City As Puzzle Picture

puzzle1.jpgWhen I was young, I played with picture-puzzles. One of these puzzles was a psychedelic composition not unlike something you'd see in Heavy Metal. Each of the pieces was fascinating in and of themselves, because the drawing was so detailed that each puzzle piece contained complete little pictures. When snapped together, the puzzle formed a larger composition, and these little pictures simply became texture for the larger whole. Same with the Muppet Movie puzzle we had.

When I returned from Mukogaoka-Yuen, while walking through Shinjuku Station, leaving the Odakyu rail line, emerging into the Odakyu department store, I began to make new turns, not knowing where they would lead, making my way through another department store, and another, and finally emerging on another street with no name, and not knowing where I was headed. Yet I kept going forward, following my nose and the hair on the back of my neck, and Tokyo did not disappoint: there was something to see at every turn. In Europe, or New York, I might have considered myself lost. But here, the concept of being lost has become useless. There is no Lost, there is only being-where-you-are. The city, like the vernacular buildings I toured today, is composed of a bunch of puzzle pieces, assemblages that join together with no nails, details that I am content to study before I know where they belong in the larger picture. Each store, street, and cyclist is a picture unto itself. For me, just emerging from my jet lag, the pieces aren't strung together, except the four conjoined department stores I walked through today, and the pieces that were still together when I dropped them from the box. The continuum is implied, but not yet visible.

In short, the city picture already exists, but putting it all together is simply a matter of time and careful observation.


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