Yes, the photograph is a work of art in its own right.
It's a nice photo of Old Tallinn in a puddle, but it is a work of art rather than a representation of the reality there. There is an atmosphere to such old towns which cannot be fully captured even with such an interesting photo. The light, sounds, smells, people, architecture and many other things give you more of a 3-dimensional, real impression. From my experience, guidebooks (like estate agents' photos of your kitchen or bathroom) are not always capable of giving the feel of the place. The photos are pretty, the lists of hotels and parks, pubs and sights, are useful. But when you go to the place it is always different in some unexpected way.
For those that love London: a beautiful 940-pp. anthology is set to be released in June of this year, collecting over six centuries of English poetry about Britain's capital city:
A wonderful new piece about the literary side of NYC.
Do you actually have to go to a city to appreciate writers living or having lived there? Do you get a lot out of those tourist walks around where Hemingway or Wilde or Martin Amis or Havel actually lived, fucked, worked, and died? The plaques on the wall, the photos of nondescript houses, the park where he let out his dog to shit, the half demolished Port Authority bus station where he caught the Greyhound to visit his incestuous pigtailed sister in the appropriately named Nowhere (New York State)? Is this all part of true literary appreciation, author-fetishism, or halfway in between?
How about this for your final destination:
I'm not keen on high-rise paradises myself.
It's freezing in NYC right now. Global warming my ass... *grumbles*
The third picture looks like Chicago, looking out from Millennium Park across Michigan Avenue. The shiny thing in the middle is a sculpture by Anish Kapoor called "Cloud Gate", but everyone calls it "the Bean" for obvious reasons. If you stand on the other side you can get a photograph of the city skyline reflected in the convex surface (and if you go underneath you can drive yourself mad looking at the regression of reflections of yourself).
Chicago is one of my favourite places; I'd love to live there. I've been there every summer for the last three years, but I'm going to miss out this year. Which I'm very sad about .
Last edited by Galatea92; 01-May-2012 at 17:22. Reason: Described the surface of the bean as concave, when it's clearly convex!
Reading made Don Quixote a gentleman. Believing what he read made him mad. - George Bernard Shaw
Clearly, Galatea, we have very different views on ideal cities. I find that all three of the pictures I posted previously bleak, and a sculpture cannot disguise the soullessness of big open, paved, concrete-clad spaces between high-rise buildings that look like glass-fronted cigarette boxes. Are there no cities in North America (USA, Canada) that have cosier parts? Most such cities, from what I can judge from the Google images pages (as I have never been to North America) look as if high-rise planners have been let loose on them, copying some vision out of a book by Le Corbusier and Bauhaus or Mies van der Rohe.
I vastly prefer European (and European-style) cities which have some form of main square and several streets of buildings, perhaps not more than five storeys high, leading off that square. And buildings with a history, not just functional boxes. And architects such as the Dutch style, the Amsterdam School of architecture. So one of my favourite cities is central Kraków (Cracow), along with Antwerp near the main square, York, Tallinn, parts of central Riga especially the Jugend bits, Stockholm beyond the concrete jungle of Sergels torg, Edinburgh, Helsinki, central Amsterdam round the canals, and so on. Most of these cities grew up organically and were not planned like Brasilia, the British "new towns", or the boastful edifices of the nouveau riche Arab countries that are clustered around Saudi Arabia.
Even in Europe, planners without vision have however also ruined many square miles of cityscape, as they are indeed doing in a part of Helsinki behind the railway station, which I walked through several times to my accommodation a few weeks ago. And in southern Europe, where I have not been as much, there are masses more beautiful cities and people-dimensioned towns, especially in Italy, but these are often ruined by a surfeit of traffic. One thing northern and central Europe has often got under control is channelling traffic away from the central parts by means of ringroads and bypasses.
I find that the empty soullessness of much "modern" (read: cheap and utilitarian) architecture is reflected in the interiors of buildings, where the idea of many younger people seems to be a bare sitting-room and kitchen with a minimum of furniture. For me this reflects the emptiness of their consumerist and rat race commuting lives. They confuse tidiness with order.
Architecture and town planning is a vast subject, and buildings, roads, parks, etc., have to be built in harmony so that the organic nature of the city and its landscape remains.
CIties I'd probably choose to live in would be London, Paris, or even Tokyo. I've spent time in the first two, but never the latter. I don't think I'd choose a city now, I've lived in several whilst moving with my job, and I sometimes miss the 'buzz', but you can always visit these places, for example, I see NYC as a 'to visit' but not to live option.
