Seventeen days before a general election in seventeen constituencies, seventeen perish in a freak accident on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 2011. Eleven seats go to the winning side. Coincidence? Let the numerologists decide.
Even the trees must by now know I do not acknowledge the existence of a spirit world, let alone its influence over what humans do or don’t do. Which is not to say I can otherwise explain the ebb and flow of the tides or the winds that can be both soothing and murderous. A couple more things you can count on: I have no idea how our primordial ancestors first arrived here, whether as sea amoeba or as molded mud into which a supernatural being breathed the breath of life. As for what happens to us when we die, only the dead know for sure.
For what it’s worth, let me also admit that life as we know it is for me representative of an intelligence beyond our understanding. Certainly beyond my understanding.
On the other hand, the so-called believers (don’t expect them to admit any time soon that what they believe in is belief) know the name and address of the maker of all things, how long it took him to create the heavens and the earth and all that dwell therein, and the particular day he took his one and only break. As for the non-believers, they are irrevocably convinced, without the smallest proof, that the believers are wrong on all counts.
I am at this juncture reminded of the recently deceased Christopher Hitchens. (Actually he has been on my mind throughout the weekend, but more about that in another dispatch.) One of the Hitch’s more famous comebacks holds that “what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”
Well, easy for him to say. Bertrand Russell, notwithstanding, I cannot shake the feeling that there must be something to the notion of a spirit world, if only because it’s been around since time immemorial. Alas, I haven’t the foggiest what that something might be, which I guess separates me both from the believers and the non-believers and places me in the I-don’t-know category with Martin Amis, whose foreword to Windsor Mann’s ‘The Quotable Hitchens’ contains the following:
“My dear Hitch: there has been much wild talk, among the believers, about your impending embrace of the sacred and the supernatural. This is, of course, insane. But I still hope to convert you, by sheer force of zealotry, to my own persuasion: agnosticism.”
Amis goes on to explain to his terminally ill best friend, the renowned atheist and author of the bestseller ‘God is not Great,’ that agnosticism is really just “an acknowledgement of ignorance.”
He adds, persuasively: “The science of cosmology is an awesome construct, while remaining embarrassingly incomplete and approximate; and over the last thirty years it has garnered little but a series of humiliations. So when I hear a man declare himself to be an atheist, I sometimes think of the enterprising termite who, while continuing to go about his tasks, declares himself to be an individualist. It cannot be altogether frivolous or wishful to talk of a ‘higher intelligence’—because the cosmos is itself a higher intelligence, in the simple sense that we do not and cannot understand it.”
Amis, too, speaks for himself. Here on the Rock of Sages it’s a piece of cake understanding what to everyone else is inconceivable. Let us now return to the earlier mentioned disaster shortly before the last general elections, when this egregiously polarized nation declared a day of mourning and a respite from the debilitating political activity. The unforgettable date was 11 November 2011—17 days before Polling Day. Though there
had been 19 passengers, mainly children, aboard the vehicle the evening it mysteriously plunged off a Choiseul cliff into the ocean, only 17 bodies were ever recovered.
Do you see where this is going? No? Then let me also remind you that the number of parliamentary seats in contention was also 17.
Yes, 17 constituencies, 17 bodies recovered following an accident that occurred 17 days before an election on 11-11-11. I imagine you’re saying, as did I the first time a local numerologist shoved the figures in my face: “Mere coincidence. Nothing more, nothing less!” Be informed, nonetheless, that there are a great many respected people, among them some quite holy, who say they have done the numerological math and arrived at the only conclusion that makes sense. “This was no ordinary accident,” they say. “It was plain and simple payment in advance of services rendered.”
Ah, but you, dear disbelieving Thomas, you want evidence. Precisely what faith has never relied on, save of things not seen. In any event, the experts say there is in this particular case ample evidence of spirit-world activity. Still you scoff. And so I ask: How many times have you confronted in one particular situation three separate sets of 17, three separate sets of 11? (As for the recurring three—and here I am reminded of someone who recently started his third term in office!—in numerology three represents a “complete cycle unto itself,” so go figure!)
Should you now be so moved, for whatever reason, to subtract the earlier mentioned three separate elevens from the three separate seventeens, what suddenly would confront you, say the gifted ones, is 6-6-6. The Mark of the Beast . . . En rouge!
As for the still missing two of the nineteen passengers aboard the fated transit bus, suffice it to say no one can hope to recover what was never really there in the first place. At any rate, according to the highly regarded numerologists who, as I say, know much better than I the comings and goings of the spirit world!