pre-thesis week 8

It is my absolute pleasure to say that this week I was finally able to finish City of Dreams. What a long, rewarding journey. I don’t know if the length made an impact on this, but I got goosebumps all over when I read the book’s last passage: 

“To people all over the globe, ‘New York is the promised land, looking green, fat, luscious and joyous from the outside deserts; the promised land flowing with milk and honey… where the flesh pots smell savory, where the labels are better than the bottles, where the bricks are gold and the goods are green… Every race on earth claims New York,’ because it epitomizes all they dream of achieving. To generations past, present, and future, ‘New York is It. No man will ever see its finish.’” (p. 570)

The last chapter in general reiterated some of the most important points made obvious by the full reading of the book — “From the colonial period to the present, every generation of Americans has viewed the newest group to arrive as completely unlike previous immigrants” and “Every group of immigrants coming to New York has gone to great lengths to bring its Old World culture and traditions with it to America … When pundits complain that today’s immigrants don’t assimilate like those from the past, they are harking back to a golden era that never actually existed.” (pp. 564-5). This chapter wrapped up the book with a wonderful and inspiring summary of these historical lessons. I am very glad I read this, despite how long it’s taken me.

Another book I was able to finish was You Talkin’ to Me?, which I read earlier in the week. This was a much quicker read — I was able to finish 7 chapters in two days — and also highly enjoyable. While some of the chapters focused on aspects I didn’t find totally relevant (like how the language of New York’s organized crime and music scenes each affected slang in the city), I still got a lot of good information from it. 

This week I also got two new books from my list: Imaginary Apparatus (which I ended up having to buy), and The Typographic Experiment: Radical Innovation in Contemporary Type Design. Since Imaginary Apparatus comes with a companion DVD, I will probably watch that first before deciding whether to jump right into the book or not (I do have other books in the “NYC” bucket that I’ve started, so I will have to figure out how to prioritize that list this week). The Typographic Experiment, so far, seems like another quick read — full of images and visual examples — so it will definitely be next in my “Typography” bucket, and I am very excited for it. I also still have to make my way through Labov’s The Social Stratification of New York City English — since I expect it to be a pretty dry book, I’ll admit I have been putting it off, but I will not be able to do that much longer.