None are final destinations.
As we enter the mega-cities phase, I feel that all cities are moving towards the same problems... but there are times when I yearn for the buzz of a metropolis.
London, bizarrely, is being compared to 70s NYC, and NYC I gather is like London used to be 10 years ago.... I can't see this, but I'm out of touch with life down in the smoke, so maybe it's accurate.
A few years ago I was in Anchorage, Alaska, and the scenery blew me away, never seen anything like it, that 'might' suit me, but the winters would be tough up there...
Last edited by Hamlet; 01-May-2012 at 16:01. Reason: typos
nb-The UK is actually thinking of placing anti-aircraft missiles on London rooftops for the duration of the Olympics, never thought I'd see the day when that would be necessary... crazy. It's being turned into a small military enclave.
And Chicago, particularly, has some incredibly beautiful scyscrapers, some dating back to the 1920s. Here for example, is the tower of the carbon and carbide building, faced with green terra cotta and highlighted with gold. The base of the building is polished black granite.
Reading made Don Quixote a gentleman. Believing what he read made him mad. - George Bernard Shaw
Everywhere there are places, just places we'd like to be. I am attracted by the past somehow. No matter how it was there compared with the present. J.B. Priestley's vision of the morning London is still among my beloved:
This was one of those mornings when the smoke and the Thames Valley mist decide to work a few miracles for their London, and especially for the oldest part of it, the City, where Edward went to find Uncle Alfred. The City, on these mornings, is an enchantment. There is a faintly lu*minous haze, now silver, now old gold, over everything. The buildings have shape and solidity but no weight; they hang in the air, like palaces out of the Arabian Nights; you could topple the dome off St. Paul's with a forefinger into space. On these mornings, the old churches cannot be counted; there are more of them than ever; ecclesiastical wizards are busy multiplying the fantastic steeples. There is no less traffic than usual; the scarlet stream of buses still flows through the ancient narrow streets; the pavements are still thronged with bank messengers, office boys, policemen, clerks, typists, caretakers, secretaries, commissionaires, directors, crooks, busybodies, idlers; but on these mornings all the buses, taxicabs, vans, lorries, drays, and all the pedestrians lose something of their ordinary solidity; they move behind gauze: they are shod and tyred in velvet; their voices are muted; their movement is in slow motion. Whatever is new and vulgar and foolish contrives to lose itself in the denser patches of mist. But all the glimpses of ancient loveliness are there, perfectly framed and lighted: round every corner somebody is whispering a line or two of Chaucer. And on these mornings, the river is simply not true; there is no geography, nothing but pure poetry, down there; the water has gone; and shapes out of an adventurous dream drift by on a tide of gilded and silvered air. Such is the City on one of these mornings, a place in a Gothic fairy tale, a mirage, a vision, Cockaigne made out of faint sunlight and vapour and smoke. It is hard to believe that somewhere behind this enchanting facade, directors are drawing their fees, debenture holders are being taken care of, loans are being called in, compound interest is being calculated, mergers are being arranged between a Partaga and a Corona Corona, and suggestions are being put forward for little schemes that will eventually bring revolution into Central America and mass murder into the Near East.
... and even in the present we come to the same spots that remind us of the past as though we want to see something again and someone once more. Old benches, roadside inns, out of downtown cafes, shabby piers - conscientious sentinels of time.
The problem with London, which is one of the three cities Hamlet mentioned ("latter" refers to two objects), is that while the central parts are interesting and nice in places, there are huge areas of soulless suburbs, either run-down former glory or horrible concrete high-rise accommodation. You don't get to live in Buckingham Palace when you move to London, but often to a bedsit that is forty minutes from your place of work on the Tube. Commuting kills the soul of many city dwellers.
And I'm sure that there are oases in Chicago, but that half of a skyscraper that Galatea shows was not built by the modern standards of clinical vapidity. In those days, architects still added nice bits, like the gold and the tile work. Nowadays, it's all glass, concrete, and no frills. Good buildings for the despairing to jump off, maybe.
OED - mentioned later of two or last of three or more; recent; belonging... blah, blah...
unless pedantry is our game here, I'm sure it's not, as we have limited time ... occasionally poor grammar and spelling will slip through!
An article about NYC's so-called park, The High Line.
Hamlet, precisely which edition of the OED are you referring to. The Oxford Advanced Learner's Encyclopedic Dictionary supports my view. So does the Webster's.
Now I shall take a look at the so-called park that Liam mentions.