Simulacra: The New Old in place of the Same Old
New trip; same old routine. International flight. Packed like sardines. Ten and a-half hours to get from there to here – wherever that may be. No matter where it is, it always seems to take ten – minimum – to get delivered to any international destination. Is it just me? A function of that little archapelago in the Pacific that I make a habit of inhabiting. Or is it true for you, too? No matter where you reside.
Okay. So, how about you? Does this ever happen to you, as well? . . .
Mid-flight, an unscheduled nod-off, only to wake unexpectedly nine minutes later; face flush against the spiny shoulder of the Indian teen to your left. A trace of spittle rolling from your lips, dribbling now along his bicep.
You’re in that situation – you find yourself in the throes of a dilemma, of sorts. Unsure as to whether you should wipe off your glistening trail – thereby possibly alerting the lad of your unintentional incursion onto his person -- or simply pretend that you had no role in the trickle of spit now slithering down his sleeve.
If you’re like me, you abruptly rise to head to the head. Maybe time and distance will solve all crises, you kid yourself.
Of course, you know all the while that that solution rarely works in the real world. Even if it does bring temporary relief. You know -- like this trip you are taking ten hours to anywhere; just to get away. It'll only be a week, but still . . .
So you engage in the same old (travel) routine – to break the (everyday) routine. Which is (or ought to be) what travel is all about.
Anyway, what travel is about right here, right now is that for these ten hours at least, this is not the real world. It is simulated stuff – Baudrillard’s simulacra; that which stands for what is not. In this case we are talking about a magical mechanical machine that humans step inside in one place at Time One then march out off in another, at Time Two, never actually going anywhere, but finding themselves somewhere else, nonetheless. A new truth in the stead of the old.
I’m thinking of The Fly here, although I suppose H.G. Wells would have come first to mind in a different age (a different machine!). David Hedison was my favorite mad flyantist, but I suppose a different generation would better recall Jeff Goldblum. Another generation entirely probably doesn’t know either and is wondering what the hell I’m dithering on about.
L.A. my friend. Hollywood. Is what I'm getting at. Time travel. Simulation. The land of the forever make-believe and put on. The illusory space of what is from the what is not. The fictitious all-consuming reality before the Internet; today's happening place of non-space; a contrivance of forever it-could-be-true.
Well, if you already hadn't discerned, it’s get away day for me. A new old for me, hopefully that won't be transformed into a same old for you.
To make sure that that becomes so, let me catch some real rest – hopefully sans salivatory somnambulance – and see whether I can come up with some travel insights that won't end up being mere simulacra: words in place of the ones that have just come before, yet signifying a slim nothing.
Well, there's always hope in life.