As dark­ness falls at noon, at least in the United States, NOEL ROONEY looks on­line for ter­ri­fy­ing signs and por­tents fol­low­ing in the path of to­tal­ity...

Fortean Times - - News - www.pris­on­­nif­i­cant-that-theuss-john-s-mccain-was-dam­aged-in-a-col­li­sion-on­the-same-day-as-the-so­lar-eclipse.html http://theeco­nomic­col­lapse­­chives/12crit­i­cal-events-that-are-go­ing-to-hap­pen-over-a-40day-pe­riod-from-au­gust-21s


Once upon a time our an­ces­tors, prim­i­tive be­ings that they were, saw por­tents of evil in the sky; and a so­lar eclipse was among the dark­est of them. A dragon was eat­ing the Sun; the gods were ex­press­ing their anger by with­hold­ing the light of life; poison would con­tam­i­nate any food cooked un­der the eclipse (al­though flow­ers planted un­der its bale­ful gaze would bloom with an un­nat­u­ral bright­ness). Su­per­sti­tions at­tached them­selves to the phe­nom­e­non right up un­til rel­a­tively mod­ern times: dur­ing the so­lar eclipse of 1818, vis­i­ble across most of Eng­land, whole vil­lages gath­ered in par­ish churches and prayed for re­demp­tion.

Then came the age of sci­ence, of sci­en­tism, a harsh spot­light that shat­tered the webs of myth and ig­no­rance and shone the clean light of knowl­edge on the mys­ter­ies that clouded the minds of the ig­no­rant; now we could see, and un­der­stand, that the strange dance of plan­ets above us was noth­ing more than the turn­ing of sense­less gears in a fir­ma­ment de­void of de­ity or pur­pose. The odd fact that our Moon was 400 times smaller than the Sun, but also 400 times closer to us (clearly a mi­nor cos­mic coin­ci­dence and not re­motely sig­nif­i­cant), was ev­i­dence enough to dis­pel the mi­asma of su­per­sti­tion, and ex­plain the nonethe­less awe-in­spir­ing spec­ta­cle that is a full so­lar eclipse.

Then sci­ence lurched on, like an end­lessly pro­duc­tive jug­ger­naut, and even­tu­ally in­vented, among other very fine things, the In­ter­net. And lo! The acme of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and col­lab­o­ra­tive think­ing, the vir­tual world of ideas and shared wis­dom, per­formed an ironic U-turn, dropped its ethe­real trousers and mooned in the face of sci­ence, and ra­tio­nal think­ing, and blew clouds of conceptual meth­ane in the gen­eral di­rec­tion of com­mon sense.

So on 21 Au­gust, when a so­lar eclipse loomed once again over our ap­par­ently un­su­per­sti­tious skies, one that would be vis­i­ble al­most ex­clu­sively in the United States (a coun­try where In­tel­li­gent De­sign is al­lowed equal space on the school cur­ricu­lum with Dar­win’s the­ory of evo­lu­tion), de­spite the valiant ef­forts of ra­tio­nal­ists such as the great Neil deGrasse Tyson, the cogs that turned the quick­est weren’t those of the sci­en­tific cognoscenti. The avalanche of on­line doom-mon­ger­ing that ac­com­pa­nied the Amer­i­can eclipse (can you hear the word ‘apoc­a­lypse’ when that phrase is spo­ken? You’re not alone) would not have looked out of place inked onto fevered vel­lum in a mediæ­val scrip­to­rium around the turn of the 10th cen­tury, or scratched in runes on antler frag­ments next to the re­mains of a slightly over-filled psilo­cy­bin pre­scrip­tion. Among my favourites was the nim­ble synap­tic space­walk per­formed by Michael Sny­der, who man­ages by means of nu­merol­ogy to link the col­li­sion be­tween a US Navy war­ship and an oil tanker, the eclipse, the ill­ness of Se­na­tor John McCain, Yom Kip­pur, and the book of Rev­e­la­tion into a slam dunk End Times prophecy, a kind of Ad­vent cal­en­dar for Nibiru watch­ers and overly bright-eyed alt-right I-told-you-so sur­vival­ists.

Un­der the god-like amuse­ment of scep­ti­cal ge­og­ra­phers of the Conspirasphere lies a sober­ing re­al­i­sa­tion that our en­gine of progress is not ac­tu­ally tak­ing us any­where: Fort was right. Ev­ery ra­tio­nal step ‘for­wards’ is ac­tu­ally a blind bunny-hop into an ocean of non­sense; we re­serve our am­ne­sia for the realm of rea­son, and re­mem­ber ev­ery daft no­tion on­wards from the dawn of time.

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