“The Physiognomy of a Deserted Highway…”

Recently, I came across a quote from The Woodlanders (1887) a novel by Thomas Hardy. It offers the most accurate description of two of my favourite things: solitude and a deserted highway. For the same reason, this quote also reminds me of Glenn Gould:

“The physiognomy of a deserted highway expresses solitude to a degree that is not reached
by mere dales or downs, and bespeaks a tomb-like stillness more emphatic than that of
glades and pools. The contrast of what is with what might be, probably accounts for this.”

– from The Woodlanders (1887) a novel by Thomas Hardy

This quote stirs my thoughts and imagination. I get a charge, a definite boost to the spirit from this philosophical approach to the simple act of looking upon a deserted (and preferably grey) highway as something symbolic of who I am and what I hope to create through my music in these challenging times.

Upon writing down the quote in a book where I keep memorable phrases, I instantly thought of the images saved on my computer. Images of the deserted highways described by Hardy, permeate my electronic files and exist almost exclusively without another car or pedestrian in sight.

And so this short blog post serves not only to share a Gouldian quote from Hardy, but also to accompany it with some personal photos that represent, pictorially, “the contrast of what is with what might be…” Indeed, this is our daily experience, be it on a deserted highway or a crowded city sidewalk.

(I am nothing, if not consistent in my love for a lonely, deserted highway. Please enjoy these photos from my travels.)

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