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Flight Of a Phoenix

World Peace
World Peace
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Will our excuse ever be: 'Only human'?

"The future pilots who are trained at the Lufthansa Flight Training Pilot School in Bremen complete a major part of their practical training in Goodyear/Phoenix. The training center, which is located in the Arizona desert, offers outstanding flying and weather conditions. The Lufthansa Flight Training subsidiary, ATCA possesses an extensive fleet of training aircrafts." [Excerpted from the airline's own site]

"We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and -- in spite of True Romance magazines -- we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way...." Hunter S. Thompson, Gonzo Journalist

These quotes when read in tandem perhaps give some insight into the solitary mind of the proverbial Everyman (/woman) and his/her interface with mindless technology; and while the somewhat chilling truth of it may cause an oddly collective frisson, its ubiquity in song and drama must give us pause, especially in light of Thompson's suicide, the loneliest act known.

Whether it is the philosopher Nietzsche's hammer [solitude, 'given, not chosen' ]or the imagined private eye of 'Chinatown' s Jake Gittes [fake client: 'I'm alone' , Jake: 'Aren't we all' ] driving this menacing thought into our conscious and subconscious minds, it gives us greatest pause that ' we' is a fiction, and 'me' an eternal fact.

Turning to the heinous matter at hand--involuntary mass suicide--the media reflexively, as do 'we' , seeks to know motive. Persistent even in the face of impossibility of knowledge, we must know, for the greater good. We cannot, per se, know another's mind, regardless of science's fictional promise that technology will ultimately permit such knowing, in real-time, so as to prevent malefaction. Despite P.K. Dick's notional pre-crime exploration, this is a quantum universe, wherein everything is interacting with everything else, at liminal speeds such that once a thought is 'found' it is gone beforehand.

Besides, in such a world, the quaint concept of trust, already in tragic disrepair precisely because truth of mentation is unknowable timely, cannot exist by definition.

So, then, in light of the German Wings tragedy, when the CEO of Lufthansa--a no-nonsense prototypical engineer/pilot of the highest ilk--admits that no system may detect so as to prevent what transpired in that cruelest of ironies where a system of prevention of terrorization is turned in upon itself by one person..alone.

Who among us, that collective fictional 'we' --found everywhere common values and assumptions are held dear, whether in the US Constitution's Preamble or a girl scout troupe--now may express confidence in those in authority when physical well-being is at stake. When every boarding pass may bear an effective death sentence, written in invisible ink, who will consciously or otherwise not question the stability of such an authority figure?

Placed in the larger context of a world seeming to daily plead insanity in the private hearing (seeing?) room of each's single solitary mind, how can rational consensus--the underpinning of what we too often label as 'civilized' society--be intelligently maintained so as to function progressively, humanely?

Recall a film, directed by the perennially underrated Director, Sidney Lumet, entitled 'Fail Safe' , required viewing when this scribbler matriculated during the Kennedy era of the Cold War. The leitmotif was as simple as it was horrifying, although too little life experience was at hand (for him, at least) so as to fathom its full meaning, much less influence a solution.

After all, it has now been shown factually that but for the superbly rational inaction of a Russian submarine commander--a solitary mind, schooled in destruction--enabled these words to be written and read.

Another filmic genius, Stanley Kubrick, using the master joke to reveal the true vulnerability of 'only human' frailty such that one deranged General Ripper could set in motion the strangest of 'love'.

In the realm of popular post-modern music, Kurt Cobain's haunting reveries treat of his physical pain's path to suicide.

And, so, will this replay of an ancient myth of the Phoenix, the bird festooned with gold and blue feathers, permit 'us' , that other form of 'we', to avert a fiery future filled with iterations of so great an undoing of individuals by one solitary mind or serve as a clarion call to self-examination on an ironically individual basis--albeit, in the Jungian sense of individuation--urged since the same ancient times as the injunction: 'know thyself'?

Is such knowledge even possible in an age so narcissistic as to offer the obsessive 'selfie' as the result of that quest? Caught between solipsism's extreme proposition that you are the only mind that exists, all else but an illusion, and humankind as just that--kind--we had better resolve the quantum leap made by our electrons spinning round the nuclei of the very atoms that constitute each of 'us' between 'only human' and 'only humane'. The collective habitual excuse that 'we' are only human permits of this ultimate problem's irresolution, dragging us comfortably to the empty conclusion of 'we may never know'.

If we are capable of collectively condemning in our individual lives the mistreatment of lesser animals clothed as most are--only humane--then surely we may apply this to one another, regardless of apparent surface difference.

And should mental illness be at the bottom of this act and its kindred actions known as 'Terrorism' then we must give curative attention to such sickness of the mind as we do the more obvious maladies of the body. This will prove the most difficult of all mandatory issues confronting us today, such that its resolution portends our very future, if any.

Whether we continue the Socratic noble lie--as ancient as the myth of the Phoenix--that the status quo has proven to be the best of all possible worlds given our human nature (only human) will determine whether we, you and I, as sovereign individuated persons, may, indeed, rise again from these mounting ash heaps like that Phoenix.

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Updated May 6, 2017 5:51 AM EDT | More details

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