Clerestory

New York

September 27, 2019

New York has all the energy I remember, but it’s hard to express exactly what this is, or how it’s perceived. There’s a hum throughout the city, which I remember from first feeling it a few decades ago. London, even in its most exultant moments, never has it in quite the same way.

There’s still a sense here that anything could happen. And yet there’s no guarantee that this unspecified thing, whatever it is, will be good. New York feels less safe than London, more wild, and yet not exactly more free either. It does not feel that I could do whatever I want, but rather that anything could happen to me.

Perhaps in its unfamiliarity it feels more anonymous than London as well. We spoke of an Tom and Jerry episode, and of Céline’s Voyage au bout de la nuit. Even Taxi Driver still somehow resounds. We overheard a conversation about it, and discussed how American and European intellectual interests diverge.


I'm Bryan Kam. I'm thinking about complexity and selfhood. Please sign up to my newsletter or see more here.