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Cities are not actually moveable

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Sebastien Feraut @ Fogged Clarity

David Mitchell on his imaginary Vancouver @ Geist.
Because the imagination abhors a vacuum, it serves up a mashed simu­lacrum of a not-yet-visited city before we arrive there, assem bled from clichés, stereo types, facts, anecdotes, errors and what ever flotsam and jetsam has drifted our way down the years. Once we’ve arrived in the real city, of course, the imaginary city is erased by every real street, genuine face and actual view — so thoroughly, in fact, that pretty soon we no longer have an inkling what our imaginary city ever looked like. A bit of a shame? To protect my imaginary Vancouver against reality, I described it in my note book during the long flight from London.From a distance, my imaginary Vancouver sits along the glossy water, more a model of a city than a city. Its sky scrap ers resemble extraterrestrial chess men, and rise above large, echo ing family-run depart ment stores. Closer up, my imaginary Vancouver is scoured by the cold Pacific (as much an oxy moron as “hot Atlantic,” where I’m from) and in need of a fresh lick of paint, like any working port. Ferries lit like Christmas trees plow the harbour, and snow-carved mountains encircle a stained-glass-at-night sky. My imaginary Vancouver is herded and sloping, like Hong Kong. Its nervous system is North American but its eyes are oceanic, like Auckland, Mumbai, Valparaíso and Perth. Bristol, Shanghai, Saint Malo, Yokohama, Pusan and Glas gow are to be found in my imaginary Vancouver’s DNA, and its family resemblance to Seattle and Portland is striking. Melbourne is its long-lost twin. Cities, what­ever Hemingway said, are not actually moveable.read more 

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