Saturday, December 13, 2008

Talk of the town

“This idea of the city as encyclopaedic discourse, as the collective memory, is part of a whole tradition: think of the Gothic cathedrals in which every architectural and ornamental detail, every space and element, referred to notions that were part of a global wisdom, was a sign that found echoes in other contexts. In the same way we can ‘read’ the city like a reference work, just as we read Notre-Dame (even though we read it through Viollet-Le-Duc’s restorations), capital by capital, pluvial after pluvial. And at the same time we can read the city as the collective unconscious: the collective unconscious is a huge catalogue, an enormous bestiary; we can interpret Paris as a book of dreams, an album of our unconscious, a catalogue of horrors. So on my walks as a father, accompanying my little girl, Paris opens up to my consultations with the bestiaries of the Jardin des Plantes, the serpent and reptile sections where iguanas and chameleons stay happily together; they are fauna of prehistoric epochs, and at the same time they are the dragons’ cave which our civilization drags along behind it.”
(From Italo Calvino’s Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings, Vintage: New York, 2003, pp 172-73.)
Photo above is "CityPoem 19 - Paris," by Hans Karssenberg, of stencil art by 'Miss.Tic,'

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