The planetarium


As the band played The Dark Side of the Moon
We sat cross-legged and stared at the intergalactic visuals overlaid with 90s graphics
Dry-eyed, we felt dizzy from motion sickness

When I unglued my eyes to look at the crowd
They were all staring at the semi-spherical ceiling where the projected screen was
They stared in unison
Yet utterly in their own world
So separate from one another
I wanted to scream and jump for any human connection
I was scared in my detachment and by the detached society I found myself
My friends and I shared sugary, chocolate snacks
But nothing else so much as a whisper
It was a spectacle
Entertainment at an intense level
A rock band playing Pink Floyd underneath 180 degrees of overly stimulating space visuals
Plus we had chocolate

However
I couldn’t shake off an equally intense dread
Not just at how detached, separated and individuated we’ve become
But also at how Godly we think we are
I imagined this show produces the same propaganda for fascist nationalism but at a species scale
Complete with xenophobic, classist structures that normally ripen with nationalism
I imagined the show made people proud to be human
Not just proud at the ability to put on a show
But proud at the illusion of astronomy-scale omniscience
And an omnipotence that comes with being able to map and navigate between stars
As if space was there for the taking
And yet why would we even want to colonise extraterrestrial space
Even if we had some Promethean gift of fire that allowed us to?
Have you even seen actual footage of the surface of the moon?
It looks like shitty concrete
Like an abandoned carpark
That would only be fit for hiding from the eyes of the law
Homeless people would find the ground cold and uncomfortable
Skaters would get annoyed by the potholes

How we marvel about how much we know about space
How powerful we feel that we could conquer other floating rocks
All I could think was, ‘So what?!’
And, more importantly, what price did we have to pay to get to this point
Consumerist ecstacy that requires us to work to limit our imagination, creativity, play, our time, our freedom, our souls
To keep the furnace of society burning with the coals of progress
We pay not only by the 16 € planetarium admission fee
But also by losing our connection to the world - and, fuck it, the universe - around us
By losing our connection to each other and to the full depth and breadth of our selves
We can no longer even pay enough attention to allow us to nurture any kind of meaningful connection
Our conversations are about DJ sets on Soundcloud and how bad the coffee is in Kenya

When the show ended, I breathed a sigh of relief
Even though consumerist ecstasy kept me wanting more
I needed time to mourn and bereave our Earthly connection
I needed the phantasmic space shuttle to crash-land back home
It was all too much
More than I could take
And I was no better for it