Soul of the City

  • Humans are sensitive to changes and differences. The city's dynamism exacts a relentless toll on consciousness, leading to more defensive personality traits.
  • In city-states as described by Plato and Aristotle and seen in medieval Italy, "proximity gave the population a fundamental and wide community of interest". Non-specialists became engaged in specialist issues when they saw fit.
  • As the role of "Cities in Civilisation" (Peter Hall) grew, as disciplines converged and the pressure of people from the countryside increased, "the Noise of Culture" (W. Paulson) attracted young artists, providing stimulation from other Arts and a chance to choose one's friends rather than tolerate the neighbours. The avant-garde in particular benefitted, small groups gaining critical mass in New York and on la Rive Gauche.
  • Artists used to be attracted to cities because the wealthy patrons were there. Now national and regional Arts Boards hold the purse strings, often encouraging regional activity.
  • The WWW's growth has outpaced that of increasingly unreal cities, challenging their intensity and fluidity of interaction, bringing together adventurers from many countries. It may be "a loose agglomeration of endlessly shifting parts and places", but this is how real cities are depicted in works like Howl, and real cities soon seem to catch up with their depictions.