Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Early Experiments in Flight

I don't have much time to write this because I'm supposed to be trying for the millionth time to decipher Derrida... but I just can't help but pause to tell the Internet that one of my best friends married a real swell guy this weekend, which meant that I got to see many of my oldest and dearest friends all at once, and my heart is still so full of love for and from them that I feel I'm not the person I was when I arrived in the Quad City airport last Thursday night.

In my head I'm beginning to sketch out a poem for everyone that includes the Mississippi River and the Tarot deck's Ten of Cups. It also includes an image that I've been thinking about a lot lately, which is this photo of one of the Wright brothers during a practice flight:

I've seen this image or versions of it many times (American corporations love a good Wright bros reference), but it wasn't until last Thanksgiving, when my dad and sister were describing their trip to Kitty Hawk, that I realized the photo's key documented weirdness: during these early, endless test flights, the brothers were flying facedown, parallel to the ground (often only a few feet from the ground), on their stomachs. In fact, my sister pointed out, they were not only supporting themselves on their stomachs, but steering with them as well, because the main mechanism that altered the movement of the plane was not controlled by their hands but by their pelvis.

All hilarious jokes about "pelvic (aeronautical) thrust" aside, I have been thinking about this strange pair of fact and image—about learning to fly with your gut—for a long time. And I would like to offer it up now to all of my beloved, fellow 20-something friends as we circle up and raise our whiskey shots and slowly press forward together into adulthood. I really think we can do it, guys. Love you.


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