Who Speaks for Earth?

(Cultural Leadership and Wisdom)
Cosmos
by Carl Sagan
A Personal Journey
13 episodes
See below for
DVD purchasing options
(Carl Sagan's Cosmos episode no. 13)
  • written by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan & Steven Soter
  • series director & executive producer Adrian Malone
  • Monterey sequences directed by David F. Oyster
  • Alexandrian Library directed by Richard J. Wells
  • Spaceship sequences directed by Rob McCain
  • Tlingit sequence directed by Tom Weidlinger
  • edited by James Latham (film), Bea Dennis (effects), and
    Roy Stewart, Dan Mossbarger & Luis Fuerte (videotape)

  • Main Title Theme by Vangelis
  • Music by Vangelis, Beethoven, Alan Hovhaness, Wm. Jeffery Boydstun, and others...
  • 1 documentary @ 62 minutes

Data Capsule Review

by Martin Izsak


This final episode of the original Cosmos is a bit duller than most of its predecessors, as it doesn't really offer as much new information or cover quite the same variety of subject matter.

It is in fact quite focused on one issue - an issue which, thankfully, these days might be considered a moot point. Though this now means that episode 13 in today's context is taking a lot of time and energy and thought to merely flog a dead horse, perhaps we do still need to take a moment to be thankfully that, for the most part at least, the wisdom of nuclear disarmament IS largely a moot point in today's world.

Participants include:

Dr. Carl Sagan

Astronomer, host, narrator
Voyager imaging team

Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences,
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

I remember how much time and energy was spent in the late 1970's and early 1980's to bring this much focus and ridicule upon the nuclear arms race, how strong the message became in our schools and in our media, and I think the Human race turned an important page in our history back then, when our corporate and political leaders HAD to change their tunes on this matter or risk appearing to be idiots and thus lose their power en masse.

I now suspect that "Cosmos" had a significant role in making that shift happen. Even if I didn't see Cosmos back then, I sure saw the ripples spreading outward in society. This was an important issue to flog at that time. So, even if it makes dull viewing today, I still think it needed to be what it was for the time.


And there is a lot of screen time devoted to a dark and depressing take on Humanity's chances for peace and survival in the first half of this episode. Though it still has hopeful sparks here and there within it, it is a bit of a test of endurance to sit through this dark side - and thus I don't think episode 13 is one that I will want to re-watch too often.

Thankfully, the episode makes a refreshing shift about 35 minutes in, to focus on Humanity's achievements in climbing this far up the evolutionary ladder, beating the odds throughout the billions of years since the universe began. The episode becomes full of hope for the brilliant Human achievements yet to come should we put our minds to the challenge. It's quite reminiscent of Tom Baker's oft-mentioned speech about Humanity from "The Ark in Space" (story no. 76) which many Doctor Who fans love to reference. And this is to an extent Beethoven's episode, as his 7th symphony is used to back both Humanity's darkest hour and its glorious triumphs and potentials.

But here again, it's just a few well-chosen words from Sagan for sparse narration, while a montage of re-run clips from the rest of the series takes up most of the running time. It's all very nicely upbeat, curing the depression that he may have induced earlier, but there's not much actual information content here. Episode 13 takes aim more at the heart than the head, and hits its target, without being particularly interesting in the process.


"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
-Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

This quote by journalist Henry Mencken actually has nice resonance with this episode for several reasons. One reason is that the so-called necessity of the nuclear arms race was one of those "hobgoblins" that was slotted into this political formula. If this "cause" has been shamed out of existence, has the formula gone with it? It seems instead the formula is merely always ready to switch to the next "hobgoblin" and carry on as before, finding new ways to take advantage of the populace. It is perhaps worth noting that the craftiest politicians will just as easily employ real hobgoblins to their ends as well as imaginary ones, adapting as necessary to whatever they believe the populace will best respond to.

I bring this up because episode 13 also makes a case, as episode 4 has done before it, to be aware of our environment and to take care of the Earth, which is a noble cause. However, as the Human species grows up, and becomes less afraid of our neighbours on the Earth, and many of the old political scare tactics based on national wars no longer work, the more crafty of our power hungry leaders are reaching into previously untapped subject matter in order to market themselves as society's solutions. In essence, some of them latch onto the environmental bandwagon, and it may require us to continue to be vigilant enough to tell who is actually going to help create a positive impact on our relationship with the environment and who is merely just out to use the environment as the next hobgoblin, the next excuse to pillage the population, and get the populace to give up their power.

