Tonight sees Britain’s first ever general election leadership debate, a deeply portentous occasion which “could decide the election,” as many of the newspapers explained this morning. Meanwhile, tonnes and tonnes of ash are spewing out of an Icelandic volcano and over Britain, hovering over us like the mysterious Airborne Toxic Event in Don DeLillo’s stunningly prophetic (and apocalyptic) 1984 novel White Noise.
Planes have been grounded across Britain because, according to the BBC, “the tiny particles of rock, glass and sand contained in the ash cloud would be sufficient to jam aircraft engines”—and send them hurtling into the ground. Meanwhile, the white noise of multimedia feedback also engulfs an Airborne Toxic Event on ITV1 this evening at 8.30pm. Thursday 15th April, it seems, has become a real-life British adaptation of DeLillo’s novel:
“Why is it, Alfonse, that decent, well-meaning and responsible people find themselves intrigued by catastrophe when they see it on television?” I told him about the recent evening of lava, mud and raging water that the children and I had found so entertaining. “We wanted more, more” “It’s natural, it’s normal,” he said, with reassuring nod. “It happens to everybody.” “Why?” “Because we’re suffering from brain fade. We need an occasional catastrophe to break up the incessant bombardment of information… Words, pictures, numbers, facts, graphics, statistics, specks, waves, particles, motes. Only a catastrophe gets our attention. We want them, we need them, we depend on them.”[Guardian live-blog of the cloud of volcanic ash swarming over Britain] [ITV election debate hub]
“Facts threaten our happiness and security. The deeper we delve into the nature of things, the looser our structure may seem to become.”[Channel Four Fact Check]
“Remarks existed in a state of permanent flotation. No one thing was either more or less plausible than any other thing. As people jolted out of reality, we were released from the need to distinguish.”[Click here for live tweeting of the debate]