Whenever I come to a new city I always hear echos of the famous opening lines of Rainer Maria Rilke’s only novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge:
So, then people do come here in order to live; I would sooner have thought one died here. I have been out. I saw: hospitals. I saw a man who swayed and sank to the ground. People gathered round him, so I was spared the rest. I saw a pregnant woman. She was pushing herself cumbrously along a high, warm wall, groping for it now and again as if to convince herself it was still there. Yes, it was still there.
I find these lines of Rilke’s — in Stephen Mitchell’s fluid and poetic translation — capture the disorientating force of the sense impressions we’d receive if we could learn to see our cityscapes anew, as if for the first time…
Seeing the familiar things anew: that is one of the goals of this blog.