Sometimes, people send me email. Sometimes it looks like this.

Date: Saturday, September 9, 2000 1:47 am
To: cold bacon
Subject: your site

kicks ass.


So, from this, it’s obvious that she is beautiful. But not only is she beautiful, she’s a genius, a genius art critic. She’s already assimilated Barthelme, Calvino, Borges. She agrees with me that X is overrated, and she didn’t even waste her time with Y, which she calls trite trash for the masses. She’s seen all of Kubrick’s films, including Paths of Glory and The Killing. She’s even reserved judgment on Eyes Wide Shut. She knew they wouldn’t give Radiohead best album this year but still was allowing the tiniest ray of hope. She knows good food, but can go for long stretches without it. Oh, and she enjoys sex—a lot. And she knows it’s not a good idea, but she’s already fallen in love with me. Obviously her name means this and could mean nothing but this.

So, I write a nice reply thanking her for the support and for, as Eminem puts it, seeing through all the bullshit and hype. She does not respond. Clearly, a strategy to protect herself from the dangers of love with me. She's written several emails, and then deleted them all—at the last minute. She expects me to write again, but knows I must wait for an appropriate cue. Then it happens. A great film opens. And being a true lover of cinema, she has already seen it. And waits patiently for my email.

From: cold bacon
Date: today, this month
Subject: re: your site

some girl,

you really need to see this movie called this

way better than that movie called that
Her reply might have looked like this.
Date: today, this month
To: cold bacon
Subject: re: your site

I just saw CT,HD this past week - I think I have to see it again to really like it. Never heard of the one you mentioned... forget the name already.. sorry... :)

Have a party to go to now and a boyfriend to yell at for not calling all day.. making me worry sick... have a good one.

- J

For a long time Pyrrha to me was a fortified city on the slopes of a bay, with high windows and towers, enclosed like a goblet, with a central square deep as a well, with a well in its center. I had never seen it. It was one of the many cities where I had never arrived, that I conjured up, through its name: Euphrasia, Odile, Margara, Getullia. Pyrrha had its place among them, different from each of them, and like each of them, unmistakable to the mind's eye.

The day came when my travels took me to Pyrrha. As soon as I set foot there, everything I had imagined was forgotten; Pyrrha had become what is Pyrrha; and I thought I had always known that the sea is invisible from the city, hidden behind a dune of the low, rolling coast; that the streets are long and straight; that the houses are clumped at intervals, not high, and they are separated by open lots with stacks of lumber and with sawmills; that the wind stirs the vanes of the water pumps. From that moment on the name Pyrrha has brought to my mind this view, this light, this buzzing, this air in which a yellowish dust flies: obviously the name means this and could mean nothing but this.

My mind goes on containing a great number of cities I have never seen and will never see, names that bear with them a figure or a fragment or glimmer of an imagined figure: Getullia, Odile, Euphrasia, Margara. The city high above the bay is also there still, with the square enclosing the well, but I can no longer call it by a name, nor remember how I could ever have given it a name that means something entirely different.

Italo Calvino, Cities