Sunday, 9 August 2015
I know Linz is a city because I live in Birmingham, and I believe I see city form.
Can I describe Linz without knowing the German language?
I begin with the correspondence.
I remain aware of my presence in Linz no matter how extensive this correspondence, the quantity of pairings.
It is hard to establish anything at all, but I am not fooling myself. As far as I know.
I have not travelled all this way to be in the same city. What's the point in that?
I know Birmingham is a city because I live there.
I used to live in Belfast, and that was a city too. It was where I learnt of the city form.
Belfast is still a city, even after my departure.
Birmingham was a city before I got there.
Linz was a city before I got there.
Linz has had an airport for at least as long as it takes to build an airport and establish "airportness".
I have some faith in what some others tell me. Some of these tell me having faith in others is the fibre of humanity. A fibrous humanity is a goal.
Perhaps I have too much faith in what others tell me. Perhaps I have too little. It is hard to say with certainty. It is beyond me.
The importance of dust is that it establishes that the object on which it lies has existed before I have seen it for the first time. However, Linz airport is very clean.
The people who work in Linz airport can explain many of the facts associated with being in an airport, of being, in particular, in Linz airport. They are versed in "airportness", in "Linz airportness". They speak with a degree of authority. I should at least have some faith in something of what some of them say.
I make a guess (an educated guess?), this is not day one of Linz airport. It has established itself, at least earlier today, almost certainly before the plane took off from Birmingham airport.
Birmingham airport, Linz airport - that is one correspondence.
They correspond, but they are also different. I know they are different places. The plane did not just take off, circle Birmingham and then land again. (I know all about circling Birmingham, having circumnavigated the city on foot.) I watched the ground as we climbed away, and, although I lost sight of it as the plane disappeared into cloud, when we emerged again several hours later and our destination certainly looked like a city (it had city form) - it ticked many boxes - and in ways it looked like Birmingham, there were also many ways the destination most certainly did not look like Birmingham. As the plane descended further I could see cars driving on the right-hand side of the roads. There was also a whopping big river running through it. Birmingham's rivers do not impress anyone suspended in the air. Just these two observations affirmed that at least the flight had been, to a certain degree, value for money.
I had faith, I admit, that I had boarded a plane for Linz, and frankly, there was no noticeable reason why it should have landed anywhere else. No bad weather, no hijacking, no passengers took sick, no observable technical failures, no announcements from the captain to the contrary. In fact he stated quite clearly we were descending into Linz.
I took the captain's word for it. Although, I never actually saw the captain. The voice on the speaker stated he was the captain. He, in fact, announced, 'This is your captain speaking...' My captain? Temporarily I had a captain.
To be in the hands of such a man of authority, of such technical skill, of such professionalism, surely should inspire faith. If the captain says it is Linz, then it is Linz. However, after we passengers exited the aircraft, the captain's authority remained on board. On leaving the aircraft we stepped into post-modernism.
But what is Linz? What is Linz-ness?
Is there a conjunction of Linz-ness and Birmingham-ness?
Perhaps, here and now, I am that conjunction.
I brought some Birmingham-ness with me on the plane, embedded in my psyche like a stowaway. I hope to bring some Linz-ness back with me, hidden in a similar compartment. Perhaps I will declare at customs, 'I have nothing to declare but my Linz-ness!'
If I do not give myself over to madness, what words can be relied upon to decompress Linz-ness into a string of sufficient length as to resurrect the memories being formed as I wander the streets of Linz, if this is indeed the city of Linz, and if I ever make it out of the airport?
I have never made it out of several airports, namely that of the cities of Dubai, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. I have never actually stepped foot on actual Australian soil, only on Australian transit lounge floorboards, which is just not the same, nor run my fingers through Arabian sand. I have never burst through the bubble of the airports and into their cities, absorbing their individual city-ness and forming memories to be later decompressed from uttering their names. When the plane descended toward Sydney airport, I caught a glimpse of the Sydney Opera House with its unmistakable shape. A shape so unique that it inspired certainty. From that point on I firmly believed I was suspended in the air, hurtling through the sky, above the city of Sydney, even though I could clearly see cars driving on the left-hand side.
The ease with which misinformation can be contrived in a digital format worries me. It regularly keeps me awake at night. The faith which a computer requires in its user, is a little too much for my palate. For instance, as an object sways through compression and decompression, data floats away like the ash from burning paper. However, if I am prepared to make a leap of faith, I could go down the list of arrivals and departures on the digital monitors of "Linz airport", and tick off the cities in which I am not standing. This could provide the education in an educated guess.
So if I am prepared to make a leap of faith regarding the arrivals and departures board, why not go the whole hog and ask someone and believe them? Well... Where would it end?! If I were to go round believing people all the time I would end up without a shirt on my back; on my knees before God begging for esoteric solutions to practical problems; seeking consolation in the words of a priest; telephoning the numbers at the bottom of advertisements...
I close my eyes, take a deep breath, walk through the automatic doors, and ask a taxi driver to take me to the Cowboy Museum.