Thursday, September 14, 2006

Cities of Men

I find it very interesting the uses of city that we have come across in our first two readings. In Calvino's text cities are places, locations, dwellings, what we would initially think of a city to be. But, in Augustine's text a city is not a location or a place, it is a group, or "society" of men. I find it interesting how flexible the word city is that it can be used to explain something as simple as a place but also as complex as a group of people.

In Augustine's text he refers to two cities: The Heavenly City and The Earthly City. I agree with a lot of what the others have posted, but I think Augustine meant to look at the "cities" not as places but as groups of people. The Heavenly city is a group of men/people living their life in accordance to God and striving to find their place in Heaven after death. The Earthly City is a group of men that live their life according to their own needs and desires, not in accordance with what God wants, either uncaring of their position after death or ignorant of the idea of Heaven.

Most of the discussion the other day on the second half of Calvino's text was about what makes a city a city, or what is the essence of the city. Many of the conclusions were that a city is what the people who live in it make it do be. A city is built on the experiences and lives of the people living in it. I think this creates an interesting parallel with the Augustine piece. Even though Augustine clearly states that his cities are groups of people and Calvino describes his cities as actual tangible places, both are speaking of the same thing, just in different terms. If what we deduced in class is correct, that cities are what the people who live in them make, then Augustine and Calvino are both talking about cities as groups of men/people. I think it's really neat how an entirely different definition of city has emerged from these two readings and I'm sure many more will appear throughout the course of the year. I'm personally excited to take these new ideas and apply them to what I see an experience during my time in the city.