Imaginary Urban Landscape

Date: Wed, 03 Feb 1999 12:59:43 +0100

From: Davide Mana

Imaginary Urban Landscape

A few years back I dreamed up a whole city.

This was around the early '90s.

Now, waking up, I do not always remember what I dreamed the night before; but in that period, two out of three dreams I was able to recall the morning after were normally set in the same landscape.

I did not get this at first, as in each dream I was visiting a different area.

And "visiting" is probably the best word to describe my dream activities, as essentially I walked the streets of the city - alone or with some ill-defined "friend". Sometimes I was running through the streets, in a pair of occasions I was riding a streetcar. Nothing else, therefore nothing much to tell.

In a while, however, some landmarks started to appear with a certain regularity, and I realized I was always dreaming myself in the same place.

The thing was really weird.

Having read my Lovecraft, I decided to take the obvious course: I kept a notepad by my bed and scrawled a hasty description of my latest sightseeings. As these dreams were rather frequent, I was soon able to draw a tentative map of the city. Both notes (a pair of fat blocks) and map should still be around here somewhere.

Working from memory, here's what I can put together

. General appearence: the city is vast and white, normally bathed in a harsh white light that casts very precise shadows; the buildings - with a few exceptions - are square-edged and vaguely modernistic in look. I never entered one of these that I can remember - courts and covered alleys yes, but not buildings proper. There are no shops on the streets and no signs whatsoever. I never visited the city at night that I can remember of.

. Population: extremely scarce, wearing rather formal clothes. You do not get crowds, and apart from the Baroque Building and the streetcars (see later) it's pretty unusual meeting more than two or three persons together. I guess in a few of instances I met or saw the same people more than once in different places/occasions. The majority seems to be strolling around without much to do. The only animals I recall are big birds looking a bit like ostrichs.

[no cats, so this was not New Ulthar or what]

. Means of Transport: no cars. In this place evidently you either walk or catch a streetcar (absolutely identical, unsurprisingly, to the ones doing service in Turin). In some areas the sidewalks are on various levels.

. Language: in a few occasions the dream centered apparently around the fact that either I did not understand them, or vice versa (you psychologists out there are free to make what you will of this).

. Landmarks

The Square - the first area I was able to recognize. It features an angular sculpture/fountain in the centre and a ramp of some kind on the west side. A number of roads (no less than five) converge here.

The Baroque Building - occupying a small depression (with an iron fence running around it and steps leading down) due east of the Square, this building seems to be some sort of social/administrative center, as it's the only one with lots of people coming and going in and around it. A crowd is usually gathered in the depression, and the noise of their voices talking can be heard from afar.

The River - never seen it, but I know it's there, somewhere, running from north to south. In one of the running-dreams finding a means to cross it was essential and extremely difficult (so much so that I woke up instead of finding a bridge). Once again, brain-doctors out there are free to do their worst with this.

The Park - white and empty. Makes you wonder why they call it that way, unless it was some kind of gigantic zen garden.

The Cactus Square - smaller than the first, it has in its center a sand-box with some cacti of the kind we Italians generally associate with Sicily ("Fico d'India" is the common name of the thing… haven't the slightest of what it's called in English).

There's a few other landmarks, but they are all pretty easy to recognize, including a tower straight out of Metropolis to the north-west of the square, and a huge deserted complex that's a replica of the "Italia 61" complex standing about one mile from where I'm sitting now. This is to the south and a place that made me feel very unconfortable (much like the original).

For the rest, the town sprawled in my dreams for almost two years, with streets and corners that were extremely individual while I was visiting them but are now all pretty faceless as I recall them.

At least in some cases the impression of being observed, followed or stalked was strong, and in some others the need to run away was imperative.

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