February 10, 2013

I am the City Kitty

People can see nothing around them that is not their own image; everything speaks to them of themselves. Their very landscape is animated.*
I had an interesting conversation the other day. The boy's words spoke to me of myself as we sat drinking coffee and merrily thinking out loud with each other. We were talking about the idea of wandering around cities and how certain places made us feel. He introduced me to the basics of psychogeography.
Psychogeography is an approach to geography that emphasises playfulness and 'drifting' around urban environments, taking pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolting them into a new awareness of urban landscape.**
He shared with me how he had studied the idea that cities have two different types of ambiance. Those which are soft and those which are hard. Soft ambiances are the projection of light, sound, time and the association of ideas, while hard ambiances are the physical constructions. Both of these ambiances have effects on the behaviours and emotions of the individual.
When I say that the boy's words spoke to me of myself, I mean that by my very nature, I am a wanderer, drifting off beaten tracks. My family could tell you stories of losing me left, right and centre as a child. A mood or direction would take me and when I should have been someplace, likely of hard ambiance like a museum, in truth I'd be long gone; caught up, enticed and lead astray by something softer like a smell, a sound or an interesting face. Cries of 'Sally?' would be way out of my earshot and I'd be engulfed in this cloud of curiosity that would take its time to fade, after which they'd often find me waiting patiently or, on occasion, beside myself with tears and sick with the thought that I had lost my family forever, my mind still foggy from the cloud.
These days, I am prone on a daily basis to still be lost to these ambiances. I am very much a creature of my own emotions, allowing them to lead me where they will and delighting in the unpredictable exchanges that they might bring or of the mood they might inspire. My lifestyle lends me the blessing of fancy and I think that if I couldn't wander, I couldn't be myself. My life is one long walk that never ends. Perhaps for these reasons, I don't think I'll ever own a car. Saying that, I often have romantic fantasies of driving for the sake of discovering places by the light of the early morning sun, with some nice song playing in the background and the promise of a beautiful day.
Since I started writing the City Kitty, a lot of people have asked me what the reasons are behind it. Is it for business? Is it for pleasure? What do I get out of it?
While you'll see interviews with people and articles about businesses, these places are ones that I have found while drifting and ones that are run by people who themselves form the softer ambiances of a city.
There is a hidden landscape of atmospheres, histories, actions and characters which influence environment.***
I am drawn to people. I am drawn to places and I am drawn to sharing. I suppose you could say that the City Kitty is a simply a document of the driving force that sends me out and about and my desire to tell people about it. Both my blogs are part of a quest to find out more about myself and to be able to answer people with conviction when they say who are you and what do you do? This question is still something that I have a lot of trouble with.

So, I propose that rather than ask questions or to rely on facts, why not follow me on my wanderings? Why not be inspired by light, sounds and smells and take the time to wander alone and discover the streets and nooks that are out there begging to influence the way that you think and feel and ultimately open your eyes, your ears and your mind?
A good walk in a city or someplace and allowing yourself time just to absorb softer ambiances is like listening to a beautiful piece of music. It can take you high or it can take you low but no matter where it goes, each journey has the potential to leave unforgettable impressions on your soul. 

 If everything speaks to us of ourselves then why not take the time to listen?

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*Karl Marx
***Thomas de Quincey
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