Sunday, October 01, 2006

[[ZEITGEIST]] Cosmos
I have just discovered that the entire series of Carl Sagan's seminal Cosmos programme are available on google video. Sagan co-wrote and presented the series in 1979, billed as a "personal vision," it covers an ecletic range of subjects from tours of the known and speculative universe, to a brilliantly staged explication of the 'theory' of evolution, which Sagan confidently proclaims is, "not a theory, but fact."

I remember seeing some of the episodes of Cosmos on the BBC around the time when it was first produced. Then its thirteen episodes were cut down and broadcast as 50 minute segments and shown late in the evening. Why the BBC did this I have no idea. The series, although inspired apparently by home-grown documentaries like David Attenborough's Life on Earth, surpasses even these impressive achievements in my opinion. I am astonished revisiting the series again how much of my own speculative day dreams and musings were in fact inspired by the speculations of Sagan. His lamentation of the loss of the Library of Alexandra in the first episode, for example, seared into my consciousness and later manifested in all sorts of ideas which I have speculated upon and been obsessed with over the years. Later in my life, I came to admire Sagan's writing, both his non-fiction works and the novel Contact, which was later made into a cowardly movie by Robert Zemeckis, starring Jodi Foster. Cowardly because Zemeckis did not attempt the books jaw droppingly astonishing ending.

Sagan is of course a superlative teacher, his explanations of even the most gnomic and difficult theories have a clarity and an entertainment value which has not been surpassed. This series has several some heart stopping moments of astonishment, the majority of these are generated, not by the special effects, groundbreaking for the time, but which now appear a little ropey, but by Sagan's conviction and the strenght of the writing . I stongly recommend if you have a broadband connection and thirteen plus hours to kill to tune into google video and watch the show.

2 comments:

Fiona (an interested party) said...

Hey there,
I'm interested in your university and am over-the-seas how would you rate it for research on live performance? It seems many of the lecturers are theatre/performance people (and practing too!) from their biogs, but the research students seem to be film based. What's your opinion? perhaps email me if you can help phionahh@hotmail.com

RodMunday said...

Hi Fiona,
There is an active theatre and performance department at Aberystwyth. I am not a member of this department, but they seem to put on many performances. They are also affiliated with the Centre for Performance Research in Wales, which holds some very interesting seminars. As for the blogs, no student is compelled to keep a blog and I guess the ones you have read reflect the situation that more film and media students are currently keeping blogs that drama and performance students. I would say if anything that the latter outnumber the former, at least at the post graduate level.

hope this helps, Rod