Medievalism and Mr Clarke 6

May 16, 2003

The Czechoslovakian communist government before 1989 was strongly anti-intellectual and had reservations about subjects that could not be turned to the benefit of the proletariat.

In the 1950s, a journalist working for one of the "progressive" working-class papers went to interview a renowned astronomer. The interview went well, but in the end the journalist could not resist a Clarkean aside.

"I guess it's fine that you are researching distant galaxies and stars, but why do you not devote your admirable talents to issues that can be directly utilised by our communist society?"

"Because the only way in which people differ from pigs is that they sometimes turn their eyes towards the skies," replied the astronomer.

Dániel Deme
University of Surrey Roehampton


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