Alien Logic, Part Three

An alien perspective.– During my early years in Korea, I taught children, mostly elementary school students, at a private academy. Sometimes, with the younger groups, particularly if there were some rambunctious boys in the class, I would exploit my foreignness and their low English levels by teasing them with the claim that I was an alien. After a few incredulous guffaws from the more confident boys, and just as the group’s mood began to develop into a general mocking skepticism, of the “Do you think we just fell off the turnip truck?” variety, I would pull out my Korean identification card and show them, right there in official government letters, the words “Alien Registration.” Though most of them recovered from the existential jolt fairly quickly, I always liked that moment, partly because it was an interesting lesson in the power of wishes. One could tell that many of the children, momentarily startled by my official secret, sort of wanted to believe it, even after they had recovered their senses and realized it could not be true. It was more fun to believe, at least a little, maybe just halfway, in the back of your mind, that the strange-looking man smiling at the front of the room might actually be…no! Impossible!…. But — what if…?

An alien perspective.— What is a human being? An emanation of the eternal world soul, if you are a neo-Platonist. A carbon being sourced in primordial cosmic residue, if you are a scientific materialist. As an Aristotelian of sorts, I am inclined to split the difference: A human being, defined according to his essential activity, is stardust striving to participate in the heavens’ everlasting imitative quest for the eternal thought that is their telos.

We are “aliens.” We are aliens — not of this Earth, in the most fundamental sense.

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