23 August, 2015

The Glory of the Rails by Tony Judt | The New York Review of Books

The Glory of the Rails by Tony Judt | The New York Review of Books: "It is hard today to convey the significance and implications of the timetable, which first appeared in the early 1840s: for the organization of the railways themselves, of course, but also for the daily lives of everyone else. The pre-modern world was space-bound; its modern successor, time-bound. The transition took place in the middle decades of the nineteenth century and with remarkable speed, accompanied by the ubiquitous station clock: on prominent, specially constructed towers at all major stations, inside every station booking hall, on platforms, and (in the pocket form) in the possession of railway employees. Everything that came after—the establishment of nationally and internationally agreed time zones; factory time clocks; the ubiquity of the wristwatch; time schedules for buses, ferries, and planes, for radio and television programs; school timetables; and much else—merely followed suit. Railways were proud of the indomitable place of trains in the organization and command of time—see Gabriel Ferrer’s painted ceiling (1899) in the dining room of the Gare (now Musée) d’Orsay: an “Allegory on Time” reminding diners that their trains will not wait for dessert.


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