Anderson's marvelous book starts where Western civilization started, in Plato's cave. But unlike the Ancient, Anderson stays there. He celebrates the shadows, and in so doing, charts the many roads not quite taken. His inspired book is a brilliant, unrelenting survey of cities in legend, in films, in ruins, in novels, in ideology, in the sky, in the future, and beyond. It has an itinerary, if not an explicit argument, and Anderson probes each vision for its implicit definition of humanity and its solutions to problems of how to live, and especially how to live together. His comments are brief, but incisive, and often as irresistible as aphorisms. (“The idea of the city as a state of mind must factor in that minds and cities are by no means stable things.”) Thrilling as these comments are (nowhere else would King Kong and his ilk be characterized as “fervent architectural critics”), much of the book is descriptive, and perhaps the most amazing feat Anderson performs in this prodigious collection of places glimpsed by few and actually seen by fewer, is to bring each to vivid life using only the imagery of words. This fantasia of an essay, as it goes from Marco Polo’s half-remembered/half-invented East to the various Utopias of More, Francis Bacon, Campanella, and Léonidov, from the lost lands of Atlantis, Uruk, and Ji to Gaudí’s unrealized buildings for the site later occupied by the Twin Towers, from the visions of Italian Futurists to space-age Googie architecture—and more!—is truly a map of the imagination, that most teeming, sprawling, revelatory city of all.
Imaginary Cities - Darran Anderson
Published: University of Chicago Press - April 6th, 2017