The consistent use of a recognizable musical theme at the outset of each installment of a television mini- series, is the most commonly employed technique, to restore the viewer’s attention and recollection, of the genre and narrative, as well as the personalties appearing in the series. The (” Pavlovian”) association of the nuanced musical theme, with the contextual presentation of the narrative, is virtually instantaneous, returning the mind-set of the viewer to a recollection of the past installments of the ongoing series.
In metaphorical similarity to such associative dynamic, we seem to uniformly experience an automatic and identical response to each act of boarding an airplane, amounting to an enlarged, self-awareness, almost bordering on an out-of-body experience.
As we, uncomfortably reach around to locate the two ends, to mandatorily snap on on the seat belt, we are privileged to hear an unsettling, smarmy welcome from the Captain, not entirely unlike some mid-western take on the warmly unctuous, menacing welcome by Igor, to Castle Frankenstein. Next, we experience another robotic, extra-terrestrial welcome from the chief flight attendant, accompanied by her emotionless lecture, concerning the proper etiquette to be observed by travelers, should the plane happen to ditch into the Atlantic Ocean.
Admittedly, we travel by air no more than once or twice per year, yet in each such experience, the out-of-body type self- awareness develops, particularly noticed, as we attain the distance of 33,000 feet of airspace, between the soles of our shoes and the surface of the planet, below. The hypnotic illusion seems, to effectively redact all recall of our complex, multi-faceted and busy life on terra- firma, notwithstanding, the relatively brief nature of the flight; apparently, Dr. Pavlov has rung the determinant bell.
The hypnotic episode is exacerbated by the relative silence of the large number of belted, and effectively incarcerated, fellow passengers, the subdued lighting and the sustained, incessant, soft drone of the engines. Our experience, despite its “ground hog” familiar recurrence, manifests itself in a state of mind, while not fearful, is somehow mono-focused on a “twilight zone” existence, solely confined to perceived occurrences taking place relative to the flight of the airplane.
Let no reductive thinker, blithely, conclude, that on some unannounced level, we have any fear of airplane travel. Admittedly, we are often aware that there is a lot of airspace between the soles of our moccasins and the ground. However, we are well reassured by the scientific basis of flight; the jet engines producing greater pressure below the airplane, than that above it, hence the resultant lift. We are further reassured that there are some persons in command, experienced and capable of so finessing the lift, that we arrive at the pre-determined destination; and who, additionally, have the recognized skill set and experience to guide our airborne leviathan to a balletic return to the airfield.
The out- of body sense of reality, seems to dissipate upon successfully surviving the exit from the airplane, together with impatient fellow passengers; and then, completely, after enduring the officious administrative tedium, no doubt constituting their raison d’etre.
So, at last, we have returned to Mother Earth, and, relative to our theme, she has returned to us. It almost seems as if we have acquired an alternate personality from our other self, the one who experiences flying in airplanes.
In the diligent quest of further enlightenment regarding the academic science of aeronautics, we have resolved to consult, on the didactic subject of aeronautic”lift,” a true expert in the field, one of our local Canadian geese.