This is a post about accidents…on the tracks.
A freight train has derailed and exploded in the USA. The BBC covered the story, here
Luckily no one was hurt. That’s amazing.
I’ve already posted about the idea of safety on the trains and how dangerous they seem to be. Now, I want to consider why we are so fascinated by accidents. They’re always on the news, and it’s almost impossible to resist the temptation to rubber-knech when we see wreckage!
My own guess is that our interest in accidents devolves from our understanding of modern society as a consistent and standard environment. An accident is, whatever the frequency of its occurrence, a non-standard event. Therefore, we are intrigued by it and want to stop it happening in the future.
In part, this interest comes from the trade off between the systemic regularity of modern society, with the associated feelings of safety, and our own feeing that the system forces a kind of regularity, or consistency, of behavior upon us. The accident reminds us of what happens when we misbehave.
A sort of modernist reworking of keeping to the straight and narrow…