I cannot resist the notion that the first across-the-USA total eclipse was a sign of evil times. But the happier chips of me left take comfort in one of the huge benefits of science, in this case astronomy, in making a reasonably predictable universe. Otherwise, the sun going out could be the beginning of freakin’ anything, including that it would not come back.
The Aztecs had a particularly creepy mythology associated with eclipses: the sun was under attack from the stars you could see around it when it turned black. These are the female deities/demons Tzitzimime, quite the monsters.
Those with less faith in God tend to have more in Aliens. I came to the conclusion, back when I was regularly writing about pseudo-science, particularly extraterrestrial encounters, that the believers were more alt-religious than anything else. Which meant it was a topic where you weren’t going to change very many minds.
But something seems a bit off about this essay. As I noted yesterday talking about the story of Gef!, there was obviously a lot of superstitious belief when people were plenty more religious. I will agree that there’s clearly been a rise in superstitions with scientific veneers in the last century. (I like to say that the three great myths of our time are “U.F.O., E.S.P. and W.M.D.” — hawhaw.) And all are clearly intertwined in a search for meaning beyond the mundane.
This very serious problem began in the ’80s with Goot’s rhetoric that, I realized one day, was describing his political opponents as outright enemies — evil people. This turn of language is inevitable once you accept a concept like the “moral majority” — those who don’t agree with this group’s ideology (whether they are a minority or not) are by definition immoral people.
I do despair more these days about humanity. All the predictable but ignored consequences down the line. This is as bad as the nonsense declaring that “money=speech.”
A well-formed essay on what can only be called a disappointing screw-up at best. And I, too, wondered if it would have been published at all were not so many of the pillars of the magazine killed last year.
Idea-free nonsense in our times. Very avant-garde religious institution hereabouts.
Going to be lots more. Add guns, too. Maybe big money if things get tight.