Cities and language are cultural products, both formed and shaped through human reproduction, both are deeply interconnected. Much like language, Chinese cities can be both formal and informal. And like formal cities, Chinese language is composed of individual characters, fragments of meaning and beauty. Each filled with history and narrative. Each regimentally spaced island of beauty with nothing in between, literally empty space, complex words are formed by bolting together simpler concepts. We see such separated elements in traditional Chinese landscape painting, incredibly detailed, meticulous brushstrokes forming River, Mountain, Tree. Chinese Cities are like chinese writing. The eye moves over the space between characters it does not stop, it is not willed to pause. It seeks the next island. But around these islands gathers detritus. Attracted yet excluded, then sanitised and removed. Compounds and territory walls, defend the deep meaning within each island from corruption of external influences. In such formal cities as the rspidly developing metropolis of Chengdu this cultural dialogue plays out. Space between islands is not for stopping. The eye cannot rest here. Compare this to European language, and European cities which is more fluid, more restless, more open to corruption and evolution.
More interestingly compare this to county-level cities, periurban hybrids whose citizens are rural migrants using more fluid 'corrupted' language and dialects. Here space changes. It becomes more fluid, there is no binary understanding of space, street and house become blurred and contested. This is the definition of illiterate.
#urbanism #language #chineseurbanism #chengdu #informality #informalurbanism