Archived entries for city

nos apropiamos de la ciudad sólo en el instante de la revuelta, puesto que sólo esta última, por un instante, la hace cognoscible

“7. El archivo puede destruirse sin que la estructura de la sociedad sea tocada: la ciudad, lugar de lo social por excelencia, no es en efecto una entrega inerte de noticias, sino el mapa viviente, móvil e ilimitado de los crímenes. Desde las calles hasta la cárcel y los diarios, procede así sin obstáculos la actividad única y febril: su tarea consiste en reconducir el crimen hacia dentro del juego de la normalidad social. Esta tarea no atañe sólo a los individuos, sino más bien a bandas enteras de opositores al orden o, mejor, a muchedumbres o masas delincuentes.

La experiencia del mouton se manifiesta mejor y se hace más fructífera allí donde acontece algo inesperado. Con el estallido imprevisto de la revuelta, que interrumpe la continuidad del archivo, aparecen los delatores, útiles y enrolables. Pero así, imprevista, se anima también la muchedumbre, peligrosa por definición. El policía y el agente provocador saben mejor que cualquier otro que “la masa incitada se forma en vista de una meta velozmente alcanzable” (Elias Canetti, Masse une Macht, 1960). En el juego antagonista de la muchedumbre, de su formación y de su igualmente veloz disolución, la policía recompone sin cesar la normalidad social, instaurando el dominio indiscutido de los “hechos”. París es la capital de Haussmann y del comisario Bertillon, es la sociedad que avanza ahí donde la multitud sediciosa emprende la retirada.

Nos apropiamos en verdad de la ciudad sólo en el instante de la revuelta, puesto que sólo esta última, por un instante, la hace de veras cognoscible. Entonces y por vez primera, ya no estamos solos. Pero cuando la muchedumbre se dispersa, la sociedad vuelve a adherirse perfectamente a cada calle y a cada pared. Entonces el “no estar ya solos” se convierte en el “estar de nuevo en sociedad”. La ciudad regresa inapreciable, mientras que el urbanismo aflora entre el polvo de la masa dispersa.”

Clase. El despertar de la multitud.
Andrea Cavalletti.

“puntos fijos”, elementos de referencia que le permitan a uno mantenerse orientado en el plano de la ciudad y en los otros planos simultáneos o sucesivos del tiempo

Patrick Modiano es un escritor contagioso. No es posible leerlo sin transfigurarse un poco en un personaje suyo. Empieza uno a leer una novela de Patrick Modiano y cuando sale a la calle ya nota que va entre muy absorto y muy atento, percibiéndolo todo a su alrededor y al mismo tiempo echando en falta lo que ya no existe, fijándose en los desconocidos y en las desconocidas que pasan y en los nombres de las tiendas, en todo eso que uno de sus personajes llama “puntos fijos”, elementos de referencia que le permitan a uno mantenerse orientado en el plano de la ciudad y en los otros planos simultáneos o sucesivos del tiempo. Uno va por la calle, en este octubre atlántico de Madrid, con una novela de Modiano en el bolsillo, y se parece al muy probable narrador de esa misma novela, que quizá llevará un libro de título raro comprado en un puesto de segunda mano o un cuaderno en el que vaya apuntándolo todo: nombres de calles de París que muchas veces aluden a ciudades o a países extranjeros, direcciones de personas o de negocios tomadas de los anuncios por palabras, nombres de cines, de cafés, de tiendas, de librerías, números de teléfono.

via Octubre Modiano
Antonio Muñoz Molina | Babelia
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It was all exteriors, though. I never went inside anywhere.

Eddie knew the corners of Boston and all the shortcuts. It was Eddie who had shown me the knife shop and Raymond’s and the joke shop; my father had shown me the memorial to the black regiment and Hooker’s statue and the Union Oyster House. Between my father and Eddie, Boston held no secrets for me.

It was all exteriors, though. I never went inside anywhere. What would be the point? I had no money, and I was afraid of being confronted. But Eddie had been to all the stores, and had even gone inside the Old Howard for a burlesque show and told me the jokes. A stripper said to a heckler, “Meet me in my dressing room. If I’m late, start without me,” which made Eddie laugh so hard he didn’t notice that I hadn’t understood.

Action, by Paul Theroux.

