The City in the Desert

In a lost land, that only dreams have known,
Where flaming suns walk naked and alone;
Among horizons bright as molten brass,
And glowing heavens like furnaces of glass,
It rears with dome and tower manifold,
Rich as a dawn of amarant and gold,
Or gorgeous as the Phoenix, born of fire,
And soaring from an opalescent pyre
Sheer to the zenith. Like some anademe
Of Titan jewels turned to flame and dream
The city crowns the far horizon-light
Over the flowered meads of damassin …
A desert isle of madreperl! wherein
The thurifer and opal-fruited palm
And heaven-thronging minarets becalm
The seas of azure wind..

– Clark Ashton Smith

There is a subtle state most dedicated urban walkers know,

a sort of basking in solitude – a dark solitude punctuated with encounters as the night sky is punctuated with stars. In the country one’s solitude is geographical – one is altogether outside of society, so solitude has a sensible geographical explanation, and then there is a kind of communion with the nonhuman. In the city, one is alone because the world is made up of strangers, and to be a stranger surrounded by strangers, to walk along silently bearing one’s secrets and imagining those of the people one passes, is among the starkest of luxuries. This uncharted identity with its illimitable possibilities is one of the distinctive qualities of urban living, a liberatory state for those who come to emancipate themselves from family and community expectation, to experiment with subculture and identity. It is an observer’s state, cool, withdrawn, in with senses sharpened, a good state for anybody who needs to reflect or create. In small doses melancholy, alienation, and introspection are among life’s most refined pleasures. (186)

The Solitary Stroller and the City, Rebecca Solnit


Chilandar was a work of their conception […]

 […] but, like their vineyards, it was all merely an image of another, dreamed-of city. And the cenobites carried that other, celestial city inside them, and in them it was inviolable and did not depend on earthly buildings; rather, they depended on it and were built in its mirror image. The cenobites themselves were the city, and it could be destroyed only by destroying them. Thanks to this city inside them, they ever forgot who they were, and they know they would be the same tomorrow, too…

Landscape Painted With Tea, Book One,
Milorad Pavic

I don’t usually expect to discover signs of wildlife to appear uninvited in my 22nd floor apartment, but tonight I was surprised to find a tiny grey feather on the side in my kitchen– and it got me wondering about the little bird that came to visit…and just how high birds fly…and how incredible it is they always know where they’re going and the best way to get there…

– Sh. W., via Facebook