Oh City, My City!
If I’m going to tell you what my definition of what a city is, my personal style dictates that I use an original and slightly unconventional metaphor for it. This one was thought up today whilst I was burning calories in the pool.
Imagine a bowl half-filled with water.
Now imagine this bowl with blue food coloring diffused coloring in it. It’s a pretty shade of lavender. There is no obvious nucleus where the color leaks from because you’ve stirred the bowl to avoid this.
Next, you carefully place the vial of food coloring into the bowl of water. Being only half-full, it bobs happily on the surface. Since you spilled a little on the vial itself before putting it in, the immediate water enveloping it is a darker shade of lavender.
The bowl is the border of a country, the vial with the food coloring is the only city, and the water is everything in it. Granted, I can’t think of any country that only has one city in it, save for the Vatican but they don’t count for the purposes of this essay.
To put this all in a nutshell, a city is a concentration of everything that makes a country unique from the other 194 on earth. This is my original opinion. Though it might have been subconsciously morphed from the three different essays we read. Mumford asserted that a city is a cluster of different groups that brace each other through “economic regulation.” He also was enamored with the drama that come with it. Simmel never plainly stated what he thinks is a city because he was more concerned with what cities do to our minds. Lastly, Zukin sees a city as a nucleus of authenticity.
I think Zukin and Mumford and I agree the most. Nucleus implies concentration. Concentration implies no elbow room. No elbow room implies tension. Tension implies drama. Drama implies intensity and emotional weariness after said drama has subsided. This has always been my primary experience with Geneva, my city. Everything is intensified there. The sounds, the colors, the danger in the sketchy areas behind the station, the beauty of the mountains, the people, the tempers the riches the snobbery the alcohol the coffee and the sense of peace you feel on the train back home.
I’m not sure if my point that concentration breeds intensity is entirely accurate, however. Maybe it has something to do with my emotional response to my city. It can do no wrong. But there’s something about the gentle descent of the water from the Jet d’Eau that makes my heart lift. My friends and I got drunk at sixteen at a seedy bar called Cactus and I still don’t know how I feel about it. Save for an awe at how vivid the memories were. The Cathédrale Saint-Pierre sits on Roman ruins and I sat on its tip to look at my domain one last time before flying to Bryn Mawr the next morning.
It’s my second week at college. Give me time to remember form new opinions (and learn how to write a godamn essay again). I hope that I’m not the only one who can identify.
What say you?