Blue whales remain one of the most magical, mystical animals to me. I’ve never seen one in person, but ever since Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home where Kirk drops a line from D.H. Lawrence’s sexy whale poem, “Whales Weep Not,” and then the crew in then present-day San Francisco beams two whales onto a Klingon Bird of Prey, kidnaps a woman, and then warps them into the future? I mean…first of all, best time-travel plot ever. Second of all, the fact that Kirk, who will throw down a phaser to throw a punch and ain’t livin’ his best life unless he’s breaking one of Starfleet’s rules, and he’s an Aries, okay, is just rattling off D.H. Lawrence like he reads ancient Earth poetry in his spare time when he’s not riding a horse or chatting up some green lady? Talk about a plot twist, lol. I digress…okay, one more thing. No, two more things. Spock tryna curse and then swimming naked in the whale tank and then Bones in the hospital giving the doctors a hard time for turning the operating room into a medieval torture chamber and basically layin’ hands on folks with his future space medicine? Claaaaassssssic.
Okay, okay, I’m done, I swear.
Anyway. In the 21st century, we know more about deep space than we do the deep ocean. That thought never gets old in the same way that remembering in the middle of one’s work day that the sun is a star (a small one at that) and we are all already in space separated by the thin membrane of our atmosphere never gets old. Scientists and naval vessels pick stuff up all the time (usually in the Pacific) that no one has any idea what to do with, like the “milky sea effect.” We still don’t know why some animals become so gigantic down in the deep, and unfortunately in 2012, maybe because of the popularity of that random one-off Mermaids “documentary” that Planet Earth did, we now kinda know what the infamous “bloop signature” is. No, it’s prolly not mermaids. Yes, what they came up with is mad boring, so I’m just gonna stick with my aquatic ape theory, thank you.
But one of the enduring mysteries of that of 52 Blue, the song of the “loneliest whale on the planet,” who emits a very specific frequency that is much louder and higher-pitched than any other blue whale song recorded. For a long time people have argued that maybe 52 Blue is deaf or some sort of hybrid. Whatever the case, the very melancholic stance persists that it is the only one of its kind and can communicate with no other being on the planet and just roams around and around seeking companionship, is kind of depressing. Thank God, not too long ago, somebody thought, ‘Hey, wayminute! Maybe we’re projecting our anthropomorphized expectations on 52 Blue and other whales can understand him just fine. Maybe we’re just assuming because he sounds different, no one can communicate with him.”
Which reminds me of this guy Johannes Kepler, Capricorn (Really into Caps lately. Prolly has something to do with Saturn being back in Cap and the South Node being there too currently), born in 1571, who essentially became the father of celestial mechanics. It probably wasn’t an apple that fell on Isaac Newton’s head. It was Kepler’s third law. I like Kepler because, because one, he was a Sag cusper, so he had not only a Rubix -cube mind but an expansive one. And a Cap with a vision is a thing of beauty. The amount of work he produced and what he set out to solve re: Mars (nobody knew what to do with ellipses/retrogrades at the time) was so impressive.
Kepler took a stand on Copernican theory when even Martin Luther condemned it and support of Copernicus had only gotten Galileo put under house arrest. He grew up as a sickly kiddo to poor parents, so he gravitated towards more intellectual pursuits, and his mind opened doors to him through the ranks of academia and the church (he was originally studying theology), that few other people of the period could claim. It was an exciting time to be an inventor or scholar but dangerous, about as exciting as the Bone Wars in the 19th century between paleontologists. Back then though, astrology and astronomy were considered the same thing. Kepler had an opportunity to go study with a well-known astronomer at his observatory in Prague but when he got there, your boy decided Kepler was a threat to his own discoveries and told him to go solve the unsolvable: Mars. No one knew what to do with Mars. Kepler said he ‘d figure it out in eight days. Eight years later, he made good on that promise. (Try and tell a Capricorn what they ain’t gon’ do and see what happens, lol). Mars was exactly what inspired his greatest discoveries including, De Harmonices Mundi (The Harmonies of the World), his third law, and then like, telescopes were named after him and stuff. Oh, and he also wrote a novel. IN. LATIN.
Now. Here’s where it gets interesting. Despite the fact that Descartes and Galileo weren’t really feeling his vibe along with other prominent astronomers of the day, ‘member that expansive vision thing I was talking about earlier? I still don’t understand it entirely. But what I do understand, is that through the abstract concept of musica universalis, based on their size, orbit, and distance from one another and the sun, Kepler could harmonically analyze planets (mind you, not meant to be heard but thought about really hard for a really long time), and what each one “sounded” like, thus assigning it different tones or notes. This was a game-changer because it accounted for the ellipses orbits and retrograde motion of certain problematic planets that shall not be named (ahem) Mars (ahem).
So, for instance, Venus makes the sound “La.” And Earth? Earth makes the sound “Mi Fa Mi.”
Now. For whatever reason, and I still can’t find out why he did this, so somebody help a sister out if you know, but Kepler decides Mi Fa Mi stands for Misery Famine Misery. So, lemme get this straight. Out of all the words in the world in lots of different languages that start with Mi (Milk, Minute, Millimeter, Mind?) and Fa (Father, Falcon, Fact?) how you gonna give the Earth a stage name like Misery Famine Misery?? Bruh. We ain’t been right since. I have a lot of respect for Kepler’s discoveries because I’d be a dumb dumb not to, but when we look at the conditions surrounding Kepler’s life? Kiiiiiiinda influenced his worldview, I’d be willing to bet. Like, let’s not even count being sick all the time as kid and growing up poor, but the challenges to prove himself as a scholar? Not ideal. And by the time he was working on Harmonices, his first wife had died, two of their children had died in infancy, he remarried, three of their children died in infancy, and just when he thought he was settling down into the family man groove and enjoying the success of breakthroughs in his research? HIS MOTHER WAS ACCUSED OF WITCHCRAFT AND LOCKED UP FOR FOURTEEN MONTHS. Sorry for all the caps but, li-sten. No WONDER he named the Earth, Misery Famine Misery. ‘Cause that was all he really knew aside from the work. A lonely song for a lonely dude. He named the Earth after himself, in a way.
Not unlike how we are now open to considering the 52 Blue isn’t as alone as we think he is and that other whales are understanding him, it’ll have been 400 years this year that Harmonices was published. I feel like it’s time to retire Misery Famine Misery for something a little more heartening. I’m opting for Miracle Fabulous Miracle, myself.
That said, I want to send a special belated birthday s/o to my boy, Johannes Kepler, for all you’ve done for humanity in helping us to see our role in the cosmos a little more clearly. Not so great with naming things in space, but we appreciate your efforts as well as your humble- brags that give total credit for your discoveries to the most high. But here’s the thing…when you name something, I believe the thing takes on the energy of that name. I do. I really, really do. Fight me. So, I think it’s high time we remastered the Earth’s stage name, even if we can’t remaster the song.
Johannes Kepler, you rogue astronomer, you. Thanks, mane. We’ll take it from here.