By Brendan Heard and Jason Lupus.
One of our great modern tragedies (among an absurdly long list) is the lack of vision and wonder within modern cities. Not merely a concern of architecture or practical planning or aesthetics, but the absolute banality and oppressive sterilizing of the cultural space to an atheistic cement flat with handicap rails. The protective boredom and petty ‘conveniences’ of a city heart which is nothing more than a global mall and parking lot reduces living to commodity equations. And over-concern with ‘safety’ ironically kills life. This modern city masquerades itself in democratic appeasement, while secretly enforcing a strongly authoritarian (even wrathful) virtue-signalling business commons, via a nonsensical faux-individualist serfdom. Everywhere the oppressive pall of corporate shelter, the values-threats hidden in the ever-accumulating street advertisements. Not merely the absence of majestic beauty, but a total lack of unpredictability, adventure, or cultural oddity, which was formerly ‘the city’s’ saving grace.
Considering the formerly adventurous and ‘dangerous’ (by modern standards) winding, narrow urban layouts of condensed stone and high-ceiling three storey houses of pre-modern cities, one could feel at any moment they were undertaking a grand adventure. Hidden mysteries and risky possibilities lay about every windy, ascending corner. A city to be proud of, where one is refreshed by true variety, not the fake baby-options offered under corporate nursery serfdom, but the unknown maze-like pathways that Journey through hidden alleys, curvy stairways, and bridges with majestic arches. Finding hidden book stores and libraries with long forgotten gems, having unrecognized musicians play at underground cafes, unique local food and craftsmen’s wares without mass production. True artists on every intersection.
Apartment buildings designed with high-peaked rooftops, ornate balconies, and town centers for congregation. Urban murals which depict the mythical legacy of their land. Not an expanse of parking lot, with an S-curve roofed grocery store selling world-goods sealed in plastic, where some youthy asshole sings ‘halleluliah’ with effeminate emotive-warbling, the same as the next city over, and the city after that.
Within reach to everyone should be the necropolis, the temples and altars, the nearby religious livelihood which is the lawful cornerstone of the moral-cultural foundation, The city’s mortality reminder and generation remembrance. Where the statue of the historic hero looks down upon the town square with a demi-god’s furrowed brow, reminding all where they are and who abides. Having the city guided by such celestial forces ensures the urban environment is sacred, and its divine walls are stewarded by noble men. Today they are guarded by corporate safety ghosts and timid gossip-plumpies, who police their own people instead of protecting their freedom.
“The city, next to language, is man’s the greatest work of art.” Lewis Mumford