The Invisible 4 Meters

“The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Downtown, Alexandria by the author – October 2020

In the cites we live we usually walk for two purposes. Firstly is to go from one destination to another. If it is the case you will be almost focused on your arrival point. Or you are not expecting to observe and see something you have not seen before. On the contrary for the second purpose of walking the city, is, where you would go out for leisure time. In this situation you re-set your mind to be much more open to discover or encounter anyone or anything. When you walk for leisure you allow yourself to be consumed and distracted by whatever comes in front of your eyes. The average height of our eye level is ranging between 1.50 and 1.75 meters. And if we consider that our normal eyes can see clearly within the scope of 37 degrees in both horizontal and vertical senses. That means during our outdoor walking experience, we can only see whatever our eyes catch below the 5 meters height. Unless we need to stop and tilt the heads up in order to look at something higher than us.

In our cities and to be specific in Alexandria, the first 5 meters (from the street level) of most of the buildings are always defaced and invisible. Buried under unharmonized layers of dust, layers of paints and colors. Jungles of cables and wires that have traveled the streets from one building to another. Hundreds of air conditioners that have popped out the facades covering every possible square centimeters, with their water tubes dangling and draining all condensed water and offering free showers to the city walkers. Monsters of digital signs and advertisings have grown and scarfed most of the building’s ground floors and entrances. Which is the only part we interact with when we experience the city. Where we shape our memories.

This level is the city we live.

If we go back again to the normal citizen who went out for a simple walk. Enjoying her/his city. Building memories with those she/he loves. What we do expect her/him to see. What experience they would have. What observations and stories they would tell to those who would succeed.

Especially when we take into consideration that our eyes level in below 2 meters.