Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Trains, names, numbers and life

The shot was taken from a platform seat in Fürth metro. I modified it a little because it was nearly monochrome and I wanted the roof to stand out. But what symbolism should I employ? Seats, roofs, holes and maps - there's a lot to chose from. The train itself is recent addition to symbolism and the received opinion is that certain structures apply - structures of timetables, regulations and authority. I take a different view. Every train has a number and attached to that is a departure time (from somewhere). The train is always called strictly by it's departure time, not the actual time it left. For example, a train might be the 3.20 from Fürth and so it remains even if it's late. The name of the train contains the nominal time. Now that may be a semiotic point, but theory is grey and green is the tree of life. Isn't it a wonderful feeling when you're satisfied you are on the right train? You look at your watch and hear the guard's whistle blow. The wheels screech and very slowly the train moves off. It's not long before it picks up speed and begins to glide across the city. The destination station is set - but of course it can and occasionally does change. Instead of arriving at our chosen station, we find ourselves somewhere else and have to make new arrangements for our final destination. It doesn't matter where the train ends up. It's still the 3.20 that left from Fürth.And so it is with people. Our date of birth, a number, is the one we have to carry. A name can always be changed but never your date of birth. That's the time you left on your journey. You know where and when you departed but the destination is up to you.