Invisible Cities 4-6

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image credit: Michelle Hagewood

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20 thoughts on “Invisible Cities 4-6

  1. I was pretty convinced the story line or the style was not going to change as I read through chapter 4. The description of the cities were still vivid but they weren’t strange or outlandish. Then in chapter 5, I started to doubt the plausibility of the existence of these cities. One city is strung up and everyone hangs below it in hammocks and things. I mean, sure, Tarzan can do it but would a whole city be able to do that? Probably not. He also mentions “They know that the rope will last only so long.” The inhabitants of this city know their city is doomed but they still travel by ladder underneath it. Another city is described as being hidden in the clouds. He mentions that the city lives on “flamingo leg” stilts. A city so high on stilts it disappears into the clouds? That is pretty far fetched. As you read farther though, you start reading some things that suggest that these cities are imagined or exaggerated my Marco Polo. I kind of wished they were real and that the cities could still be around today, just changed a little by time.

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  2. As I read the section 4-6, I learned that the structure of only having so many words on a page will never change. It’s a challenge to get used to the stop and go of the sections. However, I do find it quite interesting that in certain sections, the way the details of the city is structured differently than others. Like in chapter five, section 2 Cities & Names (page 78-79), is structured using four huge paragraphs. Likewise, also in chapter five, section 3 Cities & Eyes (page 77), is structured only using two paragraphs. I find it interesting that the sections that have more paragraphs, the city seems to be more well liked than others, simply because there are more details than the others.

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  3. I have come to like this novel more as I continue reading it. I am not sure why my viewpoint has changed, but it did. Anyways, while reading the previous section I began to imagine the city of Venice. This was due to the fact that Marco Polo described one of the cities as being on water. Much like Venice, the people of this city had to travel by boat. This connection I made was further emphasized on page 86 of the current assigned chapters. On this page Kublai Khan mentions that Marco Polo has never mentioned Venice. Marco Polo replies by saying that “Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice.”. I am not exactly sure what Marco Polo means by that, but I found it strange that the comparisons I had been making all along were true.

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  4. The more I read this novel the more I enjoy it. I’m honestly not entirely sure as of why this is. A quote that really pulled me in lied on page 59, it reads, “Yes, the empire is sick, and, what I worse, it is trying to become accustomed to its sores”. I found this quote dark but intriguing, why would something want to grow accustom to sores and pain and discomfort? Not only that but than he goes on to say if you want to know about the darkness around you, you must sharpen your eyes. That makes me think of the supernatural, of demons and dark ghost and it just gives this segment of the reading appeal. But than as you start to read the vivid descriptions bring to life the cities once more and I start to fall in love with the idea of a city like Olivia.

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  5. I really loved the end of chapter 6 when Marco Polo and Kahn are talking about the description of a bridge. Kahn asks what supports the bridge, and Polo tells him that bricks do. Then, Kahn only cares about the bricks, and Polo tells him the individual bricks don’t matter, only the arch they make because that is what supports the bridge. This can be a metaphor for many kinds of systems, and how if you take out one little piece, the whole thing can fall apart. I’m guessing for this novel in particular it has to do with the workings of society?

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  6. This is by far my favorite book that we’ve read this semester, and I love reading it. I too think that the cities Marco Polo is describing are becoming less and less believable the more we read. I have found it interesting to draw similarities between the different cities he describes. For example, many of the cities he talks about are split into two or have two ways of being looked at. This is kind of cool because even the cities that aren’t in the “desire” category can be looked at in more than one way. My favorite city from this section of reading is definitely Thin Cities 4 on page sixty-three. I thought the way this city is described is brilliant and hilarious. I loved the way it was set up and then had a surprise ending to it. Honestly, I’m not really sure what statement the city is trying to make, but I thought the way it was written was very clever.

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  7. After our class discussion on Monday I began to pay more attention to the titles of the sections and how they related to the stories themselves. I found that by doing this I comprehended and followed the story much easier. One section I found particularly interesting were the Cities and the Dead. Regarding the story on page 80, I thought it was kind of creepy but at the same time I really enjoyed it. It was so relatable to life in saying that how when you return to Melania years after you had previously been there, the same things are happening just with different people, the population renews itself. Then in the story on page 94 I was a little confused at first when he said the vegetable vendor was his grandmother, but then I realized that he meant she just reminded him of her. The line at the top of page 95 that reads, “You reach a moment in life when, among the people you have known, the dead outweigh the living. And the mind refuses to accept more faces…” really stood out to me. These two different sections were interesting because they were so accurate but I feel like they are things no one really likes to talk about.

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  8. As I move further through the novel I am observing a different kind of historical preservation that we have not yet seen in a piece of world literature. In what seems like an adventure novel because of the long, detailed sentences, lies a novel that aims to create a more enticing aspect. The cities Marco Polo are describing are becoming less believable with each section, but I predict that this is for a reason. Furthermore, Marco Polo is not intending to simply preserve the city’s history, but rather to convince those reading that the cities are worth visiting, even if it is just through his descriptions. The sections are short and to the point so that the reader is left wanting more, including myself.

