There are many different ways to experience the cities from all around the world. When you’re walking, your gaze is wondering, you can experience your own presence within the space compared to when you’re driving or cycling. In the city, you’re exposed to so many things such as robbery, traffic, collisions, danger, and congestion. This is heightened when you are walking as when you are driving you are in your car, in your own space.
Sometimes, you can get lost in the city without even realising it, you were meant to be moved. One of the most interesting cities in terms of the tourist industry would be in Naples, Italy. ‘The travelling citizen who gropes his way as far as Rome from one work of art to the next, as along a stockade, loses his nerve in Naples (Benjamin, 1995, pg.164)’. Benjamin infers that tourists are moved hurriedly though the city as they are rushed through by the locals, pushing them to buy their goods in the market, leading them to frustration and resentment of visiting the area. Tourists get lost in the space, they are moved between the space when they sightsee or stroll. There is a particular rhythm through these cities, sometimes it can be pleasant and sometimes it can be uncomfortable.
There are other cities such as LA where the city is designed to be navigated through by driving. Some would agree this as a negative thing, as it means that those who can’t drive cannot experience the city, and when you’re in the car you’re in your own space, you’re not experiencing your presence in the space.
Different metaphors are used to describe how one discovers the strange city; through a maze, a book, a stage, a ruin. The way one experiences the city depends on their agenda. One who has a plan and a pathway will experience the space in a more structural way, whereas one who is set out to stroll freely are more likely to be relaxed and discover the city in a completely different way.
- Benjamin, W. (1995) Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings. USA: Random House.