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From the far left, and only for French readers, halas, a text against High Speed Trains and the general idea of quick, boring transportation as opposed to travel.

The necessity for speed of those trains comes from the commodification of time in our lives ; the constraints of employment, implying only short times are available to "go somewhere", prevents the much more enriching travel.

These modes of transportation make travelling so boring that now televisions are put into the train to make the trip enjoyable.

HSTs, like motorways and airplanes, desertify the land between their ends, and they only allow travel between places that are essentially identical. From one big city to another, built around a similar CBD and similar suburbs... And an empty countryside in between.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Mar 25th, 2007 at 08:08:22 PM EST
Coomodification of travel is a good thing: before it was a luxury that only a small fraction of the population could afford to undertake, employed or not.

How many small-holding peasant farmers travelled far? Famous travel chronicles from old times were written by soldiers, merchants, diplomats or the idle wealthy.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 05:29:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't necessarily agree with the text I summarised...
(and I'm responding both to Colman and Migeru)

But firstly, some not-so-rich classes did travel quite a bit ; Artisans in France used to tour the country as part of their training, pilgrims on their way, or seasonal 'colporteurs' selling stuff across the country, leaving their home during the winter (farms require many hands during the summer, but some could or had to travel during the winter ; depending on the wealth of the family, those were some of the children, or the seasonal hands that had to leave...).

More to the point, we are now materially as wealthy as those that had the time to do long range travel. But the constraints of employment, with only short time off allowed, mean that high speed travel is a necessity ; those constraints are pretty artificial. The commodification I was talking about is not that of travel, but that of time. Fast transportation is a symptom of that.

It also means that one of the point of going to another place is disappearing - most tourists may go to another place but never see another culture ; maybe a different climate, different monuments, but even food often doesn't change. What's the point of Djerba? But when the vacation is only one week long, immersing oneself in a different place and culture isn't that attractive. Some of the constraints of economical life needs to be lifted of course for that form of travel to become possible for more people.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 06:15:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some of the constraints of economical life needs to be lifted of course for that form of travel to become possible for more people.
Which ones, and how, and what makes you think most people want to immerse themselves in another culture?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 06:17:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of the people I know of who can afford the time to immerse themselves in another culture, don't. They bring their culture with them.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 06:18:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Such people I would be tempted to say to not bother to travel at all.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 06:34:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The people I'm thinking of even bring much of their social circle with them.

The really rich are weird.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 06:37:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two centuries ago, the really rich English used to have the young do a tour of Europe, getting to see the sights and the societies on their way... This kind of attitude is not attractive anymore in our efficiency-addicted world.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 08:39:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Back to the original point, what do the really rich and their travels have to do with the commodification of travel?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 08:44:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I never talked about comodification of travel but that of time. High Speed Trains, the development of planes, are symptoms of that. And indeed it is interesting to note that those who still own their time don't feel the need to travel - as opposed to be transported.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 11:54:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The constraints of employment have always prevented "the much more enriching travel". My farming family almost never travelled because they couldn't leave the farm.

What would "much more enriching travel" look like? How would people achieve it? How would we get there from here?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 05:34:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would compare and contrast a train travel along the Rhine valley between Cologne and Frankfurt (scenery upon scenery) to one along the new high-speed line between the two (some nice short views of mountains and valleys, but in no small part sound barriers -- or tunnels), maybe even stops along the way for the first. (The same for car drivers: compare a travel along an old country road to one along a highway.) While I am not against high-speed rail (and until there is air travel, I won't accept arguments against them based on our age of haste), I do see where the argument comes from.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 06:33:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To say it yet another way: while I am enthusiastic about the 57 km Gotthard Base Tunnel built in Switzerland, which will greatly accelerate both freight and passenger traffic, should I go to Switzerland again as tourist and travel to -- say -- Lugano, I'd go on the old mountain line even if only local trains remain.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 26th, 2007 at 06:46:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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