One of the great attributes of a city is the verve and vigor that is created by the meshing of so many souls with so many paths and desires and needs. There is a symphony that can be felt by those who have not lost all of their intuition, a symphony that is always rising and moving through the atmosphere and air of a city.
Cities rise and prosper and die. It is the nature of things. For a city to become great, and by great I mean everlasting the way New York, London, Paris, Moscow, and Sydney are everlasting and referred to, a city has to constantly die and be reborn. It is a tenuous cycle, too, and some cities have been caught out at the wrong time and wound up in a permanent sort of death. I believe it is a delicate process, despite the steel and concrete and pavement that makes a city; a tenuous ringing between the persona that a city creates and comes to be over time, and the populace that live in its streets.
A city can be reborn when its purpose is made anew, and when the city has the previously mentioned persona, verve, or spirit. If a city comes up because of a trade, say a mill town city with its canals enabling it to become a meritorious place, and then that trade does die and nothing else comes along to revive the economy, it is proper that the city dies. Because a city just doesn’t have to have a reason to exist, it has to have the will to exist. That is what can be seen in Europe, with its great cities, and perhaps even farther East than that.
In the great Republic of the United States, the city proper has been transformed. At one time, cities were heralded and celebrated. The men and women who helped form the Republic recognized the value of a city and what it could do for not just its own populace, but even the populace at large.
With the decline of the Republic, however, we can see the city being held and spoken of with disdain. The frailty and ignorance of the bourgeois is what drives this disdain. The city, to the affluent middle class, is a clever entity upon which unmitigated spite and unresolved angst can be put. They do this because a city is, in-fact, the enemy of the middle class. It represents, to them, everything they wanted to get away from and dissolve and rise above.
What’s interesting is that they recognize this. However, what is usually the case is the affluent middle class only trades on what is bad and vile about the city, and forgets to include the vibrancy in art, architecture, and thought that occurs in cities that are not dead for good.
In a city that is still alive, and alive because it has been reborn time and again, the poor and the wealthy reside. The poor rumble about a large cities streets, partake of its services, and generally live their lives within the confines of the metropolis. The wealthy live there, too, if only because their business or company is headquartered inside the city and so they spend great time there. On occasion, and in certain cities, the wealthy will buy townhouses or condominiums within the municipal. However it is done, it can be assured that the liveliness of a city is in direct proportion to it being an enemy of the banal.
Living in a city can be a good thing. The intellect can be truly engaged, and for true artists, which are the ones who possess the intuition and are trying to relay it to the masses, the vigor and nerve of the city provides constant text. This text is rendered via whichever mode the artist has been called to perform within. It is interesting to note that a person who has spent a great deal of study in the arts can often tell when an artist has been transformed by a city at large, even if the artist him or herself is unaware.