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Travel meme

Inspired by spwebdesign

List five places you've been that you think the people on your friends list should see before they die. If you like, say why you think they're special.

1. The city of Sophronia is made up of two half-cities. In one there is the great roller coaster with its steep humps, the carousel with its chain spokes, the Ferris wheel of spinning cages, the death-ride with crouching motorcyclists, the big top with the clump of trapezes hanging in the middle. The other half-city is of stone and marble and cement, with the bank, the factories, the palaces, the slaughterhouse, the school, and all the rest. One of the half-cities is permanent and the other is temporary, and when the period of its sojourn is over, they uproot it, dismantle it, and take it off, transplanting it to the vacant lots of another half-city.

2. In Ersilia, to establish the relationships that sustain the city's life, the inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses, white or black or gray or black-and-white according to whether they mark a relationship of blood, of trade, authority, agency. When the stings become so numerous that you can no longer pass among them, the inhabitants leave: the houses are dismantled; only the strings and their supports remain.

3. When you have forded the river, when you have crossed the mountain pass, you suddenly find before you the city of Moriana, its alabaster gates transparent in the sunlight, its coral columns supporting pediments encrusted with serpentine, its villas all of glass like aquariums where the shadows of dancing girls with silverry scales swim between medusa-shaped chandeliers.

4. At the end of three days, moving southward, you come upon Anastasia, a city of concentric canals watering it and kites flying over it. I should now list the wares that can profitably be bought here: agate, onyx, chrysoprase, and other varieties of chalcedony; I should praise the flesh of the golden pheasant cooked here over fires of seasoned cherry wood and sprinkled with mush sweet marjoram; and tell of the women I have seen bathing in the pool of a garden and who sometimes - it is said - invite the stranger to disrobe with them and chase them in the water.

5. The city of Leonia refashions itself every day: every morning the people awake between fresh sheets, wash with just-unwrapped cakes of soap, wear brand-new clothing, take from the latest model refrigerator still unopened tins, listening to the last-minute jingles from the most up-to-date radio. On the sidewalks, encased in spotless plastic bags, the remains of yesterday's Leonia await the garbage truck. Not only squeezed tubes of toothpaste, blown-out light bulbs, newspapers, containers, wrappings, but also boilers, encyclopedias, pianos, porcelain dinner services.


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I enjoyed reading your list, and I didn't figure out these were fictional places until I got to Moriana.

Are these places you've visited only in your mind? Or did you visit them in a book or books, by one author or culled from a few?

What an interesting answer! Are these places taken from literature or your imagination?

They are all from Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. It's one of my favorite books; it's theme is Marco Polo describing his expeditions to Kublai Khan. It is most suitable for reading bits at a time - just picking a page at random. It's good to read out loud.

Hmmph. I was hoping you'd wait a little longer to see if anyone recognized it.

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