How Soon Is Now - excerpt, Cities

I am currently finishing a new book, How Soon Is Now?, which will be published next year by Watkins Press. Below is a short excerpt from the book - I will publish more excepts periodically.

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"The great city is the icon and the soul of our modern, now postmodern, world, celebrated in endless songs, stories, and fables. The city was the dark labyrinth where Kafka’s K faced his trial, where Stephen Daedalus sought his beloved, where T.S. Eliot found his wasteland, where Allen Ginsberg unleashed his howl. Ambitious young people still flock to the city, yearning to make their mark on the zeitgeist, chasing the sparks and embers of genius, seeking some incandescence of being - some cluster of holy moments, profane illuminations. The seemingly ephemeral new expressions of art and thought eventually become crystallized, formalized in new institutions and built environments: “The translation of ideas into common habits and customs, of personal choices and designs into urban structures, is one of the prime functions of the city,” wrote Lewis Mumford in The City in History.

Culturally, we need to reimagine cities as, in designer John Todd’s phrase, “scaffoldings for living systems,” as biodigestors and composters, as places of self-sufficiency and abundance, where food is grown, energy is produced, and waste is recycled. Cities should be the human equivalent of a coral reef or a beehive, in a harmonious and supportive relationship with their surrounding ecosystems. The basis of social life should be cooperation, participatory democracy, efficient resource-sharing, ongoing learning, and mutual aid."