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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Magic Carpet Flight Manual

**addition to post: the programme is now available to listen to online or download here**

The name of this programme alone makes me want to listen to it. The Magic Carpet Flight Manual will air online and on the BBC World Service this Friday (times here):

Web-dreaming one day, writer Cathy FitzGerald stumbled on a site belonging to a museum in Iran. It purported to tell the "true history" of the flying carpet and detailed its many uses – military, as a means of aerial attack; commercial, as a vehicle for the transport of goods; and cultural, as a device to help readers in the library at Alexandria reach the high books. The article appeared across the web, rarely with any caveat or credit.

In search of a "real" flying carpet, Cathy tracks down the article's author, Azhar Abidi, who helps her separate carpet fiction from carpet fact. She goes on to meet a physicist working on levitation in the quantum world, and a Japanese astronaut who took a carpet ride in space.

Cathy FitzGerald explores the past, present, and future of the magic carpet and wonders what our desire to defy gravity tells us about ourselves.

from the BBC website

I love the term 'web-dreaming', it sounds so much more inspirational and productive than the haphazard, frantic click-throughs I too often indulge in. Web-hunting, web-scrounging, web-sifting, web-tunnelling all come more easily to my mind, but from now on I will only web-dream. Funnily enough I came across the peculiar museum website mentioned a while ago whilst researching magic carpets for a previous carpet post.

The author of the fictional history of the carpet Azhar Abidi is a writer, born and raised in Pakistan, who now lives in Australia (thanks to Matt at Books and Adventures for the link to his blog). Marina Warner has also been interviewed for the programme and her fascinating podcast on magic carpets, which is well worth listening to, is still available online here.

Photograph by churl CC license: some rights reserved.

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