Martin Amis is a clever bastard, as I said to a friend on Facebook today (well, I wouldn't be saying it to his actual face, would I?), apropos to this review/re-reading of Ballard's The Drowned World. He's so clever he makes me feel algae-like, intellectually, although that doesn't take much doing. Most other humans make me feel intellectually inferior, except those who buy The Sun, although I suspect there's a perverse breed of clever bastards who buy tabloids. Why? I've no idea, and it's just a hunch.
Watched another clever bastard on TV last night, pin-up physicist Brian Cox. But if he's so clever, how did end up in D:Ream? There's no correlation between being clever and making music, obviously. Theoretically, from my admittedly warped perspective, he should have recorded electronic music in the mode of Stockhausen, not end up playing a song that went on to become the Labour party's anthem. But things did only get better for him as he rose to TV Pretty Boy Clever Bastard, explaining the universe and everything. Last night he was in the opposite environment to Ballard's drowned world, the Atacama desert, where it hasn't rained for three trillion years (if I remember rightly, because whilst watching science programmes I do tend to drift off and contemplate important things such as Is It Time To Make A Cuppa? and Does My Hair Smell? etc).
Yes, the clever bastard was also looking into ice and finding living things, like algae, but possibly not algae. The idea being that if there's life in ice here there could also be life in the ice of Europa, a moon of Jupiter - whoo-eee! That's what you call being rational, isn't it? Here we all are hoping that alien life will look like B-movie actors in cheap make-up (well I am, anyway), or 'greys', but in reality it's more likely to be a minute wriggling thing. Yes, that will be thrilling, but a little disappointing. They can't drive spaceships, capture us, kill us, or threaten to invade Earth. Where's the fun in that?
Recent photos of Mars reveal a strangely beautiful but barren landscape, unlike that depicted in the sci-art I looked at as a kid. Where are the jungles, or mountains, or bizarre beasts? Never mind Martians, who probably (just guessing) never existed in the first place. That or they departed long ago, leaving no trace, not even rusting canal boats. Mars has caves, though, so Brian went into one (on Earth, I might add, he's not that clever), and looked at Snottites, single-cell bacteria that hangs around down there. More proof of life in extreme environments.
Meanwhile, intelligent life Out There is tucked snugly away in some remote place, sat on comfy chairs, watching and reading their own clever bastards, no doubt. Perhaps they're also probing nearby rocks in the hope of finding life. One day they'll get really clever and fly here, but as William Burroughs once said, they'd probably ask to see the manager.