Neil Gaiman makes me weak in the knees and how can I not hold onto every word he writes? Here’s what he wrote for SimCity and because I love him so- and you guys too- I’m just going to copy paste the entire piece:
From Essays by Neil, SIMCITY
“Cities are not people. But, like people, cities have their own personalities: in some cases one city has many different personalities – there are a dozen Londons, a crowd of different New Yorks.
A city is a collection of lives and buildings, and it has identity and personality. Cities exist in location, and in time.
There are good cities – the ones that welcome you, that seem to care about you, that seem pleased you’re in them. There are indifferent cities – the ones that honestly don’t care if you’re there or not; cities with their own agendas, the ones that ignore people. There are cities gone bad, and there are places in otherwise healthy cities as rotten and maggoty as windfall apples. There are even cities that seem lost – some, lacking a centre, feel like they would be happier being elsewhere, somewhere smaller, somewhere easier to understand.
Some cities spread, like cancers or B-movie slime monsters, devouring all in their way, absorbing towns and villages, swallowing boroughs and hamlets, transmuting into boundless conurbations. Other cities shrink – once prosperous areas empty and fail: buildings empty, windows are boarded up, people leave, and sometimes they cannot even tell you why.
Occasionally I idle time away by wondering what cities would be like, were they people. Manhattan is, in my head, fast-talking, untrusting, well-dressed but unshaven. London is huge and confused. Paris is elegant and attractive, older than she looks. San Francisco is crazy, but harmless, and very friendly.
It’s a foolish game: cities aren’t people.
Cities exist in location, and they exist in time. Cities accumulate their personalities as time goes by. Manhattan remembers when it was unfashionable farmland. Athens remembers the days when there were those who considered themselves Athenians. There are cities that remember being villages. Other cities – currently bland, devoid of personality – are prepared to wait until they have history. Few cities are proud: they know that it’s all too often a happy accident, a mere geographical fluke that they exist at all – a wide harbour, a mountain pass, the confluence of two rivers.
At present, cities stay where they are.
For now cities sleep.
But there are rumblings. Things change. And what if, tomorrow, cities woke, and went walking? If Tokyo engulfed your town? If Vienna came striding over the hill toward you? If the city you inhabit today just upped and left, and you woke tomorrow wrapped in a thin blanket on an empty plain, where Detroit once stood, or Sydney, or Moscow?
Don’t ever take a city for granted.
After all, it is bigger than you are; it is older; and it has learned how to wait… ”
When we talk so romantically of beautiful cities and lovely people, it’s not fair to leave reality behind. So, Rana Dasgupta on grotesque Delhi, Capital Gains:
“Delhi is a segregated city; an impenetrable, wary city – a city with a fondness for barbed wire, armed guards and guest lists. Though its population now knocks up against 20 million, India’s capital remains curiously faithful to the spirit of the British administrative enclave with which it began: Delhiites admire social rank, name-dropping and exclusive clubs, and they snub strangers who turn up without a proper introduction. The Delhi newspapers pay tribute every morning to the hairstyles and parties of its rich, and it is they, with their high-walled compounds and tinted car windows, who define the city’s aspirations. Delhi’s millionaires are squeamish about public places, and they don’t like to go out unless there are sufficient valets and guards to make them feel at home, and prices exorbitant enough to keep undesirables out.”
New York, New York
Have I talked about Insomniac City enough? No? (May we loudly exclaim at this point, Haw! How can that be!)
“If New York were a patient, it would be diagnosed with agrypnia excitata, a rare genetic condition characterized by insomnia, nervous energy, constant twitching, and dream enactment. An apt description of a city that never sleeps, a place where one comes to reinvent himself.
Sometimes I’d sit in the kitchen in the dark and gaze out at the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. Such a beautiful pair, so impeccably dressed, he in his boxy suit, every night a different hue, and she, an arm’s length away, in her filigreed skirt the color of the moon. I regarded them as an old married couple, calmly, unblinkingly, keeping watch over one of their newest sons. And I returned the favor. I would be there the moment the Empire State turned off its lights for the night, as if getting a little shut-eye before sunrise.
Here’s another wonder I discovered about life here: In the summertime, late into the night, some leave behind their sweat-dampened sheets to read in the coolness of a park under streetlights. Not Kindles, mind you, nor i-Phones. But books. Newspapers. Novels. Poetry. Completely absorbed, as if in their own worlds. As indeed, they are. I had never seen anything like this until I took a shortcut through Abingdon Square Park one night while walking off my own mild agrypnia."