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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

the art of travel

"When feeling sad at home, I have often boarded a train or airport bus and gone to Heathrow where, from an observation gallery in Terminal 2 or from the top floor of the Renaissance Hotel along the north runway, I have drawn comfort from the sight of the ceaseless landing and take-off of aircraft.

Nowhere is the appeal of the airport more concentrated than in the television screens which hang in rows from terminal ceilings. The screens bear all the poetic resonance of the last line of James Joyce’s Ulysses: at once a record of where the novel was written and, no less importantly, a symbol of the cosmopolitan spirit behind its composition: ‘Trieste, Zurich, Paris.’ The constant calls of the screens, some accompanied by the impatient pulsing of a cursor, suggest with what ease our seemingly entrenched lives might be altered, were we to walk down a corridor and on to a craft that in a few hours would land us in a place of which we had no memories and where no one knew our names. How pleasant to hold in mind, through the crevasses of our moods, at three in the afternoon when lassitude and despair threaten, that there is always a plane taking off for somewhere, Baudelaire’s ‘Anywhere! Anywhere!’: Trieste, Zurich, Paris."

The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton