A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

An airport is a wonderful thing

Marshall (November, 1949, age 38).  An airport is a wonderful thing

Visually that is.  Last night I saw a friend off on the plane to New York, which left from Malton Airport.  There is something grand about an airport especially at twilight when there’s just enough light to see but not so much as to take away the sky.    

Me (October 2009, age 57).  An airport is a horrible thing

The beginning to James Hilton’s Lost Horizon contains a magical scene in which three old school friends are having a party at Berlin’s Tempelhof International Airport.  They talk, drink, and watch the big planes land as the sky turns from blue to black.  Today such a scene is impossible to imagine.  Since 9/11 the airports of the world have become increasingly unpleasant places to be without it seems becoming significantly more secure.  The eye is forced to watch endless TV.  The ear is forced to listen to endless commentary on the need to watch your luggage.  The body is groped and scanned.  Flights are more costly, take longer, and are less comfortable.  Whenever possible I try not to fly. 

Is there a silver lining to the modern airport?  Can the past be recovered?   

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

The Letters of Marshall McLuhan.  Selected and edited by Matie Molinaro, Corinne McLuhan, and William Toye. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 207.

James Hilton. Lost Horizon. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1933.  (Or watch Frank Capra’s 1937 film-version of the book, with the same title, starring Ronald Colman and Jane Wyatt)

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