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Railway Journey By Schivelbusch Essay Research Paper

Railway Journey By Schivelbusch Essay, Research Paper The thesis for Schivelbusch?s book The Railway Journey seems to be that the railroad altered the traveler?s perceptions of space, time, distance, nature

Railway Journey By Schivelbusch Essay, Research Paper

The thesis for Schivelbusch?s book The Railway Journey seems to be that the

railroad altered the traveler?s perceptions of space, time, distance, nature

and the senses. Although the means of a quick and reliable mode of transport was

and is an important part of industrialization, it denaturalized and

desensualized the passengers (Schivelbusch 20). Shrinking and reshaping the

world it touches with industrial fingers and alienating the riders to the world

around them. With fast and reliable steam power engines replacing previously

expensive and unreliable natural sources of energy such as water or animal man

is released from the constraints of nature. These engines do not succumb to the

whims of weather or exhaustion and are reliable enough to keep and daily

regulated schedule despite wind or rain. Yet, by replacing the age-old use of

the horse and carriage and through sheer speed they have made the world smaller

and more accessible to the people. Where in the olden days people experienced

every step of the way with their senses now all they have to do is step on a

train and step out onto a different place. The railroad has annihilated the

space and time, which were characterized by the old transport technology (36).

To the perception of the people who had previously experienced every step of

their journeys the world seemed to have shrunk. The detachment of man from

nature and his perception of nature is finalized in the construction of the

railways (20). Since the ideal railway is hard, level and straight, they were

not laid out sympathetically to the landscape but instead cut and carve their

way through in a straight line. Nothing gets in their way, not river mountain or

canyon. The riders of these straight speeding bullets see nothing but a

disorienting sight of the landscape shooting past to quickly for them to focus

on. The train creates a barrier between themselves and the landscape making them

detached viewers of an untouchable scene. This barrier is later enhanced by the

telegraph poles that began to be widely used to regulate railway traffic. Now

?the traveler perceived the landscape as it was filtered through the machine

ensemble (24)? The use of railways to transport goods began to be felt in the

very architecture of the time. With the use of availability of previously hard

to acquire items, such as glass and steel, the ?railroad reorganized space

(45)?. These new materials bent the contrast between light and shadow making

it uniform and absent of contrast, a disorienting combination to people used to

rock and wood. In the very beginning of the book, culture is described as having

an organic quality, if so it is now an inorganic culture. This culture is now

detached from the organic. As the railways expanded their reach they began to

affect the ?special presence (40)?of various commodities and towns which

were once associated with a certain region. This desensualization of the regions

is described as losing their ?auras? and so no longer have the special

qualities that it once has. No longer do people have to travel long and rugged

distances for a certain fruit or to visit a certain town, now they only have to

hop on a train then hop off. Thus the perception of individuality is lost. The

changes of perception that the railway caused are precursor of the

denaturalization and desensualization that is abundant is modern industrial

society. Schivelbusch?s book gives interesting evidence to this thesis. By its

manipulation of the world by the railways which altered the old world views of

travel and nature it changes the definition of man?s world view and the place

man sees himself as being in the landscape around him.

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