The Spirit of Cities:
Israeli academic Avner de-Shalit gave a talk on his new book, the Spirit of Cities, at the RSA. Based on at the idea that the spirit or ethos of a city can be captured, the book covers nine modern cities through a series of interviews. They didn’t cover London because he said there isn’t one ethos, rather several competing ones, which seems to negate their theory somewhat. In the talk, he didn’t address either the changing nature of cities and peoples either. Indeed, his characterisation of a top-down authoritarian Berlin didn’t ring true to me, or to a German friend who has lived there. What the book appears to boil down to is a series of subjective anecdotes that aren’t necessarily that reflective of the lived experience for many (although I imagine the authors would claim they are). Still, it’s always nice to hear folks talk about cities…..