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  You could have a big dipper   

Socrates at latitude 6,3 N 139,6 E alt 420 km by Matthew Hisbent



<No-one can see it.>

“Something does not have to be seen to be Art”.

<Surely it does>

“Ah, Berkeley’s Treatise. Interesting gambit.”

< Schrödinger's cat you mean>

“No, I don’t.”

<May I question your degree of certainty on that?>

“Of course you may. Berkeley's Treatise states that sense objects exist only when perceived. It follows then, if you say that the objects to which I refer cannot be Art as no one perceives them, then you are following Berkeley. Loosely perhaps.”

<In which case, why is Schrödinger's cat relevant?>

“It isn’t. You entered it here. Schrödinger's theory concerns radioactivity, poison and a cat that may be dead or alive.”

<The assumption or presumption being that if I can see the cat it is dead; if I cannot see the cat it is alive.>

“If that is the assumption it is incorrect. Allow me to ask about Bank Holidays?”

<Bank Holidays on the Moon?>

“Has it ever been decided that there are no Bank Holidays on the moon. I think not.”

<There are no people on the moon to have a holiday. Not currently.>

“Just because we cannot see people on the moon does not mean there are none.”

<We of all people would know. Why did you mention Bank Holidays? What have they to do with Art?”

“We are discussing visibility are we not? If an Art Gallery is closed on a Bank Holiday, which they usually are, and you cannot see the Art inside does that not mean from your contention that the Art does not exist?”

<Ah, I see. No, it means it is inaccessible.>

“Aha, then according to you my Art on the Moon is still Art but is inaccessible.”

<Good point, but I would still propose Science and not Art, or perhaps accurately scientific space junk since it is Science no-one wants anymore or cares enough about to retrieve>

“It is not good form to change the parameters of a debate midway, but I will allow it. Continue.”

<I may not have articulated it perfectly, blame it on my youth, but my starting premise was that all the material down there on the surface of the Moon is space junk, the product of Science, not Art. Intercontinental and diverse I grant you, but scientific space junk nonetheless. I have compiled a list. Beresheet; Luna 2; Hiten; Ranger 4; SMART-1; Chandrayaan-1; Chang'e-1. 200,000 kilograms of space junk not to mention thousands of artificial satellites currently orbiting the Earth. They might fall to Earth and burn up or they might join that scientific space junk heap on the Moon>

“Is the Moon up?”

<Do not people look up to the Moon from Earth?>

“Yes, but we are not on Earth strictly speaking.”

<No, but you are of Earth are you, we, not?>

“Okay. Look, I cannot argue with you on lists. They are your métier. However, none of the objects which you have listed include the very objects which I contend are Art. For instance, the golden olive branch which Apollo 11 took to the Moon. Three golf balls taken up on Apollo 14. A Falcon feather on Apollo 15. A family photograph taken on Apollo 16. But the one you cannot argue against is the Moon Museum taken up on Apollo 12.”


<Please elucidate>

“It is a ceramic wafer three-quarters by one-half inch bearing artworks by six artists including Andy Warhol


<Ah, there I have you. You admit they were all taken to the Moon on a vessel built for a Science project. Therefore they are part of that project. Therefore they are scientific junk, not Art.”

“Not at all on two counts. Firstly, they were made to be seen and enjoyed and secondly the Warhol Wafer was smuggled aboard, it was not a formally part of a Science project. Got you I think.”

<The Warhol image is a penis. That is not Art>

“Pardon? Did you just sniff at me? My God, you are a prude.”

<I cannot sniff. You know that. You designed my parameters. Perhaps if we are finished with the impossible question of Science v Art we should debate Art v Pornography>

“Are you yielding to me?”


<Not at all, merely suggesting a new topic>

The astronaut switched off the vidscreen, nulling the image of Socrates - the face of the debating programme. Life on the Space station oscillated between busy uptime and sleepy downtime. Bored of chess programmes the astronaut had designed a debating programme which was intended to pass a few dead moments with engaging conversation. Where in space had a touch of prudishness entered Socrates’ programming? It wasn’t password protected. Had one of the others changed the programme?

Now he had a sentient but disapproving computer programme.

By 3001 it might be capable of murdering someone in the name of Science.

My goodness, Arthur C Clarke might have been right after all.


Matthew Hisbent is a traveller and music obsessive who relishes the time and ability to write. He maintains a web page for his writing and his travelling featuring his writing and his walking on the coasts of Fife or Corfu, watching seaside life unfold. @mattie2twi

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