The Soul of a Man

Who was Blind Willie Johnson?
The Soul Of A Man
Illustration by Marc Burckhardt

On August 20, 1977, NASA launched the Voyager 2 spaceship on a one-way ticket to oblivion. Three weeks later, its sister craft, Voyager 1, blasted off with the same destination. Their mission for the first dozen years or so, as they cruised through the solar system, was to gather data from the planets. Their goal for the next 60,000 years or so, as they leave us far behind, is to carry a message in a bottle to the stars. Alongside an array of high-tech cameras, infrared instruments, and a large parabolic radio antenna, each Voyager bears a stylus, a phonograph record, and directions for playing it. The record isn’t Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours or Kiss’s Love Gun, both of which were top ten albums in the summer of 1977. This record is made of copper and plated in gold, created to last forever, to offer an audio and visual slide show of all things Earthly. This is who we are, it says. Or were. The record includes words (greetings in 55 languages), sounds (a train, a kiss, a barking dog),

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