Decisiones by Lorenzo Quinn
The laying of train tracks has quite distinct historical and cultural meaning in the U.S.A and U.K. Here in Britain the train was part and parcel with the drive in the 19th century towards modernity. The Industrial revolution was powered by steam and so was the train. The laying of tracks across Britain heralded the march of progress, the end of an agricultural poor nation and the rise of the industrial rich. In America the story is slightly different. The railroads were initially seen as a threat to the wild, free expanse of the west. After the American civil war many of the defeated confederate soldiers had headed across the country to start new lives away from the victorious union. The blasting of tunnels, laying of rails and connectivity of east and west was an unwelcome intrusion which brought the whole of what we now consider the U.S.A. together as one. In short, the arrival of the train removed the ability of those who wished to, to escape union interference. This early unease with the train was soon overlooked and by the turn of the century Americans had fallen in love with rails. The beat generation writers of the nineteen fifties such as Jack Kerouac and William S Boroughs created images of semi-divine box car hobo heroes who’s adventures were as iconic-ally American as those of Huckleberry Finn. I think the sentiment is summed up perfectly by Kerouac in his novel ‘On The Road’, the protagonist Sal Paradise has this to say “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” I appreciate that at this point in the novel they are travelling by car but the sentiment reminds me very much of what I think Dylan is getting at in the Train Tracks image. The rails stretch out into eternity and so everything and anything is possible.