08 August 2006

Gold-plated city

Yesterday the sun was shining so much that I simply didn't want to go home; the sharp evening light is one of many little things I love about the UK. So I was rambling and wandering through the streets of Manchester city centre, when all of a sudden, approaching Albert Square, it struck me that some yellowish old building from the XIX century actually looked like it was made of gold and silver. I realized that this was probably how it was meant to look, when the stones were new and clean and the air composition was different... suddenly, all those tales of magical cities, with busy streets full of merchants trading fortunes, and buildings made of gold and silver, looked strikingly similar to what places like Manchester tried very hard to be.

Nowadays, Utopia is made of glass and metal; the mass-market revolution built its fantasy world from Fritz Lang and pulp sci-fi, where wealth is not measured by storing huge quantities of scarce and ultimately frivolous metals, but in affirming the predominance of human intelligence on the physical world.

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