Thoughts from Terminal D
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about architecture. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about the way that manipulated physical space dictates our movement through it. If you enter a house, and you want to get from one room to another, the channels through which to do so are preordained. If you arrive in a city and want to get from midtown to downtown, your choices have pretty much been forced upon you. If you want to go to floor 34 of a skyscraper, options are inherently limited. As much as we value and tout our freedom, the most basic decisions about where, when, and how to negotiate space have trumped our mythical notion of freedom. Architecture is, in essence, a stealthy little tyrant. No wonder architects are so shamelessly arrogant.
As with physical space, so it goes with mental space. Although often harder to recognize, our intellectual and emotional lives are trapped in preexisting mazes every bit as dictatorial as a building or a metropolis. Plus, the more those roads are traveled, the more customary those routes become. When I came to this realization—years ago—I stopped regularly reading newspapers and other mainstream sources of public information. Instead, I sought out the intellectual world’s version of double-secret back roads and relatively unknown trap doors of knowledge and insight. Of course, over time, these too become routinized and dictatorial in their own ways, making alternative ways of living and thinking appear commonplace and complacent. Like early settlers in a new land, we must—to preserve intellectual dynamism and originality—seek new frontiers. No wonder journalists are so shamelessly arrogant.
Very few souls are willing to challenge these boundaries. As a result, internal and external architectures have entered a sort of conspiracy to prevent, or at least dramatically lesson, the prospects of real change, fundamental change, compassionate change. So much about life has been etched in stone. In ways we rarely appreciate, we’ve no choice, if we want to function in civil society, but to follow the paths set out before us. We might push against the edges, but that’s it. Otherwise, we have to drop out. This is why, I imagine, so many vegan activists are angry. I know it’s why I’m angry. Such are the thoughts that arise while hungry, stuck in an airport, and unable to find a single vegan option in terminal D of Dulles Airport.
Thank god for vegan beer.