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Old 09-23-2010, 05:53 PM
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Default New Wings for Flighty Youth

Excerpt from the book "Expect Resistance"

---

Before the first arrow whistled from a bow, human beings dreamed of flying. Wingless, they lay on their backs in prickly fields, watching birds. Their descendants exchanged tales of flying carpets, winged horses and sandals, witches on broomstick, women who put on magic coats and became swans. Sorcerers and shamans sought to elevate themselves through mystical experience; folk scientists plotted to steal flight from the angels as Prometheus had stolen fire from the gods.

Eleven centuries ago Abbas Ibn Firnas, one of the first aviation pioneers whose name is still known to us, launched himself off a mountain on a homemade glider. He was sixty-five years old. Inspired, an English monk modeled wings according to Ovid's description of the feathered cloaks Daedalus made; these bore him a full furlong through the sky, through he broke both legs upon landing. Marco Polo returned to Europe to report that the Chinese were sending people aloft in kites; Leonardo da Vinci drew up designs for a helicopter; three centuries before the famous flight at Kitty Hawk, a Turkish scientist shot himself a thousand feet in the air in a rocket and coasted safely into the Bosporus. Hundred, if not thousands, died in similar efforts to get a little closer to heaven. It was a worldwide obsession.

A few generations later, I sat in an airport waiting for a delayed flight, an anonymous commuter in an irritated crowd. I closed the book and returned it to my briefcase, reflecting that my species' love affair with flying had cooled. Perhaps it was the long lines at the security checkpoints: there were new restrictions on liquids in carry-on bags, and passengers had to make their way through several gauntlets of barking men in starchy uniforms just to vie for seating. Perhaps it was the piercing tones over the intercom followed by announcements of further delays; perhaps it was the itch of the stale, sterile air, or the bizarre idea that somewhere out there there were people who wanted to fly planes into buildings with us inside them.

Once upon a time, orators declared that air travel would bring people together, erasing borders and prejudices to inaugurate a new era of universal amity and understanding; I reflected on this as my fellow passengers fused with cell phones, fastidiously avoiding eye contact with each other. Furturists had raved that the speed and brilliance of flight would inspire transcendent bliss; waiting on the runway, where the Wright brothers' hearts had pounded, my fellow passengers would flip idly through catalogs and pull down the shades to block out the sun. The challenge of flight had commanded the passions of the boldest and bravest of my ancestors; when our plane took off, after ignoring the droning safety presentation, their heirs would peer briefly out tiny double-plated windows at the carved-up landscape before settling back down to watch – a movie! Ten thousand generations had dreamed of flying and we needed movies to numb our boredom in the air!

Maybe flying was simply not that exciting, after all. Some long-sought miracles turn out to be letdowns, perhaps most do. Of course, this explanation didn't account for the fervor in Antoine de Saint Exupery's writing, or the forces that impelled him and others to keep flying into increasingly perilous situations until their luck ran out. Nor did it account for the experiences of people I knew myself: hadn't Chloe described stealing her uncle's hang glider as the most exhilarating experience of her youth?

The alternative was less readily apparent, and its implications were more dramatic. What if flying, as we know it, wasn't flying at all? Emotionally insulated from the adventure of getting into the air, physically isolated from the landscape below, deprived of any sensation of being airborne save a mild nausea, we might as well be crowding into the locker of an isolation tank. My fellow aeronauts would disembark at an airport identical to the one they had left, impatient to get on with their busy lives there was no longer even a pretense that they were part of anything glorious, that they had anything in common with the daredevils and voyagers of times past. Perhaps the shamans of prehistory and known more about flight than businessmen with their frequent flier miles ever could.

And if flying was not really flying, what about travel itself, or dining, sex, work, friendship, romance, life? What if they, too, were not themselves? everyone around me was staring blankly into television sets hanging from the ceiling. Some secrets are hidden in plain view.

Could it be that I had never lived? I had traveled, but everywhere I'd been people spoke my language, accepted my currency, affirmed my assumptions. I lived in rented apartments built and maintained by people I'd never met; I didn't know how to build a house, or even fix my own plumbing. I bought food products from a supermarket without any idea what was in them or where they came from; I didn't know what it was to hunt and kill an animal or rely on a garden for sustenance. I had donated to charities, but never seriously done anything to address injustice or even interact with the ones who suffered it. I had voted for politicians and signed petitions, but never organized anything in my community, never stopped a bulldozer or started a riot. I had dreams and aspirations, but it seem I'd watched more action movies on television than I'd ever had adventures in real life. There were things I loved doing, goals I hoped to achieve, but I'd spent a lot more time working to pay for that rent, food, charity, television.

