Imaginary geographies

As I roam about New York today I’ve been encountering the imaginary city, places I’ve heard of or read about or that are in songs. Bleeker Street ruined me for hours as I tried to get that Simon and Garfunkel song out of my head. There was another song-moment, Times Square, or Union Square – I can’t remember now (fortunately, because it was a sucky song.) And “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”, another one I would kind of rather not had as an earworm. The Plaza Hotel, where Simon, or Sport’s friend Chi-Chi was a busboy, and where Eloise skittered down the halls, is under massive construction, turning into condos; it never occurred to me that it was named after an actual place; Grand Army Plaza, right next to it. Minor ephiphany: there is a Plaza next to the Plaza Hotel…. Lincoln Center. Broadway itself. Central Park. Times Square. The Library and “So You Want to be a Wizard”. All so massively written about and heavily mythologized.

I like that level of there being many imaginary realities possible to imagine over the one I see, of the accessibility of histories and stories. There’s a huge pleasure in recognition; in having several mental overlays for a landscape. And yet I also bristle a bit at the ways that everybody in NYC seems to buy into NYC as the center of the universe, as a central myth of City, a sort of Harrisonesque Viriconium or Zelazny-ish Amber where everything that happens is more significant and has more merit intrinsically than if it had happened somewhere else.

I wonder if, across the world, blogging will add an extra layer of reality to enough different places to dispel a bit of that concentration of power, as we all write about our own geographies and territories and give them importance, laying their stories bare to the world.

1 Comment so far

  1. Reid Beels (unregistered) on November 19th, 2006 @ 2:11 pm

    First month here, I kept getting Simon and Garfunkel’s “At the Zoo” stuck in my head. Either at mention of the zoo itself or at the sight of a crosstown bus.



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