PD Smith

Building the New Jerusalem

14 May 2012 | cities, London | Post a comment

When I was reviewing a collection of Michael Moorcock's non-fiction recently, I was struck by this passage from a piece he wrote about London in 1988, called 'Building the New Jerusalem':

'Cities can be neither simplified nor easily defined. They are hard to interpret. They are the ultimate and natural expression of human evolution, of human dreams and needs; they are as complex as the people who build them, as the planet itself; they have a sensitive ecology. In their architecture and their social organisation they are capable of reflecting the very best in us.'

That's a wonderful quote that neatly encapsulates what I was trying to achieve in my book City. On the future of London, he writes:

'Instead of retreating from the notion of the megametropolis we should have embraced it, celebrated it, grown comfortable with it, equipped it with hospitals, crèches, schools, houses set among imaginatively laid-out parks and "wild gardens", with low-rise asymmetrical buildings designed to blend with and reflect the organic world around them. We should acknowledge and revel in the natural complexity of the London we can create for ourselves.'

It's an inspirational piece of writing about cities in general and London in particular. The collection - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - is well worth reading.

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