Postcard# 484: Bangkok: Thinking about the order things take, first this, then that, now it’s near to the getting-ready-to-go time and I have my flight schedule; departure BKK 01 September: 23:40pm. Arrive Amsterdam: 06:35 am. Then from there, another flight to the North of Scotland. I see it in the mind’s eye, although there’s not much to see, because the entire flight will be in darkness, from Bangkok departure 01 Sep., teetering on the brink of a new day that has not arrived yet – and will not be seen to arrive until an hour before we get to Amsterdam, and a small glimmer of light.
All flights to Europe leave Bangkok around midnight because of connecting flights coming in from Japan and the West coast of US. I will be situated in the C class section of the plane, cushioned, carpeted, right up to the ceiling and over the cabin space – in case we lose gravity and I feel like walking barefoot upside-down on the ceiling. I have a clear picture of it; there we are in darkness until some light gets in, at the edges of the window screen – somewhere over the Northern edge of the planet, and I want to see the early dawn rising and the curvature of the Earth. But not allowed to raise the small window screen because people are sleeping or watching video. Me? I’m watching a movie in my head,based on what I see in the half light, people’s silhouettes waiting in line to use the toilet. These are the constraints of air travel.
Take off the headset and watch the video; intense dialogue without sound. Close-ups on faces, an exercise in portraiture. I watch it while going on with a search through the image files in my phone, gathering things from here and there – copy and paste back in one large folder.
The screen catches my eye again, sit to watch, and the credits come up… is that the end already? But it’s not the end it’s the beginning! An extremely long intro to the story itself. Go back to the image files, what’s this? A photo of words written on the back of boarding pass stub. What did I write there… doesn’t seem to make sense?
More writing on crumpled up bits and pieces of smoothened-out paper, I remember fragments of imagery and a story appear in the mind so fast I could not keep up with the pace of it, but no notebook pages to write on, so… scribbling it down on scraps of paper, on the backs of till receipts in my wallet, jacket pockets… reduce the size of handwriting to get it all in the space, then take a photo of it and zoom in to see. These are the constraints of one whose memory is all shot to pieces.
I perceive the world as a solid tangible thing, I see, hear, smell, taste, touch and due to basic repetition, I believe this to be so. But long ago – I forgot when it was exactly – I understood it as a hologram… outer and inner, subject/object split as One; all of it, holographic. It couldn’t be more obvious, enclosed in this small space in a winged aerodynamic flying missile, that is separate from, yet connected to the planet Earth, which is seen from outer space, shining with shades of blue, a holographic image. If that is so, all neighbouring worlds, seen to be dead planets, could be teeming with life and we can’t see it because our sensory mechanisms are not compatible with their operating system, so to speak. In the same way, those other-world populations are seeing their holographic extension of themselves, and our world is a dead planet?
It’s an idea for an SF story… the way it is, so clear to me now, there’s the image of a journey that leads from ‘here’ to ‘there’, or ‘there’ to ‘here’ whether you’re coming or going the route we take is an elevated highway in the sky, we’re in a long silver night coach with the moon and stars. Occasional air turbulence suggests small bumps on an otherwise very smooth road surface – sufficient to tip me over and fall asleep, with not even the sense that we’re going anywhere… just the noise of the engines and hiss of the air.
At one with the urgency of speed, aware of the immense engine sound that could be deafening, but sound-proofed and hidden; acoustically obscured and this bubble-like enclosure built over it, designed within the dynamics of flight … the same plane flying to and from the same route all of its working life, and the ‘to’ becomes the ‘from’… no end, no beginning. Maintenance crews service the parts whenever it lands – both ends of the journey. From the engines’ point of view, everything is stationary… it’s the world that moves.