Monday, October 10, 2005


The City you will never know...

About 733 words

by Benjamin Sehene

I am always overcome by a sense of hopelessness when I think of all those things I will never know; the lovely sunsets I will never see; the enigmatic thoughts I will never think. It frustrates me to think that somewhere, there exists a city I will never ever know. Yet, in the life of every man and woman there exists such a city; a city he or she will never know. Lets call it the city of Kans.
Kans is a city which defies all definition, even that of the noun city. For to define Kans is to confine it in place and time; to limit it to the intricate structures evoked by the word. Kans is much more than a city, it is a state of mind; a vast and impossible concept.
Given that someone somewhere will always be ignorant of a certain city, Kans is all cities.
Kans is also the compilation of all those neighbourhoods, in our own cities, we will die without ever knowing. And for he who may pretend to know all the cities in the world; Kans is the sum of all the winding alleys, in all those shabby quarters where he will never set foot; the architecture of all those buildings he will never see; the uncountable cities that fell into ruin long before his birth; the hundreds of inhabitants he will never meet; the odours he will never smell; the happy moments he will never live; the meals he will never savour; the words he will never utter; the melody he will never hear; the dreams he will never dream; the thoughts he will never think; the nostalgia, the melancholy, the grief, the regret, the jealousy, the despair and misery he will never endure.
Kans is the ignorance of being ignorant of Kans. The ignorance of the probable, of that which could be but will never be, the limit of knowledge: the infinite.
The object of travel is not so much the cities or the sights which define it, but the sentiment they inspire. A traveller anticipating the next city along his route wonders what that city will be like. From the elements of his imagination, he constructs the city of his anticipation. Not a sum of arbitrary elements distinguished from each other, but a consistent whole. He fills it up with the fauna and flora, the buildings, the thoroughfares, the history and moments of his desire. But on arriving at his destination, the traveller finds a city entirely detached from the city of its inspiration. That other city, the city of his anticipation however, does not cease to exist, but remains as solid and as vivid in the traveller’s imagination, as the city at his destination. It remains a city he will never see; the city of Kans.
Likewise, the city whose monuments, parks, streets, desires and memories grace the pages of a guide, is never the city a traveller encounters at his destination. A guide to a city, attempts to exhaust all aspects of its subject. However, a city confined to its description is an inevitable temptation for conjecture. In describing a city each aspect described yields an alternative city. If described by the disposition, the shapes, or the proportions of its volumes, an alternative city emerges from the pattern of its voids. And when described by the ruins of its past, a succession of superimposed cities, each with its particular customs, architecture, art, theatre, literature and form of government emerges.
Therefore, to read about Kans, is to simultaneously read about several cities. The reader realises these numerous cities, as he drifts through its various descriptions, he realises that each instant that goes by adds a new Kans to the succession of Kanses he has been accumulating from the beginning.
They say that as one lies on his deathbed, he will think of the many things he has yet to do, of the cities he has yet to visit, the tender words he never said to a loved one, of the hundreds of books he has yet to read, the two hundred pages of Joyce’s Ulysses he was unable to complete, the secret he never confessed, of the promise he never kept, of the millions of men whose hands he will never shake, this is Kans.

Paris, July 1991

Copyright © 1991-2005 Benjamin Sehene. All Rights Reserved.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just loved this story. Its so profound yet so playfull and lighthearted. Fantastic! Keep it up Benjamin. I can't wait to read you next story...

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wonderful! Poetic!

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soma kuri

8:41 PM  

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