Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dream of the city

It’s obvious that a gated community is a graveyard. A graveyard has gates, to protect the dead from the living. I’m worried that’s what the city is becoming, suburban suspicion repackaged as imagination, consumption rebranded as creativity. Every new building looks like an office park, and we all know an office park is another kind of graveyard, walling off dreams in search of profit. This is where people want to live now. Driving into this new building, a high-rise, a high-rise with a view, looking out and thinking this is the life.

A graveyard can be a beautiful place to imagine the dead and our lives that remain, to study the stones and names and look at the way that tree pushes those graves to the side, another kind of history. A graveyard can be a beautiful place to get away from the living, even just to look at the trees and maybe even sky, those clouds growing bolder. But we cannot live in a graveyard, and that’s what I’m worried the city is becoming: a graveyard of ideas walling us into stagnation. Dead ideas are easier to cultivate, maybe a little bit of formaldehyde will do the trick.

The dream of the city is that you will meet everything and everyone you never imagined. Does this dream even exist anymore?


Joe Johaneman said...

I just moved to a small city (Harrisburg, PA). What a difference from the Rural places I've lived all of my life. There's ethnic variety, and here in Harrisburg, I purposely picked a neighborhood that was considered a little "dangerous" for many of the reasons you mention in this post. My partners don't understand why I feel so comfortable here, but it's because we should all have variety, danger, and challenge in life. Life has become so fucking boring.

I'm 41, and I when I talk to younger members of the LGBT community, I find them so detached from reality. To them, gay culture is Gaga and Rupaul. I try to get them to understand Stonewall, GRIDS and the AIDS crisis, and all the things that our community went through. They just don't give a shit. All they can talk about is how much progress we've made in the last decade. It isn't progress at all. It's capitulation.

Sorry to rant. This just seemed the right venue. I heard you on Other People with Brad Listi, and you reminded me why I'm uncomfortable with normalcy, security and capitulation to the dominant culture. Thanks for that Mattilda.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Thank you so much for writing, Joe! That's interesting that you hear the progress narrative from younger queers — I don't find it as much. Or, to be more specific, I find it from everyone — oh, no! Rant anytime, and good luck in Harrisburg!

Love –