Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I Pluto

It is really bothering me, this Pluto thing. I've tried to see this as a liberating moment for Pluto. Tried and failed. Sure, Pluto has slipped the surly bonds of planethood, kicked off the shackles and drifted clear of stereotypes and all the burdens of its more weighty brethren. And I have solace that some of the other planets might be a bit envious; taking a long sideway glance at ol’ Pluto as it sets off to find itself. Isn’t travel great! And interplanetary travel even more so! Still, one can't help think that Uranus would like that sort of freedom. Now there is a planet that could benefit by getting out more. Trust me, Uranus ain't laughing!

So Pluto is now a free-agent drifting around the solar system, exploring other possibilities. Who knows what Pluto will decide to do or be… an Asteroid…a Comet, Mickey Mouse's dog, a late night talk show host, portrayed hero on cereal box, a hunk of rock floating around the solar system…whatever. Pluto is footloose and fancy free, right? My problem isn’t Pluto itself. It is with all these dudes. All these men. All these men sitting around talking about "classical" planets and how Pluto don't make the grade because it isn't a "celestial body that orbits around the sun, or doesn’t have sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a…nearly round shape, or has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit."

So what! So Pluto ain’t as round as the other planets. So Pluto needs a little help from time to time getting around the Sun. Pluto still gets around, DON’T SHE? And what’s so wrong asking for a helping hand. Most of the “classical planets” have gravity to spare.

Wouldn't it be interesting if we found LIFE on Pluto. The aliens (Plutonians one and all) might not take too kindly to having their home labeled "minor" or categorized as "less than." We could, of course, bring civilization to them. That’s always worked in the past. But we should be careful. For what if the Plutonians are found to be superior? And being superior, what if the Plutonians head out on their fancy ships and civilize us? Will Smith ain’t gonna save us this time.
This time it’ll be the Plutonians breaking out the crayolas and the spreadsheets and redrawing the maps and the classifications. Their first stop, the “European Peninsula”. There goes the seven continent science of the old planet earth. The Europeans might fold but the Aussies would fight it for sure. I can almost hear those Plutonians now “Those silly primitive humans to actually call Europe a continent and McDonalds food.”

A co-worker in the cubical– some people have the gall to call them offices – next to me told me of a radio program with a covey of high-minded scientists talking about the danger of "planet inflation" if Pluto isn't down-graded. They were all very serious and very concerned. I speculated that she, a Ph.D in one of the soft sciences, might be inclined to side with rigid planetary definition so as to bolster her reputation within the hard science community. She seemed to understand my logic but appeared…hard-pressed. Later she wrote via email that her daughter had commented that only 8 planets in the solar system seemed “less exciting.”

Was Einstein a “soft scientist”? Does the universe really revolve around the earth? How new was the New World to those that were living here? At what moment does life “begin” and could stem cell research be saving peoples lives someday, soon? We can’t be ruled by superstition any more than we can be ruled by our inhumanity, enslaved by our mathematics nor our super search algorithm. We actually have to be smart enough and wise enough and pragmatic enough to actually Do No Evil.

Everything is a soft science where humanity is concerned. Even the math. Stripping away Planethood from Pluto was arrogant, mean-spirited, boorish, silly and obvious. God is Dead. Pluto too. Mystery along with them. Romance, you’re out! Creation, innovation and dreaming…you take your things and go. Go! Pluto is a planet now more than ever because you’ve tried to sheepishly deny it that status.

Pluto is an ugly knuckle of a duckling. But Pluto is the new rallying cry for freedom. "Let’s win this one for Pluto". Pluto stands for anyone who has ever been told they were too tall, or too short, or too brown, or too slow, too fat, or too dumb…too anything. Or not enough of something else. Anyone who ever heard or felt that there are these nice neat and tidy holes and they are a clunky, squarish, puckish, peg. We are just too arrogant as a people. Science is too rigid. Poets should be running things.

Pluto is my new litmus test, romantic and otherwise. I don't date much – and what I do I do pretty poorly, especially with women from “the continent” - but it is the first question to be asked of any potential love interest; “Pluto… planet or not?” A "no"…she gets the check. I could see totally digging on a woman and then after having "the Pluto talk". It goes poorly, our encounter ends; leaving us something less than star crossed lovers. Damn! A “yes” however, and I gaze into her great personality and know I've found a believer, an individual, a member of a family, someone who can see beyond boxes, and edges, and borders and conventions.

I am Pluto. I AM PLUTO. i am pluto. Shout these words. Whisper them softly so that the bounce around within your odd misshapen form, bang around against your insecurities, your unrealized dreams and your occasional need to say, “can you help me I’m not feeling strong enough today to make it on my own.” Perhaps you’ve never said those words, but you will. I am saying them today, right now, “I am Pluto”.

In a galaxy of diversity those words ring my world in truth.



Blogger Laurie said...

whoa! It was a year ago that you sent me this email!!!

1:14 PM  

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