My very first flight from Krakow to Warsaw as an eleven-year-old boy brought with itself a first disappointment: the world, when seen from an airplane window, did not look as promised. It did not have the toy-like quality I had been expecting. Cows were still cows; cars still cars, and houses still houses.
The description I had expected to see confirmed must have been made up by someone who has either never actually flown, or someone who tried to put into words what the world looked from 30000 feet to someone who had never flown.
I have tried to be near a window on most subsequent flights. And there have been many. I have traveled around the planet by many, many times by now.
Over the years I looked out of the window hoping to discover a new way, a non-toy-way to see and describe what I saw. And eventually, in some places, a certain visual poetry emerged. The poetic quality of the landscape became strongest for me on flights to and from China. The mountain landscapes of the Middle Kingdom appeared to be like some gigantic monochromatic ink drawings. And it semed to be their natural state, far from any human dwellings.
The the almost untouched landscape now stands in contrast to the primitively intelligent patterns created by humans. Projects driven by the individual selfishness have a different look than those driven by a larger desire for meta-order. The world is an interplay or differently aged layers, an incredibly complex arrangement of particles, on a planet that in itself is just a spec in the vastness of the universe, and yet also an illustration of it.
The greatest poetry still seems to be in the chaos and the order of the planet itself. In the very long-term interplay of elements not accelerated by micro needs of one greedy species.
“Untouched nature seen from an airplane window” is an oxymoron. When flying over the North Pole one time I had the strong feeling of not being in the right place by any means and any time. Yet the awesome quality of the melting ice is so graphic, and so brilliant, it truly amazes. And looking at the tree line when it eventually appears, then followed by the immense Siberian taiga, is also actually awesome, in the original sense of the word. The eyes can attempt to see, but only the soul can somehow begin to comprehend.
The ice will melt, the trees will give place to new trees, the plane will become a set of parts and materials, I will turn into the water and dust and so will we all. It is all happening at this very moment. At various speeds, but with complete certainty.
Beijing, April 2014