9 January 2017

Travelogue: Update

Manon is notable for its rebellious exuberance in the face of its dull and predictable surroundings. The city is a retaliative growth, born as a response to the cautious, pretentious order of the surrounding environment. The city appears to sprout from the earth, the outskirts grow tall, protective of the inner sanctum. Despite this protective layer, those who wish to enter Manon will feel welcomed, and the outskirts of the city will form archways, inviting travellers to explore and absorb the world that its residents have created for themselves. The city pulls the traveller in, not to a physical place, but to a way of thinking. The traveller will move through the city with no particular goal in mind, they will find that they do not want to plan their travels, that exploring at random is the most rewarding way to experience this city. Even those outsiders who cling fiercely to the order of their world find themselves intrigued by Manon, the strings of nonsense that find their way outside of the city stick with them, urging them to consider exploring it.

Plants are an important part of Manon and have been placed around the city and allowed to grow as they grow. And they grow, twisting and climbing throughout the city. Their growth is haphazard, automatic, a result of biological machinations unseen and unsupervised. Each morning the sun can't quite decide if it will fully rise or not, and it hovers just out of reach, its presence felt, but never truly seen. The plants do not mind this. They do not need nourishment. They grow on. They are as exuberant as those who built the city. The colours that these plants manifest vary from very dull to quite bright and unexpected, as though some are pieces of paper left out too long in the sun and others are freshly printed. The plants even manage to leap through space as they grow, leaving gaps, floating apart from themselves, winding up in strange places they, by all ordinary accounts, should not be able to exist. This is accepted in Manon, and the traveller becomes used to it after a short time, only occasionally finding themselves surprised by a brightly coloured leaf protruding from a postbox.

The indecisiveness of the sun means that Manon spends all its time in the light of early morning and the city is bathed in gold. This would be difficult for the cities occupants, as it clashes with the capricious nature of the city they have built, however, the light is so warm and gentle, that they find themselves not minding all that much.

If the path of the traveller takes them to the heart of the city they will find the Arts Centre, the place where all of the important decisions are made. Even in this city built at random, someone or something has decided where each building will be built and, perhaps most importantly, each plant will start the journey of its growth. These decision makers, whoever, or whatever, they may be, make their home in the Arts Centre. This is as close a thing as Manon has to a Government, but they would shudder to think of it as such; a lack of governance is of utmost importance to their way of life, and they cling to the idea that they live free from authority. The Arts Centre is an impressive building, taller than some buildings, shorter than others, wider than some buildings, narrower than others. It is also rounder than some buildings, and squarer than others. It is shinier than some buildings, and more matte than others. It is, by all accounts, the most impressive building in Manon, for it manages to be completely and utterly average, despite the most enthusiastic attempts by the city’s residents to abandon normality.

Speaking of the residents of Manon, they are, of course, a strange bunch. They know this. They love this. They work hard for this. Their insistence at being different from their neighbouring environments drives them to ever greater heights of creative nonsense. Because of this, the method of construction for new structures in Manon changes over time. The materials used shift between wood, bronze, marble and plaster, the shapes and sizes vary, and the situation of the buildings within the city is different. There are always plants though, these plants make the city feel alive, and their unpredictable growth patterns appeal to the residents’ love of all things random. All of the houses in Manon have been sculpted individually with only a vague idea of a final design, they have their materials and their plants and they begin their building. The architects see the plants and are inspired by their organic shapes, meaning the structures always tend to mimic these patterns in some way. No matter the maker, roundness often plays some part in the design of Manon’s extension and, in this way, each building could be seen to belong to the same city.

It is possible for residents and travellers alike to make contact with their orderly neighbours, but they find it difficult to understand one another. The playful absurdity of the Manonians writings may be read as infantile by the outside reader, and the sensible, structured writings of the outsider can come across as disturbing to those in Manon. However, those outside are often drawn in by the nonsense they observe, tired of following rules and intrigued by the playfulness of the Manonians. In this way, it is perhaps the citizens of Manon who are more stuck in their ways. It is important to note that once inside the city, people find themselves unable to leave, utterly captivated by Manonian ways.

The city's magnetic pull on the foot traveller also extends to those who travel via the city’s trains. Hovering surrounded by colourful pipes, the trains are pulled around the city in strange and varying patterns. The traveller feels no compulsion to make note of which stop they get on at, or check where they disembark, they simply move through the city, taking in the sights. It is dizzying and it is in this way that travellers to the city often get lost. Manon absorbs the traveller as the traveller absorbs Manon and the city extends further, eking out a larger and larger space in the ordinary environment that surrounds it.

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