Invisible Cities

Invisible cities is a book about ways of seeing. It sits at a balance point between poetry, architecture, design, deconstruction, and magical realism.

Marco Polo narrates. The book is composed of 55 prose poems, each about a city he has visited. Each city belongs to a theme:

  1. Cities & Memory
  2. Cities & Desire
  3. Cities & Signs
  4. Thin Cities
  5. Trading Cities
  6. Cities & Eyes
  7. Cities & Names
  8. Cities & the Dead
  9. Cities & the Sky
  10. Continuous Cities
  11. Hidden Cities

These themes repeat in a sequences that resemble generative music. The structure is there, but it's hard to put a finger on what exactly the structure is.

The poems themeselves have recurring tropes that suggest an elusive pattern.

  • Evocative materials: glass, bronze, bone
  • Imports and exports
  • Key locations: temples, markets, stables, towers

Each poem can be read as magical realism, a metaphor, or a way of seeing. For example:

4. Trading Cities

In Ersilia, to establish the relationships that sustain the city's life, the inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses, white or black or gray or black-and-white according to whether they mark a relationship of blood, of trade, authority, agency. When the strings become so numerous that you can no longer pass among them, the inhabitants leave: the houses are dismantled; only the strings and their supports remain.

Is this a description of a real city, or a description of all real cities?