You Too Can Become A Cosmonaut… Without Leaving Earth
Fourteen Codes Of Conduct To Empower Your Life
How To Speak Like A Cosmonaut
Did you ever wonder why people these days are finding it difficult to use the first person singular pronoun ‘I’ in the English language?
And that most prefer instead to speak from a place where they are not by using the second person singular and plural pronoun ‘You.’
For example, by using the second person pronoun ‘You,’ peppered with a lot of ‘you knows’ and ‘likes,’ anyone can say the following in English and be understood:
“Oh, you know, it is like when you go to a restaurant, and everyone else wants the same thing as you, then they run out. It just pisses you off.”
But I am embarrassed to admit that when I listen to this way of speaking, I don’t understand. I ask:
Who is speaking?
Why is the first person pronoun ‘I’ being replaced by the second person ‘you’?
Where are they speaking from? And who are they talking to?
If people are finding it harder and harder to speak from where they are, and prefer to speak from a space from where they are not, at the place of a generalized ‘You,’ then one may well wonder what is going on.
Do people even have their feet on the ground? How can we tell?
Or have they been launched into space to orbit themselves as if they were a spaceship turning around a planet?
The story I am about to tell is real, but stranger than fiction.
It is a story about the origins of the earthly astronaut, not to be confused with the ones who have been physically jettisoned into space since the 1960’s.
No, I am talking about the first earthly astronauts: those who began to orbit the earth in the 17th-18th centuries, while remaining, at least physically, on this planet.
Though weightless, these earthly cosmonauts can be heard and seen orbiting today. And if you know what to look for, they may even be seen rotating upside down while trying to speak with their feet.
The Greek Origins Of The Cosmonaut
In English-speaking nations, a professional space traveler is called an astronaut. In Russian-speaking nations, an astronaut is called a cosmonaut [космонавт] which derives from the Greek words kosmos (κόσμος), meaning “universe” and nautes (ναύτης), meaning sailor.
Though I will use the terms interchangeably in this article, the Russian word cosmonaut is the older of the two. It refers to a time in the Greek language when the cos-moi (singular of cosmos) was not someone whose orbit is a result of being launched into outer space, but someone who has their head in the clouds.
See the Wiki-Greek:
Ζει σε άλλον κόσμο!! ― Zei se állon kósmo!! ― He lives in another world!!
Or in the plural, the cosmos, can be a collective universal, a Mr. Everybody, a kind of John Doe or Joe Blow:
Δεν φταίει ο κόσμος, φταίνε οι πολιτικοί. ― Den ftaíei o kósmos, ftaíne oi politikoí. ― It is not the fault of the people; it is the politicians’ fault.
The Modern Origins Of The Cosmonaut
Though the precedents are obscure, probably most would agree that the first official launch of the cosmoi was documented in 1784 with the publication of Kant’s The Idea of Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Viewpoint:
Whatever conception of the freedom of the will that one may form in terms of metaphysics, the will’s manifestation in the world of human phenomena, i.e., human actions are determined in accordance with natural laws, as is every other natural event.
What is essential to recognize is the launch of the cosmoi was not so much sending someone out into space but the inverse: something heavenly was brought down to earth and given an existence — the soul or ‘freedom of the will’ of metaphysics now has a natural law.
For ancient Greek philosophy, the soul had neither immortality nor an existence, but in passing by Christian theology, Kant gives the soul immortality and existence on the earth, which is nothing other than the Cosmoi, or in more modern terms the Moi or Ego.
We have become so impeccable today that many feel comfortable saying, ‘I am who I am,’ a phrase formerly reserved for a god.
Yet, the conditions for heaven on earth, the weightlessness, and freedom of the ego should not be taken for granted: a military base on every corner of the world, constant wars, an ever-growing network of techno-science, and a pill and psychotherapist for every occasion, establish its ground control.
