Posts Tagged ‘trains’

A Natural Romance

I recently noticed a newspaper ad for Amtrak: Designed in American Craftsmen style to evoke, say, 1910, a poster displays the silhouette of a woman, hair in a bun, sipping a hot beverage. Through a train window behind her we can see a landscape of high mountains and tall evergreens.  The title of the ad reads, in caps, “more human / more nature.”  (A video version is here.)

Trains, the ad tells us, are our vehicles for returning to a slower time, a more natural time, a more human time.

Irony alert! The train was, to humanists and other sensitive souls of the 19th century, the central symbol of modernity – the main destroyer of life at a natural, harmonious, human scale. The unintentional joke in the ad plays off the running tension between new technologies, old technologies, and our notions of the “natural.” Knowingly or not, the ad’s creators point out how the modern world defined the “natural” one.


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