for man, one giant leap for mankind
But whereas Mencken is misunderstood because of double internal references, Neil Armstrong isn't grasped by conscious intention. People don't want to know what he means for fear of discovery that he "botched the first words on the moon".
If you are old enough to recall the events leading up to the historic utterance, you remember the fun newspaper game - Guess What the First Words on the Moon Will Be . My favorite was "Dis muz be duh place ...". So we were all glued to the tube when Neil prepared to make the fab footfall. [ Where were you when ... ? ]
If you were like me you may have thought "What do he mean by dat?".
Reporters were quick to add the 'necessary article' to avoid possible embarassment to the hero of the moment ( his mission was heroic by the way ), amending it thusly.
"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."
But that's not what the man said. He said, distinctly, "That's one small step for man [short pause] one [shorter pause] giant leap [even shorter pause] for mankind."
The meaning of the short pauses is as follows:
"That's one small step for me, one giant leap for man ."
After all, he had at least a couple of days to think about it on the way up.
Even the tech people got in on it claiming that there was a 'gap' in the transmission. "The missing second" .......... Hah! The lengths some people will go to in the name of self delusion .........
To this day Neil Armstrong doesn't like to make public appearances for fear of being asked exactly what he meant. What could he say? That he screwed up?
Well, this page is designed to let him off the hook ; )
Human beings don't fail under extreme situations of this sort, unless they are cowards. Neil Armstong is not a coward. Rather, his consciously designed statement was deemed (by his subconscious) to be unworthy of the moment (even though it was quite good). Under such circumstances the mind sums up the moment in the light of one's total life experience and manufactures an appropriate response.
If you have ever heard Armstrong speak (live or on TV) you know that he regards himself as of less importance to the mission than the technical effort that went into it. His admiration is reserved, rightly, for the uncounted millions of man hours of thought and effort that went into the moon landing.
For them he says, "One small step for man ...".
But it's one hell of a
So, hats off to you, Neil, 28 years after the fact.