I'd been reflecting on these questions for months before I'd arrived at the ticket counter, but the situation at Gate Ten cast them in sharp relief. I wanted so earnestly to live, whatever that meant, but I was cocooned in a society that seemed to make that impossible, that sold itself to its citizens on precisely the grounds that it made that impossible.

I was like everyone else there except I didn't have a mortgage, a family to feed, or a prescription drug habit to maintain. Perhaps I could find a way out. Of course, I had no idea what to do or where to go, all I had to go on was the vague notion that there must be something else out there. However I looked at it, certain facts of life seemed non-negotiable: without an income, for example, I imagined I would never ride in an airplane again unless I somehow got myself deported.

I considered that possibility. How many people can say they've been deported, anyway? Plenty, but not many from my social class. That was another kind of insulation, another layer of the cocoon.

Was I really desperate enough to dive off a cliff, knowing I could land somewhere or cease to exist? I couldn't deny that something stirred within me at the thought. What irony: the real flight my civilization offered held no attraction for me, but the proverbial leap into thin air made my pulse quicken. In making that leap, I could be an explorer like my ancestors, a pioneer like Abbas Ibn Firnas.

If I did, everyone I knew would accuse me of jettisoning myself from the world like a misguided Icarus. I would have to fight off the conviction, instilled in me since childhood, that those who do not play their parts in society are failures, parasites. On the other hand, if...

But at long last my flight had pulled into the gate. We all lined up dutifully to board in order of economic status. That plane was never going to alight in Bosporus or fly too close to the sun. If I wanted anything other than the future that was already written for me, I would have to strike out on my own.
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Old 09-23-2010, 07:23 PM
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Wow, Don't know what inspired that but it was beautiful, your an excellent writer
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Old 09-23-2010, 07:25 PM
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Wow, Don't know what inspired that but it was beautiful, your an excellent writer
Not mine, but thanks anyway
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Old 09-23-2010, 07:26 PM
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Not mine, but thanks anyway
Oh lol, No problem :p
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Old 09-23-2010, 07:30 PM
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True, so true. What the world offers you as "life" is merely a shell of what life could be. Real flight isn't done in the coach section of a 747, it's done behind the controls of a hang glider or small plane, where the experience is in your hands. Though it takes effort to learn how to fly, the experience is much richer in the end than simply flying commercial. The world might offer you a life that required little effort, but it is a sorry example of what life could be. All it takes is effort and strength.

What would you rather have?







or





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The Dreamer's Manifesto

Mike Malloy, a voice of reason in a world gone mad.

"You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling." - Inception

"Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy **** we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off." - Tyler Durden

Last edited by Tsyal Makto; 09-24-2010 at 03:41 AM.
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Old 09-23-2010, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsyal Makto View Post
True, so true. What the world offers you as "life" is merely a shell of what like could be. Real flight isn't done in the coach section of a 747, it's done behind the controls of a hang glider or small plane, where the experience is in your hands. Though it takes effort to learn how to fly, the experience is much richer in the end. The world might offer you a life that required little effort, but it is a sorry example of what life could be. All it takes is effort and strength.
I agree, I constantly catch myself staring at the clouds wondering what it would be like to slowly drift away with them into oblivion. Its really beautiful if you think about it, So peaceful and amazing.

For some reason it reminds me of Gundams and makes me want to fly around on an epic adventure to save the world lol
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Old 09-23-2010, 11:54 PM
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Oh, BTW Zenit, you should look into the movie "THX 1138." It's right up your alley.
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The Dreamer's Manifesto

Mike Malloy, a voice of reason in a world gone mad.

"You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling." - Inception

"Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy **** we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off." - Tyler Durden
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Old 09-24-2010, 01:23 AM
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Man, I'd love to learn to hang glide. That would be real flying. I find the "locker of an isolation tank" analogy to be all too true, though if I'm lucky enough to get a window seat anytime I'm in a plane that makes the flying experience a bit more real and enjoyable for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsyal Makto View Post
Oh, BTW Zenit, you should look into the movie "THX 1138." It's right up your alley.
Agreed, it's an astounding movie. I've personally been fascinated by it, and once I ended up discussing the ending in a presentation I had to give for a class I once took.






Last edited by Empty Glass; 09-24-2010 at 01:25 AM.
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Old 09-24-2010, 03:31 AM
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Flying is a great thing. It is great to experience when you are out in the air.

My dad has had a passion for flying ever since he was a kid. He made models, read the books, got his pilots license and learned everything there is to know about flying. You see a plane in the sky, you can count on him knowing what it is. He saved up and bought an ultralight years ago like the one below and said "Flying is the most fun you can have with your clothes on."
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