Webster's dictionary defines ruminate as "to go over in the mind repeatedly
and often casually or slowly".
In the Windows version of Sim City 2000 and Mac ver 1.1,
select the query tool and click on one of your libraries and a window will
pop up with statistics. At the bottom of this window you will see a button
labeled RUMINATE. Click on that and you will see the following essay on cities.
Cities are not people. But, like people, cities have their own personalities:
in some cases one city has many different personalities -- there are a dozen
Londons, a crowd of different New Yorks.
A city is a collection of lives and buildings, and it has identity and
personality. Cities exist in location, and in time.
There are good cities -- the ones that welcome you, that seem to care
about you, that seem pleased you're in them. There are indifferent cities --
the ones that honestly don't care if you're there or not; cities with their
own agendas, the ones that ignore people. There are cities gone bad, and there
are places in otherwise healthy cities as rotten and maggotty as windfall
apples. There are even cities that seem lost -- some, lacking a centre, feel
like they would be happier being elsewhere, somewhere smaller, somewhere easier
Some cities spread, like cancers or B-movie slime monsters, devouring all in
their way, absorbing towns and villages, swallowing boroughs and hamlets,
transmuting into boundless conurbations. Other cities shrink -- once
prosperous areas empty and fail: buildings empty, windows are boarded up,
people leave, and sometimes they cannot even tell you why.
Occasionally I idle time away by wondering what cities would be like, were
they people. Manhattan is, in my head, fast-talking, untrusting, well-dressed
but unshaven. London is huge and confused. Paris is elegant and attractive,
older than she looks. San Francisco is crazy, but harmless, and very friendly.
It's a foolish game: cities aren't people.
Cities exist in location, and they exist in time. Cities accumulate their
personalities as time goes by. Manhattan remembers when it was unfashionable
farmland. Athens remembers the days when there were those who considered
themselves Athenians. There are cities that remember being villages. Other
cities -- currently bland, devoid of personality -- are prepared to wait
until they have history. Few cities are proud: they know that it's all too
often a happy accident, a mere geographical fluke that they exist at all --
a wide harbour, a mountain pass, the confluence of two rivers.
At present, cities stay where they are.
For now cities sleep.
But there are rumblings. Things change. And what if, tommorrow cities wake,
and go walking? If Tokyo engulfed your town? If Vienna came striding over
the hill toword you? If the city you inhabit today just upped and left,
and you woke tommorrow wrapped in a thin blanket on an empty plain, where
Detroit once stood, or Sydney, or Moscow?
Don't ever take a city for granted.
After all, it is bigger than you are; it is older; and it has learned
how to wait...
- Neil Gaiman
|This Web Page was created by
Patrick Coston July 22, 1995,
Last updated April 4, 2006