The Next Eclipse
“The following text was written in the weeks before a solar eclipse, the totality of which passed over southern Illinoison August 21st, 2017. In seven years, a second total solar eclipse will be visible from the same place. The two pathsof these eclipses make an ‘X’ across the so-called United States.
The Next Eclipse is the beginning of a vision for regional autonomy, and a challenge to southern Illinois to build theinfrastructure for such autonomy in the time between the eclipses. It is an attempt to allow these astronomical events,reduced by local governments and businesses to nothing more than opportunities for tourism, to have some deepersignificance for the inhabitants of the region. The night before the 2017 eclipse, a march led by musicians took the main strip in Carbondale, IL. A hundred or so people clapped in time and sang ‘Negra luna [Black moon],’ a song from a musical tradition rooted in resistance to colonization. A banner at the front of the march declared ‘this empire, too, will be eclipsed.’
Since that eclipse, it has become more and more clear that certainties are scarce regarding even the near future. Noneof us know what seven years’ time will bring. On the short list of certainties, things around which a life can be built,three things stand out: first, it is certain that at 1:59 pm on April 8th, 2024, for 4 minutes and 9 seconds, southern Illinois will fall into darkness in a shadow cast by the moon; second, it is certain that we owe nothing to the institutions that prolong this empire, and that we owe everything to each other, to those working to retrieve the world from the ecocidal and biocidal clutches of the economy and its government; finally, it is certain that in the course of time, this empire, like all the others before it, will be eclipsed.
Nothing can prepare you for a total solar eclipse. It is worth stopping whatever else you are doing. It is worth travelinggreat distances for. And it is worth allowing it to take on significance in your life – not merely the dumb movementsof rocks and gases, but a moment that reveals, that inspires, that ignites.
For life and joy; for freedom, equality, and dignity; for a patient, deep, and sensitive rebellion.”