“Pylons & Passing Lands” : Brain Meandering Vagrancy in a Train

Traveling by train is different. Plane is powerful and a bit frightening, and windows are seriously too small. In a car you have to focus on the road, and if you’re a passenger you often… talk to the driver, right? In a car, if you’re the passenger, there IS a driver, obviously.

When you’re alone, traveling by train is different. Windows are big. Today’s trains are really fast. You can breathe, sleep, even have a walk in the aisle… Your spirit can wander, c’est la rêverie, the dreamery.

So for this article I vocabularied a bit for my “brain in train” metaphor. I found : meandering (like a little train around mountains?), wandering (walking for leasure), rambling seems colored by “rambling discourse” : is it like drunk, or undecided?, drifting seems more lost, right?, sauntering seems more lazy, showing a silhouette, peregrinating, perambulating

In a two hours travel by train, alone, you watch by the window pane.

At first, your brain plays with your eyes. At 200 Mph, if you fix the ground (which is often the neighbor railroad) with a look, you get a fastblurred confusion, which is, in a way, very pleasant, a mix of “Oh that’s a fast train/Oh I saw something but it’s already gone/I’m lost in a time illusion/OK I let go sssshhhh”.

It can happen this : at one moment your head decides to separate its own work from what your eyes continuously, almost in a panic (“Hey it’s to fast, buddy!”) send to it. Here you are, unplugged.

High speed staring up gives you a dance of pylons and cables, you could really feel like you’re in a Steve Reich from Chicago to New York/One of the fastest trains music.


One sad thing though :

The high speed trains today need continuous railroads, therefore we lost the magic sound of train traveling, the famous “tak’tooossh-tak’tooossh-tak’tooossh-tak’tooossh”. This was, during long hours of the night, when I was traveling with unknown kids towards a new summer camp, almost comforting. Someone put a 8 hours (!) sound of this on YouTube :


If your staring activity comes from the ground then goes further, your brain will be pleased with this concept : the closer you watch, the faster it seems to go. If you watch in long range, things in the distance (a horse, a church, a village, a wood) move slowlier. That’s lovely, oui?

You wander, you dream without sleeping, your brain forgets the bridle…

But something has to be seen by the window. Hoooo a funny factory. Hooo these cows are funny. Hoooo a tall redhead in a lost station… Interruptions. Then you’re back in dreamery, in the moment, you watch your thoughts passing by, they’re not THAT important, you’re quiet, you… hey, but wait a minute :

Isn’t it meditation?

Thanks for reading!










Sleeping in the speed…

I know a friend who will, tomorrow, take a train to Paris. A TGV train (TGV means “Train à Grande Vitesse” : high-speed train – around 200 mph).

Departure at 7 AM, and she said to me : “That’s early, but I will probably sleep in the train”.

I thought about a psychoanalyst and philosopher I like, called D. Sibony. He wrote a chapter about this idea : it is strange to travel by plane or train, at high speed. As you’re not the driver (like in your car when you travel from Binkley to Madrone), you really have to let go : trust the guys who made the train (or the plane), and trust the guys who organize the mess of “all the planes/trains”, and trust the guys who pilot this crazy fast shit.

As in entertainment you have to Elbowing the Audience by killing the Suspension of Disbelief, I think like Sibony that in the world of powerful technology, you just have to… let go and trust the system, trust the guys.

And this is what we do, right? You HAVE to trust the pilot who will take you from Frisco to Paris (what for, after all?).

Then, at full speed, you can sleep!

Tool/Dial : What does this mean? Why, when you trust, are you SO surprised when something goes wrong?

Have a nice day!