Philosophical Messages for Aggravated Commuters on the Subway

mind the gap logo photo

Image from tfl

Hot, sweaty and over-tired commuters on the London Tube system are being treated to philosophical messages on their journey. In addition to being told to "mind the gap" and "stand clear of the closing doors", they may be urged to remember that "Beauty will save the world" (Dostoevsky).

Drivers on the Piccadilly line, which carries 650,000 passengers a day, (it's the one you may have taken from the airport into town), have been given a booklet of profound sayings entitled 'What is the city but the people?' (Shakespeare) and they are being encouraged to read them over the intercom during peak hours. The quotes include pearls of wisdom from the likes of Shakespeare, Gandhi, Engels and Einstein.

service information update photo

Image from Creative Review

The project is the idea of artist Jeremy Deller who has been working with London Transport and the Tube drivers. A stand-up comedian, Arthur Smith, was employed to teach them proper delivery and give helpful tips on how to communicate with audiences.

Deller, who is known for his public art projects, said that originally he proposed that there be a day on the Tube with no announcements ( a miracle) but that was rejected. Instead he put together a book of quotations for the drivers to read out. As he said "I often wish announcements were more personal and reflected the realities and absurdities of living and working in a big city. I think the travelling public enjoys some humour and unexpected insight during their journey."

tube booklet photo

Image from tfl
Samples of the quotes:

"There is more to life than increasing at speed." Mahatma Gandhi
"Hell is other people" Jean-Paul Sartre
"Everyone should be respected, but no-one idolised" Albert Einstein
"An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory" Friedrich Engels
"Nothing is worth more than this day" Johann von Goethe"
"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once" Albert Einstein
"The afternoon knows what the morning never expected" Wiliam Shakespeare

More on Jeremy Deller
Fourth Plinth: an eco option
Bat House Project : TreeHugger

Related Content on