Trains of Thought
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XI. 03/04-07/04/17; reintermediation

En-route to Vienna and the Austrian stewardesses are dressed in red. Austrian airlines is behind the times: the service is professional and friendly, the uniforms are worn well, drinks are offered twice. The choice of snack is well-stated: “Sweet or salty?” It would be interesting to expand the palette: “sweet, sour, salty, bitter or umami?”

We pass a large OMV refinery (Raffinerie Schwechat).  For a moment it looks like a futuristic city; tall structures dotted with lights. I put my glasses back on.

Trees and open space and another impressive factory structure with red, white, red coloured chimneys.

The relationship between cloud and sky is inverted. The clouds dominate and present a negative, grey-bluish space. Within this space there are small white-blue shapes. At first glance it appears as if these shapes are clouds set in a grey-blue sky, but in fact they are glimpses of the sky through the clouds.

The taxi will be more expensive than expected. It’s a huge van, much to big for my suitcase. The taxi-rank manager shouted at passengers and drivers alike to increase the flow through the pick-up zone.

Closer to the centre: greenish water, leafy trees, bridges and monumental apartments. Then the view broadens out and the river branches and glass facades appear. A wide, three-laned one-way street, a statue of a rider who points towards a furniture shop on the other side of the road. A tram passes by. It is on its way to Friedrich Engels Platz.

During a tour of a factory the tour supervisor laments the decline of the expert worker. Workers used to be able to make any kind of needed part here, he says. Now that knowledge is disappearing. Another participant of the tour suggests that additive printing will solve that problem. The supervisor doesn’t respond. Later he reiterates his point: the factory used to make its own furniture and some of its own tools. Life is better when people build things themselves and are proud of what they produce, he suggests.

A walk through light morning rain over the Kennedy bridge. The canal has little water. Long traffic light sequences. Old-fashioned trams, some 50 years old.

An audience sits in rapt attention, hypnotised by a chain of memes floated into the room by an expert speaker. He illustrates his expertise by telling epics of startup warriors who disintermediate established giants with instrumented devices.

And Hector died like everyone else
He was in charge of the Trojans
But a spear found out the little patch of white
Between his collarbone and his throat
Just exactly where a man’s soul sits
Waiting for the mouth to open
He always knew it would happen…

Alice Oswald, Memorial

Vienna is a bastion of the cigarette. Smoking indoors is common. Cigarette smell is infused into the air of every enclosed space. A truck full of asphalt rumbles by and the sweet smell of the black stone is a welcome relief from the stale cigarette smoke.

The airport train is green, the staff wears the same colour cheerfully. The landscape is grass, leaves, concrete: greens and greys, allotments and back-gardens, athletic fields and agricultural fields, small parks and bank-side leafy walkways.

Ground staff damage the plane I am on: with a cable still attached to both the plane and their vehicle, they drive off, ripping out a chunk of the plane’s technical flesh.

A few hours later, farmland stretches into the horizon as a sea of young, green shoots. From the plane it looks like a landscape painting in the style of Rothko: squares of green and grey with islands and boundaries of electric illumination.

The sunset is unrealistic and it would never be interesting to look at it outside of its natural setting: an inverted traffic light emerging from the blue: rich dark blue to glowing light blue, then a strip of green, yellow and orange into a rich dark red drowning into the edge of the cloud cover.

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