23 June 2016
Architectural Association, London
there is a city where the word ‘regeneration’ rings in the air.
declared. shouted. whispered. sighed.
it lingers like a sweet aroma, whetting palates and lubricating fountain pens.
impending above parched neighborhoods and blighted industry
til’ in an instant, a flash rives their centers
with violent and instantaneous transformations upon the utterance of the word.1
in the same city, hangs atmospheres of fading histories.
loitering, partly digested traces,
ruminating, chewing the cud of reminiscence.
their voices blended and fused in clouded silence.
at the intersection of these two incompatible visibilities, the shadow is cast.
an unusual structure, formed from passing phantoms,
darker than the shadow of a dream,
and draped nobly in the folds of the city2
the shadow appears to you as a whole, where no desire is lost.
it enjoys everything you enjoy and everything you do not enjoy,
and you can do nothing but be content.
the shadow, which gives form to desire, takes from desire its form.
it is this force which either erases the city or is erased by it.3
residents of this city can no longer remember a time before the presence
and have now settled the shadow.
they wonder if the city can exist without it.
thank you to the generous and curious souls to whom i am deeply indebted
and to all the fools searching out where angels fear to tread
2Heart of Darkness, Conrad
3Invisible Cities, Calvino
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