For the Love of Mars:

Once we come of cultural age into a mature, considered love for Mars, and see what happens when we act on that love, our crises and challenges on Earth can be recast, as can our menu of choices in meeting them. Rather than panic and rancor, scripted according to the prevailing social and political battle lines that have replaced the grand frontier, we will be more apt to find confidence, courage, and creativity. And rather than applying these virtues to the virtual world that draws us deeper into antihuman utopias, we’ll apply them to the metal-and-plastic, flesh-and-blood, brick-and-mortal world that forms an essential bridge between analog and digital life. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this approach will also happen to fit in logically with the reality that our younger kids now experience.

A really fascinating essay by James Poulos. The core of James’s argument, and it’s a point that deserves extended contemplation, goes something like this: We think all the time about the technologies we use or might use, but we don’t think at all about the object of our technological explorations, the sovereign end (telos) of our ingenuity. The pursuit of Mars, James thinks, can be a kind of collective focal practice (to borrow a term from Albert Borgmann) that brings order and purpose to our technological strivings. 

Whether this proposal can actual work will depend, I think, on whether it has the follow-on effects that James believes it will — follow-on effects that make life on Earth better, as described in the paragraph quoted above. I’m no so sure. But what a wonderfully imaginative and provocative essay.