I would suggest one of the great cornerstones to telling this difference rests upon the details of any offered solution. Firstly, are there any details? Insist upon them, from anyone who displays an environmental bent. Because, if they really can't say much other than that they're working to shift X amount of money from point A to point B, this is all the hallmarks of a giant scam. This bears repeating: Shifting money is typically a sign of a scam. If they're going to initiate a study of the problem - well, they'll spend money, collect data, and it'll probably end there. The world is already full of environmental solutions and alternate technology that remain unknown, unused, and unavailable to the mass market. I want to see those highlighted and brought forth. I want to see them advertised and brought to market.

At any rate, Cosmos episode 13 pushes the environmental issue up front, which is good, but it falls short of warning the viewers on how to recognize when politics and corporate economy adapt and usurp this issue as their next big hobgoblin, to replace war-bent threats with environmental threats and keep us living subserviently in a state of lack, forking money into a pot that will never do any real thing for the environment. To be fair, environmental concern was not the misused vehicle of political control back when Cosmos was first made, not to the extent that the danger of this misuse exists today. However, other excuses for excessive government control have always been with us....

"So far as I know, I don't know of any case in history in which monopolies have been able to maintain themselves for very long without having government assistance directly come in on their side."
~Economist Milton Friedman,
in his series "Free to Choose",
episode 2, 47 minutes in.

This becomes an important consideration if we blame big business for crimes against the environment, and then expect government to bring big business under control. Government regulations, no matter their stated intentions, often wind up having the effect that certain big businesses (the ones that can afford high-paid lawyers) are the only entities that can appear to meet those regulations and continue to do business. In other words, big business may actually like the regulations because the regulations can be used to weed out their smaller-budget competition. If it's a carbon-tax, they simply pass it on to the consumer who HAS to pay because he doesn't have the alternative to choose that company's eliminated competitors. The alternative environmental options must already be on a truly open market before fines and penalties can make a positive impact. And to another point, do we really want government to be making these decisions for us? Would they choose based on what's best for the environment, or cater to those interests that can keep them in power?

"I am in favor of the laws which make agreements in restraint of trade illegal. Most of the rest of the anti-trust apparatus has promoted monopoly instead of hindered monopoly. If you look at where there are monopolistic elements in the world and in the United States, including the multi-nationals you want to refer to, in almost every case that monopoly derives from a special grant by government. And therefore, the problem is not how does government enforce competition, [it's] how do you keep government from setting up monopolies? That's the real problem, if you look at the real world and not at the preamble of the language of anti-trust measures and similar laws."
~Economist Milton Friedman,
in his series "Free to Choose",
episode 2, 46 minutes in.

Will we see beautiful and eloquent environmentally-friendly preambles on the front of laws and regulations that further enhance the monopoly of oil companies and current energy corporations, while a carbon tax increases the lining on the pockets of their CEO's, shareholders, and friends in government? I think we'll have to be far more diligent and skeptical in order to be effective at making real progress on environmental issues.


The Ted Turner Interview

What was once touted as the "14th episode" of Cosmos is a 45-minute interview of Carl Sagan conducted by media mogul Ted Turner himself. Although Sagan is able to get into his usual passionate and eloquent gear at many points during this, it really is a much more dry and clumsy piece of television by comparison, and doesn't really come up to the standard worthy of an additional "Cosmos" episode. At best, it is an odd bonus feature of the VHS release and Turner's syndication broadcasts, one which didn't merit a place on the DVD box set.

