Monthly Archives: August 2010

Not even Icarus dreamt of these wings

Air travel occupies a peculiar space in the venn diagram of our collective unconsciousness. It is the space in the intersection of the circles of sheer terror and consumerism. Here you are, in a place that no human could ever, through sheer biology, alone survive. Hanging miles above the surface of this dirty rock called Earth. It is something thaumatological in nature. Not even Icarus dreamt of these wings, extending outwards from the body of your plane, almost as if it were your body hanging in the sky. Chrome and daubed in the warpaint of British Aerospace or Emirates or Virgin. Think for a second. Beneath your feet are a few meters of storage space, hydraulic systems, landing gear, oil and baggage. Then beneath that nothing for miles.

And then you are offered a fine selection of duty free…

I suspect that duty free was invented purely as a mechanism for dealing with the sheer existential terror of flight – I imagine some Ur Air Traveller in the early days of aviation saying to their spouse “But Honey this is not a naturally tenable position for a human being… oooh look Calvin Klein”.

I’m not entirely sure that’s what Icarus had in mind

I guess what I’m saying is that I have a long haul flight ahead of me and I’m trying to rationalize it as best I can.