Looking at the earth from outer space, while moving at a proper speed from distant stars to closer ones, was a very popular thought-experiment in nineteenth-century astronomy, and it brought together time and space to serve the purpose of telling stories. Scientists such as Felix Eberty, Charles Babbage and Camille Flammarion went as far as imagining Keeping a record of earthly events by taking advantage of both the point of observation and the time lapse. If the epistemological consequences of choosing an external point of observation to look at the earth and at humankind are ponderous, so is its poetic output: the universe becomes a vast archive of the inscriptions left by all events and movements on its vast canvas; the space and the atmosphere are conceived of as rich warehouses providing raw material for stories. However, this pronounced optimism that informed the nineteenth-century approach to astronomical observation inscribes itself into a much older tradition, fertile with images and stories prompted by the hypothesis of an external look upon the earth and the subsequent relativity of time-measuring. Drawing on authors as distant as Lucretius and Calvino, this paper aims to show how astronomical displacement and re-localization, with its questioning of traditional concepts of time, bring about enormous consequences in storytelling and authorship, when space becomes legible for those equipped with the (im)proper lens.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Atene e Roma|
|State||Published - 2014|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes