In this unusual addition to our journal, we have the happiness of making known to the British Publick [sic], and thence to the whole civilized world, recent discoveries in Astronomy which will build an imperishable monument to the age in which we live, and confer upon the present generation of the human race a proud distinction through all future time.
It has been poetically said, that the stars of heaven are the hereditary regalia of man, as the intellectual sovereign of the animal creation. He may now fold the Zodiack [sic] around him with a loftier contentiousness of his mental supremacy.Sir John Herschel, 1835
In my timeline Chickering and Perkins discover the article at the same time – 1836. Perkins finds it in her family home in Pennsylvania and Chickering finds it in her family home in New Hampshire. Perkins is six or seven at the time and to her it reads like the most magical story – it is a dream. It consumes all her play, all her thoughts. Chickering is older, 16 or 17, and she sees it as a way to make a name for herself. She is a geologist and mineralogist. She wants to be the first to mine and map the moon.
I first learned about the moon hoax while driving to Kinkos the week before History Day 2015. I already knew that I was leaving OHC for the art museum. I had received my call to action from Merilee Mostov that I needed to be an artist, not a used-to-be-artist. I was listening to the moon hoax on the “Stuff You Missed in History Class” podcast and I could feel the story becoming real and tangible in my mind, and I had that feeling that if I don’t get it all in and know it as fast as I can I will explode.
Both women have copies of the article and they make lists upon lists – supplies one would need, types of rocks, gems, flora, fauna, physical features, described. Chickering sketches and doodles maps, Perkins embroiders imagined moon plants. They obsess in different worlds. They imagine what it would be like to swim in lunar oceans, eat lunar fruits and vegetables, to see the earth from a distance and know that everything is so much more vast.
As I listened to the two podcasters describe the article I began imagining what the archive of their experience might look like. If we went to this moon – if we were smart and explored in the way that could preserve what was there and protect it rather than conquer it. I imagined hoarding all the beautiful objects and artifacts I would make like a dragon hoarding eggs.
These women that I imagined – Perkins and Chickering – were women ahead of their time and a product of their time. I started making lists in the way I imagined they would. I wrote a narrative for them and in doing so was breathing life back into my own world. To rewrite:
“It has been poetically said that the stars of heaven are the hereditary regalia of people, as the curious cohort of the animal creation. We may now fold the zodiac around us with broader conscientiousness of our mental elasticity.”