For content, this interview is mostly re-hashing the sentiments of episode 13 and flogging the dead horse some more, with a bit more detail in it - and in 1989 it seems that was still a worthwhile exercise. To its credit, it does tackle the challenge of asking the hard questions - if someone says they're an environmentalist, ask them in what way are they an environmentalist. Sagan encourages the audience to probe deeper, which is great. His example says that lip service to an issue isn't enough, and he wants to see a budgetary commitment. Perhaps this is a plateau he might be comfortable with, considering how NASA felt underfunded in the 1970's and 1980's - if only NASA had got what it deserved from U.S. Federal budgets, that money would have flowed towards projects that Sagan himself and his colleagues could use. I'm sure he trusts himself and his colleagues to produce worthwhile results, and there is certainly enough evidence for the rest of us to conclude that NASA delivers well. But, particularly on environmental concerns, I don't think the rest of us should be satisfied with financial and budgetary commitments - we should always be ready to ask where the money is going and what it will produce. And we shouldn't stop asking until we get to the point where our lives and habits are impacted, where we can see ourselves being sustained and thriving in abundance in harmony with the environment. We should never be satisfied at the thought that we are finally going to "buy" our way into environmental harmony. That can too easily be usurped by corporate and political scammers to line their pockets with money. We really have to focus on the technology employed in our own day to day habits... and when we are successful there, perhaps the solutions have far less to do with governments or corporations, but with our individual choices.

Sagan mentions that people could plant trees to help the environment - well that only really resonates if you do it in an area that Humans unfairly clear-cut. Remember, trees have an entire reproductory life cycle themselves. Living in the midst of a forest as I do, planting more trees here is quite silly - more new trees sprout each year than can be supported by the amount of space and sunlight available. Context is important, and often left out of these suggestions. This interview bounces rather clumsily between ideas bad and good, and even some of the more benign ones have later been usurped by corporate, profit-oriented scams. So the interview ends up being quite dense and muddled, with Turner's lack of good listening skills becoming evident in a few places where he talks over Sagan too much, and a few too obvious edits cut away from moments where tensions were beginning to rise between the two participants. In the end, the interview is a bit of a chore to sit through in its entirety. For those wondering why it isn't on the DVD sets, don't be too saddened at its loss. Episode 13 proper spends enough time covering this issue for today's audience, with neither that nor the Turner interview having enough detail to truly put the hobgoblin formula out of business.



"Cosmos" Wrap-Up

Well, though the ending of this 13-episode series from 1980 worked fair enough for its time, but could potentially lead its audience into a danger area today, I have to say that I really like this 1980 series as a whole. A few areas seem to have quite large flaws, but these trouble spots are really overwhelmed by the fact that "Cosmos" offers SO MUCH to its viewers and listeners over the 13-episode span, and most of it is so good and awe-inspiring, both in terms of content and in the style of presentation and production. This truly is a landmark series, to which the more modern astronomy documentaries owe a great deal of gratitude and respect. And as future historians look back, it will no doubt remain well-regarded as an important artefact of our society's art and culture, which engages the masses in the processes of the advancement of science and space exploration. Everyone on the planet should see Cosmos at least once, after which I dare them to not want to see it again at some point, or indeed out of pure enjoyment many times over throughout their lifetimes.




The Music - Episode 13

(Anything written in green text represents a name I made up to help keep some music better identified in my own head.)
(Golden yellow backgrounds indicate selections that also appear on Voyager's Golden Record.)
Composer/PerformerTitleNotesVideo Time
VangelisSymphony to the Powers B, Movement Three
also known as "Theme from Cosmos"
Title Music0:00 - 1:12
?? unknown?? unknown soft tribal chanting
VangelisBeaubourg - Side 2: Ominous (middle section)1:55 - 2:10
Alan HovhanessSymphony No. 19 - "Trekking Theme" excerpt2:07 - 3:08
?? unknown?? unknown distant choral3:04 - 3:29
Alan HovhanessSymphony No. 19 - "Trekking Theme" excerpt(rare extended excerpt)3:25 - 4:41
Claude Debussy / Isao TomitaThe Engulfed Cathedral4:01 - 5:18
Graham de Wilde and Peter CoxA History of Conflict(also heard in ep. 3)5:34 - 6:36
VangelisEntends Chiens #2 - Ancient Angles6:33 - 7:22
(bad dreams transition sound effect)8:51 - 9:05
Ludwig von BeethovenSymphony No. 7, Movement 2(requiem)9:00 - 10:39
Wm. Jeffery BoydstunShadows10:45 - 12:33
---- TV & radio broadcast montage ---- 13:23...
Dmitri ShostakovichSymph. 5 Mvmt. 3, "Holy Geometry" excerpt13:23 - 14:36
Wm. Jeffery BoydstunShadows14:44 - 16:26
Tomaso Albinoni / Remo GiazottoAdagio in G minor for Organ & Strings(a requiem)16:20 - 17:23
(nuclear bomb SFX)17:21 -
Alan HovhanessPrayer of St. Gregory17:26 - 18:52

