28 Feb
Posted in: Travel
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Questions, Answers and Cities

Maybe it’s because Burma seemed so other-worldly to me, but I keep thinking of the trip in terms of that magical book by Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities. This passage, for example, keeps running through my head:

…With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear.

Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspective deceitful, and everything conceals something else.

“I have neither desires nor fears,” the Khan declared, “and my dreams are composed either by my mind or by chance.”

Cities also believe they are the work of the mind or of chance, but neither the one nor the other suffices to hold up their walls. You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.

Or to the question it asks, forcing you to answer, like Thebes through the mouth of the Sphinx.


photo taken on the road up to Mandalay Hill


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