The story told by Alex's cousin, an African grey parrot, explains the idiocy of humans looking far beyond while ignoring what's right in front of them. The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico is to speak to and listen for intelligent extraterrestrial life. The Fermi paradox represents the contradictory propositions that lack of evidence v. high probability for life elsewhere. I guess the theme of the story is that we will all day be part of the Fermi Paradox, "the Great Silence," "the hush of the night sky is the silence of the graveyard." The narrator, the parrots, "are sending a message to humanity," and hopes that the Arecibo Observatory "will enable them to hear it."
"The Great Silence" was written to be part of a multi-media visual art project by Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla; the video can be seen on Vimeo.
"The Great Silence" was first published in e-flux journal and then included in the anthology Best American Short Stories 2016.