synthetic zero

January 16th, 2009

When the Space Shuttle broke up on re-entry back on February 1, 2003, Camille Paglia said, in an interview:

As we speak, I have a terrible sense of foreboding, because last weekend a stunning omen occurred in this country. Anyone who thinks symbolically had to be shocked by the explosion of the Columbia shuttle, disintegrating in the air and strewing its parts and human remains over Texas — the president’s home state! So many times in antiquity, the emperors of Persia or other proud empires went to the oracles to ask for advice about going to war. Roman generals summoned soothsayers to read the entrails before a battle. If there was ever a sign for a president and his administration to rethink what they’re doing, this was it.

I disagree with Paglia on many issues, but here I think she may have been onto something.  The world does seem to be structured in a strange way, where, more frequently than seems reasonable to expect, what one might think of as random or unrelated occurrences seem to have a potent symbolic significance.  Of course, this could just be our overactive symbolic imagination putting meaning onto the meaningless, but I am not entirely convinced of that.  The world may well have a hidden internal symbolic structure that connects seemingly unrelated events in a tapestry of meaning that goes beyond mere projection.  In any event, I had a strange sense of recognition when I read the news of the plane non-crash yesterday, perhaps the inverse of the 2003 shuttle disaster that Paglia thought could well have been a bad omen for the Iraq war.  The plane was going down, it looked to be a major disaster, yet everyone got out alive.

Here’s to hoping Obama and his team get us all out of this alive.

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