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Weekend Reading: Annie Dillard’s 1982 Essay ‘Total Eclipse’

“Total eclipse of the sun. Observed July 29, 1878, at Creston, Wyoming Territory” New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Editor's Note:

Also in today’s roundup: a visit to the waterlogged set of “Aquaman,” and insights into how Zack Snyder’s “300” may have inadvertently energized the alt-right. It’s your Daily Blunt!

For many, next Monday’s eclipse will be a once in a lifetime event. Amidst all the hype, don’t forget to feed your brain with Annie Dillard’s sonorous 1982 essay “Total Eclipse,” which The Atlantic will be hosting for free online until next Tuesday. “What you see in an eclipse is entirely different from what you know,” Dillard advises. “It is especially different for those of us whose grasp of astronomy is so frail that, given a flashlight, a grapefruit, two oranges, and 15 years, we still could not figure out which way to set the clocks for daylight saving time.” Enjoy the rest of it in full over the weekend.

Standing up for First Amendment rights requires the ACLU to pick some pretty unpopular fights, and the org has written this memo to supporters in light of their upcoming legal battle on behalf of Milo Yiannopoulos, whose advertisements were pulled by the WMATA due to customer complaint, even after they’d been approved. Via Twitter, the ACLU noted that regardless of all the expected (and well-deserved) public outcry over Yiannopoulos’ hate-speech, this was the case most likely to achieve their desired aims: “We are seeking a change in [WMATA’s] advertising policy to have clearer, evenly enforced guidelines that do not run afoul of the Constitution.” (It’s worth pointing out that they’re not asking that Milo’s content be inflicted on Washington commuters again.)

Speaking of darlings of the alt-right, the AV Club has posted an excellent rumination on the film adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300, and how even without meaning to, director Zack Snyder presaged the some of the political fascism that’s proliferated around us. “It’s an influential movie in all the wrong possible ways. It’s our ‘Birth Of A Nation,'” writes Tom Breihan, pointing out how the exaggerated and glorified portrayal of Spartan culture (and the overt de-humanizing of their enemies) is far more disquieting today than back when the film first debuted in 2007.

Also from the world of comics, Aquaman’s journey to the screen is proving to be even more difficult than Wonder Woman’s — although for entirely different reasons. According to updates from director James Wan, all that water itself is the culprit, making the shoot “very difficult and time-sucking and time-challenging.” Wan’s commitment to using CGI only as a last resort has everyone involved feeling pretty waterlogged, but it’s this kind of dedication to quality that keeps us hopeful about the result — especially now that he’s cast Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus.