tags: standing up published on:
Urban environments have a chronic lack of confidence. They have instincts and sometimes they have insights but they do not have the drive to develop these insights into things that happen, things that become. If anything streets and neighbourhoods have the confidence to become divisive, plain and deadening. As an experiment if a child is brought up only with featureless suburban streets to see and walk amidst, maybe she will not even develop the required emotional and analytic depth to be termed human. To develop complexity and depth in our minds, we need to see people like us survive in different conditions and accommodate them within our porous minds.
Because urbanity has progression and self-improvement as one of its central ideas, cities never have a moment of peace. They are taught to constantly replace that which works with that which only might. In this pursuit, city-dwellers feel pulled in different directions, feel forced to forge multiple allegiances and basically tread all over their own unspent desires. Confidence is the forceful urge, the flow of passion with no blockage, the surety of a position. Confidence fails to develop on city streets. Rather, streets become pools of insecurity, anger and frustration. Cloaks of largesse wrap these base instincts. So, sometimes people seem complete, balanced and forward-thinking. But they only seem so.
If some mayor of some metropolis wins an election on a platform that promises confident, clear-headed youth to the city, she will have to really struggle. He will have to think hard and evolve a methodology which delivers.
First, she will have to ban discussions and dialogue on the future of cities either in the art, architecture or geography and social-science fields. there should be no analysis, no critiques, no extrapolation, no recommendations and demands for reform. Then maybe the city can be at peace. Then maybe city-dwellers will not feel stretched and pulled in different directions. Then maybe they will be able to forge together a psyche, not scratched, mutilated and maimed. Then, maybe a true sense of the guiltless post-human, animal condition will emerge.
Second, she will have to outlaw activism. No dissent will be possible, no conter-points, arguments, visions of a better future which want to challenge the status-quo and produce false hope and dissatisfaction in people. Without hope, a genuine despair will be possible which dumps us into the depths of experience without any distraction, without any hope of getting away. In pure despondence, depression can emerge. Depression is a single-state solution to the cacophony of the head, to the united-nations of the psyche. Nothing like depression to clear the shroud of confusion from the head.
Third, she will have to declare nationhood, independence from the nation as a loose coalition of antibodies which is left impotent, listless, directionless. To break away from that nation, grease and pepper-spray needs to be applied generously on all the joints which hold it to the mainland. With periodically regular application of grease and pepper-spray at the joints (although they are made of platinum, palladium and concrete) they will weaken and give away. Declaring nationhood will give a focus to the civic base, give them something to die for. Find a solution to their own unique problems instead of following a national programme. It will go against the whole received wisdom about nations, about unity, about collectivisation of resources for greater benefit. Without that baggage the schools and colleges in the new city as a nation will be very forthright and upbeat. They will be brimming with fresh ideas and hopping the graves of all the national heroes.
After she does these things, she might still find young people who are henpecked, browbeaten and unconfident. These people should be left in peace. They should be given a chance to be infected by the public mood. Fewer and fewer of such people will be found.
In the present arrangement, confidence also fails to build up because of the massive distortions of history and urban folk-lore. The sun of the past always shining brightly and brilliantly in untarnished perfection. History always portrays her actors as confident individuals with great clarity in their heads. To trick history's paralysing touch, the city in its present time needs to resort to role-play and invest in alternative histories. Alternative histories can of course be written by anyone, but are written best by young pornographers. These artists write of history with a very light pen and with fragile strokes they deftly write of people in all their shades of perversion and notoriety and of course also heroism. It is a burden off the head to read such histories, it is great explosion of confidence. People behave in uninhibited ways and by the time our three recommendations get implemented, the world is still liveable.