DATE: January 26, 2009 Toronto, Ryerson University
On Monday, January 26, Mark Kingwell kicked off our new 2009 Metropolis Lecture Series with his high-energy lecture Concrete Reveries: Consciousness and the City. Fifty-five students and academics attended the talk in the Modern Literature and Culture Research Center. Kingwell focussed on three modern cities—New York, Shanghai, and Toronto. Kingwell argued that New York is the culture capital of the twentieth century, symbolizing late capitalism with a grid logic that makes the city available for use. Shanghai is the futurist city of tomorrow. For Kingwell, the appreciation of the city has to do with walking the city, not necessarily as Walter Benjamin’s disinterested flâneur who aestheticized the city, but as a drifter who experiences the city as through daydreams or reveries. He believes the city is “an embodied consciousness,” a living organism with circulating rivers, roads, water ways, and transactions. Kingwell's advice on how to appreciate the modern city: Put away the iPod and taste your own experiences.