CITIES WITHOUT NAMES
The cities without names as those we see from a distance, often as a glow on the night horizon, but which we cannot approach and enter. Perhaps their distance is maintained because we are only passing by, on our way somewhere else more familiar; or, perhaps, by our desire to keep them in our minds as inviolate and unknown, places for the future and not for now. All the elements of cities we know are there, the more or less familiar profiles of buildings where people like us, we imagine, live out their lives. But some differences are apparent. As we strain to see more, these differences reveal the utter strangeness of these cities, their remoteness in more than distance and time from us and what we have known. Any one of these cities seems—for want of a better word—uncertain. The structure of the city is tentative, as though it were a series of inconclusive gestures in space, almost like the pentimenti of an artist’s drawing, as he or she searches for a form not known in advance. Gone is the familiar sense of work accomplished and, in its place, the uneasy feeling that the work undertaken was not meant to be accomplished.
Our companion on one such journey, a distinguished architect, said, “Oh, don’t be so surprised. Haven’t you heard that those cities were designed by crazy fools? They started to build, but don’t know how to finish. Still, they think they’ve created Utopia!”
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- October 7, 2008 / 1:51 pm
- Lebbeus Woods