The solar eclipse gave us an existential crisis on Friday morning. We are mere ants on this planet. The crowds climbing Arthur’s Seat as Edinburgh was plunged into dark(/dim)ness reminded us of our insignificance. So, true to Culture form, we’ve put together a short list to inspire a further downward spiral into solipsistic anxiety.
1. M.C Escher’s “Relativity, 1952” is a good place to start. Or is it really a place, those stairs surely defy gravity, they just they lead to nowhere. Or somewhere? Am I anywhere?
2. What is Waiting for Godot about? In Beckett’s famous play nothing happens, twice. Or does everything happen; aren’t we all just waiting for Godot to come along and give us company under the shadeless tree?
3. Representing Scotland’s dark imagination, Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner leaves you asking more questions than it answers. Is Gil-Martin Robert’s demonic doppelgänger double? Do we all have that evil twin inside us?
4. “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog” encapsulates the essence of the sublime. The blanket of fog, the imposing mountains and the figure perched on the edge of a precipice all remind you that you are just another tiny cog in an enormous machine. We warned you that this column would be depressing.
5. The world is just two colliding “gyres” as Yeat’s claims in “The Second Coming”. What is the “rough beast” slouching towards Bethlehem? And what on earth happens when “things fall apart”, when “the centre cannot hold”? We certainly don’t know, but we have heard that eclipses and “rough beasts” travel in pairs.
6. Remember: you’re just a number. As test-tube babies become less a product of a sci-fi imagination, prepare to face up to the prophetic nature of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Try not to freak out in the library café, people will stare.
7. A firm festival favourite, Shit-Faced Shakespeare turns the revered prose of the bard upside down. These people performing Shakespeare drunk are probably doing a better job than you sober; if that doesn’t give you, aspiring actor, insecurities, I don’t know what will. Sorry.
8. We had to end with Sartre’s Nausea, the pinnacle of existential literature. Don’t read it all at once, we’ve heard it’s worse than watching the eclipse alone.
Photo: Kevin Baird