Hijacking the space narrative from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the long-running series Ancient Aliens (2010-) perfectly illustrates TV’s non-stop assault on logic, rationality, and general sanity. Tsoukalos quote against a Hubble Deep Field image, courtesy of NASA. Graphic created by Barry Vacker.

Left: Buzz Aldrin on the moon; Aldrin’s footprint; images courtesy of NASA. Right: Internet meme/parody of Stanley Kubrick filming the Apollo moon landing. Collage created by Barry Vacker, protected under the Fair Use Doctrine.

Image created by Julia Hilldebrand and Barry Vacker, 2017. Hubble Space Telescope against an image of distant nebula. Courtesy NASA; images are in the public domain.


Star-forming regions in vast nebula, Hubble Space Telescope, image courtesy of NASA, 2009. Interstellar quote added by Barry Vacker.

Stars, Dirt, and the Cosmic Sublime

The black monolith in 2001: A blank slate for a new philosophy for the human species. Graphic design by Barry Vacker. Because of copyright issues in Medium, I cannot show images from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

We live in a world where the highest function of the sign is to make reality disappear

Photo of my copy of “The Perfect Crime,” the 1996 book about the “murder“ of reality. The cover image is a bloody crime scene in an empty parking garage.

It Starts in the “Chill” Gaze

The Milky Way above the Rio Grande and Big Bend Ranch State Park in far west Texas. Photo by Morteza Safataj, Big Bend Conservation Alliance website; used with permission.

Looking Out and Away

For now, all secular culture has to offer for a shared destiny is the 24/7 consumer-entertainment-narcissism society

Promotional image from “Spectre” (2015); copyright Sony Pictures. Text added by Barry Vacker.

Crashing into the Future

Trapped in our skyglow metropolises, who looks at the night sky with awe and wonder?

For this essay, I added a red circle to mark the location of the largest International Dark Sky Reserve. The map of light pollution is a portion of “Electric Vanishing Points,” my mixed-media installation (6 feet by 10 feet) currently in development, 2020.

Counterclockwise from top left: 1947 Roswell newspaper headline announcing the flying saucer; the UFO poster in The X-Files; Covid-19 virus; logos for The X-Files and Q Anon; still from the Zapruder film of the JFK assassination; and the red pill born in the Matrix. Graphic by Barry Vacker, with images in the public domain; protected under the Fair Use Doctrine.

Barry Vacker

Theorist of big spaces and big ideas. Writer and mixed-media artist. Existentialist w/o the angst. PhD: Univ of Texas at Austin.

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