The City and the City

I’m in that interstitial space between books, a no-book on the other side of two covers. I just finished reading The City and the City (Miéville), in which interstice is a character: the novel is about two city-states that share the same geography (are topogangers, one of Miéville’s wonderful neologisms to describe the political, bureaucratic, and geographical nature of the cities), where breaching the borders between the two is an existential crime. The book itself is a gripping murder mystery that uses its setting almost as another character, and the setting pulled me in completely. As I was reading it, I began to feel paranoid even in my normal life, worried that some unseen presence underneath or between what I could see was watching me, waiting for something. I also began to notice interstices around me: the ways in which I (I hope we) unsee those around us on the street, deciding we don’t know them; the places that are unnoticeable because they are nowhere, but between two others; those times when we’re getting ready for something or finishing something else, and really aren’t doing much of anything, but are truly living. Yesterday, it was raining very hard for about an hour and I went out the back door of the office, to an interstice between our building and the house next door. There was an unused loading dock there, and a mysterious motor of some kind, I guess a wench or something like it. I was in the middle of a city but I felt as though I were on another planet, maybe in that planet of a short story (I don’t remember the name or who wrote it, only this) where it had rained for hundreds of years, constantly. I was nowhere; I felt free. Or whatever. I mean, I did in that moment, but it’s pretty ridiculous looking at it that way now. Or is what I’m doing now, discounting the experience, a normalization of an experienced moment of interstice? Some sublime unknowable thing that exists nowhere and everywhere at once? I don’t know. I have no organized thoughts. If they’re organized, if I put them into buildings, won’t I have dark alleys between them where anything can happen?