You may wonder why my attention is called by the Boeing 787.
Well, for one, I’ve always liked jet airplanes. In the 80’s it was the loud 727s overhead in Mexico City. The cattle car 757s, the standard and now mostly decrepit 737s, the comfortable 767s and the elusive (I’ve never been in one yet and only know the 777 are mostly for cargo) 747s (of which I built a model) interested me. Especially before I had many memories of modern flying and airports, it seemed wonderful to be in an airplane. Now I’m just happy if it’s an A320 and I can watch vapor pouring out the vents.
And then there’s the gadgety side of it. We all like gadgets–at least an awful lot of us do. I moderate my intake but the whole thing is interesting. And this Dreamliner seems a real gadget (along with the A380 and almost anything that has electricity somewhere in its functioning that is marketed nowadays).
I think of it in connection with these two facts of technology and civilization: the trireme and the Stradivarius violin. Both of them are products of a civilization which we no longer have. We know this because we can no longer produce these two artifacts. It tells me that we sacrifice certain things to advance in other areas; as if the light of our civilization casts a pool of light with a limited reach.
What does the Dreamliner tell me? It is so bogged down in problems and issues it suggests to me we have dreamed beyond our ability to produce. That we have reached the end somehow, or are walking where the light is dim. Maybe with the Dreamliner we haven’t (let them overcome the problems and one day laught at them), but there is the suggestion of the possibility: we can spend ourselves out, or we can run into a limit–the limits of technology or, more compelling, the ideals of our civilization (a kind of anti-singularity). Maybe there is a certain amount, or maybe the light is just not holding forth as much. I can understand how it beckons the imagination.