Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The trouble with an ideal city

I drew pictures in my 1977 journal while I was a miserable graduate student at Harvard. My memories of Rome, where I had lived from 1975-76, were still vivid. Using my classical learning and Indo-European linguistics, I created or re-created imaginary worlds and cities in my notebook instead of doing my graduate studies. Among these imaginings was a re-start of my Noantri world, which dated back to my high school days. I drew architecture and made lists of words and grammar. This drawing above is not necessarily from the Noantri world (and I only began calling them "Noantri" much later). But the sentiment of the utopians standing in the tower would fit the early days of Noantri New Earth. "The trouble with an ideal city is that you have to live there." Of course it isn't really true, you can't build or run an ideal city. It's more about living in your imagination, which is how I've coped with my life all along.

I drew my 1977 pictures mostly with a 4-0 Rapidograph technical pen, using Pelikan red-brown ink. This pen point was as tiny as a needle so I could put lots of detail into a very small space. But the drawing faded even without exposure to light and I have scanned and saved the drawings with a lot of Photoshop enhancement. Rapidographs are old-school drawing tools now. I loved drawing with them but they were leaky and high-maintenance so I eventually abandoned them for the Pitt sepia disposable tech pen, which I use constantly.

"Ideal City" is technical pen brown ink on sketchbook page, about 5" x 3", February 1977. Click on the image for a closer look. Thank you Mary, Jim and Rachel, and Tristan for reassuring me that I am not posting into the void.

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