In a more naive time, Kant had proposed to calculate the orbit of the cosmoi just as Newton was able to calculate the revolutions of the planets. Kant writes:
History is concerned with giving an account of these phenomena [human actions], no matter how deeply concealed their causes may be, and it allows us to hope that, if it examines the free exercise of the human will on a large scale, it will be able to discover a regular progression among freely willed actions. In the same way, we may hope that what strikes us in the actions of individuals as confused and fortuitous may be recognised, in the history of the entire species, as a steadily advancing but slow development of man’s original capacities. Thus, marriages, births, and deaths do not seem to be subject to any rule by which their numbers could be calculated in advance, since the free human will has such a great influence upon them; and yet the annual statistics for them in large countries prove that they are just as subject to constant natural laws as are the changes in the weather, which in themselves are so inconsistent that their individual ocurrence cannot be determined in advance, but which nevertheless do not fail as a whole to sustain the growth of plants, the flow of rivers, and other natural functions in a uniform and uninterrupted course.
The modern Man of psychology is a remake of the cosmoi in the sense that psychology is no longer a theological discourse on the soul and angels, but the ego and total Man.
The celebrated sociologist, Marcel Mauss, posed the following to psychology:
The study of this complete man is among the most urgent among those that we can ask of you to undertake. Without reproach, outside of any psychopathology, […] we ask of you to work to your advantage this time well in the field of normality, though it was originally opened up by the psychopathological studies of the complete and non-compartmentalized man. It is this man, this indivisible man, ponderable but impeccable, that we encounter in our moral, economic, and demographic statistics.
(My translation: Questions Posed To The Psychologist, Press Universitaires de France, p.304, 1924)
The cosmonaut has become the statistically average John and Jane Doe: a being of instinct whose individuality though at odds with the norms and values of any particular society, becomes universally predictable and measurable.
From the global exploits of European colonialism and modern science to Psychology Today and the life of Homer Simpson, you can discover their origin in the birth of the cosmoi.
With more time than I have here, it would be necessary to follow this ‘total man’ into Freud’s theory of psychosis and the modern paranoiac.
Fourteen Codes of Conduct for the Modern Cosmonaut
To get to the launchpad, you will need to:
- Think only for yourself but use the second person pronoun ‘you’ instead of the first person ‘I’. Say ‘You know’ every other sentence just to make sure you are still in contact with reality.
- Learn to power-empathize, put yourself in the place of others, at the limit, just use ‘you’ when communicating anything personal
- Always be in accord with yourself, believe in your ideas, know what you want.
- Don’t judge others, in fact, no need to judge at all, just try to understand and be mindful
- Regulate your family like a team at NASA: take parenting classes and set up goals that are S.M.A.R.T. = specific, measurable, achievable, results- focussed, and timely.
- Hire a nanny to watch your children while you find a job, any job, in the shiniest and highest building in the city
- It does not really matter which job, since your feet are not touching the ground, you can introduce yourself as an ‘artist’, ‘the boss’, or ‘president’ even though you may do nothing more than perform a low-level function
- Name drop that you have met a few stars in your celestial orbit
- Try to speak as much as possible out of your nose: this makes it look like you are heavenly since your lips don’t move; high-pitched quacks and ‘fried-English’ are often effective for signaling over long distances
- Take up yoga and practice a non-western religion like Buddhism so you can detach from any earthly culture or function by universalizing your self in meditating on nothing
- Change your sex, your life, your face, get as much plastic surgery as it takes to make you feel good and resemble nothing on earth; remember nothing is impossible, you are timeless, immaculate in your conception
- Don’t eat a body, eat the soul and essence: eat bio, gluten-free, vegan, purified science-based foods so you can take control of your destiny and be empowered
- When in public, wear reflective sunglasses and wireless earplugs that connect to a mobile phone, then walk down the street, not acknowledging anyone else while texting and speaking into the air just to make sure you are in touch with ground control.
- Puff yourself up big, imagine you are inside a spacesuit, aspire to become the best version of yourself.
How To Avoid A Crash
Because of its ideal and perfect nature, the modern ego requires a high level of maintenance and routine checkups, a bit like a gadget or spaceship that has been sent to the moon.
What is the first thing that allows for the detection of a systems failure in a modern flight to the moon?
Hint: it is neither lack of food, air, nor water… but the voice quits beaming down to ground control.
For this reason, experts called therapists are often hired to monitor this voice constantly, to soothe its guilt, while assuring the cosmoi that it is not alone in the infinite universe.
“When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in an eternity before and after, the little space I fill engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces whereof I know nothing, and which know nothing of me, I am terrified. The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.”