We are hurtling through the air in a metal pod. Outside the pod is the screaming cold, nothing to stand on, nowhere to live. Inside, a little darkened movie theater, strewn with plastic cups, crumpled snack packets. Some passengers sleep, some talk quietly, some read or leaf through glossy catalogs. Sometimes children cry, and everyone gets edgy, remembering we’re trapped, we can’t leave. Trapped here inside our own convenience, our desire to cover distance without doing work. It’s such a powerful desire that combined with our ability to build machines, it reorganizes the universe. Instead of a mystical whole, a timeless, immense continuum before which we can only bow in awe, the universe becomes fragmented, a momentary flotilla of hermetic bubbles made of steel and plastic. The ancient law that binds us to everything else is broken, or appears broken, and this is a trivial thing, completely trivial. What’s more important is that we get to do what we want, when we want to, more or less.

Here we are flying—flying! And the experience is one of perverse mediocrity, of physical immobility, in fact. In order to make the universe do what we want, we must seal ourselves off from it, create our own artificial universes, drain the last, awesome notes of the Music that inspires fear and wonder from the air inside our pods and replace it with patter and static.