Train of Thought

I’ve been on the road this past week, the first stretch of a book tour, and while I traveled by subway in New York City up to one of my reading dates, I noticed that one of those narrow posters lining the wall above the windows, which usually advertise language courses or deals on checking accounts, offered something entirely different.

This poster, apparently part of a Metropolitan Transit Authority series titled Train of Thought, displayed the first sentence from Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis: “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a giant insect.” And right below this quote were little ads for the Jeopardy! game show and the music station WQXR.

I was halfway to the open door for my first stop when I noticed this poster, too late to snap a photo (though later I managed to find one on flickr, of course–where else?).

Picture 1

For some brave soul suffering a morning commute, her eyes just barely held open by the grace of a cup of coffee, a soul perhaps unfamiliar with Kafka’s masterpiece, what might this out of context sentence suggest?

Maybe some relief that Gregor woke into something far wilder than what she can remember of her own night’s distorted dreams? A sense of temporary escape from an apartment shared with the scuttling of cockroaches? Or dread at the approaching office where she herself feels something like an insect, as if Gregor’s transformation has somehow come true for her, too?

Off that subway train continued as I remained behind on the ramp, still seeing a poster on one curved wall that might serve as a hopeful ax for someone’s frozen sea.

Tagged with:

Recent Entries

  • Blogroll


    1. Writezilla says:

      Adventures in E-Reading: Guest Post from Philip Graham…

      Over the next month or so we're going to be offering a new series of guest posts (read the first series,"The Next Decade in Book Culture here). Our question: How are you handling the rise of the e-book? Are you reading on Kindle, the Sony Read…

    2. Jesse says:

      here in Portland, OR, the regional transit authority (TriMet) runs a series of in-bus posters titled Poetry in Motion. They feature excerpts from various poems, and occasionally prose.

      Poetry in Motion is part of TriMet’s overall decision to no longer run advertising inside buses – the advertising that used to run along the top rail has been entirely replaced with various informative posters placed by TriMet, most notable the poems and historical photographs of streetcars under the name Transit Through Time. I rather like the new posters, they’re rather more interesting to look at than the advertisements and add a little more art and history to everyone’s day.


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *