Vanishing Point A Bookand Websiteby Ander Monson



Inside the city there is another. Inside another there is other, then her, then he or maybe er. Your office window faces the city. It overlooks exactly three lights. Your laptop light is visible from the street, so you are talking back, or giving back, to the city with its dearth of lights. You imagine no one else is up: this time of night is yours alone, and that is powerful. You could go for a walk, peer in windows, see what people watch if they are awake this late at night. Pornography? Law & Order? Something deeply satisfying, or something trashy: it could be anything.

Silence becomes the city. It's the exception to the daytime action, but this means all this structure is yours alone. These moments are important. Through them you connect to it, the city, and to its pocket silences. Some people feel this way about the woods, about fishing, about hunting, about hiking. They have their allure, sure, especially where I come from, but I'm more interested in human construction, especially those abandoned or in the process of being returned to another use. I'm not a fetishist for the city of New York like many writers are (so many stories, so many writers, so many wanderers and Law & Order watchers waiting to see a place on the show that they have been to personally (if you live in NYC and watch a lot of L&O, it will not take too long). You can only listen to so many dreary Leonard Cohen songs before you want to punch New York in its tinny mouth.

Having said that, it's a pretty good city. But if you don't live there, it's like you don't exist at all.

I'm partial, as I think I've said elsewhere, to the second cities, the third cities, the cities sans cool, the ones that are still really trying to do something, but aren't succeeding fully. The half-empty cities. The navigable ones. The more knowable worlds. The ones with less words written about them. Grand Rapids. Tucson. Battle Creek. Cleveland. Sacramento. Pittsburgh. These are yet undiscovered countries. They return your attention, though they're indifferent to your adjectives.