The Museum of Vestigial Desire

Urbanity

tags: tissue culture published on:

Reading urbanity into a space, says nothing about it. Urban conditions share nothing in common. So how does an urban entity specify itself? How does it be nothing but make-believe that it means something?

Urban landscapes are always in a zone of incompletion. They never feel stable enough to refer to their own condition by a name. Of course history is concurrent. But in writing their own history they exaggerate and they hide their failure by holding up universal ideals at face-value. What could very easily have been claims became tenets and theory backed by pseudo scientific largesse like statistics and economics. Instead of talking every minute about how they have realised themselves, they talk about how at their transition through history and with the benefit of hindsight progress has been made. It has been a grand deception. How the failure of realising an urban condition was justified by random steps forward through time. How the urban remains the promise but we spend our time in the waiting room.

Cities have become natural habitats for crime. Anonymity as a possibility was first born when settlements started claiming advancement and order. This advancement, if anything has only been possible because of a contraction of sorts. Contraction of the idea of personhood and even it's significance. Surrounding the contracted idea of the person are the structures and mediations of services and facilities of the city. Ghost cities fail equally at being urban as any other kind of city. The structures which allow cities to grow and stack multiples are equally valid when they are empty as when they are full.

Migration to the city was a process of people walking in with their bundles of clothes and occupying empty houses. Houses which were never made for anyone in specific were inhabited by people who had forgotten that they had anything specific about them. When communities moved to the city they did not set their old life and ways aside. They did not buy any idea of radical advancement. They only agreed to ally with a system that promised to provide certain services. After they moved, the delivery of the services did not happen of course. Also they did not change the way they lived, the way they thought about life. Ghettos, small worlds, closed circuits formed within cities. So before the nascent idea of the urban could even envelope itself, it ruptured and fragmented. A refined infrastructure became the stand-in for an advanced way of living.

So small and delayed victories become consolation prizes. For ideas to arrive long after they were past did not seem like an out of the ordinary situation. And then very quickly cities agreed to become disappointments. Pools of cynicism where everything is after the fact. They agreed to become stages for dissent. Dissenting against memorials of these at of its own founding principles. Not only does the emperor have no clothes, he is in fact dead.

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