Tunnel Visions: Journeys of an Underground Philosopher Paperback – 4 Feb 2002
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‘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 Review
Christopherr Ross, philosopher and traveller, decided to cease his journeyings and go underground, quite literally. Seeking an antidote to incurable restlessness he chose to work for a year as a Station Assistant on Platform 6 (northbound Victoria Line) at Oxford Circus Station. After Training School, where he is taught how not to electrocute himself and always to look in the eye a member of the public as they are assaulting you, he faces up to his new duties with a mixture of curiosity and foreboding. What, exactly, will he find deep under the surface of London? "Tunnel Visions" is a mixture of lived experience in the surreal world of London's Underground and the more elevated ideas, thoughts and imaginings that experience provokes. Oxford Circus Station, complete with its weeping wall, its streakers, buskers, onanists and cupboard containing one employee whose ideal working day was to sleep soundly 100 feet below ground, is a Plato's Cave of reflection and human comedy.See all Product description
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Most people on here rave about this book - I'm v. much the exception. So I guess that if you are inclined towards philsophy, you may find the book more enjoyable than I did.
The central theme is from an insider's account of life & work within the huge London Underground Railway services. This gives the book an amusing narrative of this job & is where some of the very funny moments are found & where The Underground really comes to life in vibrant colours!
It seems you can enjoy the book for these moment alone & be more than satisfied in your reading of it. But also within these pages there are a large number of side-comments, philosophical musings, odd sources of quotes, quirky thinking, flights of fancy, comedy & even a dose of sermonising as well.
Overall Ross does a good job of blending his personal experiences & interpretations in a suitably engaging & indirect manner, that leaves room for the very fine points he infuses the book with. All of these jumble for your attention like so much flotsam & jetsam at times; & at times it can feel almost distracting from the main narrative.
Perhaps this angle in the book is where some readers might be put off or even put out by! Overall there are so many colourful distractions of real quality, this hardly matters.
For comparison, this book is similar in vein to George Orwell's Down & Out in Paris & London for it's very particular humour, careful observation & well-written & very personal philosophy of people & the relationship of their lives with society.
A life-affirming book in many ways, it will add many colours to your personal thoughts! Highly recommended.
The book is a great read. What I most celebrate about it is the implicit reminder that to be alive should always involve seeing, observing, reflecting and - not least - laughing at our human condition. If not laughing, at least affectionately smiling. What day - what hour - does not give us such material?
I also value the book for the reminder it gives of the oppressive aspects of so much paid work. And also redemptive possibilities. The entire work is a reminder of our interconnectedness and belonging as members of this weird and remarkable species.
This book is arranged by concepts (that is, ideas dealt with one by one, each with its own chapter) and because of this, there are about sixty chapters, and no consistent thread. Nonetheless, this is a style reminiscent of diaries or journals, and so you are not merely reading an account or even a novel, you are being shown an area close to and dear to the author. This is only superficially a book about the tube; really it is the author's self-portrait. Indeed, upon finishing, I realised that though I had learnt much about the tube, I felt I knew more about Christopher Ross.