CONTEMPORARY AIR TRAVEL HAS replaced the individual’s instinctive sense of danger with the fiction that nothing could be more natural than being propelled thousands of feet above the earth at several hundred miles an hour. At takeoff, one respectfully lowers one’s reading material, muses for an instant, perhaps, on the miracle of aerodynamics, then slips gratefully back into a state of prolonged denial. Sometimes, if the landing is particularly smooth (or bumpy), a flurry of applause breaks out, effectively transforming passengers into audience, and pilots into seasoned old show-biz pros. Once the seat-belt sign goes off, the sleight-of-hand is complete: we shuffle on to our respective destinations, our collective experience of impending death displaced by the meaningless urgency of collecting our luggage.

A similar sort of denial appears in the art world, where a campaign has been underway

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