Nice’s promenade follows on a long string of attacks against the dense and the banal: against the overlooked ordinary that comprises our daily existence.
Once again there will be an influx of notes of sorrow, by now customary calls for unity in face of the terror gripping our cities, our streets: the spaces of our public, convivial existence.
But there is already something not-quite-right about the prime sentiment that grips some of us this morning as we skim through the endless videos of Nice’s howling urban beach-front stampede. The feeling that the city’s screaming agony is on the verge of becoming as commonplace as the street lights and the wide avenues on which it unfolds: an inseparable, however unwelcome, by-product of urban life.
One commonplace feature replacing another: for all their diversity in tactics the recent string of attacks in France all locked on one very specific target, urban density.
Bataclan, Stade de France, the Nice Promenade: all spaces of public gathering, of the get-together that has made life in our cities stimulating and even enjoyable in face of and despite the adversity that plays out in the international political arena. Everyday spaces where we can come meet and shelter one another underneath the dark clouds looming over a Europe that is becoming more reactionary and inward by the day.
Back in November I reflected on November’s attacks in Paris fearing for a three-fold attack on the urban spirit across European soil: EU-wide introversion, the deployment of the army in urban terrain, and our own – largely voluntary – abstaining from the joy of the unexpected that comes with letting go of control, and opening up to the possibility of encounter. Continue Reading…