Now you see it ...

For a change, today we won't be going back in history. Instead, we'll commemorate an event taking place as this is posted: a total eclipse of the sun.

We seem to always be a bit surprised by eclipses, even though we know that even in ancient times these have been predictable (Stonehenge, for example). Anyone wanting to get a list of future solar eclipses (into the next generation) can do so via a very simple Google search. But predictable or not, eclipses are thrilling events (and apparently also an opportunity for a gathering of the tribes). It's easy to understand how (not only) in earlier times a solar eclipse could strike fear into the hearts of people who didn't know what was happening (and since in ancient times people traveled much less than they do today, and were in much less contact with people outside their own communities, it was much harder to know that events of this sort were taking place, with relative frequency, around the world).

In communities where people didn't understand what was causing an eclipse, anyone who could predict such an event would be held in awe, would be thought to have special powers. This ability is a central aspect of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, where the hero's ability to predict an eclipse saves him. Interestingly, though in Twain's time it wasn't at all difficult to extrapolate when eclipses would occur, or had occurred in the past, on June 21, 528, the date on which the eclipse in the book takes place, no real eclipse occurred.

It's relatively easy to understand why we often relate to eclipse as metaphor. Total Eclipse of the Heart is perhaps the example from popular culture that first comes to mind. And it, in turn, via Hurra Torpedo's thrilling rendition of that song, brings us to something similar to found art, which brings us back, at least a bit, to the topic of this column.

Go to: Spamming me softly with his song