For ordinary people, airplane pilots are living gods. While each passenger sips his tomato juice or his glass of champagne in economy or business class, he, hidden from view, holds with a disconcerting ease their lives in the hands.
He remains invisible most of the time, hidden in this new Saint-des-Saints which is the cockpit. Almost miraculously, and in a very ritualized way, he appears, with his demi-god or consort, the co-pilot, at the moment of embarkation and disembarkation, these alpha and omega of the ritual of the air. It is also the only moment where one can try to seize his physical aspect close to the human. But he slips quickly to the look, to return to the holiest part of the cabin.
The very positioning of all passengers obeys the rules of sacredness. For the most summer classes, the least privileged, a complete distance. A total loss of physical contact with him. On the other hand, for those who have both financial and statutory means (it is a kind of secret society, recognizable by this individual physical mark: the loyalty card, not a subjection but rather a privilege), a proximity is offered, comparable to that of the Levites in the temple of Solomon.
Sometimes, the deity expresses himself, dispensing confused words to his faithful in this strange and supernatural topos which is between earth and heaven; his verbiage is in natural language and in English (the sacred language). And when the “captain is speaking”, the world stops, the Earth stops spinning, hostesses (these anti-Vestals – in the sense that virginity is the opposite of their profession of faith – of the kingdom of heaven) suspend their stereotyped gestures, the passengers are silent in a religious listening.
The captain does miracles: he crosses the turbulence zones without any sequelae, he gives the gas or makes a touch-and-go at the end of the runway, and even (and above all) he succeeds in flying for hours this monster brazen is his mount (Airbus or Boeing, as he travels to the Levant or the West).
Like all divinity, he is a sexopath; in this case, his virility is increased tenfold, and it is almost a sacred duty to mate at each stop with his priestesses (the hostesses) whose liturgical clothing is only for the purpose of maintaining the desire and limbic reproductive drives. This precise moment of the ritual is called “getting laid in the air”.
Philippe Charlier, MD, PhD, LittD, is a forensic practitioner and anthropologist. He works on representations of the human bodies, and rituals related to diseases and death. He loves words, and more.