Many people who have no real independence of spirit depend on the city’s tremendous variety and sources of excitement for spiritual sustenance and maintenance of morale … I think that although many persons are here for some excess of spirit (which cause them to break away from their small town), some, too, are here from a deficiency of spirit, who find in New York a protection, or an easy substitution.White’s essay isolates the beauty of New York: It is a love letter. By all means, I invite you to be taken with it; I am. His city offers the range of rewards—sights and sounds and things to do. I marvel at the way White’s city operates, they way it manages to instill order and achieve artistry. In White’s capable hands, cities are humanity’s premier expression of civilization.
… [W]hy is it any better to pander to the “creative class” than it is to pander to the traditional business class? Yes, one strategy uses “incentives” and tax cuts to get companies to move from one state to another, while the other advises us to emphasize music festivals and art galleries when we make our appeal to that exalted cohort. But neither approach imagines a future arising from something other than government abasing itself before the wealthy.To be fair, in as much as cities can be said to have a consciousness, they fully comprehend their vulnerability. Urban planners know perfectly well that if the delicate balance between safety and prosperity is lost, then disinvestment and abandonment can strike. But they have also learned that people can be manipulated to identify with the city and thereby tolerate just about anything it dishes.
Long stretches of painfully frigid weather, brief respites, then more snow, ice and freezing rain. Freeze, thaw, repeat — the cycle expands in the mind to unbearable infinities, the unyielding sensation of being trapped. But check the calendar: This week means we are officially in late February, which means March. March means daffodils, which means this all must eventually end.It’s a nice thought, but I am here to tell you that, like all hope, this optimism is deeply misplaced. Sure, the calendar will change. The birds will sing again. The scent of fresh urine will alight on the nose as you wander the streets. Perhaps it will even once more grow so warm that we shall shed the heavy layers of clothing with which we bundle ourselves before each undertaking outdoors. But mark my words: What you’ve seen this winter and the winter before can never be erased. There is no return from such raw horror. However hard the sun shines down on you in future days you will always carry this winter around in your cold, barren heart. The light that once danced and played behind your eyes has been permanently dimmed and replaced by a mean, dull glare that stares shivers into anything it surveys. If the human race lasts another hundred years each member of the species will carry within its shattered soul a darkness so intense that the all the trees of the fields shall bend their branches away in fear from its frigid malevolence. Winter will never end, nor will you ever rid yourself of it. It is in you, and of you. It is you. There is no turning back, ever. Your stock of sorrows will freeze and, having frozen, crack into a thousand tiny icicles that stab sadness into any spare bit of joy that threatens to melt your bitter, broken spirit. When you walk you carry with you the icy frost of death which, with the wind chill factor, feels like negative five degrees icy frost of death. The only warmth left for you will come when you are lowered for the last time into the ground’s final embrace.