Having experienced (I can’t think of a better word) the total eclipse on Monday (21 August 2017), I have a couple of random thoughts; both semi-relevant to my previous post, “Can a Total Eclipse Bring World Peace?“, and somewhat unrelated to it.
- Totality is far more impactful and more awesome than a partial eclipse. Even a very small percentage of the sun provides an impressive amount of light, and the sudden darkening when totality occurs is startling—even when it is expected, and far more when it is not. The time of totality varies with location and event, but the limits are always about right to: elicit confusion, cause people to look at the amazing corona effect, and then pass before one can adjust to the phenomenon. Animals react too. In our case, roosters crowed with the reappearance of the sunlight and dogs howled throughout. Awesome is a good word for the experience; and humans cannot help but turn to one another and experience some sense of unity as the darkness (ironically) spotlights our insignificance, compared to the enormity of creation—no matter whether they attribute it to God, gods, demiurges, or “nature.” Therefore, admittedly because of my experience . . .
- I am more of a “believer” that an eclipse lies behind Herodotus’ story about the battle between the Lydians and Medes that was halted when “daylight suddenly turned to darkness” (Herodotus 1.74). We met some interesting people and, despite the current divisiveness in this country, never considered categorizing them on the basis of gender, gender preference, religion, ethnicity, or political party. We were just humans in awe and wonder together.
- The trouble of driving to the totality zone was worth it. It was actually more trouble getting back due to the traffic, which brings me to . . .
- Americans, as a rule, don’t know how to drive on crowded four-lane roads. The left lane is for passing . . . only. This observation appears valid for all gender, gender preference, religion, ethnicity, and political affiliation categories.
- Even excessive hype could not kill the wonder of the total eclipse. There was plenty of hype, but I will gripe about one thing only: several organizations and individuals put forth suggested playlists of “eclipse” songs. They were all lame. Most were chosen because the words “eclipse,” “moon,” “darkness,” or “sun” appear in the title or prominently in the lyrics. The resulting cacophony of competing styles could not set a mood, and most were simply not appropriate. I know I am possibly being a killjoy here, but . . . “Dancing in the Moonlight?” Really? There is no moonlight before, during, or after an eclipse. More ranting is tempting, but I will rather offer my own playlist . . .
- [there is no number 6]
- My eclipse playlist: Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon. That’s it. Nothing else. Dark Side of the Moon was practically written for a total solar eclipse soundtrack. As a concept album it also has a connectedness in theme and tone. “Speak to Me” and “Breathe” (tracks 1 and 2) are weird but a great mood-setting intro. “Time” (track 4) is just fantastic, with applicable lyrics for sun-watching to boot. It segues into my favorite, “Great Gig in the Sky” (track 5), which has an appropriate name and awesome “feel” for the event (though the song is apparently about dying). “Money” doesn’t work for the eclipse, so it should be skipped. But “Us and Them” (track 6) highlights human division and war, and therefore plugs into my interest in the battle reported by Herodotus; especially with the line “It’s not what we would choose to do.” The album concludes with the track (9) “Eclipse,” with its progressing lyrics and conclusion, packaged in the average amount of time of a totality experience, is the perfect ending. So there you go—an opinion from a child of the 60s and 70s.
- Total eclipses have no impact on lottery tickets. A few minutes after totality, my non-male (and for whom the whole outdoors is not a toilet) companions needed to visit the first gas station/convenience store we saw. I bought a PowerBall ticket there and the astral prodigy just observed nearby apparently did not help my odds.
- I need to post my first “You Don’t Get this on the Bus Tour” blog. It is coming soon (this weekend?) and, inspired by the eclipse experience, will feature a place with an astronomical theme [EDIT: that turned out not to be true, but that place will be featured in the future].