By David Pascoe
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Extra info for Airspaces
It seems that, because such a place abolished the ordinariness of landscape, undermined the authority of the status quo, and flattened aesthetics, the aerodrome was somehow complicit in this destabilization of the identity of self and other. Indeed, by naming it ‘camp d’aviation’, Proust here queried its very status, suggesting it was impermanent; and yet on so many occasions in his fiction, the place offered itself as nothing less than the platform from which his own aesthetic could take off. In the second novel of his sequence, A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, Proust discusses Bergotte, a successful writer of humble origin, and observes that: To move in the winds it is not necessary to have the most powerful of motors, but a motor which, instead of continuing to run along the earth’s surface, along the horizontal which it began by following, intersects with a vertical line, and so is capable of converting its speed into lifting power.
Oddly enough, however, for Ballard, the central point of Britain’s main airport does not lie within the hundreds of departure lounges themselves, nor its runways, nor its control tower; instead it is manifested in the Heathrow Hilton, designed by Michael Manser in 1986, which Ballard terms ‘the most inspiring building in England today … its vast atrium resembl[ing] a planetarium in the way that it salutes the skies above its roof’. In typically skewed fashion, Ballard celebrates an amenity from whose glazed areas the gazer can observe the machines orbiting within airspace, or, like Vaughan in Crash, watch the stars passing through.
Frantz suggested, simply, that one might consist of ‘a hangar at the end of a runway: Ziguinchor [in Senegal], say, with the delighted children surrounding an old DC-3 at the end of the tarmac’; Maspero travelled farther afield, suggesting ‘Murmansk or a hut in the Far North in the midnight sun’ before returning to Paris and settling on Orly: Orly in its first year – was it 1963? 48 Within a year the airport had, much to the surprise of the authorities, become one of the biggest attractions in Paris; by 1964 it was receiving three million visitors a year, making it more popular than the Palais de Versailles.
Airspaces by David Pascoe