This picture is from my photobook Unreal City.
Ashtead, Surrey. In this picture the path leading to the station in a commuter belt village looks like a conveyor belt shifting anonymous figures (the undead? golems? automatons?) to the City. Perhaps the golem idea is most helpful, as it explains how one’s life is lived according to someone else’s script – the employer’s – and supports Perry’s remark concerning the “prevailing fluent emptiness of purpose in the commuting traffic.”
Monotony is certainly an element in the story here, but so is what psychologists call “depersonalization/derealization disorder.” “Depersonalization” is defined as “experiences of unreality, detachment, or being an outside observer with respect to one’s thoughts, feelings, sensations, body, or actions (e.g. perceptual alterations, distorted sense of time, unreal or absent self, emotional and/or physical numbing.” “Derealization” is defined as “experiences of unreality or detachment with respect to surroundings (e.g. individuals or objects are experienced as unreal, dreamlike, foggy, lifeless, or visually distorted).”
At another level there is also a sense here of what the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard called “Angest”, which Walter Lowrie translated as “dread.” In this context the term refers to a feeling that, for whatever reason, one is not becoming who one could or should become, and that the conveyor belt is taking one away from oneself, as it were.