Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Heathrow Airport: Mind-Blowingly Vast

Originally posted on June 29, 2012

A few days ago we came home from a trip to England—to the British Psychodrama Association’s annual conference where Allee and I presented the keynote workshop—and again came through Heathrow Airport. This blog is about the recognition that Heathrow is not only the 4th busiest airport in the world, but the first ranked in the number of international flights. What I want to note is not the facts but the aesthetic impression of spectacle.

Heathrow Airport is a monumental, awe-inspiringly vast and complex organism. I feel like a hick from the country who just came to the city for the first time, and if this were historical, perhaps on a religious pilgrimage. It’s not just the architecture, which is unimpressive in structure, but impressive in “size”; it’s also the welter of shops and service personnel of all kinds helping the overall phenomenon to happen. The variety of roles to be played is amazing. Is this what it felt like for a sick country person to visit the healing temple of Aesculapius at Epidarus around 2500 years ago? Or to travel to Jerusalem around the same time to sacrifice at Solomon’s great temple? I’ll bet there were more than a few times when the sheer spectacle of pomp at the courts of Maharajas and Pharaohs, or the Courts of Kings or Rituals of Middle-American Religions were correspondingly awe-inspiring.

The “religion” of Heathrow is not from tradition or dogma, but belongs to the complex of modern attitudes that serve liberty and big, big business. (Even though theoretically communist, China also has one of the biggest airports!) Might these also be expressions of expanding Spirit? All serves the mind-bending phenomenon of humans being granted the capacity to fly. (Folks get used to this miracle: It’s all just machinery. But consider also the synergy of multiple systems and roles within systems and people to play those roles—the whole shebang—that’s the point!) Another “sacred” institution: We have gotten organized enough to put an astronaut on the moon!

Mind-stretching also cropped up as on the way over the Atlantic Ocean on a jet plane I watched a documentary that describe the mind-blowingly vast and complicated machines built to in turn build the stadiums and grounds for the 2010 summer Olympic Games in London. Wowsie woozie is all I can say. (There’s a peculiar pleasure, an aesthetic taste, at expanding your mind to the point of mild overwhelm. It’s not forced on you—which would be un-pleasant indeed, but rather you take it to the limit and stop when it feels as if it’s “too much.”

So back to Heathrow Airport: There were incredibly long corridors that led to a room when one reclaimed luggage; and then traveled long corridors to the going-through customs room; and then traveled through long corridors to the room or place —depending on whether your getting on the plane or off, or changing… or getting to the bus… it was the nightmare squared, especially if one is a bit alzheimeroid. Allee and I did fine, working as a team, but I wouldn’t recommend the ordeal to any Winnie-the-Pooh bears of little brain. For us it was more of a whoosh obstacle course that was a bit exhilarating and funny—but we were aware there would be a time when such an ordeal would be not-fun and too much.

Going out through Heathrow we went through a dream-scape of Duty-Free shops—so big, so varied, bigger than any I’d encountered in the past. Need I say it’s all been built-up and expanded significantly since I was out there before? Also, being with Allee gave me just enough time to de-focus my finding my way through this maze and marvel at the aesthetic complexity of it all! (And that was just one of several terminals!)

Might some of these international airport complexes, complex highway systems, computer “cloud” storage networks and buildings, and other vast projects quickly become the “cathedrals” and marvels of our era?

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