NOTE: This updates an earlier, eerily prescient post (“When Jumbo Jets Vacation”) concerning the disappearance of MH-370. It’s posted somewhere below.
UPDATE 24 JULY
Multiply an astronomically large number times one of cosmologic scale. Got it? Now, take that highly zero-laden number and multiply it by all the hours in geological history. Got that? Now, cube that result for the hell of it. Now, place a “:” after that number, and to the right of that, the numeral “one.” Like so:
1,034,233,577,081,902,333,398,021,739,098,436,314,159,394,201,499,237,324 : 1
There you have it, give or take: The likelihood of two identical aircraft, belonging to the same airline, disappearing within three months of one another, the second flight even appearing over a war zone.
There, those are the odds that allows MH 17 to appear square over Eastern Ukraine, one of the world’s foremost “No Go” zones, a fat target to a target-acquisition radar.
By illuminating, or staggering, really, us all with an understanding of the cosmos-scaled impossibility of this occurrence, we are put in a suggestible frame-of-mind: it is possible, and indeed necessary, for us to believe that something extra must be involved in this, that some sort of agency occasioned this flight into the impossible. To my dim comprehension, this compounding rate of impossibility seems to reflect the vastness of the Hindu cosmos with its Kalpas and Yugas.
The staggering impossibility of what we all just saw, what we as a global community just together witnessed, puts us all in a mind of dreadful uncertainty. What next? We are now suggestible, frightened, clutching at straws, attempting to puzzle meaning out of a deeply disordered world.
It is cultic, mesmerizing, an initiation rite. We are blindfolded, disoriented, likely medicated, drunk or stoned. Dizzy. We are in the receptive mind for magic, in short. The link below takes you to the first commercial of the first break in CBS News’ non-stop coverage of the Breaking News at 12:30 Central Standard Time on 22 November 1963.
I’ll set the scene: For hours, now, a nation has been praying. All of America, all of the televised world has been staring All of America has gathered around in horror and lamentation around the nation’s TV sets at the news of the President’s shooting.
For an hour, a nation has been praying. Staring at the television and praying. people have stared at the B&W TV and a static title-card reading
CBS NEWS BULLETIN
… only to have Cronkite remove his horn rims to announce that our worst fears had been realized.
Then comes the commercial:
Ready for the next suggestion?
Where next will this fearsome, jealous, evil force of violence visit? Is it a function of the infinite creative-destruction of the Trinity Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva? Or the handiwork of evil, human marionettists? The Devil? Dostoevsky got these guys right. Conrad, understood them even more so.
So we listen. We peer, with eyes widened. We are once again reliant on what we can formulate from the discord of our own enfeebled senses alone, naked and shivering before this new marvel. How? Why? For not even randomness can account for this shoot-down, this signal from… elsewhere.
Look in the mirror. Could have been you. It’s the basic fear of all air-travelers: the clawing wind, the aircraft violently disassembling around you, the tumbling fall.
Put such “grimagery” aside for the moment. This is Everyman’s Room 101. This is the Winston-Smith-with-the-Ratcage-to-his-Face Moment for everyone who travels. This is where the sockets of our minds are supposed to be blown. This is where you are supposed to be ruining your slacks with fear.
Consider that, from your now upside-down passenger seat aboard America Flight 2014: Not even the laws mean anything, now, either! Everyone is getting away with something, violating some rule, some code, some ethic, everyone but you, strapped obligingly in your seat, the coins floating out of your pockets to hit the bulkhead… below you. Even gravity’s fucking with you, now! The old rules no longer apply!
You’re part of the last relatively intact section of 2014’s fuselage.
Lucky you! Still aware of what’s going on, in the more cohesive, middle section over the wings, itself and you part of an expanding bundle of fast-slowing oddments that used to be concentrated within the sleek and slippery airframe, but now, admitted to the light and air, beginning to slow and to fan out on their own trajectories across the bright, clear summer afternoon.
A widening cone of tumbling Samsonites, tray tables, glassware, passengers, personal electronics, now-superfluous oxygen masks, igniting fuel, books, avionics… perhaps you’re even aware that, when reduced to stump, meat and bone, humans are pretty much the same inside…
Who is behind this undoubted malignance? you ask, like Admiral Yamamoto probably did, just as his transport plane came apart beneath the ministrations of the P-38s come to assassinate him. As Neil Stephenson suggests, he probably realized only then that the Allies had broken his codes.
Who is it, then, that’s broken ours? When I count three, you’re back in the room. One… two…