In Model City, Donna Stonecipher writes about city life. About living in the city and the city itself.
Q: What was it like? she asks at the beginning of the continuous volume of prose, consisting of seventy-two short poems.
A poem consists of four sections, four verses, four stanzas (in Italian stanza means room). And each stanza is made up of a single sentence, and each sentence tries to be an answer to the question: What was it like?
They always begin with the words: It was like… This like is an irreal comparison, a possibility but not necessarily real. A substitute for something that could also be somewhere else at this point. Resembling small housing units, the blocks are spread across the white, square pages, designed to bring structure to the reality of the formless surface. Shapes and Grids along which we wander, creating rooms for a potential life that continues inside them.
In the middle of the book, she writes:
It was like dreaming that you are given the keys to a model city and feeling the burden of ownership, the keys weighing down your coat pocket so severely you start dreaming of giving them back. (1)
Same for me: It was like making a plan to visit a model city and then that plan was interrupted. Visiting a model city raises the question of the effect that the constructed reality has on our life (together). In what terms does it help us to get along or stay out of it, and is there a way of not passively following what has been so carefully planned, but actively using the structures and thus shifting the meaning of them without necessarily changing them?
The meaning of whether a window is built vertically or horizontally, whether the Via Veneto is built as a run-way for the horses, on which the law enforcers ride, the façade intended as a lean-to place for a tired person seeking rest from the crowd, and and whether the balcony provides a view of the Piazza del Popolo or vice versa, is a progressive symphony.
To plan a city is both to think the very plurality of the real and to make that way of thinking the plural effective; it is to know how to articulate it and be able to do it. (2)