(long section of no music)

Alan HovhanessSymphony No. 4
  • Movement 3 begins
  • Movement 3 climax (NEW)
  • excerpt from Movement 3
  • excerpt from Movement 1
music for the Great Library
25:00 - 28:02
28:02 - 28:43
28:43 - 29:45
30:16 - 30:42
Alan HovhanessSymphony No. 19 - two unusual excerpts31:49 - 33:09
34:13 - 35:18
Tomaso Albinoni / Remo GiazottoAdagio in G minor for Organ & Strings(a requiem)35:14 - 37:21
VangelisAlpha(original version)37:26 - 41:57
?? unknown?? unknown(East Indian music)41:48 - 42:36
42:50 - 43:01
?? unknown?? unknown(possibly Philip Bliss - Hold the Fort)
(played over previous cue)
42:34 - 42:53
J.S. Bach / Isao TomitaThe Sea Named "Solaris"(weird electronic scraping excerpt)
(more common familiar excerpt)
42:54 - 43:18
43:17 - 44:24
Ludwig von BeethovenSymphony No. 7, Movement 1(similar to episode 1's excerpt)44:22 - 46:52
Wm. Jeffery BoydstunMetamorphosis46:49 -
Traditional JapaneseDepicting the Cranes in Their Nest @ 47:47
Ludwig von BeethovenSymphony No. 7, Movement 348:38 - 50:49
J.S. Bach / Isao TomitaThe Sea Named "Solaris"(weird electronic scraping excerpt)
(more common familiar excerpt)
50:45 - 51:09
51:07 - 52:30
Ludwig von BeethovenSymphony No. 7, Movement 4nearly airs clean52:25 - 53:35
VangelisTheme from Cosmos54:20
Alan HovhanessPrayer of St. GregoryCosmos Update
?? Vangelis?Movement 12 - "Pristine"end credits
VangelisComet 16Collector's Edition 2000 Credits




Cosmos 1980 Episodes, ranked from favourite to least favourite:

  1. Episode Six: Travellers' Tales (Voyager at Jupiter, Huygens in Holland)

  2. Episode Five: Blues for a Red Planet (Rockets to Mars)
  3. Episode Nine: The Lives of the Stars (Atom Production, Stellar Phenomena)
  4. Episode Seven: The Backbone of Night (Brooklyn, Greece, Philosophy of Science)
  5. Episode One: The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean (Cosmic Tour, The Great Library)

  6. Episode Ten: The Edge of Forever (Galaxies, Universes, and Dimensions)
  7. Episode Three: Harmony of the Worlds (Johannes Kepler vs. Superstition)
  8. Episode Eleven: The Persistence of Memory (Intelligence, Whales, Brains, and Libraries)

  9. Episode Two: One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue (The Chemistry of Evolution)
  10. Episode Four: Heaven and Hell (Comets, Impacts, Venus)
  11. Episode Twelve: Encyclopedia Galactica (Aliens, UFOs, Communication)

  12. Episode Thirteen: Who Speaks for Earth? (Cultural Leadership and Wisdom)
  13. Episode Eight: Journeys in Space and Time (Einstein's Relativity, Interstellar Propulsion)
(And if I include the Ted Turner interview, I think it would place 14th.)



Cosmos episode 13 has become available on DVD. (The Ted Turner Interview, as far as we know, has not.)
Cosmos - by Carl Sagan: A Personal Journey


13 hour-long episodes, 1980
U.S.

Canada

U.K.


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Cross over to the series "The Universe" for its first episode: "Secrets of the Sun"


Or, get an overview of all episodes of Cosmos from our
"Cosmos" Episode Guide Catalogue.



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