Thursday, January 17, 2008

A City of Observers

A City of Observers

From the upper level of the Whole Foods Market at 6th and Lamar one can see a piece of a city of lights. One can see the surrounding businesses with all of their signs lit up, drawing in capitalistic profit, waiting for their purpose to be realized, watching the street below in contempt. Some of the signs try to be flashy, using shock value to entice. Others try to be simple, discrete, allowing their nature to be demure and patience to get them through the boredom. And yet still others are simply there, neither enticing nor calm, lacking any kind of attitude that might increase profits or bring notoriety to their store. These are the worst; these are the ones that allow the eye to pass over easily, only to be drawn back because no information was gained with the first glance. They are cruel and meaningless, a trick of the eye meant to distract from the daily circus. These lights are a city of observers and are thereby meant to be observed.

The interior city of lights is much brighter, much more consistent in its luminescence. From the upper level one can see all of the supporting threads that hold up this canopy of light over the market below. This intermediate region, between the ceiling and the roof, is a city in and of itself; a city behind a city, lighting it up and making it possible. But this city’s height makes it impossible to attain, to interact with. It, too, is a city of observers and is thereby meant to be observed, but never reached.

The city of car lights is one that is constantly moving. It wraps around buildings and people, avoiding them at all costs. These lights are dynamic, ever changing, ever important. Even their colors signify something. Even the shape of the lights signifies the style and cost of the attached vehicle. These lights tell the story of their body. They glow when moving, some glow brighter when stopping, some glow when moving backward, some flash when turning, and some flash when in trouble. By simply making note of these lights and their behavior over time, one can say with a degree of certainty where the body has been and by which routes it got there. It may even be said that these lights are more important than the body they are attached to, but never more important than the body they protect, the body all of these lights are meant to interact with, but never directly. The city of car lights is one meant to protect and warn. It is only to be observed and never reached.

Man is the reason these lights exist. These silent cities of light are all tools and observers to the city of man that happens around them. They entice man, they help man, and they protect man. They do not, however, interact directly with man. This is of the utmost importance, for if they were to do so they would lose their ephemeral quality, and ironically, in order to do so, they would have to lose their ephemeral quality. For that reason, they will always be a city of observers, meant to be observed, but never reached.