Thursday, September 14, 2006

A longing for cities

It seems as though there can be a strong comparison drawn between Calvino's Invisible Cities and Augustine's "City of God". In Invisible Cities, Calvino starts off with the line: "When a man rides a long time through wild regions he feels the desire for a city" (pg 8). When reading Augustine I continuously came back to this line. People in the earthly city long for power whereas the heavenly earth seeks a unity with God over themselves. In both cases the people who live in either world live there because they long for power and will do any means to get it, or simply long for a better life with God, the almighty and therefore work to end up in that world.
Another common thing between the Cities in Calvino's story and Augustine's essay is that both narrators seem to base the cities on a specific one that they have in their minds. For example, Marco Polo is constantly comparing the cities he visits to Venice, always judging them on what he already knows. Also, the more cities he visits the more he seems to develope one perfect city, one that is all of the positives of the cities he has visited. In terms of Augustine, he takes what he knows, he sees the sinful earthly world and even though he has never seen it he develops a city that is heavenly. It is everything that the earthly world is not. There is no war, sin, anger, hatred. It is a land inwhich everyone is equal. Both narrators take what they know, and see that there still can be something better.
One major difference between the two books is that Calvino draws on numerous cities and continuously developing on it, to a point that a reader starts to see that it could be thought of as one big city. But its an opinion that the reader is meant to discover on their own. Augustine lectures and tells the reader what is right and what is wrong. He sees the earthly city as only being evil and that his opinion is the only one that is proper. Therefore, it seems as though he is seeing the world in 2D, not really trying to see the good. Whereas Calvino gives the reader the world as it is, both the good and bad and allows them to come to their own opinion.