Tunnel Visions: Journeys of an Underground Philosopher Paperback – 4 Feb 2002
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Itinerant philosopher Christopher Ross' debut book Tunnel Visions--a deftly observant sideways glance at human nature when in transit or, more often, not--sprung from 16 months working as a Station Assistant for London Underground. Or Platform 6, northbound Victoria Line, at Oxford Circus station, to be precise. A series of notes from the Underground, it provides a placatory centre of calm and rationale in our increasingly eddying lives as Ross, previously a corporate lawyer, oriental carpet smuggler and Japanese soap actor, takes the McJob to find a personal space in which to ruminate. After the surreal procedures of the training school, he is allocated his own patch, of which he grows quickly proprietorial. In a collection of precise tableaux, he neither leans upon nor ignores the inevitable anecdotal luggage that accumulates, but relates it with philosophical detachment and, when necessary, an engaged moral probity. He observes the archetypal gaits of his commuters, sings harmonies with a busking act, witnesses the spit and polish applied for a visit by John Prescott, and a man emerge from a train tunnel after being told at the previous station that it would be quicker to walk. Green grapes, he learns, are more deadly than banana skins, though not as lethal as suicidal "one-unders" (or "track pizza", in unforgiving New York parlance). A captured mosquito turns out to be unknown in Britain, an ugly, beswaddled baby turns out to be a monkey, and a dog on a lead a domesticated fox. Nothing is what it seems, but only if you look.
Like the best travel literature, Tunnel Visions chooses internal rather than external landscapes, and describes them with a steady calm eye. From the autopilot of the Victoria Line trains to the sheep-like, but never sheepish, autopilot of his gaggles of passengers, the wisdom, and man-hours, Ross invests in this woefully under-resourced utility rewards with the best view from the other side of the Tube tracks since John Wain's novel The Smaller Sky, now sadly out-of-print. In the end the pessimism ground Ross down, but the Oxford Circus' loss was literature's gain, with this terrific, humane, utterly original legacy.--David Vincent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
‘This is one of the most original and surprising books that I have read for years: a reflection on city life by an unusual mind that proves just how extraordinary the ordinary can be.’ Christopher Matthew, Daily Mail (Critics Choice)
‘Ross has produced a truly brilliant book.’ Gary Younge, Guardian
‘Very funny…a parable of our times.’ Iain Sinclair, Daily Telegraph
‘…this unique, utterly original little philosophical tome. This is pop philosophy in its best sense: a kind of subterranean “Sophie’s World”, but more adult, darker-edged, its modest wisdom harder won.’ Literary ReviewSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Such a place does exist. It's called The London Underground, and the job is a SA - Station Assistant. Even after reading his book, I'm still not quite sure what drove Ross underground. He had been a high flying lawyer, a traveller, a fine rug dealer in the Middle East. He'd even studied an ancient style of sword fighting in Japan. In the opening pages Ross explains that he needed a job which would give him a lot of time to think. Most of us would get rid of the TV or start going for long walks, but an underground philosopher requires far more challenging surroundings.
After learning how to cross a live rail safely, and to always look an abusive member of the public right in the eye, Ross found himself on platform 6 of 'Oxo' (Underground slang for Oxford Circus). The diary of his time spent pacing up and down the 200 feet of concrete, thinking, makes for one of the strangest works of philosophical travel imaginable.
It is a book packed with odds and ends of thought, and gems of peculiar information.Read more ›
On the face of it this is a book about a menial job, working on the London Underground. But really it is a summation of the hollowness of our lives in large cities and the trivial concerns of contemporary society - televison, sport, spin politics etc.It is also a blueprint for a more serious and rewarding approach to life.
I found this book resonated long after I had put it down and believe it may well be a masterpiece. What will he do next? I for one cannot wait.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Some entries are very interesting indeed, but the majority left me a bit 'so what?'. I would not discourage others from reading it, but it didn't do much for me.Published 2 months ago by AndreGrandier
It is a very entertaining book, the stories are short, but it will keep you amused and interested. There are lots of stories.Published 15 months ago by Susan Bailey
Good, but a lot of philosphical chat which although worthy, was too deep when one only wanted a lighthearted meander into the workings of the tube (I know Philosopher is in the... Read morePublished 22 months ago by KW Surrey
I can't deny that Christopher is a very clever fellow nor that he has a clear style of expressing his ideas. But I found this book a bit of a let down. Read morePublished on 5 April 2013 by Rick Billson
Somehow I missed this, stumbling across it in the Chipping Norton Oxfam shop just two days ago, twelve years after publication. A real delight. Read morePublished on 4 Jun. 2012 by HughUK
I will keep it simple, you must read this book!!! I give it five stars.Published on 30 Sept. 2010 by thirdmanlime
Even the title, it's cover with the train & people on it & small size makes it feel like it could be one of those quick & easy "reads" that are disproportionately satisfying &... Read morePublished on 28 Oct. 2009 by the lazuli
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