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The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Justler 1961
A Colorful Symphony
Alec Bings: â€śMany 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€ť
â€śDidnâ€™t they have any place to go?â€ť asked Milo?
â€śTo be sure,â€ť continued Alec; â€śbut, as you know, the most important reason for going from one place to another is to see whatâ€™s 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.
â€śNo 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€ť
â€śWhat did they do?â€ť the Humbug inquired, suddenly taking an interest in things.
â€śNothing at all,â€ť continued Alec. â€śThey went right on living here just as theyâ€™d always done, in the houses they could no longer see and on the streets which had vanished, because nobody had noticed a thing. And thatâ€™s the way they have lived to this very day.â€ť
â€śHasnâ€™t anyone told them?â€ť asked Milo.
â€śIt doesnâ€™t do any good,â€ť Alec replied, â€śfor they can never see what theyâ€™re in too much of a hurry to look for.â€ť