Afterthoughts: Here is New York by E.B. White

Re-reading is arguably more valuable than reading

Language offers only imperfect approximations of the human experience

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Here is New York is the love letter of the ages. I do not know if I have ever read anything so effervescent, as though E.B. White was struck by Eros himself. I felt like a first-time flâneur skipping down the streets, taking in the sights, the smells, the hope, and the indifference.

A poem compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. The city is like poetry: it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines. The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentrate on earth, the poem whose magic is comprehensible to millions of permanent residents but whose full meaning will always remain elusive.

I would not be surprised if Walt Disney himself took inspiration from White’s imaginings and then imbued them in the first Disneyland. There appears to be a rhythm, a heartbeat, metronome-like which seemingly presents itself as the method behind the madness of the city. Whether it is the stampede of commuters, tourists, or residents, the drumbeat they create maintains spectacle that is New York, New York.

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.


Highly Recommended. While I have never been to New York, I felt like this experience was as good as any for presenting what it would be like to walk through her streets.

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