John Whiteside Parsons (Jack Parsons) was an American scientist and metaphysician whose work in rocket research helped initiate the US space program. A principal founder of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Parsons remains an exemplar of intellectual entrepreneurship.
Parsons died in unusual circumstances in 1952. Before he departed this earthly plane, he left behind an excellent essay on politics, spirit and expression, “Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword.” What follows is a brief excerpt of this fascinating work.
All ways are the right way when will and love are the guides. The grace and bounty of life are free to all, saint and sinner alike, who desire them. The voice of the wind, the poignancy of music, the shout of thunder all cry out to man, daring him to know himself. Sunlight, sea and stars and the splendour of a naked woman are the signs and witnesses of a covenant that is forever. We know these things; we know them with the only certainty that is ever given us. This is the beautiful-pitiable knowledge of childhood and first youth — that the world denies and necessity circumvents. This is the knowledge of the poets, artists and singers who are beloved and outcast by men and of the mystics whom the world calls mad.
And man, self-castrated and self-frustrated, flees down the corridors of nightmare, pursued by monstrous machines, overwhelmed by satanic powers, haunted by vague guilts and terrors — all created out of his own imagination. He escapes into absurdity, drowns his spirit in pretense, worships brass gods of power and tin gods of success. Then, shamed by his pretenses and frustrated by his self-denial, he projects his horror on imagined enemies, seeks release in scapegoats and false issues, thereby propitiating those bestial gods who have arisen from the shattered edolons of his spirit with sacrifices of blood…
I highly recommend anyone who is interested in the life and times of this uniquely American figure read Strange Angel, by George Pendle.