Response to Whitehead

Whitehead’s work was interesting, because it seemed to embody so many points that I truly believe about New York. Explaining how New York is the “eye of the beholder”, it’s interesting to see how he truly believes in the spirit of the city. “I’m here because I was born here and thus ruined for anywhere else” (1), he begins. New York is what you want it to be, and you are forever creating your own version of it. “You are a New Yorker the first time you say, ‘That used to be a Munsey’s’” (3). From the first moment you lay your eyes on New York, you start building your own private version of it. “The New York City you live in is not my New York City; how could it be?” He explains that while the buildings may change, the core of the memories that you have made will still be there when you go back to visit. “We can never make proper goodbyes” (3), Whitehead laments. You have no warning for when the city changes. The streets are “calendars” (2) containing who we were, and who we will be next.

Whitehead claims that once you are a New Yorker, you will always be one. He explains that one day the city will be gone, “and when it goes, we will go” (Whitehead). It sounds sad to the naked eye, but in a way, it is beautiful. We see ourselves in the city. The history is ongoing, and that means that we must come to terms with the fact that “New York will go on without us” (6). I think that this is one of the reasons that we are so attracted to the city. New York will go on without us, and that should give us hope. This means that New York will not fall when we do. New York will not be held back by our mistakes, or the mistakes of those that we love or hate. An ongoing, living thing, Whitehead personifies New York. He sees it as a parental figure, and speaks of it lovingly. My favorite moment is when he says that “the city knows you better than any living person” (5), because it has seen you “all alone” (5). In this respect, I am like Whitehead. I look up at the buildings when I come home late at night. I don’t see them as frightening towers, I see them as comforting protectors. The city sees me alone and lets me live. Eventually I will have a family that will say “I was born here and ruined for anywhere else” (1). I cannot think of something better than having New York “ruin” you, to be able to watch the city around you grow and fall and grow again, knowing that it will go on without you, knowing that you can never hold progress back.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. jwclegg
    Feb 27, 2014 @ 19:03:08

    Nice detailed use of the reading. You clearly sat with this and developed your own perspective on it. Well-written.

    Reply

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