The Art of Loneliness, From The Eyes Of An Immigrant
For an immigrant, New York is a deceitful city. It dazzles you with its lights and stature, while at the same time stealing your wallet. It's like when you leave the theater, excited and confused and close the door still feeling traces of catharsis. Abandoned in the streets, reality will present itself brutally without the veil of that previous idealization. You will then notice its artistic cracks, its opulent dirt and poignant sharp odors. After a while here, if you resist, everything becomes slower, even the trains. It is in this slowdown when you start noticing the others, and out of nowhere, they even smile at you. This is proof that you have been accepted and are now one of them. Suddenly, New York becomes real and returns your money.
New York is governed by a secret geometry that consists of four points: in, out, up and down. In this simple spatial synthesis, we could explain complex economic and political theories, social experiments and even determine many of this city’s phenomena that causes the stress and compression of its inhabitants. The particular experience in each of these points, however, is diametrically different. This is the discrepancy that occurs when we look at the city from behind its typical enlarged windows, sitting at a nice table with candles and flowers, or walking down the street, looking inwards with the same curiosity as you’d look at the colorful dioramas of a natural history museum. Going up to the terrace of any of its numerous skyscrapers – public or private – is the archetypal experience of having been in this city, and the only valid testimony. The view from there, is life nothing you have ever seen.
The closed elongated dark bars with their equally elongated tables and hidden doors, hold an internal arrangement that is more less the same everywhere in the city. It could be considered a local architectural typology, just as every New Yorker’s rituals. After a while, you will have yours, which you will attend to with devotion. The methodical observation of the others and your devotional movement will reveal to you all those others places where the people of the city secretly meet.
In Brooklyn, at the corner of Dekalb Ave. and Bedford, a group of women spend their Friday nights painting together. They do not talk to each other; they’ve painted there quietly for two years now. In Willoughby Ave., a group of freshmen from Pratt Institute get together in the evenings to play Dungeons and Dragons. They play in a place next to the street with a large window, rented for that sole purpose by all members. They play every Tuesday and Thursday. In the middle of the single room, they build a scale model of the fictional world where their fights take place. In the ample side corridors, cards are exchanged by the members facing a huge blackboard where they carry scrupulous records of all the inhabitants of that world that exists only for them – and occasionally for that curious passersby who dares to observe the inner workings of this happening, covered by the anonymity of the street.
New York is a city where we feel less alone because we are closer together. As we approach each other, we intuit our rootlessness, perhaps because most of us are foreigners, or maybe because of our pride of individuality which this city so professes and celebrates. Here, loneliness is not seen as a failure or punishment, but as part of everyday life.
Amazingly, New York is populated and filled with vivid pictures of Edward Hopper.