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  9. I especially like the conversation between Marco and the Kahn at the beginning of chapter 6 whenever they discuss how Marco’s memories about Venice have been leaking into his descriptions of the cities he has explored and recounted to the Kahn. Marco tells the Kahn that he needs to have some kind of reference to compare each city he visits in order to have a frame for what he views as a city or what may be familiar to him. One quote I found especially interesting was Marco’s thoughts about memory and Venice as he says, “Memory’s images, once they are fixed in words, are erased. Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it. Or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.” I think that this is a great quote to look at when keeping in mind the theme of memory seen throughout the novels we have read so far in this course.

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    1. I like how this material reads. Your points are thrg-htgpoovokinu. This is tangible information I can wrap my brain around and appreciate. You have proven nothing is black and white.

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  10. I think so far my favorite passage is on page 82. Khan wants to know why Polo doesn’t talk about the arch first and Polo says because with out the stones there is no arch. It is something that applies to almost everything in life. It takes something small to build something larger. We always see the bigger picture but rarly do we look at the tiny details that make up the bigger picture.

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  11. I’ve noticed that there is a very unique structure to this novel. Much like the cities that are vicariously being visited through the words we are reading, there is a very different structure and construction to the novel itself. Marco Polo is giving life to these cities that are otherwise completely unknown to us – this going back to the incredibly clever title, Invisible Cities. Even though Polo is merely just describing cities to us, he is doing it in a way that makes the imagination want to venture to these cities from the depths of your mind. That’s why these cities are invisible; not because they don’t exist, but because we are seeing them from an intangible point of view.

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  12. Something I found interesting was on page 69 when Kublai Khan said to Marco Polo, “From now on, I’ll describe the cities to you. In your journeys, you will see if they exist.” But then, “the cities visited by Marco Polo were always different from those thought of by the emperor.” This scene emphasizes the huge role our past experiences play on our future and on the cities we visit. Because Kublai Khan visualized different sceneries than Marco Polo did, we are able to understand their different pasts. Not only do they have different backgrounds, but they also even speak different languages.

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  13. So this particular section got me thinking a lot about oral tradition and its reliability. In the very beginning of this section, at the start of chapter 4, Kublai Khan blatantly dismisses the likelihood of any of the cities that Marco Polo describes as being real. He was kept in a suspension of disbelief which I feel can sometimes be a consequence to oral tradition. Also, Marco Polo makes a point at the beginning of Signs and Cities, ” …a city must never be confused with the words that describe it.” However, in this instance these descriptions are all that Kublai Khan as well as the audience has to go on. The same happens with Oral Tradition. Things tend to get lost over the years, details to stories and the actual factual events of history, which makes one question the reliability and accuracy of oral tradition. In class we have talked about the pros of oral tradition, especially when it came to African Griots but this section makes you question the cons of depending so much on oral tradition.

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  14. When we first began reading this novel I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it. I still find myself a little unsure of what my goals when reading this should be. I know we talked in class about different types of viewpoint on the cities that Marco Polo is describing and looking for trends through those similar types of viewpoints. However, when I read through them I see a link between the cities by those type, but I’m not seeing a link as a whole, and that’s just a little frustrating. I’m looking forward to getting to the end of the novel so that I can hopefully have the answers that I want from the novel rather than this cloud of confusion hanging over my head. One part that I did appreciate is that the narrator, in chapter 5, added more unrealistic description of a city with the city involving hammocks. Adding a fantastical element caught my eye and helped me stay interested a while longer.

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  15. At the description on the first city we came across in our reading,Olivia, I begin to question what the narrator is referring to when referring to ‘signs’. It almost seems as though Polo, in this section, is critiquing Kahn on the nature of his imperialist domination and conquering of territories, which makes sense as Polo states, “While at a sign from you, sire, the unique and final city raises its stainless walls, I am collecting the ashes of the other possible cities that vanish to make room for it” (60). This passage, as I understand it, is referring to the assimilation and erasing of history that comes along with the imperial conquest of a land. I am not sure what “final diamond” Polo speaks about in this passage. I understand it is a metaphor, but I don’t see how it can happen: how can an emperor make recompense for the territories that he has robbed?

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  16. It seems that there are two sides to this argument, a whole load of people saying that things just do not add up and the other side of the argument, a few people saying &#ir;02consp82acy theorists”.

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  18. Sir Henry, I entirely agree with your comment. These ratbags need to be exposed for what they are. I challenge and shame my friends and acquaintances for ‘collaborating’ with News Corp. Most respond by saying there is nothing else available and it is convenient. To which I respond “Thats what they say about fast food and look what it has done to our health”. In my opinion a bit of home cooking with selected and genuine ingredients is more fun and wholesome in the long run.

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