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Old 12-03-2002, 10:20 PM
ianzin ianzin is offline
Join Date: Jul 2000
Story author please? - Can't send Bach, "showing off"

Someone wrote a story where we, on Earth, were in touch with aliens, and we were sending them a 'sampler' of Earth culture and creativity. There was some debate about whether or not to include some Bach, and in the end the authorities decided not to because it would be too much like "showing off".

Apologies for vagueness and inaccuracy. Where did I read this story? I have a feeling it's to do with the writings of either Carl Sagan or Douglas Adams. Can anyone help?
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Old 12-04-2002, 08:21 AM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is online now
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Miskatonic University
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Vague recollection of finding it as an aside in one of Sagan's books. Discussion of just what an interstellar message should include, with his recommendation that we just broadcast Bach. I recall the line as being "Yes, it would be bragging, but so what?"

If it is Sagan, it is probably in either Cosmos or The Cosmic Connection, both of which are in the scary archive part of the cellar at this time. (Pratchett got the idea for the Library at U. U. from my cellar, except for the orangutan.)
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Old 12-04-2002, 04:13 PM
ianzin ianzin is offline
Join Date: Jul 2000
Shameless one-time bump. I won't do it again. Promise.
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Old 12-04-2002, 04:35 PM
cher3 cher3 is offline
Join Date: Apr 1999
The music of Bach figures in Adams' "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency," but in sort of the opposite way.
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Old 12-04-2002, 07:19 PM
Rube E. Tewesday Rube E. Tewesday is offline
Join Date: Oct 2000
My (very vague) recollection is not of a story, but of an essay, I believe by Lewis Thomas, a doctor who was a well-known essayist about 20 years back. Unfortunately, I have no idea what I did with any of his books over decades of moving, so I can't look it up.
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Old 12-04-2002, 07:55 PM
Podkayne Podkayne is offline
Join Date: Aug 1999
Rube has it. It's from Lives of a Cell:

"Perhaps the safest thing to do at the outset, if technology permits, is to send music. This language may be the best we have for explaining what we are like to others in space, with least ambiguity. I would vote for Bach, all of Bach, streamed out into space, over and over again. We would be bragging, of course, but it is surely excusable for us to put the best possible face on at the beginning of such an acquaintance. We can tell the harder truths later. And, to do ourselves justice, music would give a fairer picture of what we are really like than some of the other things we might be sending, like Time, say, or a history of the U.N. or Presidential speeches. We could send out our science, of course, but just think of the wincing at this end when the polite comments arrive two hundred years from now. Whatever we offer as today's items of liveliest interest are bound to be out of date and irrelevant, maybe even ridiculous. I think we should stick to music."
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