Failure to communicate

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”Strother Martin to Paul Newman in the movie Cool Hand Luke, a moment after savagely beating Newman.

Or, this quote could just as easily reference every single human interaction in history.

That’s the basic theme of the book I just finished, The Mountain in the Sea, by Ray Nayler. A book that I liked for a while, but became so relentlessly dark that I had trouble finishing it. And now that I’ve finished it, the central message is very dark indeed. We’ll never be able to communicate with an alien species, terrestrial or not, because we can’t even communicate effectively among ourselves.

Something tells me that’s true, and it’s really depressing. It’s a good thing that the stars are so far apart – we’ll never encounter an alien species, so communication won’t be required.

I’m starting to come around to the idea that the Universe was designed, was built. Was designed to house intelligent life, but to limit or restrict interactions between those intelligences because they can’t possibly understand each other. And because a hyper-aggressive intelligent species (like us) would be a nightmare to less advanced species. The distances, the speed of light limit, the energies required to even leave a gravity well much less approach terminal c – it all makes sense if the Universe was designed to keep us in isolation. Quarantined. Another depressing thought.

This is an ugly way to start a week. I think I’ll go back to a SF story where we’ve broken the speed of light and we can communicate quite well with others (aliens). We still have our warlike nature, but we get along with some folks and at least we’re out of our cage.

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