Cities of Glass

Some literature is opaque because its words and sentences are enigmatic or ambiguous. Other literature has plain, transparent sentences and mysteries that lie deeper. Imagine two cities. In one, all the buildings are made of mirrors. In the other, everything is glass. The mirror city offers the illusion of space but gives confusion. Walk—and you’ll walk into a wall, reflecting the space behind you, which is merely a reflection of the space in front. When a writer writes, “I set down the Swedish saucercup in a multitudinous array of historical fallacies,” you’ll never find your way out because you’ve never been let in. You’re trapped in a box of poetry. In contrast, the spaces of the city of glass are sharp, real and endless, but also overwhelming. You feel overloaded. You understand that “Akira gave the entrance stone to the sheep man, causing the world to crumble like a cookie,” but you have other questions: How? Why? However, these are questions of causation and logic, not language. You’re already inside the city. By asking such questions you’re exploring rather than begging to be let in. I find mirror cities frustrating because I feel they’re codes that cannot be broken, ultimately hiding little of interest. Cities of glass, on the other hand, fascinate me. They are puzzles and labyrinths. Even lost in them, I feel exhilarated. When I knock into their walls, I press my face against the glass and see what’s on the other side. Logic is easier to live without than clarity, especially in fictional worlds.

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