Too Fantastic

photo by meera subramanian

There is something otherwordly about the physical act of hearing stories spoken. I just walked through my Brooklyn backyard, better known as Prospect Park, listening to This American Life, an episode entitled “Go Ask Your Father.” I was smelling the thick green of the early summer foliage, stepping over puddles that stretched the span of the trail, watching a massive mute swan—unimaginable, that such a creature can fly!—preen its creamy white feathers. But my mind was lost in the words slipping through thin wires into my ears, where the vibrations turned into nerve pulses and now into memory.  This bit remains: in Act Two, New York Times Magazine editor Paul Tough shares the story of his father, who has spent a life searching for proof of extraterrestrial life, and wonders of the loneliness behind such a quest. His father, at one point, says this:

“If I thought that this is all there was on the Earth, all that there was in the Universe, I would feel that the Universe was diminished somehow. I sometimes get accused of expecting a savior, and I don’t think I’m doing that, but it certainly comes close to a religious belief because you’re dealing with something that is just so big, so overarching, so transcendent, that it’s pretty close to what a lot of people call God. For me, the difference is that the ET [extra terrestrials] could exist. I don’t see how God could exist. It just sounds too fantastic.”

To the fantastic. To the search. To the hope that one day we here at KtB will also bring you the sound of the human voice, whispering into your ear and taking you somewhere altogether out there.

Meera Subramanian is an editor of Killing the Buddha and writes about the environment and culture for Nature, InsideClimate News, Virginia Quarterly Review, Orion, and others. Her first book is A River Runs Again: A Natural History of India from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of Karnataka (PublicAffairs, 2015). Visit her at