Think about the movie Prometheus for a moment. It is one of the lesser films in the Aliens Franchise and yet endlessly entertaining. Foolish humans in a spaceship named for the Titan use technology to get to a new planet with their bot brother David in tow. They end up being eaten alive by chestbusting aliens. Movie ends. Then the franchise repeats itself, sending another group of humans to be eaten alive as reproductive substrate for chest-busting aliens.
Prometheus the Titan stole fire from the Gods and gave us techne, the ancient Greek word for art, skill or craft, (add logos and we have technology) so we could move forward, make linear progress. And in allowing the humans to progress in one direction through history toward a utopian climax in the stars, Prometheus was punished to a cyclical Arcadian form of torture, thanks to his immortality. Every morning he wakes up alright, then his liver gets pecked out, and its back to bed to rest up for the next day of torture.
And yet, while the tech enthusiasts of the Americas admire the forward-looking Titan, nobody wants to talk about his brother, who offers a metaphor just as useful as a reflection of a way of being. Epimetheus “the fool” was also a Titan, and yet because he was the one who looked backwards, he is nearly forgotten. Sci-fi films do not celebrate him, and technologists don’t seek to emulate him. But he is the Titan of organized labour, music snobs who miss the really good stuff, middle aged people longing for those glory years, and the Patron Titan of Nostalgia.
Fictional astronaut and music snob Beth Kane isn’t leaving Earth by choice. She loves her blue planet, her home. But it’s gone forever. No matter how pink the clouds are on the new planets she lands on, Kane will always long for Earth, and her dead friends, and her family, whose faces fade in her mind with time as her memories decay. Even her best friend Bobby doesn’t have a body. All she has that’s solid is her ship, the Epimetheus, and the Golden Record of Earth Songs from dead DJ/selector Carl Sagan.
In the gelded grooves the voice of former UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim speaks forever, a message of greetings and peace to the civilizations of other worlds. Nostalgia for a simpler time colours the recording when we listen in ignorance of history.
Gold is obtained through toil and chemical leaching, and the voice on the record obtained his position after a career that began with meticulous administration and documentation of concentration camps, work for which he won an award. WG Sebald remarked on this in The Rings of Saturn, that the voice sent to space to represent us was revealed to be a Nazi.