The City / Autogeography | Saul Steinberg / Robert Musil, 1930-66

Saul Steinberg, The City, 1950                                                         Saul Steinberg, Autogeography, 1966


"Cities, like people, can be recognized by their walk."

Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities, 1930–1943


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  1. More happy thou, performing Member,
    Who hast not need of wit's keen temper;
    Thou standst on every side possessed
    Of what Parnassus boasts as best.
    On thy right sits, chief in wisdom's college,
    Profound experience crowned with knowledge.
    And further on, historic lore,
    With erudition's ample store.
    Third on thy right, imagination
    Holds by no means a humble station.
    But in thy front a dazzling light
    Obscures your wavering mortal sight.
    How shall I praise this man so blessed
    Above the poor lot of the rest?
    Diplomacy, Religion, Art,
    Of Letters also every part,
    Find in his penetrating eye,
    Judgement which no man dares belie.
    No one stands with him on a par,
    Except of wits the transcendant star,
    To whose seat, on thy left hand side,
    My duteous hommage I shall guide.

    The tide of wit for ever flows
    From his high throne. Now beliquose,
    Fiery; now laughing and jocose.
    And as men always persecute
    True worth when joined to mind acute,
    Against him anger is directed
    When aught of wrong has been detected;
    And all inspired by exasparation
    Shout for a speedy situation.
    Then, sole amid the increasing noise,
    His wit to fruitful ends employs -
    Silences every accusing voice
    By proofs that none denies.-

    Be happy, Foreman, with thy station
    Which offers wit and information
    For every question and occasion.
    Have always thy untiring sight
    On thy left and on thy right;
    Study each conduct and be taught
    From every word and every thought,
    What to believe & what to say -
    When to say "yes" & when to say "nay",
    What to eat and what to drink,
    What on everything to think,
    How to dress and how to talk,
    How to sleep and how to walk,
    For every human thing is brought
    To perfection, and is taught
    In this Pancosmium of Thought.-



    Constantine P. Cavafy / More happy thou, performing Member / 1877 / Hidden Poems / 1877;-1923

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