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Continuous Cities

After Italo Calvino

As he enters the city of Araceli, the traveler feels that he is being watched, and he is.  To get to the city, he must first pass through a long tunnel of mirrors. There are few places to stop along his journey into the city, but when he does stop, it is so that his horse can sip what looks like mercury out of small streams gushing from the mirrored walls.

At the city’s gate, the traveler is greeted by two twin frowning men, with foreheads wrinkled from ages of squinting their eyes against the mirrored glare.  The twin men hand him a stamped ticket, and the traveler realizes that the city is in fact a museum.  Some citizens of Araceli reside in glass cases.  There are families dressed in tiger skins, surrounded by the carcasses of antelopes. Others have their faces painted gold and they wield scepters and staves.  The less fortunate citizens of Araceli live in closer quarters, each family relegated to one large picture frame.  Beggars and prostitutes have had their shirts pinned to the wall of a large, blank room.  The most dangerous criminals of Araceli, however, must lie very still, so that passersby can read their sentences etched into their hairless backs.  Meanwhile, the rulers of Araceli are always patrolling the museum, flashing their badges and enforcing quietude and sweeping the floor when necessary.  They make sure the tiger families have been fed and that the criminals are lying very still.

Once inside the city of Araceli, the traveler recalls the importance of mirrors, of watching himself atop a moving horse.



Hannah Dow is a second-year graduate student at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.