This is an ordinary goods waggon, as used on the North American railway network. There’s nothing special about it, save the livery and the logo. Anything else is invisible: whatever it’s carrying, wherever it’s going, wherever it came from cannot be seen from the waggon itself. Nor is it an open waggon where you can see the goods draped with heavy tarpaulins, or a waggon designed for a specific purpose such as carrying oil, gas, ores, or cereals.
Naturally there are documents and invoices that chase such waggons from one end of the continent to the next – but to the railwayman who’s job it is to move the waggon from one track to another, such things go unseen.
The documentation used to follow the railway waggon around in a little box with an iron grid across the front. The railwayman had to read this to know where it ought to go – but the railways of fifty years ago required more autonomy of their workers than a railway does today. Radios were too expensive and radio telephones non existent.
In the course of two generations, the railwayman has lost this autonomy – and the responsibility that this entails. Today, all they must do is hook up the waggon, move it and unhook it. Of course there are a plethora of regulations that cover the moves of a railway locomotive, but these need only be known to the driver, the engineer. The person connecting the waggon to the locomotive knows the regulations that apply to his job – that is to say, a wholly different regulatory panorama. Neither needs to know what the other knows because the person connecting the waggons will never drive locomotives, and vice versa – only in a few cases today do drivers connect their trains, but this is only on the main line for the guard of a goods train has long since become extinct as a species.
They were too expensive.
The point of this post is to look at how people regard their work, and the effect it has on them. Because if you are perceptive enough, you’ll realize that when a person has so little responsibility in their work the corollary of this is that they need not look so hard. When days and weeks are spent doing the same things, travelling the same railway lines with little or no knowledge of what is you’re transporting – is it any wonder that drivers no longer think to ask what’s in those boxes? After all, it’s not as if his manager would give him a sensible answer, is it? All they can do is tell him to get back to his work – which isn’t the kind of thing sensible people want to experience twice. The downside is that the ability to question is dulled, and with it the foundation of such abilities, the imagination.
And when I say ‘dulled’ what I really mean is that they lay unused, and with the active nature of the brain, anything that lies unused becomes – how can I put this in such an unscientific post? – disconnected. In more accurate terms one can say that when something is demonstrably unwanted, unseen hands snatch it away. It’s another way of saying that the devil uses idle hands.
The point is that Dementia is nothing less and nothing more than the subsumation of the imagination by the forces of the subconscious. So think of it this way: if someone’s not asking intelligent questions, how far down the road to dementia are they already?
The most awful thing about dementia is this: it is not something one can see, for missing perceptions are as absent as the missing end bit of my hoover. By the time dementia has taken root, the sufferer becomes unaware that they’re missing anything at all. When that “missing something” happens to be the fork they need to eat with is when dementia becomes life threatening. It becomes a huge problem for us, and a world away from the sufferer who has as little idea of what to do with a fork as he would with a lunar lander.
The Subconscious: Links To Other Parts In This Series.
Part 1 Why Some Africans Can’t Count Beyond Three.
Part 2 Doctor Jazz, Düsseldorf.
Part 3 Letting The Lizard Drive!
Part 4 The Lizard Brain Meets Its Match: Brian’s Fiat Panda.
Part 5 Snow White And The Railways.
Part 6 Enemies In The Boardroom.
Part 7 The Clock Ticks: The Unconscious Threshold. (Published on my private blog)
Part 8 Milena Sees Witchcraft Everywhere.
Part 9 Frustration!
Part 10 What’s On Mina’s Mind Today?
Part 11 A First Peek At Autism.
Part 12 A Railway Waggon At The Roots Of Dementia?
Part 13 What’s It Like In There? Life With Dementia… (Published privately)
Part 14 The Evidence For Dementia.
Part 15 The Trouble With Alzheimer’s.
Part 16 The Man On Platform Two.