In the Metro – excerpts.

“It is clearly a Parisian privilege to use the subway maps as a reminder, a memory machine, or a pocket mirror on which some times are reflected – and lost in a flash – the skylarks of the past. Yet, assembled impressions of this kind … are not always so deliberate. Sometimes the chance happening of an itinerary (of a name, of a sensation) is enough for distracted travellers suddenly to discover that their inner geology and subterranean geography of the capital city meet at certain points, where dazzling discoveries of coincidences promote recall of tiny and intimate tremors in the sedimentary layers of their memory.” p4.

“…Subway lines, like lifelines on the hand, meet and cross – not only on the map where the interlacing of their multicolour routes unwinds and is set in place, but in everyone’s lives and minds. p6.

“It is our own life that we confront in taking the subway, and in more than one way. Our trips today cross over those of yesterday, a slice of life of which the subway map, in the schedule we carry inside ourselves., reveals only a piece, the aspect simultaneously the most spatial and most regular, but about which we know well that everything was or seemed to be in order, no hermetic barrier separating, perhaps to our greatest misfortune, the life of the individual from that of others.” p9.

“The past that we share is an abstraction, or better, a construction: it happens that a book, a magazine, or a television broadcast tells us that we are living at the time of the Liberation or during May 1968. But then who is the “we” to whom the meaning of what has passed should be directed?” p16.

“The metro is not a site of synchronism despite the regularity of many peoples’ schedules.” p24.

“If everyone had his or her “life to live” in the metro, that life cannot be lived in a total freedom, not simply because no freedom could ever be totally lived in society at large, but more precisely because the coded and ordered character of subway traffic imposes on each and every person codes of conduct that cannot be transgressed without running the risk of sanction, either by authorities, or by the more or less effective disavowal of other users. p29.

The Metro as “collectivity without festival and solitude without isolation” p30.

“It is natural that the space of public transport is, as its name indicates, a contractual space in which is daily practiced the cohabitation of diverse opinions that, if they are not authorised to be shown off, are not obliged to be concealed…” p44.


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