The two deaths of a city
This morning I covered my laziness to get out of bed with a thin layer of culture and decided to keep reading the book that’s kept me entertained lately. Much of a surprise, the beginning of a chapter struck me with a quote far more philosophical and profound than I expected, which went well beyond the story of Amsterdam. I had heard about the saying, but never thought of it in the urban context. I guess that’s my job as a “quantitative urban researcher”. Anyhow, the lines read just beautifully sad:
IT IS SOMETIMES SAID THAT EVERY PERSON DIES TWICE: THE first time when he dies, and the second when he is forgotten by the last survivor from his own time, an old man or woman. Thus a number of the dead vanish for ever when the last living memory of them dies. By the same token, most of the life of a city dies in a single generation; after that, faces, smells, sounds and atmospheres can only be reconstructed with the help of fragmentary sketches or the occasional preserved picture. Our collective memory, whether or not it is receptive to the written word, is as loose as dry sand; apart from the most essential facts, the rest is guesswork.
Amsterdam. Geert Mak.