last night in new york, 2007. when I come back you'll be in the new year, dear city.
smoky night, with sulfurous smoke really rising from sewers, being wisped away each time a car passes over it. the empire state building towering high, and taxis going especially fast riding waves of green lights down lexington ave. large buildings turned unmonumental by people and humanity, turned again monumental and overarching by fog, clouds, nature.
Movie theatres deal in space - pure space, offering size.
I finished Cosmopolis, by Don DeLillo. Most of the book was on the M16/M34 buses going crosstown; I think this was semi-intentional on my part, since the book chronicles a one-day journey of a stretch limo going crossbound on 47th street, from east to west. Thirteen streets south I mimic a fictional world, following DeLillo's finger-paths on maps, in parallel and not quite touching.
I'm struck how much of Fury (Salman Rushdie) I'm reminded of - powerful men angry, furious, pushing against the city, the sky bearing down, immortality realized. Cities are always rendered with such loving grace, such ethereal presence; they're larger than life and angry and out to get you. In some ways, I feel like this is an attempt of the author at trying to depict a universal city, shared and inhibited simultaneously. In practice, in reality, in experience, cities are more personal, experienced within personal spheres - cities, experienced within a singular unit of taste, feel, sound, vision. My relationship with the city is less about bumping into individuals and more about mixing in a crowd; about closed stores and fire hydrants, walking down avenues, calculating and orienting myself along this grid. This lattice of magnetism runs off-north, off-south, creating its own power structure, its own method of alignment: New York - Skewing Your Internal Compass for Centuries.
The city is a shared language without territory, internalized without ownership. I have this city, and it is not mine.
How many cities do you speak?
Quote by Robert Smithson, heard at a talk at Performance Lab Space by Piper Marshall:
"Size determines an object, but scale determines art. A crack in the wall if viewed in terms of scale, not size, could be called the Grand Canyon. A room could be made to take on the immensity of the solar system. Scale depends on one's capacity to be conscious of the actualities of perception. When one refuses to release scale from size, one is left with an object or language that appears to be certain. For me, scale operates by uncertainty."
Robert Smithson, The Spiral Jetty, 1972