- Special Sections
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Justler 1961
A Colorful Symphony
Alec Bings: âMany years ago, on this very spot, there was a beautiful city of fine houses and inviting spaces, and no one who lived here was ever in a hurry. The streets were full of wonderful things to see and the people would often stop to look at them.â
âDidnât they have any place to go?â asked Milo?
âTo be sure,â continued Alec; âbut, as you know, the most important reason for going from one place to another is to see whatâs in between, and they took great pleasure in doing just that. Then one day someone discovered that if you walked as fast as possible and looked at nothing but your shoes you would arrive at your destination much more quickly. Soon everyone was doing it. They all rushed down the avenues and hurried along the boulevards seeing nothing of the wonders and beauties of their city as they went.
âNo one paid any attention to how things looked, and as they moved faster and faster everything grew uglier and dirtier, and as everything grew uglier and dirtier they moved faster and faster, and at last a very strange thing began to happen. Because nobody cared, they city slowly began to disappear: Day by day the buildings grew fainter and fainter, and the streets faded away, until at last it was entirely invisible. There was nothing to see at all.â
âWhat did they do?â the Humbug inquired, suddenly taking an interest in things.
âNothing at all,â continued Alec. âThey went right on living here just as theyâd always done, in the houses they could no longer see and on the streets which had vanished, because nobody had noticed a thing. And thatâs the way they have lived to this very day.â
âHasnât anyone told them?â asked Milo.
âIt doesnât do any good,â Alec replied, âfor they can never see what theyâre in too much of a hurry to look for.â