Posts Tagged ‘coaches’

Parallel lines

August 5, 2011

I have this image in my mind from college or university of parallel lines.

Parallel lines are always the same distance apart, they neither converge nor diverge. I have a vague recollection that they meet at infinity but cannot recall why.

Stand on a railway track and you will see the lines receding into the distance. They appear to converge. This is the illusion of perspective. We see the same with an image on a canvas.

Railway lines are 143.5 cm or 4 ft 8 1/2 in apart. Why not 150 centimetres or 5 feet? Why indeed?

The distance apart is determined by the distance apart of the wheels of the coaches. Why, immediately begs the question why?

Look at old pictures of the very first trains, you will see the steam locomotive pulling the coaches. They were called coaches, they look like horse-drawn coaches, as did the very first motor cars.

The coaches were built by coach builders. They did what they had always done and set the wheels 143.5 cm apart.

The reason for this spacing was determined by the roads. And why were the roads this width?

The width of the roads was determined by the Romans as the width of two chariots!

Railway lines are also a metaphor for people stuck in their tracks, who never change their ways.

Sometime in the future a priesthood guarding a nuclear facilty. They do what they do because that is what they have always done. They know not not why. All they know is that if they deviate a catastrophe will occur.

A derailment is a catastrophe.

Marriage is a little like this. People set in their ways, upholding what society expects of them, then wondering why they are so unhappy as it somehow does not live up to their expectations.

If a couple placed a pebble in a jar for a year from the day they first experience sex together, then one year on, take one pebble from the jar each time they have sex, they will probabaly never empty the jar.

Our expectations of marriage, the Western, British expectations of marriage, is a modern ideal. It dates from the Industrial Revolution, it is a Victorian instititution.

Prior to then an exotic, pleasurable experience was at a brothel or with a mistress. Emotional love was for someone you wrote poetry. Marriage was a business arrangement.

It is a very modern concept to try and combine all three in one relationship.

The Zahir

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