James Poulos at The New Atlantis:
Since at least Dante, the poetic vision of destiny in the West has bound up together love and the heavens. In this sense our highest poetry worked to reconcile and harmonize the personal at its most intimate and the natural at its most cosmic — in Dante’s case, through the Divine. That sort of poetry could be described as a practice of the art of humanism, properly understood. Yet strangely, despite remarkable leaps forward in spacefaring technology that promise to unite the personal and the cosmic in an epochal way, today’s Western vision of destiny has become fractured and contested. It is no longer accepted belief that poetry, divinity, destiny, and the personal love of being human are all constituent parts of a harmonious experience of being.
This problem — and it is a problem — is encapsulated in the uncertain place of Mars in the human conversation today. That conversation is dominated by matters of politics, science, and economics. Though it is obvious that these things should play a role in how people wrestle anew with the age-old question of our relation to Mars, something is badly and historically amiss in the absence of love, humanism, and poetry from these conversations.