The city’s all wrapped up in plastic like an electronic cocoon
If you lay in the street you can hear it humming, building up slowly from underground
If you close your eyes you can observe the blueprint, the man-made dna that spirals breathlessly out of control
As synapses collapse, bridges snap, into a restless utopia, Nutopia”—Nutopia - Meg Lee Chin
These lyrics, written in 1997, were intended to parallel Alan Ginsberg’s Howl. It seemed as if my generation was coming down from the angst-high in the early 90s and Meg Lee Chin was at the epicenter. Partially a reflection of the decade’s early abuse, it starts off quoting late-50s original - I saw the best minds of my generation (running on empty)….
I’ve always liked the particular section quoted above. "The city’s all wrapped up in plastic - if you lay in the street you can hear it humming, building up slowly from underground.” The city is an organism on its own. We are just the bacteria that live in it. Some cities are relatively healthy, like Seattle, while others are ill, like Detroit. With the health of the city, so goes the health of its constituents.
But there is a stark difference between these organisms. A city never actually has a pulse, like a mammal, but instead has a hum, like all complex man-made systems. A car hums. A computer hums. When they are awake, alive, turned on - they hum. While we are alive, we pulse.
I’ve always liked the idea of lying down on the sidewalk and listening to the city. For better or for worse, this hum is our future. You can’t see it yet but it’s there. Just listen.