I’ve been lucky enough to find one of the most influential books of my childhood on-line today. Share the dream: Richard Bach. Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Big Cities offer an interesting paradox.

All my life I wanted to go to New York. It was this magical city of happiness, which people sing about and where movies are shot. You know how you hear the song “Empire State of Mind” and your heart fills with this unexplainable joy and longing to go and be there. You pack your bags, you buy a ticket and you go “to New York!” But what happens when you get there? You are in the city alright, but what’s next?

I understand now that the City cannot be enjoyed just as is. There is never this “just come and be happy” thing, which everybody seems to sing about so sweetly. Ironically, unless you have something to do in the city, it will remain useless to you and you will remain useless to it. It will rub you into the pavement and spit you out once all your money is gone.

It is amazing that when you listen to those songs, you think that that is how it is – New York is the city of dreams, that street-lights there shine bright and all people are all smiling and loving where and what they are, so different and so special. In fact, to feel this all, one needs not simply to come to the city, but to live the city. You need to know why you are going to New York, to see the “dreams” part of it after. Like it or not, you need to have a practical interest in the city for it to be interested in you. You cannot simply come and enjoy. It is exactly the hardships and the work that the artists have been through in the city that now allows them to sing about it – post-factum. Jay Z and Alicia Keys don’t sing about New York’s streets and people in as a romantic manner as they do because they dream about it – they’ve been through it and now, after having lived and worked, they see it. Now they appreciate it. Now they can reflect on it. Same with Sinatra – he “made it there” first and only then started singing about it. But initially all of them didn’t come to the city just to see their own mouths fall wide open – they came to the city to make a living, to “make it” (whatever that meant for every one of them), to survive. The city only becomes romantic after the fact, not beforehand.

If you say this all to a “dreamer”, it will kill him/her. A dreamer does not want to have any obligations, or to know any work in the city he/she “loves”. However, there is no such way. Unfortunately for the dreamer, the city needs to be exploited to become a friend – an unpleasant but very true way to put it. The city can remain an ideal dream – only in the dream. Once it becomes the reality, there is no dream no more.

Reading Le Corbusier’s writing, it is amazing for me to find, how in the very beginning of his career he wrote exactly the same things about Paris – his own “dream-city”: “Paris is the immense city of ideas – where you are lost unless you remain severe with yourself… Paris is the crack of the whip, death of dreamers”. I guess there is some logic to my thinking then.. Thanks, Corbue!