Wednesday, 9 August 2017

path of totality

This 1982 reflection on witnessing a total solar eclipse by Annie Dillard, excerpted by TYWKIWDBI, is pretty alluring and seductive, making me want to experience the coming eclipse in person too. Although very young and far away in New Mexico from where one might experience civil twilight, I still have a vivid recollection of setting up a pinhole projection with my Mom on our driveway and being amazed to see that little sliver of a shadow bleed over the white disc of the Sun—the colours seeming strangely saturated like watching the skies in the spring two years ago.

It did not look like a dragon, although it looked more like a dragon than the moon. It looked like a lens cover, or the lid of a pot. It materialized out of thin air—black, and flat, and sliding, outlined in flame... You have seen photographs of the sun taken during a total eclipse. The corona fills the print. All of those photographs were taken through telescopes. The lenses of telescopes and cameras can no more cover the breadth and scale of the visual array than language can cover the breadth and simultaneity of internal experience... But I pray you will never see anything more awful in the sky... It is one-360th part of the visible sky. The sun we see is less than half the diameter of a dime held at arm’s length...

The mania is appreciable and can certainly understand the pilgrimages that people undertake. Indulge oneself with the essay printed in its entirety at The Atlantic, available through the day of the eclipse. Make the effort to be there if you can.