Sunday, November 05, 2006


Urban rhythms 2: dreams

See here for introduction to the urban rhythms series. (10 September 2006)

'the age of the expatriate, the refugee, the stateless and the wanderer’
Elie Wiesel, 1996 in Inge [2003] p15

The city is often seen as a place of dreams, a place where streets are paved with gold and success can be found. Thus the city has become a destination for migration: Young professionals drift to the city eager to establish careers, workers from overseas take up jobs in the hope of improving upon their economic conditions and asylum seekers try and escape threat and danger. We have mobility and can uproot in response to new circumstances.

Cities spaces themselves reinforce and manipulate our dreams, teasing us to be successful: Billboards, newspaper adverts, tube posters tell us how to look, what to wear, what shape and colour we should be, what we should be driving, where we should be living, what we should be watching, what we should be listening to and where we should be going on holiday. Our dreams evolve and our perception of the world and others is skewed.

The rhythm of people arriving in the city is coupled with another rhythm concerned with abandonment. We get fed up with London, with the ‘rat race’ with concrete, noise, dirt, pressure and stress so we head elsewhere. Perhaps we are expecting children and would prefer to bring them up elsewhere, perhaps the suburban dream beckons or the country seems healthier and more appealing.

In all of this our concept of home is challenged. We rarely grow up in one place and live there for our entire lifetime. Each shift causes to have to re-invent our home, to inhabit and dwell in another place and re-establish emotional, physical, spiritual and intellectual roots.

‘The skyscrapers, airports, freeways and other stereotypical components of modern landscapes – are they not the sacred symbols of a civilisation that has deified reach and derided home?’

Buttimer, A [1980] from Inge, p17

presence | acceptance | balance | creativity | accountability | hospitality

Images: City Wipeout, Pasi Kolhonen
tags: rhythm of life, moot, London, urban, urban rhythms, dreams, mobility

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