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October 28th, 2003

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My "Face on Mars" Story

[This was posted to ARK, and then I decided it was more Livejournalish.]

One of the features of my long and troubled journey towards an undergraduate degree was that I took a fair number of summer courses. One of the first was a course entitled 'Slavic Science Fiction and Fantasy', which was taught by an Eastern European gentleman whose name I forget.

We read an awful lot of science fiction from Russia, Poland, and other Slavic countries, but one possibly unexpected feature of the course was that one night a week we were to get together and watch a movie of the professor's choosing -- occasionally a movie made in a Slavic country (we watched the Tarkovsky version of Solaris for instance) but more usually an American movie that the professor thought was Russian-influenced or otherwise important. (I recall that we watched Slaughterhouse Five, the first little bit of Fahrenheit 451, and I think Blade Runner.)

One evening we got there and the professor told us he wouldn't be able to stay for the whole movie, but he had something for us to watch while he was gone. It was the 'Face on Mars' "documentary". He said something to the effect that he wasn't sure what to make of it but some of the things that it described seemed pretty interesting. Then he started the video going and left.

Most of my classmates didn't last that long and left after fifteen minutes or a half hour. Finally there were just three of us left, watching the video and trying to determine what, exactly, the professor intended for us to take away from the experience.

At last, the narrator said something like 'And so we SEE that the ratio of the height and width of the Pyramid of Giza is exactly the same as the ratio of the width of the South American's statue to the height of its head' and one of us laughed involuntarily. We took this as a signal to give up and we all left.

I don't believe any of this was discussed in any of the remaining classes.

This class taught me how to pronounce 'Stanislaw' correctly.
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