Friday, October 01, 2010

Art & Culture: A Week at the Airport by Alain de Botton

In the summer of 2009, Alain de Botton (The Consolations of Philosophy, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work) was asked to be Heathrow Airport’s first ever writer-in-residence.
In any event, my new employer was legitimately proud of his terminal and understandably keen to find ways to sing its beauty. The undulating glass and steel structure was the largest building in the land, forty metres tall and 400 long, the size of four football pitches, and yet the whole conveyed a sense of continuous lightness and ease, like an intelligent mind engaging effortlessly with complexity.
Though de Botton is respectful of the “technological beauty” he finds at Heathrow, A Week at the Airport (McLelland & Stewart) is not a song of praise to his employer’s beautiful terminal. Rather, it is a complex, though slender, examination of the way travel fits into modern human lives. “Aeroplane food stands at a point of maximum tension between the man-made and the natural,” de Botton says at one point. “Like thriller writers,” he says at another, “the security staff were paid to imagine life as a little more eventful than it customarily manages to be.”

With photographs by Richard Baker and thoughtful mediations by de Botton, A Week at the Airport brings a beautiful humanity to a structure most of us have previously given little thought. ◊


Linda L. Richards is editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.

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Blogger Semiramis said...

I have being in this airport many times last time when returning to Europe, and as well had couple of days of mischief but not really adventures not Homers odysseys as well, but suddenly our plane was turning and turning around the airport and when did stop we the people were lucky the door was open and we were able to enter the airport, and once in the airport people were crying, families were worry and was a real mess, a storm was reaching it highest degree of event outside the airport made me think of Mitch hurricane when I was in central America

Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 3:40:00 AM PDT  

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