online: 20 december 2003

20 december 2003 seeds of the future

11:05 In a train.

Moving westward, the direction preferred by Henry David Thoreau, by myself (I come from the western coast), by the apparent direction of the sun and of the overtaking night.

Goods yards, long trains of containers - few know what they contain... Grey sky, persistent rain, the suburbia that is to me so dispiriting... The smoothness of the ride on continuous welded rails, abandoned stations, windowless factories and warehouses, bare trees, a photograph in someone's newspaper of an exploratory robot that is coasting towards Mars (it's surrounded by flames, presumably lit by friction with the Martian atmosphere)...

In the train there is are leaflets describing emergency procedure - 'do not remove' (the leaflet)... If you are in immediate danger remain on the train, or if necessary move to another coach, or else leave by a door and emergency ladder (exit backwards), or break a window with the little hammer supplied, etc, etc... And now a voice tells us to desist from using mobile phones unless in a designated carriage...

Are trains less safe than they were?... is the world more or less secret than it was?... or are we, collectively, more stupid?

But these are all signs and seeds of a new future... I suppose every moment is a seed of many other moments but only some materialise - those that resonate sufficiently in minds become new culture, become 'the future'.

It's not a thing, it's a continuous event, there is no script, it does not exist before it happens (despite enormous efforts in think tanks and outside them, among experts, and in all our lives as we try to influence, or else let happen, whatever does).

On the return journey I was shocked, even frightened, by a high speed train (150-200kph?) passing on a track within a metre of people standing on the platform. There was only a yellow line to keep us from standing too close. No safety leaflet for that - yet on the newest underground train there are automatic doors between trains and platforms. That is the future, I hope: predictabe dangers got rid of.

what's new


digital diary archive

© 2002, 2003 john chris jones

You may transmit this text to anyone for any non-commercial purpose if you include the copyright line and this notice and if you respect the copyright of quotations.

If you wish to reproduce any of this text commercially please send a copyright permission request to jcj at