The Subjective City


It’s not a good thing  – subjectivity isn’t. Yet, experience leads one towards a highly subjective view about a city (any city?): that it’s not a material-objective entity as popular wisdom would have us believe. This is not to deny the material existence of the thing itself. All cities exist in their material form, verifiable through senses, but sensory perception is not all. The material city acts as the stratum that the roots of memory capsules penetrate to germinate upon and flourish as the city in the form of the summation of all the memories and emotions and experiences an individual had had there. Thus, it is elementary that no two persons look upon and experience the same city at any given moment – although they look at the same space and at the same time. Their being two distinct and different organisms with random variations in life experiences and memories causes them to generate (not invent) their own personal cities that are and aren’t the same at any given point of time.

This hypothesis, of the extremely subjective nature of the city-text requires detailed and methodical testing in order to be given the name of a theory. The provisional status of the hypothesis notwithstanding, it may safely be assumed that there will be exceptions to it even when it becomes a theory, if it ever does. That’s true in case of many popular and grand theories – exceptions are present as a rule. What would the exception to the rule of extreme subjectivity of the city-text read like? That a city is a material entity circumscribed by the geographical demarcation lines on a map, and that even when there are perceptional differences, the city remains the same for some, if not all.

It’s logical that those of a city, those who have known it for a long time, may have seen and experienced a city different from those who do not belong there, or whose  exposure to the city isn’t for a comparable time period . Based on the time, type and variety of exposures to the city  they know the city differently, i.e. for any two of them, it’s a different city when they think of it.

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