There was a little-known story about the Huygens landing on Saturn’s moon Titan last Friday (see 01/15/2005 entry). The human race sent a gift to the Titanians. Four songs recorded by two European rock musicians before launch were included along with the spacecraft. The website Music2Titan.com explains the purpose of the project:
October 1997: to enrich the Cassini-Huygens mission with a human message to potential extra-terrestrial populations, and to leave trace of our humanity to the unknown, 4 original musics [sic] composed by French musicians Julien Civange and Louis Haéri are placed on board Huygens.…
The Music will reach Titan on January 14 2005 after a 7 year and 4 Billion Kilometer Journey. Never will human signs have traveled and landed so far.
“Music2Titan reflects a wish to highlight mankind’s existence in the universe through music and to familiarize people with the spatial exodus and possible existence of extra-terrestrial life,” said Julien Civange, producer, musician and initiator of Music2Titan. “It also serves as a way to offer people hope for the future and to make music travel beyond normal boundaries.” (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
The 4 songs are named Lalala, Bald James Dean, Hot Time, and No Love. The lyrics of No Love include the line: “What will we export there? Our dustbins, our fast-food, our knowledge, Wall Street, Che Guevara, the Mona Lisa, Bart Simpson…?” According to the composer, the song “raises the questions linked to the conquest and the exodus of space.”
Good thing nobody was there to listen to this stuff. Can you believe it? Here was an opportunity to send a token of man’s greatest art, music and intellectual achievements, and what do the Europeans send? A dustbin of human depravity (except for the Mona Lisa and Wall Street, perhaps, and whatever these mopheads considered “knowledge”). Don’t blame the scientists for this folly: most of them probably didn’t even know about it. At least Carl Sagan had enough taste to outweigh Johnny Be Good with lots of Bach and Beethoven aboard the Voyagers, and Rosetta sent along a language disk of Genesis 1–3 in 1000 languages (see 01/13/2003 entry).
On second thought, maybe it’s a good thing these recordings were sent to Titan, where they could be drowned out in the howling wind as they freeze into harmless monuments no one will ever hear or see again. Any extra-terrestrials finding these artifacts on Titan might well debate a stimulating question: did these items arise from chaos, or were they intelligently designed? Examining the hardware, then the recordings, they might come to mixed conclusions.