Saturday, February 15, 2014

City of texture ii: a time of testing

The New York Landmarks Conservancy
won an injunction last week in its
effort to preserve a fragile tapes-
try by Pablo Picasso, an artist who
keeps making law and making history,
even as he keeps making artists, as-
suredly, of some few every year who
chance to discover his works.

They are who will inherit our cities,
they are who will reflect our cities,
not the legal fictions known as cor-
porations, trusts, foundations, or
boards, authorities, and all the en-
tities that cower by laws, before a 
power ostensibly untouchable, imper-
ishable, flowing from an untenable 
posture known as private property. 

Private property, as every schoolboy
knows, has air rights. Air rights, 
can you stand it, when possibly you
had thought literally unfathomable
mineral rights were amusing enough.

These interesting rights place such
a burden upon human character as lit-
erally to enslave it, for it may not
lay down its perpetuation. What sort
of burden is this, that a free soci-
ety need countenance, as the intol-
erable exposure to risk that it is,
to its future, much less its past?
For surely, too, are we not as cul-
pable for the ordeals of rights we
impose, as for those we withhold?

Were it not for this unremitting,
stark challenge to protect privity
in the right to property, would we
Or, if not compelled, bent so low?
As much as any city needs to be a-
ble to protect itself from chaos,
every time this inhumane right com-
pels the soul to break beneath its
unnatural load of ownership, so 
does the slave to private property 
deserve our shelter from a wealth
which should never have been in-
flicted upon him. Trade him a set
of Sixties baseball cards, and  
throw in the gum at cost.

i           Abel van Oeveren
iii, iv   Martin Conte

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