The Macksey Journal


When thinking of the country of France, the republic whose revolutions and spirit have sparked fires of passionate reform and transformations of a global sociopolitical landscape throughout history, we often fall into thinking, almost automatically, of Paris, the celebrated city of lights and love. We envision the city that has also been tied to empires, royalty, revolt, violence and blood since the dawn of the Gauls to the gilet jaunes of today. The question, therein, lies in why Paris? Why is this city so emblematic of a country that expands beyond the confines of the European continent? Why does it represent the cultural and transportational center of an entire people who once witnessed the rise and fall of the great Roman empire? Before assessing these questions specific to one place, we must first turn to the general definition for a city. By inverting the order of thought and centering our discussion on the principal question of what makes a city a city, we will find a general pattern for the collective human experience and our unique tendency for complex manipulation of space. I propose an open-ended algorithmic model to explain the foundations of a city’s composition. In studying three different texts spanning three centuries by Louis XIV, Louis-Sébastien Mercier and Jules Michelet, we will see this model consisting of a precise arrangement of space, an element of disjunction, and a living body. With Paris as our case study, we will see how a city operates as a monument of monuments.

Keywords: Urbanism, Paris, French Revolution, Disjunction, Algorithm