Friday, April 28, 2006

Anthony Lane on flying Debonair

According to the New Yorker, there are good journeys: these are the kind that you take when you hop around Europe by air or drive in the car across America. I have to disagree, these are both nauseating in their own way. See my review of War of the Worlds. And then there are bad journeys: when you eat your family or are plunged, by the ravages of global capitalism, into icy cold waters to your death.

I didn't have the patience to read the whole Anthony Lane thing on cheap European airfare, annoyingly titled High and Low, but I skipped around and found this, near the end,

"Before one Ryanair excursion, I actually made and packed my own sandwiches, like a little old lady on a slow, provincial French train. This forward planning was roundly jeered by my fellow passangers as the action of a tightwad, yet there was no mistaking the smack of licked lips around me as I unwrapped my treasure; this turned into rabid frothing when we arrived, at ten past two, in a small, well-preserved Italian town - so well preserved that it stopped serving lunch at two o'clock."

Call me crazy, but I'd rather be that little old lady, sandwiches in hand, on the train, which would leave me a good deal closer to the centro of that Italian town, and its tagliatelle ai fungi than an airplane. Besides, they let you BYOB on the train, and cake too. This bit about eating is followed by,

"And, given the centuries of ethnic attrition, religious abrasion, and bloodily contested borders that make up the history of the Continent, do Europeans realize how blessed they are in the hops and skips that now allow them, for the cost of a T-shirt, to escape without censure from one country to the next? To have moved from the bleakness of sixty years ago, when millions of the dispossessed formed the floating detritus of the Second World War, to a time in which, as Michael O'Leary told me, planeloads of Danes and Norwegians merrily fly to England just for a soccer match may sound like a trivial change, but of such trivia is our freedom composed."

Actually, sir, it doesn't sound like a trivial change, but rather a trivialization of significant economic and political change. So if Europe had had cheap airfares during WWII Walter Benjamin would have been alive today?

However, the nausea induced by such vertiginous thinking did remind me of the time I woke up in an airport in Spain to see a sign identifying the counter for an airline called, I swear, Debonair.

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