked, McJunk world, three ring
shit show, exponential, terrible,
uncapable of bearing the intimacy of
scrutiny. Changez vos amis, but there
can be no separate survival or
adjusted destinies. Truth comes last.
Not all are masterpieces, but there are some gems here.
Out in the cow field of life,
there's lot of poop to be found.
Some is fresh. Some is wet.
Some is old. Some is round.
Even if you catalog them all,
and describe every detail.
The main thing is knowing,
how not to step in one.
In the deep, a subterranean cache,
drip echoes, hardened magma flows
turned rivers, unseeing fish splash,
the earth's heart is on fire, blows.
Aquifers, filtered-moisture fed
flushed, a sucking river vortex
pulled, underground caldera bed,
formed before the prefrontal cortex.
Gardener's vision, compulsive
separating out the amoeba shits,
from the snail's slime, repulsive,
drowning in what the mystic omits.
Love me, love my amoebas, gross
we came, why, reality is blobby,
mess is not something to diagnose
the only certainty: its sloppy.
Sea change, rich and strange
pour yourself into strange waters
our many lives are frozen, deranged
paper Jesuses offered up for slaughters.
If only, I.F., I'm fucked, too,
quale, a different cell, all
different moments, a different you,
same behavior keeps you a thrall.
Suffering. Dismiss the teacher,
sub-human, human, minor god,
in our luggage, every creature
carries the mask of self, a facade.
Can those in the Black Iron Prison
be saved? What of the Palm Tree Garden?
New life, from pain, is risen.
From lessons, there is no full pardon.
Somewhere, above, there's another
underground. Do not despair.
Wait in the depths, unseen Other,
a new sea/land awaits, I'll see you there.