Category Archives: landscape

Flying as walking: The earth as a fabric of becoming

Text: Bill Psarras © 2014

Flying within an airplane may be a sort of suspended lived experience. Somewhere between 30-40.000 feet from the earth’s ground, the travelers observe out of the window while their bodies are safely seated – finding themselves into an bodily and psychological inbetweeness. A geological ascension through clouds seems to make borders and countries an almost unseen element. What matters up there; is only a gradual becoming of landscapes, which can be a mobile and poetic experience for reflection.

The becoming of the earth: The becoming of passenger’s thinking

Flying transforms the earth surface into a continuous landscape – a geological fabric with ups and downs, mountains, seas, lakes and rivers. The eye is now capable of seeing the whole, in the same way De Certeau (1984) describes the power of such bird-eye view from the highest buildings of New York city. Everything down there become an ‘immense texturology‘ – not only in geological terms – but it is also important to acknowledge the social and emotional aspects. You can fly above your city and being able to distinguish familiar details – remembering that that same morning you were part of that landscape. Therefore the element of positionality – in other words: to watch or to be watched – is also relevant at this point.

From the above, the understanding of human life and experience becomes clearer. Borders and the lines of maps are for those down there. The eye can see at the same time two different cities divided by a mountain. How many thousand or millions of everyday lives are active down there? Clouds beyond the horizon will be there in a few hours – yet that city is not exactly aware of this. After an articulation of three mountains there is another city with a great cloud upon it. There will be probably thousands of people down there, stucked in traffic, walking with umbrellas; looking above and seeing this endless grey. Yet, you – the passenger from above – can see the end of what seems endless from that city because you can also see where this cloud ends – you are almost sure that they will see the sun, which is several kilometers away. Other cities are “electrified tattoos”, which from the above seem a socio-geological imprint of electricity and civilization on the earthly terrain. And this becomes an oscillating experience for the air-passenger: passing from bright cities in the night to dark spots in the landscape – and back again. In a few hours, the passengers of this airplane will be part of another city – they will land as “weaving shuttles” into the fabric of that city. A result with great emotional and social potential. The ones left back will carry on with their everyday rhythms and patterns. On the other hand, you will contribute on the fabric of the city you just arrived. The aesthetic consideration of air-passenger as a mobile and poetic enlivened subject could draw some connections to Benjamin’s flaneur as a botanologist of the asphalt – although the city has now become the earth surface for a potential “air-flaneur/flaneuse” to reflect on.

It is thus the ability to go up there – to see flying as walking. An experience that you can see, think, feel the potential of the earth and the horizon. In other words what Cloudkicker‘s music describes as ‘Let Yourself Be Huge‘ (2011) [listen to the song here]

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