A Week at the Airport (Vintage International Original) by By (photographer) Richard Baker By (author) Alain de Botton

By By (photographer) Richard Baker By (author) Alain de Botton

From the bestselling writer of The artwork of commute comes a wittily interesting exploration of the unusual "non-place" that he believes is the inventive middle of our civilization.Given unparalleled entry to at least one of the world’s busiest airports as a “writer-in-residence,” Alain de Botton discovered it to be a exhibit for lots of of the most important crosscurrents of the fashionable world—from our religion in expertise to our destruction of nature, from our worldwide interconnectedness to our romanticizing of the unique. He met tourists from all over the place and spoke with each person from luggage handlers to pilots to the airport chaplain. Weaving jointly those conversations and his personal observations—of every little thing from the poetry of room carrier menus to the eerie silence in the midst of the runway at midnight—de Botton has produced a unprecedented meditation on a spot that the majority people by no means decelerate adequate to determine sincerely. Lavishly illustrated in colour by way of popular photographer Richard Baker, per week on the Airport finds the airport in all its turbulence and soullessness and—yes—even good looks.

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Our capacity to derive pleasure from aesthetic or material goods seems critically dependent on our first satisfying a more important range of emotional and psychological needs, among them those for understanding, compassion and respect. We cannot enjoy palm trees and azure pools if a relationship to which we are committed has abruptly revealed itself to be suffused with incomprehension and resentment. There is a painful contrast between the enormous objective projects that we set in train, at incalculable financial and environmental cost – the construction of terminals, of runways and of wide-bodied aircraft – and the subjective psychological knots that undermine their use.

I thought of impatient ancient Greek statesmen who had once spent their war spoils building temples to Athena and ruthless Renaissance noblemen who had blithely commissioned delicate frescoes in honour of spring. Besides, and more prosaically, technological changes seemed to be drawing a curtain on a long and blessed interlude in which writers had been able to survive by selling their works to a wider public, threatening a renewed condition of anxious dependence on the largesse of individual sponsors.

My employer had ordered me to remain within the larger perimeter of the airport for the duration of my seven-day stay and had accordingly provided me with a selection of vouchers from the terminal’s restaurants as well as authorisation to order two evening meals from the hotel. There can be few literary works in any language as poetic as a room-service menu. The autumn blast Blows along the stones On Mount Asama Even these lines by Matsuo Bashō, who brought the haiku form to its mature perfection in the Edo era in Japan, seemed flat and unevocative next to the verse composed by the anonymous master at work somewhere within the Sofitel’s catering operation: Delicate field greens with sun-dried cranberries, Poached pears, Gorgonzola cheese And candied walnuts in a Zinfandel vinaigrette I reflected on the difficulty faced by the kitchen of correctly interpreting the likelihood of selling some of the remoter items of the menu: how many out of the guests in the lift industry, for example, might be tempted by the ‘Atlantic snapper, enhanced with lemon pepper seasoning atop a chunky mango relish’, or by the always mysterious and somewhat melancholy-sounding ‘Chef’s soup of the day’.

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