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The Sacred City

"At night, the city is no more full of dreams than at any other time. That's where people go wrong. They think that the daytime city full of money, and work, and people who know where they're going is the real one, but I look all the time for the real city and it's not as simple as that. It's not simple at all.

You might think you might find it by digging holes or staring at the pavement, but it's not there in the mud and stone and brick. The real city is alive and breathing. You can look for it in the buildings, in the way they're built and why and how they look in the light, what someone called 'the spectacle organized by architecture.' But how could that be the real city? The real city is not organized by anyone. It just uses certain places to make itself seen, and the best architects know this and don't overreach themselves.

I don't know about the people. They seem to be living some great truth, like the dance of atoms, and of course it's not anything they understand individually. But still you could investigate them, follow a few threads of their lives, their friends, and those they work with. You could even find out what remains of their ancestors, and you'd still be no closer to that which moves and connects them.

It is that which gives me a feeling I've never known before. I'll call it a religious feeling 'cause I've no other word for it. When I see all of this, this city full of light and sound, and there's so much that you can't even imagine knowing all of it, so beautiful and so hideous all at once, it is then I start to think there might be a new god that only lives in cities.

It's not every day you discover a new god, especially such a powerful ambivalent one, sometimes a drunken stinking dangerous god, certainly. But still, the correct response to a god or a goddess, any kind, is worship. I don't care what anyone says, and that's what I want to do. I feel like St. Joan must have felt when she heard her voices, like a blasphemer. But I think we can do with more gods, not less, and I'll take that chance. And of course the presence of a god makes the city a sacred place, which is what I've always thought anyway.

Look at it. Just look at it. How could it not be?" ~ Barry Andrews
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  • Current Music: Shriekback - My Vast Behaviour
Interesting thoughts from Barry. I'm not a fan of cities. They serve a purpose in society and commerce. At an atomic level cities are a dense concentration of energy comprised of all the compacted materials and human life that shares a very small space. Because of this density of energy, they create a vibe all their own. Every city seems to have a personality or an overwhelming characteristic that sets it apart from other cities of the same size and activity. Along the lines of Barry saying they all have their own god. Some are friendly, some stir the creative muse, and some are dour or downright evil in the vibe they give off. I can't stay in them - the big ones - for long. I get nervous as a cat and need to reach a place that is more open, less dense, where my energy can flow again.
I know what you mean. But Barry is great lover of humanity. He would often stay behind at the smaller Shriek gigs to hang out with the people and just dig on their energy. As a misanthropist, I can conceive of this, but to each his own. His primary inspiration for 'Sacred City' and 'Secrets of the City' was London. If he had remained in Swindon, I doubt he would have ever written this.