An Urban Idyll

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It is our history as a species that determines what we find beautiful – women are attracted to strong and masculine men (because they think they can turn them into good providers for their brood), men like women with big breasts and curvy hips.

Is this an Urban Idyll?

And landscapes are beautiful if they hold out the promise of a decent life: some open land where we can hunt, a forest near-by to have an escape from predators, anything with water in it. These are the aesthetics of an ape.

NEWS FLASH! We are no longer living in caves! Isn’t it time to update this obsolete concept of Neanderthal beauty?

"A stadium in the background, a railway bridge in the centre, a bar at extreme right and a parking lot"

A scene in Pontoise of an Urban idyll – a stadium in the background, bar at the right

Here is my suggestion: a hustling and bustling place, full of human activity – and of opportunities to earn a decent living. There are people, cars and rail carriages – everything is on the move like the springs in a clockwork.

A bar: the promise of a hot meal and a cold drink. A sports stadium: the promise of happy hours of leisure in a convivial atmosphere. An urban idyll, actually.

The painter William Constable would have understood, by the way. His “Haywain” is very much the 18th century equivalent of this scene. We find his motives “bucolic” – the Romantics found them dull.

I can’t help but wonder: what would Turner have made of this urban idyll?

We went hiking in Pontoise near Paris recently, ending the hike in Van Gogh country Auvers sur Oise. Make sure you follow  our RSS feed or share this on Facebook.

14 comments to An Urban Idyll

  • I do like this shot. I prefer a bit of both, and like Leigh, the stadium I would probably give a miss too. Of course, if there was something interesting going on inside, I would be there in a shot.

  • Julie

    Such a wonderful shot! I totally agree, these urban scenes has got some industrial and artifical beauty, too.

  • Well, you’ve certainly got me thinking today. Beautiful landscapes vs urban idylls?? Nice we can have both in many different varieties, I think. The bar is a must, of course.

  • I can pass on the stadium though I understand the appeal for many. But I’ll go with the bar – a very civilized finding at the end of any length of hike. As much as I enjoy living in the city,I’m still one who enjoys more of the Neanderthal beauty than the city beauty.

  • You lucked out then, a stadium and a bar nearby. Hot meal, cold drink and happy hours. Definitely and urban idyll.

  • Interesting angles, but that would really be outside my brief, Vera.

  • Very true. I’m not sure about hiking, but I do love long walks to explore new cities.

  • A thought provoking post. . .like it!

  • Lovely scene. I was waiting for you to take the discussion a step further to the argument about whether human construction improves or denigrates nature. Is the river in the picture improved by having its path controlled? Is building a beautiful bridge an improvement over the natural scene?

  • Agreed! Even the perception of beauty has to adjust to the present!

  • There’s always an easy hiking trail on the edge of every city, even if it’s just a short one. Just need to find them and make the most of them. Thanks for dropping by, Bob

  • I enjoy walking/hiking on the edge of cities, the areas where urban meets rural. Provides an interesting insight into how the area has developed, and how it continues to evolve.

  • Ilia

    I guess it is our instinct to have such Neanderthal concepts on beauty and life itself.

    Let’s put it this way. Dogs, domesticated for thousands of years, still revert to their inner wolves by howling. Following that logic, we are just going back to the old haunts of our ape ancestors.

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