James Day

Falling Cities

What change occurs if the city is also the Savannah? The city is not a site, but a behaviour. Antelope are not a city, but their traffic structures are. Edifices liquidate: describe their dynamics: O little train underneath a clouded sky! Cities falling: we did not strike out for another shore, for it was never a question of a journey. Would it alter our point of view if no sky scrapers (buildings with incalculable stories) were razed/raised to the ground? That is not what we mean by falling cities.

I doubt this when I see a young couple, leaning towards each other over a cafe table, redraw the lines of the strange faces, and try to fix them into an lovable object. When I return home, after tedious and interminable years of marriage, I stand before you, and relish our non-existence.

A pigeon takes flight in the courtyard of a deserted imperial palace. Why not paint the trees in red? We do not look at city planting, we inhabit its brightly coloured surfaces. We are composing the traffic’s noise, and light and shade the leaves. Smell us after rainfall and taste us in the hotdog stall.

Have you ever noticed that nowhere and now here are the same? just that now here has a little space in the middle, a little nowhere, right in the middle of now here.

A dog jumps into a puddle and disturbs our meditations. We are sketching its reflections from different positions. We planned to superimpose the images, then analyse the puddle’s consciousness. The fragmented reflections in the puddle are similar to those in the city’s many windows. Is the disturbed or serene puddle a truer reflection of the city?

Football formations triangulate and the ball passes across the field. What fascinates us about this is that the players at once respond to and cause the ball’s movement. Their constantly shifting structure redefines the space of their play, creating openings and closing off spaces. As every manager tells us: when the whistle blows we have lost control of our projects. Each team’s program is not limited by their laws, players constantly change positions, modifying the structure; their actions are both causes and effects. What is the superstructure on this constantly shifting field of play? It can be variously configured as 4-3-3 against 5-3-2 or 4-4-2 playing 3-4-3, but in during the game it is more accurate to say the 4-3-3 is becoming a 2-4-4, then a 5-4-1, and so on.

This scene is a present, a gift, a marriage, a poison, a fish, etc. Falling cities.

On the same night we party in Berlin, London and New York. Our hangover is deciding which we prefer: the night which lasts through several days, or moving seamlessly between cities.

Our projected cities are a vehicle driving us up their walls. This is an unimaginable journey, it’s pure experience. Not that we think about it too much, as we’re flung from the Hofburg to the B.T. tower. We’re only partly in control of the journey, for sure there are routes, somehow, we’re also bulldozing through, blazing infrastructures. The free-runner is inseparable from the existing buildings, but when he/she maps on them, it’s impossible not to see them spiral into a fall. Unlike in dreams, there’s no mattress to land on. We’re running between cities, stepping off a baobab tree onto Santa Croce and flinging ourselves off the Golden Gate Bridge into Rio’s favela.

Each day she counted her footsteps as she walked home from work. They rang out from the paving stones, reassuring her. She’s looking into the bathroom and bedroom windows, to watch for glimpses of bodies, stripping off for bed, or being dried from the shower.

We write the songs in beer bottles.

Vacant land: broad horizons. Although the apartment buildings are blinkers we see the sun set over the sea. Think of the Sahara as a built environment; the road map’s changed when you have to pick the kids up from school.

So all goes well... Who could have guessed it?... After all it’s the same to me... Who could blame them?... It’s a shame mate... A helpless mouth... not evaluated that highly at all...  Put your hat on and fuck off... then it rang thirteen...

How about editing text? She’s perfectly still, hair tucked neatly behind the ear, hand supporting chin. Writing is her immediate environment, she’s running through a jungle of letters, assembling and reassembling them, and dodging as they fall clanging around her ears.

imeT meTi eTim Time. When we write time we can also spell it imTe, or mTei. How is this possible? We influence and are influenced by the past, changing events’ course and recourse. Reconfiguring the spelling of time visualizes this relationship to our histories.

Chess players melancholic eyes look over a board. It’s like glancing under the table, or jumping off a train platform. Wizened like the trees under which they sit, both see the trains rumble over chain bridges, the metro grumble underneath the park. Paralyzed pieces are unthinkable: there’s always an escape route: jump on the back of a bus, dart through subways, duck into department stores, sit it out in a cafe, grab a newspaper from the stand. The game continues: is the city the board or the pieces? They map the city in their game: it’s not a question of winning or losing because a new game loops into the old one. Sometimes they reset the board halfway through. Like the city, where the trains have run through generations, the board does not outlast the pieces: new strategies are experimented with, crossing over the traces of past games.

We listen to pop music in student cafes, from car windows, as we walk past building sites. The striving in a voice not completely without talent, joyous with celebrity money and pained with the desperation expressed in the song, cannot but move us in disturbing ways. We hear in this music a common existential condition, and a confluence, unique to the situation. When we sit, with a radio in the next room, writing, the music’s paradoxes mix with our own, syncopated through the sentences.

As architects we build super-buildings where cities are linked in a single structure where many levels grade into each other so that not a single stair case exists. Every citizen carries a sleeping bag with them, there are no bedrooms and no private residences. People eat for free in canteens. What used to be hotels have become public sleeping areas. Concerts proliferate and street musicians no longer need licenses. Bicycles are public property, it is a criminal offence to own your own.

When we fall in love with cities it is because of their entropic generosity, not infrequently drawing tear drops on our eyes. Standing by a deserted factory, in an historic city center, or in a gallery full of our favorite paintings, we shiver from the falling temperatures, the cooling of achievement, which flows along cold waters on which we walk, flowing into the dark sea.

A low, concrete colored sky, weighs down on us and makes us feel that the sky has folded over our tower blocks; that we are at last one dimensional, and are no longer made to strive to rise up, we can abandon ourselves to falling.

Crawl in with me under this red rock, and I will show you the world in a grain of sand.

James Day is a young writer living in London.

Pic couresty of girlorpheus

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