Memory is redundant: it repeats signs so that the city can begin to exist.
Perhaps, Kublai thought, the empire is nothing but a zodiac of the mind’s phantasms.
the emperor is he who is a foreigner to each of his subjects,
that the more one was lost in unfamiliar quarters of distant cities, the more one understood the other cities he had crossed to arrive there;
By now, from that real or hypothetical past of his, he is excluded; he cannot stop; he must go on to another city, where another of his pasts awaits him, or something perhaps that had been a possible future of his and is now someone else’s present.
Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.”
“Memory’s images, once they are fixed in words, are erased,”
“You return from your voyages with a cargo of regrets!”
Kublai reflected on the invisible order that sustains cities, on the rules that decreed how they rise, take shape and prosper, adapting themselves to the seasons, and then how they sadden and fall in ruins.
There is the city where you arrive for the first time; and there is another city which you leave never to return.
“I speak and speak,” Marco says, “but the listener retains only the words he is expecting.”
Traveling, you realize that differences are lost: each city takes to resembling all cities, places exchange their form, order, distances, a shapeless dust cloud invades the continents.
The catalogue of forms is endless: until every shape has found its city, new cities will continue to be born.
Convinced that every innovation in the city influences the sky’s pattern, before taking any decision they calculate the risks and advantages for themselves and for the city and for all worlds.
I recognize only cities and cannot distinguish what is outside them. In uninhabited places each stone and each clump of grass mingles, in my eyes, with every other stone and clump.
If I tell you that the city toward which my journey tends is discontinuous in space and time, now scattered, now more condensed, you must not believe the search for it can stop.
The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.