The skies were clear blue, and the wind mild and agreeable. The day was ripe for the moment the star returned to the galactic heavens in rejuvenated buoyancy of jubilee that he would be out to the extraterrestrial world again. “Beam me up, Scotty,” the man said as he boarded on New Shepherd, treating it like his beloved ship USS Enterprise. It was art imitating life in the former captain’s bright eyes; it was life imitating art in the old star’s beady eyes. For William Shatner, aka Admiral Kirk of Star Trek, it was a one-of-a-kind experience, equivalent to an out-of-body experience in which you fly from your corporeal vessel and wander in all whither, floating weightless, groundless. It was his very Real McCoy galactic trip to outer space.
On Wednesday, October 13th, Blue X, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos-owned spacecraft enterprise, took off from its launching site about 20 miles away from Rural Texas town of Van Horn with civilian passengers who paid astronomical sums for their space trip. But not Shatner, who spent nothing at the courtesy of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said to be a long-time Trekkie and something of a billionaire with a flair for space cowboy. The motive for a publicity stunt to outshine Blue X over entrepreneur rivals, Elon Musk’s Space-A and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc., is impossible to ignore, yet why not when it also produces positive effects of provoking the imaginary in the real? Shatner, at age 90, seemed no longer the dashing brilliant, just young Admiral Kirk any longer. Still, his spirit beamed up as he experienced overview effect outside the orbit, profoundly mesmerized with the deep fragility of Planet Earth, the Galaxy Blue. Shatner articulated the face of the Earth as so ethereal and impossibly gorgeous vis-à-vis the blackness of outer space that he had a eureka moment of what distinguished Light (Life-Earth) from Darkness (Death-Outer Space). Methinks that such pareidolia of the overview effect has something to do with his nonagenarian age, the last age in Seven Stages of Man, one foot closer in the grave. However, when I watched him in the news, overwhelmed by the ineffable emotions, Jeff Bezos removed his shades and embraced the old actor; all looked genuine, not an act staged for a post-trip publicity event. And even if it so, then it is a likable sort of entertainment that does viewers of all kinds good.
Criticisms on the expensive space trip only the haves can afford are worldwide and understandable amid the unequal distribution of wealth makes earthlings live and die or live and suffer. Yet the veteran movie star reminds me of an old soldier who has lived through the vagaries of life. Overall, the 90-year-old Shatner’s space trip materializes the earthling voyage of the USS Enterprise, boldly searching for new life and new civilizations into the galaxies.
Captain Kirk coming home
Floating under a parachute
Touching down on Mother Earth
in a soft haze of excellent dust,
Calling it home, Roger out.
Welcome back to Earth, Admiral Kirk.