Intersection #11


Index of Catastrophic Failures in the 21st Century



In the language used to describe how people died:

  1. the bodies were found buried after the buildings fell
  2. a series of sniper-style shootings occurred in Washington DC
  3. war was launched in Iraq
  4. a tsunami claimed hundreds of thousands of bodies that were washed to sea after earthquake [after being overcome by water & the necessity of breathing]
  5. New Orleans. Buried below sea level. Upended by the storm. (See: Hurricane Katrina)(See: emergency response failure)(See: devastation)(See: over 1800 people dead)(See: the costliest storm in US history)
  6. based on a miscommunication: a dark mine, 12 men, 41 hours underground, no survivors.
  7. despite warning signs, the worst financial crisis in eight decades engulfs the global financial system
  8. the economy continues to lose hundreds of thousands of jobs; a devastating year for natural disasters; over 200,000 lives were claimed;
  9. looking back at a tumultuous decade, catastrophic events can reshape the emergency response system, [but]
  10. a litany of natural catastrophes strike again this year; lives were lost
  11. at least 80 dead in Norway massacre, police say
  12. authorities say 27 people are dead, including a gunman, after a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
  13. during the Boston Marathon, two homemade bombs were detonated 14 seconds and 210 yards apart at 2:49pm; stand your ground law translates to: a death, an indictment, an acquittal
  14. a months-long uprising in a Missouri city reverberated around the country, spotlighting racial inequality and police brutality
  15. a group of men with ties to terrorist organizations targeted the offices of a famed satirical newspaper [gun/shots not specified]; on-air shooting in North Carolina left an anchor dead; shooting at a church in Charleston caused the deaths of—; shooting of; shot to death is—; shot down [their names were said some say]
  16. authorities have started to name the victims of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, which left 49 dead [photo: cell phones, ringing the quiet]
  17. more than 50 people were killed on the Las Vegas strip; 17 people were killed and 17 others wounded at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland
  18. human landfall: there was more gun violence, this time at The Tree of Life Synagogue
  19. national emergencies: to allocate funds for a border wall; [not the shooting; shooting; mass shooting; bludgeoning; stabbing; strangling; police brutality; assault]
  20. March: the world closes to all but thoughts and prayers; the president of the United States calls a global pandemic a hoax; over 200,000 dead in the US to-date; today, there are deaths; there, the dead
  21. lie;


*Omissions: active voice, the perpetrators, the names, the human cost.



Therein lies the poverty of logic.

Therein lies the poverty of truth.-Jane Mead




Jean-Luc Nancy, from Noli me frangere:

Fragment: the text is fragile. It’s nothing but. It breaks and yet it doesn’t break, in the same place. Where? Someplace, always someplace, an unassignable, incalculable place. 

What I mean is: I’ve been writing in fragments because the text requires it. Because history requires it. Because memory requires it. Because truth is subjective, but honesty is not. Because all is separate and all is whole, at once.

What I mean is: I love the sound of rain today. How it falls. Apart. A-part of.



The Misinformation Effect: refers to the tendency for post-event information to interfere with the memory of the original event.

In other words, a change in narrative. Spin. Unreliable narrators.

“I got to thinking about the moral meaning of memory, per se. And what it means to forget, what it means to fail to find and preserve the connection with the dead whose lives you, or I, want or need to honor with our own.”—June Jordan, Some of Us Did Not Die

What force is acting upon us now? There is so little that I read that is true.

What is true: masses of people are dying and out of work and unable to see their loved ones, except through photographs. Not the words used to describe, deter, control the narrative after the fact. The fact is: people are in danger. There has never been a time when I have felt this more acutely, though I was scared four years ago. The uprising of factions or fragments of society that claim free speech for spewing hate, but bully others into silence for disagreeing, already existed in 2016. Permission was granted. And people are dying to say. And people are dying.

This is a pivotal time in history. I researched many events that have contributed to fear and disillusionment over the last twenty years, but the above list is by no means inclusive.

What I’m saying is: this permission to foster hate is not deterred by borders or seas. Where will it end? What does kindness and tolerance cost anyone?

What I’m saying is: the world is on fire. And the greatest commodity of this century has been information: who has it, who controls it, who spins it and how. What will the next years look like? I admit: I’ve lost hope some days. I don’t want to go on this way. This is not the world I want to leave to my kids.

I’m afraid that people are so invested in holding onto their hate, that hate will prevail. That violence will prevail. That suffering will prevail. My grandfather emigrated to North America from a country where he had no status, no ability to hold a job or property. Where holocaust trains whisked people into the night. And he was met with fear and hate and bigotry, eventually drinking himself to death. It is almost a hundred years later. What do we remember? And how are we honouring that memory?

How we squander our hours of pain. / How we gaze beyond them into the bitter duration / to see if they have an end.—Rainer Maria Rilke

Outside, today, the wind rallies and rails.

It will not be held. It will not be held down.



Chelsea Dingman

Author’s Website @chelsdingman