Monday, October 3, 2011

A Week at the Airport & Flughafenfische

I read and enjoyed Alain de Botton's collected essays "Art of Travel" a while ago, but didn't know about his Heathrow Diary - came across it in Goodreads, and it turned out to be a beautiful reflection on life and travel in the modern time.

For Botton, the airport is a symbolic, imaginative centre of our civilsation, and during the week he stays in Heathrow, he contemplates on travels, books, hotel rooms, encounters, technology, civilisation, the human condition, hopes.. the world at large.

Here's a quote: "At the beginning of human history, we struggled to light fires and to chisel fallen trees into rudimenentary canoes, who could have predicted that long after we managed to send men to the moon and aeroplanes to Australasia, we would still have such trouble knowing how to tolerate ourselves, forgive our loved ones and apologise for our tantrums?"

Reading it made me pick up a book i bought ordered earlier this year, but havn't got to read yet: Flughafenfische by the Swiss author and journalist Angelika Overath.  It's a novel, set in the transit zone of an an airport, where a huge tropic aquarium is placed to distract the waiting travellers. The aquarium resembles a reef, and one of the main characters is the "aquarian", who never travels himself, yet one day, meets a traveller there, at the aquarium. In this talk, the aquarian explains the nature of reefs - which, in an unexpected way, connected back to the current language/place carnival, with its feature theme "The heart and soul of the cultural landscape":

"Hier am Riff gelten andere Gesetze als im offenen Meer; das Riff ist ein Kulturraum." -
"Here in the reef, other rules apply than in the open ocean; the reef is a culture zone." 

now, back to the terrace, to the fish and the flights - it's a bank holiday here in germany today, October 3rd: day of the German Reunion. also, it's a sunny, warm day. so good.

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