I often describe cities as being like a gigantic maze. However, unlike when I’m in a maze, I love being ‘lost’ in a city, wander about and notice. Albeit, I am not a proper flaneur; I want to do more than just look and wander, I want to create! I want the city I live in to be a great, just, democratic and an exiting city at the same time.
Nynne Staal Parvang’s “Urban life” guest blog posting got my attention over at Spotted by Locals. (Check out this great site if you’re not familiar with it!) She opens with an evident but infrequently expressed truism, that we never truly understand a city in and of itself — as a whole and complete entity — but only as a collection of fragments. She explains, “bits and pieces give way to a broader understanding.” Certainly this is true, ditto the observation that this broader understanding is ephemeral. Seeking to learn, to know, to understand a city is an infinite process. But rather than feeling anxious, as we might in a maze without a solution, this is a comforting and intriguing aspect of cities.
“I never have to stop exploring, for the ‘thing’ that I am examining is constantly changing; new buildings arise, others are torn down, new shops open and old ones close, people move in and out, tourist comes and goes and so on and so forth.”