Going to France on Aer Lingus was a gas. Returning from France on Aer Lingus was, unfortunately, less gaseous. Or more, if I count my stomach. On our flight to, the plane was half empty. On our flight back, it was full of Irish moms who thought it was cute when their three or six year olds woke you up over the mid-Atlantic at what your body clock claimed was two o’clock a.m. It was like that.
In front of me, though, something interesting happened. Two guys sat down, and they quickly revealed themselves to be Bouvard and Pecuchet. The one, who I mentally nicknamed yeahyeahyeah for his habit of saying same when he allowed his seatmate to speak, began by recapping news events and quickly drifted into a soliloquy that lasted, I believe, for around three hours. He was obviously a Ted talk waiting to happen. His topics included his awesome college record, people he had met, the Spanish American war explained, how to invest, how Facebook is an awesome company, how to buy furniture, the nature of mathematics and intuition, and amazing facts you could cull from Wikipedia about ancient Greece. There wasn’t a conventional wisdom cliché that he didn’t leap at – from the fact that the Internet is about the “democratisation of knowledge” to the fact that our intuitions evolved before our mathematics did. It was as if he had swallowed the complete works of Malcolm Gladwell and was experiencing a bad case of hangover. His seatmate, who I nicknamed right right right for his habit of muttering this when yeahyeahyeah was on this or that spiel, was very impressed by the fount he found himself seated next to, and shared his own feelings about investment, buying furniture, the meaning of Trump, American foreign policy in the age of McKinley, and the whole evolution of life and mathematics conundrum. Yeahyeahyeah had one of those very male voices that cover all the crevices in audible space – he didn’t yell, but somehow his voice stuck out like a sore thumb (one that stuck itself in my ear) in the aircraft as we were all trying to find the kind of idiot movie or tv show that would lull away the tiresome hours. After this went on for literally hours, I began to develop a sort of admiration for yeahyeahyeah. Yes, 2017 will be a Trump imprinted disaster, but as long as there is a yeahyeahyeah around, it can be processed and made into an op ed; the world of cliché, mansplaining and sottise will endure. Florida may flood, and civil rights disappear, but Malcolm Gladwellism will reign, eternal, a Platonic form (Plato was born in ancient Athens, and form is one of his philosophical terms, which comes out of a story he told about a cave that proved that humans are shadows. It turns out that modern science has overturned this theory).
And so we came back to L’america.