"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Smart Beautiful City

A CITY WHERE ALL'S ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS
All photos in this post ~ Astana, Kazakhstan ~ August 2017

Earlier this week, I spent two days at Purdue University's Dawn or Doom Conference, an annual event that takes a close look at both the rewards and risks of emerging technology. The theme for Dawn or Doom '17 was inspired by Professor Michael Bess's insightful, disturbing book about biomedically enhanced humans: Our Grandchildren Redesigned: Life in the Bioengineered Society of the Near Future. Topics ranged from Designing Humans (think Gattaca) to Designing Food (think Monsanto) to Designing Information (think fake news) to Designing the Workforce (think Brave New World) to Designing Cities:

"Whether it was Uruk,* the first ever human city, or Sumerians throwing up ziggurats like they were temporary housing, or the social engineering dreams of the 19th century utopians or the Puritans' visions of a godly “city on a hill,” humans have always seen cities as a way to solve humanity’s hardest problems.

"Of course, reality is a different beast. Cities are notoriously hard places to manage, among other things because of the amount of information required to allow them to run at all, let alone perfectly. But that doesn't mean people don't try to build perfection. And the latest incarnation of these utopian cities are known as “smart cities” their deep and embedded technology."
~ Gerry McCartney

*Uruk, was in Sumer but is regarded as pre-Sumerian.
Ur was up the road about 300 miles.

We then listened to two speakers who explained how these new “smart cities” are going to enable us to build the technological advanced “city on a hill” of the 21st Century: Mike Langellier from Techpoint and Paul Singh from Results Junkies.


Gerry's thought - provoking introduction to "Smart Cities" brought to mind a few connections worth sharing:

1. from Song of Myself, Part 42 ~ Walt Whitman

"A call in the midst of the crowd,
My own voice, orotund sweeping and final. . . .

This is the city and I am one of the citizens,
Whatever interests the rest interests me, politics, wars, markets,
newspapers, schools,
The mayor and councils, banks, tariffs, steamships, factories,
stocks, stores, real estate and personal estate . . .

the fathomless human brain . . . "


[See also Ferry Connections & House With a Past]


2. from the novel Benediction ~ Kent Haruf

"What if we said to our enemies [or at the national level, what if we said to our citizens]: We are the most powerful nation on earth. We can destroy you. We can kill your children. We can make ruins of your cities and villages and when we're finished you won't even know how to look for the places where they used to be. We have the power to take away your water and to scorch your earth, to rob you of the very fundamentals of life. We can change the actual day into actual night. We can do these things to you. And more.

"But what if we say, Listen: Instead of any of these, we are going to give willingly and generously to you. We are going to spend the great American national treasure and the will and the human lives that we would have spent on destruction, and instead we are going to turn them all toward creation. We'll mend your roads and highways, expand your schools, modernize your wells and water supplies, save your ancient artifacts and art and culture, preserve your temples and mosques. In fact, we are going to love you.
"


3. from the musical Godspell ~ Stephen Schwartz

Beautiful City

sung in the movie adaptation,
featuring Victor Garber, Lynne Thigpen, et. al.

Come sing me sweet rejoicing
Come sing me love
We're not afraid of voicing
All the things
We're dreaming of
Oh, high and low,
And everywhere we go

We can build
A beautiful city
Yes we can
Oh yes we can
We can build
A beautiful city
Call it out
And call it the city of man [and woman]

We don't need alabaster
We don't need chrome
We've got our special plaster
Take my hand
I'll take you home
We see nations rise
In each other's eyes

We can build
A beautiful city
Yes we can
Oh yes we can
We can build
A beautiful city
Call it out
And call it the city of man [and woman]

Come sing me sweet rejoicing
Come sing me love
We're not afraid of voicing
All the things
We're dreaming of
Oh, high and low,
And everywhere we go

We can build
A beautiful city
Yes we can
Oh yes we can
We can build
A beautiful city
Call it out
And call it the city of man [and woman]
**

**A simple suggestion, as Schwartz is
not exactly known for inclusive gender.


In closing, I'm charmed by these contrasting thoughts about the men and women who populate the cities. Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892) offers an expansive view, complete with quaintly agrarian metaphor:

"In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barley-corn less,
And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them.
"

from Song of Myself, Part 20)

For others, the human density not only of a large smart city but even of a beautiful college town can be overwhelming. A hundred years before Whitman, English poet Thomas Gray (1716 - 1771) wrote:

"Cambridge is a delight of a place now, there is nobody in it.
I do believe you would like it, if you knew what it was without inhabitants.
It is they, I assure you, that get it an ill name and spoil all.
"

from the Works of Thomas Gray

SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS ON MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Saturday, October 14th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts
www.dailykitticarriker.blogspot.com

More Dawn or Doom Links

Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST
my running list of recent reading
www.kittislist.blogspot.com

No comments:

Post a Comment