Comprehending the Incomprehensible

March 28th, 2015 6 Comments

Dante's Inferno Charon


Every newspaper and television news station is trying to make sense of the deliberate crashing of the Germanwings flight in the French Alps. Over and over I hear people ask why and how, interview pundits about depression, about mental illness, the legal responsibility of mental health providers, the possibility of predicting the actions of those being treated for this or that. Other pundits are interviewed about what Lufthansa (owner of Germanwings) could have, should have done to anticipate this, to prevent that: doors that can be broken down if you have the secret decoder ring; smart locks that don’t exist that could be opened only by special devices that also don’t exist. Lawyers are interviewed about what new laws and rules and regulations can be passed to prevent such a horror from ever happening again.

As if such a thing could be anticipated or legislated out of the realm of possibility.

I see the same reactions over and over again every time some narcissistic lunatic shoots a bunch of people, only then blame is always assigned to the firearm, which makes about as much sense as assigning blame to the airplane in this tragedy.

No one can do anything to prevent such horrors, nor can we understand them. The closest we can come to comprehending evil like that can be found in Dante’s The Divine Comedy. In the eighth canto of the first canticle (Inferno) Dante and Virgil are in the fifth circle of hell, which is devoted to anger. They approach the capital of hell where the rebellious angels refuse to open the gates to them. The poet John Ciardi, in his introduction to the eighth canto, describes the rebellious angels as “creatures of ultimate evil,” and goes on to say, “Even Virgil is powerless against them, for human reason by itself cannot cope with the essence of evil. Only Divine aid can bring hope.”

I believe that’s as close as we will ever come to understanding such tragedies.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I also have heard that there should be some sort of psychological evaluation for the pilots. I no sure this would help unless it is really comprehensive. Otherwise, you are relying on the same pilots to self report and no pilot is going to do that if they afraid of losing their job.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Encore un drame effroyable qui vient de se produire, que personne ne pouvait prévoir. Je suis attristée pour toutes ces personnes qui viennent de perdre un être cher. Parmi les victimes, il y avait de jeunes étudiants, des époux en voyage de noce, un bébé, et tous les autres qui étaient là au mauvais endroit et au mauvais moment. C’est terrible !!!!! Je plains aussi de tout mon cœur la famille de ce jeune suicidaire. Non seulement ils viennent de perdre leur fils, mais celui-ci vient de tuer 150 personnes !!!! La vie de toutes ces familles est brisée.
    L’Allemagne, l’Espagne, la France et bien d’autres pays sont affectés par cette tragédie. Mais ce qui me rassure dans ce drame, c’est qu’il existe encore un mot que personne ne pourra rayer de notre vocabulaire. Ce mot est « solidarité » C’est ce qui se passe en ce moment entre toutes ces populations.

  3. Anonymous says:

    More reports on the pilot who crashed the plane.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Five “Evil finds finds the unblocked path.”

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hello JP,

    How right you are !
    I feel so sorry for all the victims but even more sorry for their families. But the worsed effect it probably has is on the pilot’s parents. It’s incredibly hard to lose the own child. But the certainty that the own son killed more than 150 people must be sheer intolerable.
    Whatever technical progress will be made in whatever field or which technical devices will be invented will never ever exclude the human factor or eliminate that remaining risk !
    Unfortunately this disaster obviously provides another platform once again for some self-important people and the television stations want to fill their schedule.

    Best wishes


  6. Anonymous says:

    You nailed it JP… “No one can do anything to prevent such horrors, nor can we understand them”.

    It some instances it can take a lot of psych-evaluation before the potential for a person’s mental breakdown can be determined. And in some instances not so much. Also, some people are good at hiding their severe psychosis by telling psychologist what they think they should be saying – usually before too long the layers reveal the truth, but it can take time.

    Such horrors will never stop. They will always be a part of our lives.

    The plane was in a descent for 8 minutes before it crashed. The pilot who was locked out of the cockpit was pounding on the door trying to do whatever he could to get in. Being able to lock a cockpit door and keep it secured from intruders had a BIG push after 911. Now it worked to keep somebody out of the cockpit who perhaps could have reversed the evil intent of the co-pilot. Once again…do we arm pilots? Could he have shot his way into the cockpit without damaging any pertinent avionic systems? Is there some system designed into the door that allows certain crew a means of coming and going despite the door being secured? So many questions… what is the answer… Is there an answer?

    TD Bauer

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