Monday, May 20, 2013

Story on a Stamp

It's a story on a stamp.

Well, it's not a story, but a comment about the nature of cities as collections of stories.

I find a number of things of interest here:

1. That the author is a flaneur. The city is to be known by walking it. A cyclist can be a flaneur too. This idea needs to be brought back to life and applied to discussions of placemaking, public art, and urban life.

2. But how do I access its stories as I walk? Where, and how might we actually inscribe stories into the very streets and buildings--in a publicly accessible manner? What if stories were related by a kind of street actor, or interpreter? (We will never forget our wonderful guide in the Berlin Insider Tour in 2011.) They could be media objects, and the street could be a guided tour on one's cellphone. What if they were steganography?

3. The "space" for the story is the size of a stamp--a small, but arguably high-value space (at $63 a square foot, right now, and microprinting adds value!). That the publication of one's literary work on a stamp was a prize. This might be a way to give voice to the young, and stimulate new talent. This is replicable.

4. OK, so it's not a story. It's a paradigmatic statement instead. Is there not room for both? Perhaps, but stories are more accessible.

Here it is:

"The 60c stamp was commissioned to celebrate Dublin’s permanent designation as a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010. It was unveiled at Roddy Doyle’s Fighting Words Centre earlier today.
Designed by the Stone Twins, two Amsterdam-based Irish designers, the bright yellow rectangle includes all 224 words of Eoin Moore’s short story which strives to capture the “essence” of the capital. It was chosen from a host of works completed by participants in Dublin’s Fighting Words’ creative writing programme."

Here is 17 year old Eoin’s observation in full:
The thick clouds cover up the moonlight, but the city’s lights provide worthwhile illumination – above them all, the beacon burns bright atop the monolithic podium, signalling to wayfaring voyages the ancient Viking settlement.  Now, where Norsemen once stood, I look back, along the quays, streets and alleys, to where the inhabitants live their lives: eating, speaking, and breathing their city into existence.  It gives me cause to wonder, as I stroll aimlessly along the cobbled paths, about those who have traversed them before me, by carriage or before there were even cobbles to walk upon.  I feel their lives and mine are somehow connected, that we all were at one point a part of this city, living pieces of its grand, striking framework.   Every High King and scholar, every playwright and poet, every politician and every rebel, every merchant, student, and busker who ever set foot in the city holds or held onto a chunk of this city’s soul; every one of them stepped to the city’s heartbeat.  I listen to the streets at night and I can feel the city’s lifeblood pumping through me; I can feel myself flowing through it.  All of us who travel those arteries step on the words, actions, and lives of those who travelled them before us. The city embodies the people, and the people embody the city.

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