Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The shape of things

A pigeon has halted its plaintive coo from a nearby window sill, giving me a brief moment to offer this answer to the question I asked in "Walking Man" -- can one understand a city without knowing its people?

Simply put, no.

What is a city after all if not its people?  What gave it shape and built its form? What accounts for its history?  Yes, place plays a role.  But fundamentally, it is people.

To walk a city, to see its shape, is only to get an impression of the city.  Perhaps the better phrase is: To walk a city is only to take an impression of the city, an impression that is always a time-stamp of the past, a past that is but a prior collection of people.

The true city lies at that point where the past, with all its accumulated history, impacts the present, and that point is found in today's people.