Palimpsestical urbanism

Via Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House I’m enjoying an immersion in Istanbul, an Istanbul of not-so-distant future, replete with realized nanotechnologies. Several times I’ve almost gotten to copying out redolent passages, but this one tickled various bits of the mental spiderweb and tipped me over the edge:

Urbomancer. City witch… [she] discovered that a better living could be made just walking the city’s streets charting mental maps, recording how history was attracted to certain locations in layer upon layer of impacted lives in a cartography of meaning; delineating a spiritual geography of many gods and theisms; compiling an encyclopedia of how space had shaped mind and mind had shaped space through three thousand years of the Queen of Cities. Hers was a walking discipline, like the practices of the peripatetic dervishes. It proceeded at the speed of footsteps, which is the speed of history, and at that speed, on those long walks that are the science’s method, connections and correspondences appear. Strange symmetries appear between separated buildings as if some urban continental drift has taken place. Streets follow ancient, atavistic needs. Tramlines track ancient watercourses; the words of gods and emperors are spoken in stone. Human geographies, maps of the heart; fish markets far from the sea, districts in which trades have become fossilized, or die out in one generation only to return decades later. Subtle demarcations; odd transitions between restaurant cuisines: Aegean on this junction, Eastern down that alley. Cursed sites where no business has ever succeeded though a neighbor two doors down will flourish; addresses where if you live on one side of the street you are ten times more likely to be burgled than the other… (105-106)

…and in a Remarkable bit of Co-Incidence, along comes this blog posting on Tarlabaşi from David Hagerman, one of my favorite photographers (and see recent postings on FOOD in Istanbul at Robyn Eckhardt’s deliriously wonderful EatingAsia).

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