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A Re-Write of My Very First Essay

playcity23's picture

If I’m going to tell you what my definition of what a city is, my personal style dictates that I use a slightly unconventional metaphor for it. This one was thought up today whilst I was burning calories in the pool. 

Imagine a bowl half-filled with water. 

Now imagine this bowl with blue food coloring diffused coloring in it. It’s a pretty shade of lavender. There is no obvious nucleus where the color leaks from because you’ve stirred the bowl to avoid this. 

Next, you carefully place the vial of food coloring into the bowl of water. Being only half-full, it bobs happily on the surface. Since you spilled a little on the vial itself before putting it in, the immediate water enveloping it is a darker shade of lavender. 

The bowl is the border of a country, the vial with the food coloring is the only city, and the water is everything in it. Granted, I can’t think of any country that only has one city in it, save for the Vatican but they don’t count for the purposes of this essay. 

To put this all in a nutshell, a city is a concentration of everything that makes a country unique from the other 194 on earth. This is my original opinion, though it might have been subconsciously morphed from the three different essays we read. Mumford asserted that a city is a cluster of different groups that brace each other through “economic regulation.” He also was enamored with the drama that come with it. Simmel never plainly stated what he thinks is a city because he was more concerned with what cities do to our minds. Lastly, Zukin sees a city as a nucleus of authenticity. 

I think Georg Simmel and I would agree the most. He asserts that because the city has so many stimuli that constantly demand your precious attention, the city dweller becomes “blasé” or indifferent to his surroundings. The stimuli must be kept at some distance, or else it would wear the dweller down so much he can’t take it anymore. Simmel then moves on to explain the metropolis is a space of free-thinking and release from the close-mindedness of a small community. It gives the mind ample opportunity to move faster and remain alert for longer while liberating it. 

Simmel agrees with me that the city is a concentration of human life, though I’m not sure what he would think about the city being the concentration of the country around it. I can definitely agree with the liberation and the blasé-ness attitude I feel when I experience Geneva. I usually am not conscious of it until returning to my suburban home. The city truly does demand you to be faster and nimble-thinking. Geneva has trams snaking their ways through the streets with very little audio warning that they’re coming around the corner. The Mont-Blanc bridge is constantly shaking from traffic. There are expensive cars roaring down the too-small streets. There are plain-clothed cops at night with a fondness of treating the perpetrator very roughly. 

While all this drama is draining to my energy and mind, it is so exhilarating at the same time. If there’s one state I hate more than being nauseous, it’s being bored. Cities never allow me to be bored. Small communities let me. This essay got me thinking going to graduate school in a big city.