Maidan and Beyond, Part I: On February 20, 2014, I was standing on the fourteenth floor of the Ukraine Hotel overlooking Maidan square, watching the sniper massacre that was unfolding down in Instytutska Street…

On February 20, 2014, I was standing on the fourteenth floor of the Ukraine Hotel overlooking Maidan square, watching the sniper massacre that was unfolding down in Instytutska Street. The preceding days and weeks had seen a tremendous escalation in violence both by the government and protesters. After the Ukrainian parliament passed a number of laws that severely restricted civic freedoms—rendering the Maidan movement largely illegal and threatening its participants with long-term prison sentences—the protest entered a decidedly violent stage. An attempted blockade of the government quarter, which was supposed to force the authorities to repeal the new draconian laws, resulted in a monthlong street war with the police, centered on a piece of land adjacent to the National Museum of Ukraine. The Maidan movement had acquired a “radical” iteration in addition to its “moderate” one, which found its physical form in the tent camp and protester-occupied buildings.

Autonomous and self-sufficient, most of the different protest mini-camps in Maidan square and the surrounding area became grassroots laboratories for ideas and practices of all stripes. In the Ukrainian House, a neomodernist palace that had previously housed the Museum of Lenin, a leftist student assembly tried to implement consensus decision-making and horizontal democracy among the frustrated, increasingly violent crowd. At the same time, the occupied city hall of Kyiv, several hundred meters away, became a breeding ground for the most bizarre kinds of far right ideologies. Between the two, in the encampment of tents that hardly protected their dwellers from the freezing temperatures outside, a hodgepodge of various resistance and partisan groups was boiling over.

After the first protesters died in clashes with Berkut forces outside the National Museum, a peaceful resolution seemed highly unlikely. The National Museum itself was taken hostage by the street war: the building, strategically crucial for access to the government quarter, was blocked by riot police. Berkut fighters made themselves at home under the museum’s neoclassical porticus, taking a rest between its columns or observing the raging crowd from its stairs. The National Museum was living through a state of emergency, with the artworks hastily removed from the walls in preparation for the worst-case scenario. This worst-case scenario did finally arrive elsewhere, in the form of a sniper assault that killed up to a hundred desperate protesters as they tried to make their way to the government quarter through neighboring Instytutska Street. Ultimately, however, the regime was unable to pit the army against the people—it collapsed the next day.

The protesters refused to remove their encampment and their barricades after the regime fell, claiming that its collapse was merely the start, and not the end, of a genuine revolution. The government buildings remained occupied, and some militias, claiming they needed more space for their activities, even took over numerous boutiques next to Maidan, which had  previously been left untouched. Even the McDonalds at Maidan was shut down and turned into a clinic for protesters suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Only the luxurious shopping mall underneath Maidan remained completely intact during the uprising.

Days after the regime’s collapse, masked gunmen from right-wing militias began arriving at the National Museum, still shut down and deserted. The gunmen brought artworks discovered at the private suburban residence of the toppled president, who was notorious for kleptocracy and bad taste. The artifacts were to be stored in the museum halls, still empty after a monthlong siege. Meanwhile, some of the protest tools invented by the Maidan demonstrators (like the famous catapult used in clashes with riot police) were claimed by museum workers as artworks and acquired for the collection. If classical revolutions turned royal palaces into museums, the Maidan uprising started to become a museum object before it was even over. Its second phase—the counterrevolution—was yet to come.

via Maidan and Beyond, Part I | e-flux.

“Some of the darkness may be by design” / 40% of Detroit’s Street Lights Don’t Work : The New Yorker

Some of the darkness may be by design. In discussing the street-light problem with Bloomberg.com last year, the Wayne State University law professor John Mogk said Detroit has a thinly spread population, with up to twenty city neighborhoods that were less than fifteen-per-cent occupied. Repairing the lights and delivering service to those areas is expensive and inefficient; prioritizing others is one way to congregate the citizens of a new, smaller Detroit.

That, of course, is small solace to those for whom the lights have gone out. For more than three hundred years, city governments have pushed back the fears of night with artificial street lighting. Prior to the bankruptcy, Detroit was struggling along, nearly half in the dark, with a new state-created Public Lighting Authority that would be able to borrow funds the weakened city could not. That authority’s ability to continue functioning will help shape the prospects of a now-dimmed Detroit.

via 40% of Detroit's Street Lights Don't Work : The New Yorker.



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