IMAGINE yourself 2,000ft underground with 32 other people as vulnerable and unpredictable as yourself, with limited food and water and no idea how or if you are ever going to get out. Close your eyes and think about it. Reflect on it as a possibility that you might experience one day. What do you feel? What do you think about? How much of your current sense of your own reality could survive in such a situation? Very little, I'd say.
We think of the Chilean miners as having endured an experience at the extreme end of possibility, something deeply unusual. But it's not unusual at all. In Chile, 35 miners died last year. In China, the death toll was more than 2,600.
Nor, indeed, is what they endured an extreme experience when considered in the total history of human adventuring. We look at them being hoisted to the Earth's surface and think of them as exceptional.
But really, taking humanity in its total perspective, it is we, the viewers, who are exceptional. We watch in our centrally heated, air-conditioned homes, studded with buttons …