Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Notre-Dame fire: a symbol of so many sad trends of the present

I think that in the grand scheme of things, Notre-Dame de Paris (meaning: Our Lady of Paris) isn't a property of the French people only.

It's really something that the whole mankind, and especially the Christian and Western civilization, owns and a symbol of that civilization. The cathedral in the classic French Gothic style was built between 1163-1345. It has survived 650-850 years or so, including lots of continental wars, cruel regimes etc. Before yesterday, the worst devastation has been an angry French Revolution mob that was destroying the organ and sculptures. The cathedral became the workplace of Mr Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre-Dame in a novel by Victor Hugo.

Because that structure is so universally important, I feel that all of us deserve condolences – so it doesn't make much sense for some of us to express condolences to others. But if Notre-Dame has been much closer to someone's heart than mine, please accept my condolences. By the way, the fire has been completely extinguished – but it took some half a day. The rectangular towers survived but the stability has to be monitored.

It's my guess that most of the TRF readers have been there – I was – and about 1/2 of those have seen the interior, too. Geologist Bob Carter was there in late 2015 – he interacted with some young climate alarmists. Sadly, Bob died a month later... At some level, it's another cathedral – except it's a very old and very famous one.



A renovation worth €7 million was ongoing there. Someone who has lived in Paris has answered a question whether e.g. believers in a... very different religion could have been hired as workers for the renovation. The answers seem to be "of course". One Frenchman pointed out that the French laws prohibit "religious discrimination" – probably even in such special tasks.



While we obviously don't know what exactly happened, I am sorry but as far as I can see, these rules and habits significantly disfavor the "accident" hypothesis. It if were an accident, why now? Or is the timing due to Nostradamus? Why have the big fires avoided the cathedral for 650-850 years? Why did the fire emerge in the same epoch when Catholic churches are being desecrated all over France?

You may also find an article in the Telegraph titled
Gas tanks and [some foreign language] documents found in unmarked car by Paris' Notre-Dame cathedral spark terror fears
That sounds like some relevant information, doesn't it? Well, you may quickly observe it's a news story from 2016 but certain tendencies and wishes haven't really changed in recent 2.5 years.

On Fox News, any comments about the possible non-accidental causes were immediately shut down. Neil Cavuto disconnected the Catholic League president Bill Donohue; Shepard Smith cut off French analyst Philippe Karsenty who was talking about the same topic. The overt assumption that the blaze was a coincidence has become mandatory – and a policy of a "conservative" TV channel in the U.S., Fox News. Tucker Carlson was much more open-minded while interviewing Mark Steyn.

Meanwhile, many of us have watched a live broadcast showing the fire. I was attached to a screen for an hour – and I still didn't see a substantial presence of some heavy firefighters' technology. That very picture just looked absolutely shocking to me. What was heartbreaking was both the fire itself as well as the Frenchmen's apparent indifference. Couldn't the people understand what was going on? Isn't it obvious that they must deploy as many helicopters and other things as possible? The passivity almost looked like the Parisians deliberately wanted Notre-Dame to disappear. Clearly, there were some people who shared my or similar sentiment:


Right. Fire has some stages and in the initial stages, it's an exponentially growing phenomenon. The more quickly you tame it, the better. Every minute may decide about a large multiplicative factor that makes things worse.

Some people disagreed with Trump: Water is heavy, they said, and water from the aircraft could act like a bomb and destroy the cathedral by the mechanical force. I don't really believe the physics of that complaint. The airplanes should have emulated at least a very intense rain – the cathedral has surely survived lots of heavy rains in those centuries. You wanted all the old wood to get wet a little bit because this dramatically slows down the propagation of the fire. Humidity in that wood isn't the best thing but it's still better than when the wood burns out. Humidification is largely reversible (drying is the inverse process), fire is not.

Notre-Dame is a physical representative of some very old, precious structures and principles that have defined our civilization – and that were making it great – for a millennium or more. It almost looks like almost no one really cares about these things. Many reports said that the Parisians were calm. The atmosphere is such that people find it OK for the fire to do its job. Most of them don't feel the instinctive need to stop the heartbreaking events as quickly as possible. And lots of powerful people don't want any talk about the causes etc. These pressures will unavoidably complicate any investigation, too (as well as the prevention in the future).

I still believe that the responses to such a fire would be faster and more effective elsewhere. Mr Macron wants to govern and regulate the whole European continent while he doesn't seem capable enough to regulate the fire in his country's most famous cathedral. There seems to be some evidence that the opposite trend is desirable: many things on the French territory should get a more responsible, more international management.

Some of the sad aspects of this tragedy might be specific for France. But at some level, the structure of the whole Western society might be falling apart, some people are openly excited about it, while others are indifferent. And this frustrating observation seems to hold both for physical structures such as Notre-Dame as well as the principles and values that our civilization has depended upon for many centuries, too (not to mention the heroes and great individuals who have contributed above their weight).

Notre-Dame will hopefully be rebuilt. Hundreds of millions of Euros have already been offered. But if the West doesn't fix itself and especially its thinking, similar bad events may pile up and at some moment, the Westerners will lose any desire to rebuild, too. An unquestionable decline or collapse of the Western civilization is physically possible. The real question is how many people will realize it's a potential catastrophe that we simply must prevent.

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