People at times of tragedy tend to say, 'We must make sure this never happens again' as if they had any control of words such as 'sure' and 'never'. Then there are the conspiracy theorists, their conspiracies just gathering speed. Conspiracies of Russians, of the EU, of the USA, of Al Qaeda, from Machiavellians of all descriptions. It is strange, of course, straight after the Katyn events. Another forest, more fog, more Polish bodies, but I am not a Machiavellian. My instincts whisper it is a miracle that more disasters do not happen. At such times I tend to think of poems like this.
The Convergence Of The Twain
(Lines on the loss of the "Titanic")
In a solitude of the sea
Deep from human vanity,
And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.
Steel chambers, late the pyres
Of her salamandrine fires,
Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.
Over the mirrors meant
To glass the opulent
The sea-worm crawls--grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.
Jewels in joy designed
To ravish the sensuous mind
Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.
Dim moon-eyed fishes near
Gaze at the gilded gear
And query: "What does this vaingloriousness down here?". . .
Well: while was fashioning
This creature of cleaving wing,
The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything
Prepared a sinister mate
For her--so gaily great--
A Shape of Ice, for the time fat and dissociate.
And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.
Alien they seemed to be:
No mortal eye could see
The intimate welding of their later history.
Or sign that they were bent
By paths coincident
On being anon twin halves of one August event,
Till the Spinner of the Years
Said "Now!" And each one hears,
And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.
- Thomas Hardy
Whether the Immanent Will, aka The Spinner of the Years, is the product of a conspiracy theory, of course, remains an open question. But the sense of ninety-six dead (possibly ninety-seven), many of them the leading figures of a nation, all at once, in one room, in a historically hostile space, cannot help but impinge on the consciousness as more than a simple error on part of man or machine.
However, the fact that it so impinges is not a factor in the odds on or against simple error, including the simple error of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. An inch this way or that has always been part of human life. Sure and never have never made much sense to me, within my very narrow, personal sense of 'never'. Even conspirators are subject to it. The sea-worm and the Shape of Ice are factors.
Canst thou draw out Leviathan with an hook? asked God of Job.
Sometimes, yes, Job might have answered, and sometimes no.