People look at me truly aghast when I reveal to them that I often book flights with the most amount of connections possible. I love airports. Probably it is a sickness of some kind and a personal problem. I like to be in airports. I like to wander around in them. I like the way they smell and the way the world feels inside of them. I like grandiose and beautifully constructed airports but I like crap airports too. I like the airports of the first, second, and third worlds. I like regional airports and airports where you have to walk out onto the tarmac to board your plane. I like picking people up at airports. I like waiting for them. I like airport bars and the way margaritas taste at airports.
If you had to pick a symbolic structure for the 20th century it might very well be the airport. Through all the disappointments, failures, violence and horror of the 20th century it is also the century that took flight. The airplane, metal birds, improbable sky captains. They are funny things and they are beautiful. I like to watch them, from inside of them and from without. I like the fact that when you enter an airport you leave the particular and enter the universal. I like the comings and goings of the airport because it feels like an intensification of all possibilities.
I was joking with a friend recently, at an airport, about what it would mean to become ‘airport man’. Airport Man is a version of Nietzsche’s overman without all the contempt for everyday experience. The Airport Man is able to adjust his own experiences to the fact that the airport is a site for modern experience. If you aren’t comfortable in an airport, you aren’t adequate to the present age and you aren’t preparing yourself for the future. You must love the airport, you must become one with the airport. You must will that all experience be airport experience.
We imagined a re-writing of literature. “Lady Chatterley’s Airport”. “Airports in the Time of Cholera”. “Catcher in the Airport”. “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Airport”. “Remembrance of Airports Past”. “The Airport of Wrath”. “The Unbearable Airport of Being”.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the airport is its basic assumption: people need and want to go other places to deal with other people. This is one of the most lovely aspects of human need. The world can be a fascinating and joyful place. The airport is the strange, anonymous, beautiful, ridiculous vehicle for that need. The airport is good.
I love airports.