Tuesday, December 13, 2005
From Staring at the Sun, J. Barnes
"Ignorance, that was the first aspect of the engineers' modern form of death...Ignorance, but also certainty. As you fell thirty thousand feet...you knew that when you hit the ground, you would die: you would die, in fact, several hundred times over. Even before the nuclear bomb, the aeroplane had introduced the concept of overkill: as you struck the ground, the jolt from your seat belt would induce a fatal heart attack; then fire would burn you to death all over again; then an explosion would scatter you over some forlorn hillside; and then, as rescue teams searched ploddingly for you beneath a mocking sky, the million burnt, exploded, cardiac-arrested bits of you would die once more from exposure. This was normal; this was certain. Certainty ought to cancel out ignorance but it didn't; indeed, the areoplane had reversed the established relation between these two concepts...Now you were ignorant of the cause but certain of the outcome. This didn't strike Gregory as progress."