Chaos is when "the world is too much with us," when everything around us is a "blooming, buzzing confusion." Chaos is when nothing makes sense. Sometimes chaos gets mixed up with catastrophe. A catastrophe is an event that occurs with horrible and often unexpected consequences. We didn't see it coming. Catastrophe often leaves chaos in its wake. Each may be unexplainable in ordinary terms or even measured by the yardstick of science. Nevertheless, we try. We invent stories to tame chaos and make it predictable, and we apply narratives, with a heavy dose of hindsight, to catastrophes in order to claim wisdom and foresight.
Caelum is flying back to Connecticut to visit a dying relative when he sits next to Mickey, an expert on chaos theory. Like a prophet from the underworld, Mickey tells him "there's a self-organising principle at the edge of chaos. Order breeds habit, okay? But chaos breeds life."
maybe we’re all chaos theorists. Lovers of pattern and predictability, we’re scared shitless of explosive change. But we’re fascinated by it, too. Drawn to it. Travelers tap their brakes to ogle the mutilation and mangled metal on the side of the interstate, and the traffic backs up for miles. Hijacked planes crash into skyscrapers, breached levees drown a city, and CNN and the networks rush to the scene so that we can all sit in front of our TVs and feast on the footage.