Philosophy of the Arts


Personal vacuity on airports

On the airport nobody knows you. That means that nobody you see there manages whatever part of your self. You are in-between persons, so to speak. Your self is vacuous because you are in a no-network assembly of persons. They, too, are in-between persons. This seems to me the core of this strange feeling of liberty one gets at in-between places such as airports and railway stations.

The shock came when upon arriving at the railway platform at our local airport, an acquaintance (not exactly a friend) passed me by, and suddenly thoughts worked my mind of how to greet her, whether I wanted to talk to her, which of my selves was mobilised (in me!) by her presence (the one linked to and built in the many contexts we have shared).

It then dawned on me that this was something Sartre had overlooked when he treated every person whoever who would enter the scene in the park as a contender for his absolute freedom. I definitely think that we should make a deep distinction between persons one is not acquainted with (as they don’t activate a peculiar self in you) and persons one is.

Disclaimer: Of course, this won’t go for people travelling in groups.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. 2003 (1956)b. “The Look.” In Being and Nothingness. An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology, 276–325. Translated by Hazel E. Barnes. New York and London: Routledge.

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