Monday, August 23, 2010

I love 'community oversoul.'

For all the alienation, the guarded privacy we maintain in our public spaces, in a very basic existential way we each rely on the masses of people around us define ourselves. There is a kind of community oversoul, a species recognition that we will never acknowledge. The city as an idea may begin with the marketplace, the trading post, the confluence of waters, but it secretly depends on the human need to walk with strangers.

And so each of the passersby on this corner, every scruffy, oversized, undersized, weird, fat or bony or limping or muttering or foreign-looking, green-haired, punk-strutting, threatening, crazy, angry person you a New Yorker, which is to say as native to this Diaspora as you are, and who must be acknowledged as such if we are not to become, even as we live, silver gelatinous ghosts among the ruins of a lost civilization.

–E.L. Doctorow, from his introduction to Gotham Comes of Age: New York Through the Lens of the Byron Company, 1892-1942.

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