My Decompression Chamber in the Compacting City

It’s been a while since I ventured outside my comfort zone. If I wanted I could find many things to blame. Maybe it was settling in a new country. Perhaps New York City overwhelmed me. Another possibility: the American media machine’s bombardment left me tired, especially in such tumultuous times. Did academic writing make me overcautious: probably. In any case, one seldom trace how one got somewhere; one finds oneself already in a mood, space, and time. The question is what to do with where you find yourself.

Baudrillard once wrote of New York City: “In New York the people represent only themselves, not the rest of society. The city represents only itself, not the rest of America. This is what gives it its global importance. It is a detector, a sensor of prestige; its charm is to have transformed not only the rest of the United States, but rest of the world into an immense province”. In short, New York City is a compactor of space and time. It serves an exception: one at once constructs and destroys the provinces.

Yet, picking up on a metaphor at least as old as Plato, the city also mirrors in people. Space and time compact here for people. How long have you lived here? Five years. That’s substantial and yet a blink of an eye. One’s memory becomes a province and New York City the blurred exception where recollection’s only use is its usefulness. Stories, your’s and other’s become superfluous to what needs to be done. No wonder Human’s of New York is so popular: it’s one of the few places where stories still survive — mediated by a screen, always available, for a late night fix to the loss of one’s own narrative.

Over the next few weeks, for once, I will use this blog as a blog. But I prefer to call it a decompression chamber. Somewhere for stories, old post, and musing to let loose. Each will be around 300 words. Don’t expect neat writing. Instead, think of it as jazz with words. Typed into the ether, I hope at least one person finds it helpful and hopefully decide to decompress themselves as well.

Author Details

Calvyn du Toit

Calvyn C. du Toit is a PhD-candidate in Christian Spirituality at the University of South Africa (UNISA), and a Research Associated in the Department of Christian Dogmatics and Ethics at the University of Pretoria. He lives in New York City, where he is h(o)us(e)band to Christine, and 6PM Music Director at the Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal).

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