Capital: New York, Capital of the 20th Century

02/02/2017 - Aurality
Capital: New York, Capital of the 20th Century

Having spent a good two months cradling Capital, I can now admit that I will never finish it – in the same way that I will never finish reading the internet.

“When Benjamin’s book was published in English in 1999, I found it to be the most profoundly emotional book I’ve ever read written about a city. It was a book that told what the city felt like, sounded like, and smelled like, instead of narrating official histories—god knows there are enough of those books about Paris. I wanted to write the same book for New York, a city I’ve lived in for my entire adult life. I’ve also seen the city drastically change, so I wanted to remember, for instance, the smell of Orange Julius. My book is 1000 pages of citation; I didn’t write a word of it, but it turns out to be the most autobiographical book I could write. This city has made me what I am today. It is, indeed, a love song to New York.”


“So, for Capital, I changed the lens again from tragedy and emotion to beauty and romanticism and have produced a beautiful and romantic text about New York City in the 20th Century. But the process is identical: this book is nearly 1000 pages long but I haven’t written a word of it.” Kenneth Goldsmith