The city does not have a soul. It has people.

All the lyrical and poetical that we attribute to the city – myself included – is actually… a misconception. We make a mistake when we consider a city a thing in itself. A city is not a living organism. It has no brain, nor vascular system. Our metaphors and the fact that our human brain cannot think outside metaphors – make the city animate in our imagination. But in fact – it ain’t. Simply The System, especially in cities like this here, becomes so massive and is filled with so many errors – human, technical, whatever – that both its (mal)functioning and unpredictability make us think that it becomes alive. It is just a complex system of interactions that purely by the merit of its own complexity seems to be alive – like with some beautiful examples in cybernetics – whenever our mind can’t grasp the complexity of A Thing it just says that that Thing is alive. But it ain’t.

We fill a city with ourselves. Itself, a city is nothing. It’s an exoskeleton, a framework. In this sense it is not more alive than the termite mounds: every mound is different, because it was built by a different family of termites in different conditions. But the physical city is an inanimate exoskeleton, a container, necessary for sustaining a population. A city is a habitat. It is a tool. It is NOT a romantic, animate, soulful creature that lives and breathes by its own will.

All the buildings are manifestations of someone’s will. Monuments to one-self. A collection of personal Babylon towers. When I look at the towers of the Financial district – I see people. People in the sense that each and every one of those towers have been conceived by someones mind and paid for by someone’s money. At the same time, it is fascinating to me, how different those things are from humans themselves and how sometimes unnatural and uncomfortable they seem…

Manhattan might seem like a creation of Gods looking at it from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, just like Ur used to seem the same way to the ancients, but it is not. It is nothing but a creation of minds of humans. The city did not and does not build itself – it was and is being built. By us.

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