Last night I watched the first installment of the new Sci-Fi Channel miniseries “The Triangle.” It was about what I expected—not too plausible, but plausible enough that I could enjoy it to a modest degree. I really want to enjoy programs like this. I want to be drawn into a familiar world that begins to act in unfamiliar ways. As complex, challenging, and even threatening as the world is already, I want to find it even more so, at least for a few hours in my stimulated imagination, and see humankind forced to abandon its petty squabbles and wars and channel its collective intelligence and effort into solving really big problems that threaten the whole human race if not the world with annihilation unless we can prevail. 9/11, the tsunami, and Katrina were horrible, horrible events. But they DID bring people together and elicit their grandest feelings and behaviors, sometimes only momentarily and sometimes for much longer periods, in ways that we seldom see outside such overwhelming disasters.
The gist of the “The Triangle” story, so far, is that an ultra-rich shipping magnate is losing an alarming number of his ships in the infamous Bermuda Triangle, and he is unshakably determined to find out what’s going on. So he hires a disparate group of experts in their respective disciplines to investigate. If they find out why the ships are disappearing, they each get $5 million. If they fail, they earn nothing. The experts—a cynical reporter well versed on Triangle lore, a disaster-at-sea prevention specialist, an oceanographer, and a psychic get to work and immediately begin confronting some very strange phenomena including the crashing of an airliner that shows up hours later under water looking like it’s been there for decades alongside World War II fighter planes that appear to be brand new. Stranger still is the fact that there are no bodies on the airliner except for one survivor trapped in the bathroom who claims to be a six-year-old girl but looks more like sixty-six. Other strange phenomena also occur, some of it outside the Triangle itself, suggesting that whatever mysterious forces plague the Triangle may be expanding into a broader area and posing a grave threat to the world at large. The series continues tonight and Wednesday night, and I will probably watch all of it, despite the presence of an unconscionable number of blocks of commercials spaced approximately ten minutes apart.
Eknath Easwaran says that we all hunger to confront great challenges by rising above our limited selves to act as our true and infinite Self. It’s a pity that it takes real and imaginary threats and disasters of terrible proportions to inspire such real and fictional transcendence.