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London UndergroundA Cultural Geography$
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David Ashford

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781846318597

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846318597.001.0000

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 16 September 2021

The Book of the Machine

The Book of the Machine

A User's Guide

(p.1) The Book of the Machine
London Underground

David Ashford

Liverpool University Press

Early passengers on the London Underground fell victim to what cultural historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch called the psychopathology of the railway carriage, the state of intense silence and isolation that results when travellers find themselves involved in an industrial process that apes an environment for social interaction. From the beginning this space of alienation has fascinated writers, musicians and artists. London Underground: a cultural geography explores the representation of the system in music-hall song, modernist poster-art, novels and poetry, painting and photography, graffiti, film and pop music, in order to reveal how an industrial space in the machine-age metropolis has been transformed by the power of the imagination into a metaphor, a vehicle for significant transport. In this cultural geography, it is explained, the boundaries between the physical and the metaphorical are in constant flux. For instance, the treatment of London Underground in the art of the Vorticists was speedily incorporated into the fabric of that space. It is suggested that, from the beginning, this heavily mediated space has therefore been peculiarly open to détournement, the practice of misappropriating the functional spaces of the modern city for play, advocated by the Situationist International. The London Underground has provided Londoners with remarkable opportunities to refashion the spaces of non-place in their own image, to re-inscribe the human revenant in the Machine.


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