Author(s): Sandy Isenstad
Abstract / Introduction (download full article at the bottom)
Rupert Brooke was said to be a gifted writer “on whom the gods had smiled their brightest.” But he was flummoxed by the bright gods he discovered in Times Square, New York, when he went there around 1914. He had never seen anything like these beings, comporting in their sky-high pantheon as he gazed up at them: a devil unable to bend back the bristles of “vast fiery tooth-brushes”; not far was “a divine hand writing slowly . . . its igneous message of warning to the nations: ‘Wear—Underwear for Youths and MenBoys’”. Nearby, “a celestial bottle, stretching from the horizon to the zenith.” Close to that “a Spanish goddess, some minor deity in the Dionysian theogony, dances continually, rapt and mysterious. And near the goddess, Orion, archer no longer, releases himself from his strained posture to drive a sidereal golf-ball out of sight through the meadows of Paradise; then poses, addresses, and drives again.” For all their determined activities these “coruscating divinities” including two warring youths “clad in celestial underwear,” and the “Queen of the night,” a winking sphinx whose “ostensible message burning in the firmament beside her, is that we should buy pepsin chewing-gum” remained a mystery. “What gods they are who fight endlessly and indecisively over New York is not for our knowledge.” For Brooke, Times Square was a “flammantia moenia mundi”; a fiery-walled world, a notion first voiced by Lucretius regarding the border between the earth and the heavens, across which tracked the blazing sun (Brooke, 1916).
Publication: ISOCARP Review 12, pp. 68-83
Editors: Shi Nan, Jim Reilly, Fran Klass
Coordinator: Lucian Perici
Graphic Designer: Ricardo Moura