Progressive politics, ideas & culture


the culture of catastrophe

This Magazine Staff

(image courtesy Rocks on Fire)
Heading for a bar on Queen Street two nights ago, my friend and I caught sight of a streaking ball of flame flashing across the southwest sky. Lots of shouting and pointing later, we settled on the idea that we had just seen a meteorite of some kind. Very cool. I’d seen one before in the early nineties… strangely, heading in the same direction across the same section of sky. That one had a bluish edge, while this one was yellowy orange.
Yesterday I checked the news for any reports, but found nothing. Today there is this in the Toronto Star.
Glad to have it explained. But this article raises another question. Read this bit:
“Oh my God, I think I just saw a plane crash,” she declared to her husband, running inside.
A ball of light, seething white, had careened overhead, spitting out dazzling debris. She called police, the government, airport authorities. Seeing his wife so frantic, Russell Crowther imagined worse.
“I thought it was a nuclear warhead,” he recalls. “I was just squinting, waiting for us to evaporate.”
Great age we live in, when a beautiful natural display is immediately interpreted as the the end of the world. And I’m not saying these folks were wrong to think what they thought. After all, it was their over-reaction that made a story about pretty basic science something far sexier. But have we really advanced so little in our comfort with existence that we are still waiting for the hand of god to reach down and smite us?

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