The impossible scale of cities

The things that people do and make when they’re crowded together: stand on top of each other; build a sky from glass; cut into the past with shards of what could be, if we keep going.

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I walk a big-city street and feel held in by the upward expanses. The sound of everything is almost a muffling of any one thing. The scale of it is immediately comprehensible when I’m on foot, inside of it. Gigantic.

But if I make a photo, and try to get that actual scale to fit into a frame—suddenly the size of nothing makes sense. The big things are small, but don’t end. The big things are surrounded by ever bigger things, that are also small once they jump inside the edges of a photo. I could fit one million myselves into the buildings nestled in the photo, but I scan it all with my entire eye in one second. Just one eye ever would catch it all, in a picture.

And on the street I see almost none of it, because I’m inside of it. It is a living thing and I’m a floating organism. And I’m inconsequential, and the scale of me is also impossible. Impossibly small. The bigness of me is made smaller and smaller within the edges of the city.

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