“If you do a worldwide survey of eclipse lore, the theme that constantly appears, with few exceptions, is it’s always a disruption of the established order,” said E. C. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California. That’s true of both solar and lunar eclipses. “People depend on the sun’s movement,” Krupp said. “[It’s] regular, dependable, you can’t tamper with it. And then, all of a sudden, Shakespearean tragedy arrives and time is out of joint. The sun and moon do something that they shouldn’t be doing.”
On August 21st of this year, the United States will witness its first total solar eclipse seen across the totality of the country in nearly forty years. For millennia, humans have gazed towards the skies in awe, observing that heavenly bodies move regularly and predictably with mathematical certainty, and this has inspired poets, philosophers, and other thinkers to ruminate on man’s relationship to the universe, and the possibility that human activity is ruled by laws and patterns independent of human activity.
Although many of these ideas that were fashionable hundreds of years ago, such as astrology, have been put to rest by contemporary scientific knowledge, perhaps there is value to be gleaned from entertaining the possibility that there are indeed larger forces and patterns governing human affairs. Against the backdrop of this cosmically anomalous event, are we on the cusp of a more temporal form of disruption this summer in the United States?
Since President Donald Trump’s stunning victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, much of the press have made note of Steve Bannon’s interest in an influential book published in 1997 called, “The Fourth Turning: What Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous With Destiny.”
In this book, authors William Strauss and Neil Howe make the argument that our ideas about the nature of history, linear time, and progress are illusory, and that if we want a more accurate concept about the way that history unfolds, we would do well to study the ancient Greek concept of cyclical time. This concept views national and global historical phenomenon not as randomly occurring events, or the linear march of historical “progress,” but instead sees them as recurring archetypes placed into a larger tapestry of a greater repeating historical cycle.