Myths and Cities

‘“Because that means it’s the city. That means it’s the landscape: the bricks, and the girders, and the faulty wiring and the shot elevator machinery, all conspiring together to make these myths come true… Do you think a city can control the way people live inside it? I mean, just the geography, the way the streets are laid out, the way buildings are placed?”

“Of course it does,” she said. “San Francisco and Rome are both built on hills. I’ve spent time in both and I’m sure the amount of energy you have to spend to get to one place to another in either city has more to do with the tenor of life in each one than whoever happens to be mayor. New York and Istanbul are both cut through by large bodies of water, and even out of sight of it, the feel on the streets in either is more alike than either one is to, say, Paris or Munich, which are only crossed by swimmable rivers. And London, whose river is an entirely different width, has a different feel entirely.” She waited.

So at last he said. “Yeah… But thinking that live streets and windows are plotting and conniving to make you into something you’re not, that’s crazy isn’t it?”

“Yes,” she said, “that’s crazy– in a word.”

Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany

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