10 January 2012

Absolutely Safe

In The Riddle of the World: A Reconsideration of Schopenhauer's Philosophy, Barbara Hannan describes getting up in the middle of the night to watch a total eclipse of the moon, and gaining a better understanding of what Arthur Schopenhauer meant when he wrote about the sublime. From page 106:
All my personal worries and woes went away for a little while, as I watched the moon slowly drift into the shadow of the earth. A bright, full moon slowly became the thinnest of crescents, then disappeared, and there was a dusky, reddish disk, only faintly glowing... and then, it passed behind drifting clouds and was gone. I don’t know why, but everything that torments me in my daily life -- health and money problems for myself and my loved ones, for example -- seemed suddenly nothing to worry about.  
The slow dance of the earth around the sun, and the moon around the earth, made the troubles of human beings seem like nothing more than a momentary, meaningless tickle in the great, indifferent universe. The stately motions of the heavenly bodies were going on long before I ever came to be, and would continue when I, and all people, were long gone. The eclipse didn't care if I was watching it or not. These thoughts did not make me sad; instead, they comforted me and made me feel completely unthreatened, absolutely safe.