The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Wild rumors abound about the eclipse


August 16, 2017

So the eclipse is almost upon us. From all indications, the totality during an eclipse really is quite an extraordinary, and very rare, thing to see. Those who think we saw it here in Goldendale in 1979 and we’re getting it again this Monday forget that it won’t be a total eclipse here. It won’t completely darken the sky, and the stars won’t come out as they do during totality. And that won’t be here; it’s about 70 miles south. But apparently it will get significantly darker here, looking maybe like early dawn. And it’ll all be over in about two minutes.

Two minutes can be a long time, though. Long enough for Bigfoot to come out. There are reports on the web (so you know they’re true) that Bigfoot will be seen during the darkness of the eclipse, clear as day. Apparently there is a lucid, if involved, explanation for why the mythic creature would show up when he’s least likely to be seen. People love to create mystery when a mysterious event comes around.

Some people’s fanciful notions during such events go well beyond such things as anticipating Bigfoot sightings. Wilder rumors have abounded. Take the one about a group of Japanese tourists renting a university stadium in Oregon to hold mass ritual sex during the eclipse. The college was very surprised to hear that. Their stadium is going to be used by a group of non-Asian astronomers who will almost certainly keep their clothes on. One report says the eclipse will coincide with intelligent apes appearing to challenge man’s dominance on the earth; I think one of them is supposed to show up in Pyongyang and speak Korean. There’s a rumor too that Washington D.C. will be free of turmoil during the eclipse. Amazing, huh? The stretch on the imagination just gets stronger and stronger.

These days there’s nothing mysterious about the eclipse, at least in terms of explaining how it works. Science has stripped away the ancient portents of dire fate or incipient grandeur. You’ve got your sun, your moon, the Earth, one gets in front of the other, that’s it. Next question.

Nonetheless the human heart is a place of inherent wonder. Science can tell us how flowers grow, too, but it can’t explain why they’re beautiful. Only the heart can do that. For some purposes science is totally the wrong tool, like trying to measure the distance between stars by holding a ruler up to the sky. An eclipse can be a profound emotional experience, a thing of beauty to be held a lifetime, especially if you consider the amazing “coincidence” that the sun is 400 times larger than the moon but also 400 times farther away from Earth than the moon, which makes it possible for there to be a total eclipse at all.

So let’s forget Bigfoot (no offense, big guy, especially if you read The Sentinel), weird stadium tales, Kim Jong—I mean, intelligent apes, and rancor in D.C. Let’s focus on wonder and beauty. Like the video onYouTube of the 1979 eclipse in Goldendale that plays Thus Spake Zarathustra, the classical music piece used in 2001: A Space Odyssey, when the total eclipse begins. It evokes a chill, reminding us of a time when awe ruled the heavens and the spirit could be moved by darkness on the land when all should be bright. It’s the inner landscape, shaped in this case by the outer, that we will take with us for the rest of our lives.


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