A perverse satisfaction

Like most thinking people on this planet, I am concerned about the fate of the crew and passengers of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370. But I am also drawing a kind of perverse satisfaction from the fact that it hasn’t been found. It’s reassuring to know that, in this age of global surveillance, when everything that happens is supposed to be known to someone, it’s possible for a large object to disappear from sight without being detected.

Many years ago, when I was young, I had a fantasy about an island somewhere in the South Seas that is surrounded by a constant wall of fog, which over the centuries has been settled by various groups of people who somehow got stranded there. I had worked out a geography and an ethnography for it, and I had even thought of writing a novel in which the island is destroyed by some natural catastrophe but a few people escape to the outside world, where they recognize one another through some signal or other. But by the time I started writing novels, around ten years ago (see here), I no longer thought that such a thing was possible, namely, an island that can remain undetected to the present. Now I’m going to rethink the matter.

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