[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2018)]
In “Astonish Me: Anticipating an Eclipse in the Age of Information,” Susannah Felt meditates on the looming eclipse and the meaning behind it. She compares the difference in preparation for eclipse saying that while people in this millennium celebrate by throwing viewing parties and selling T-shirts, “centuries ago, a total eclipse was cause for panic, a sign of doom—or a moment of great discovery” (246).
Felt focuses on how with information provided by science, society’s view of the world shifts while also diminishing the wonder and fear attached to discovery and surprise. For Felt, tracking the exact moment of an eclipse and breaking it down into our science feels like “a hubristic offense” (246). Felt uses the article to question the best way to restore “some measure of its power and surprise,” in a world where information is often at everyone’s fingertips.
In one word, what's one useful idea or way of thinking did you gain by reading the article? Why is that word or concept important to you as a result of what you read?
Sample of responses:
Present. The author...showed me how important it is to be present in each moment because it could be some of our last like this is her parents' last eclipse they'll witness. And also to never take time or people for granted because so much could happen in those two minutes of an eclipse or any time of the day. --C. R.
Reflection. Felts helped me to understand why it is important to live in the moment and reflect on what you are seeing, hearing, and feeling. Sometimes we place too much emphasis on knowledge and don't rely as much on our own experience. --M.T.
Anticipation. The time of the eclipse was very cliff-hanging. The author says "Two minutes, a lifetime, the overlapping of lives. Our threaded-together fates still largely unknown." (p.247) This stood out to me because the eclipse was so anticipating and people could not wait to experience something that would happen once in a lifetime such as it. L. B.