Sunday, September 17, 2006

Invisible Cities

After reading Calvino’s “Invisible Cities”, and then Augustine’s “City of God”, the stark difference in their writing methods is the first thing that comes to my mind. While both present the idea that a choice needs to be made, and the imagery of inferno, it is in two completely different styles. As powerful as Augustine’s writing was, I found it too forceful upon the reader, and thought that for me personally Calvino did a better job of creating a thought-provoking piece. Calvino’s book was intriguing to read and raised excellent and challenging questions. While Augustine presents the same call to choose in human lifestyle, it was hard for me not to read it almost as a harsh scolding or preach. > One passage in particular of Augustine’s reminded me of an experience I had volunteering last semester at “My Sister’s Place”. On page 639, Augustine writes what can lead to the death of a city, and he says pride in triumph can lead to a city’s death, but also fear in losing after a triumph can lead to its death as well. To me it seemed as though Augustine sets up a lose-lose situation for earthly beings. I remember while serving dinner one night to the women at the shelter, one woman in particular was shouting out in the corner various bible passages, and then proceeded to yell at me for coming into the city to volunteer just to try to show her I was better than her. I felt in this situation frustrated, and felt for the first time that my service may be looked down upon by the women I was interacting with. I felt for that moment that no matter what I did I could do no right. Of course this was one difficult situation out of many positive experiences I took from my service hours last semester, but I feel it paralleled with this small excerpt from Augustine on city triumphs.> I did strongly agree when Augustine wrote that the good on earth is good, but not better than heavenly goodness, and that we must remember every gift comes from God. I think he wrote this very eloquently, and honest. One thing I certainly appreciated about his writing was his straightforwardness.