Dreamliner Dreams

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.

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2 thoughts on “Dreamliner Dreams

  1. If the mystical life is to be the center of all that we do and all that we think and all that we write, then what are we to do with these dreams of technology that we share with the world?

  2. Awright.

    First of all–welcome back. I know you ain’t been gone, but you have been silent and I just want to express that I welcome your comment and feel a real and keen joy to see it there, no lie.

    Second of all I have been reading Cormac McCarthy and I can’t help but think of Streblows because that’s what these young remarkable guys in his novels remind me of. So I start talking like they do in his novels which may sound strange if you ain’t heard it. You may start thinking I’m talking like they do in William Faulkner because of the ain’ts but it’s more Texas which ain’t nothing to do with the South and I entirely respect and admire. Texas, like half of Minnesota, is the West and that is entirely more all-right than the South against which I have no grudges either.

    Third, I don’t necessarily think the mystical life is to be the center of all we do and all that we think or even all that we write just because the quotation is up there on the headboard of my blog, but old William B. Yeats did think so and I’m ok with him thinking that and I do think sometimes when I’m trying to figure out the underlying thing I’m trying to get at that that may be the case with me but I just ain’t sure yet.

    Which brings me to the fourth which is to say that I’m not sure technology is something that has to be viewed as incompatible or alien with the mystical life. Dreaming is mystical, after all; or is it your personal position that it somehow aint? (I’m toying with the personal position that apostrophe’s in aints aint no use whatsoever.) Because I have six chapters or more on my great Science Fiction work with the main character being a dude called October which I named in honor of Ray Bradbury’s excellent story “The October Country” which is about a dude in space having mystical experiences (mine, that is) or what have you. I see no reason why the limited wonder of technology which I recognize and acknowledge as a legitimate sort of wonder, or if you will a type of magic in the sense of power over stuff that we can do but anyway a sure type of wonder which I do not despise if I do not elevate it beyond certain limits be incompatible with things which give us far greater wonder. If I am not sadly mistook it was A.W. Tozer who in a sermon I was listening to pre-recorded on technological means of yesteryear put his finger on the real instinct for science fiction when he said men long for rockets and outer space because they’re looking for wonder. True Dreamliner there, if you ask me. And so they are–men who dream science fiction. Which brings me back to the mystical life which is the search for wonder. It is a romanticism of the best sort which is why Lewis can do what he does in the Space Trilogy, Tolkien in his fantasy trilogy, and Charles Williams with the a genre which could not entirely inaccurately be classified as horror. Wonder, romanticism, the mystical life: it’s all one to me under certain conditions. The throbbing core of things, essences, ultimate reality. It is speculative fiction and all about wonder and dreams of technological possibilities as means to the ends of wonder is not entirely in disaccord with.

    And in the fifth place, what is this about the world? I reckon you probably think that the mystical life is about union with God, and you would not be mistook. But in the depths of all what we most desire legitimately is the author of all things. We only really have a desire for him broken into all the facets and veins and so all the wonder we pursue must lead there eventually. Whether it is wonder at the human body, at the heavenly bodies, or bodies hurtling through the heavens however propelled–which aint really the point of what I was saying above but will still stand. Legitimate desire, you understand. So I think the legitimate wonder of the scientist is a hunger for God. Legitimate inquiry into how the world works is a desire to know something about God, however unacknowledged or suppressed that fact may be by the persons doing the inquiring. Which I reckon is to say something not altogether unlike what old W.B. Yeats is quoted on above which maybe I agree with more than I let on and even enough for somebody to take it as a statement of universal fact which honestly it was not originally intended to be.

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