The idea of crossing over the boundaries of binary opposites is seen in Calvino’s Invisible Cities. Marco Polo describes impossible cities, contradicting not only themselves but also the basic laws of science. For example, Marco Polo describes the city of Cecilia which sprawls unboundedly out extensively over space. “The places have mingled, Cecilia is everywhere…” (pp. 153) Obviously, the city of Cecilia is a violation to the physics law of conservation of mass and energy, the mass of any isolated system is always constant. The city cannot travel on infinitely, scientifically; it will stop at some point. However, when perceived from a symbolic perspective, Cecilia is perfectly realistic. It is a symbol of a different kind of world, a depicting a different aspect of Venice. The cities Marco Polo depicts are neither utopias nor dystopias, their boundaries, both physical and characteristic, are impossible to definitely define.
It is strange how one setting or situation, depending on how it is perceived, can be so starkly different; constructive and destructive, satisfactory and disappointing, both encouraging and depressing. This idea can be applied to situations in our own lives as well. For example, I consider my time in high school to be both the best and worst years of my life thus far. Coming into high school freshman year I was anxious about the typical teenage concerns, will I make friends or be a loner, be accepted or denied, be popular or a loser. So I decided to join track in an attempt to branch out, and make friends. The decision to join track was both the best and worst decision of my life. I would soon find out that my track coach would exponentially amplify my, initially, minor concerns of self identity. The best way to describe him is an angry soul, with a scowl eternally smeared on his furrowed skin. One look from him could infect me with an array of emotions, anger, insecurity, hatred…the list could go on. I dreaded school, because I knew track practice would follow. He was a callous old man, degrading to his runners, and unpleasant to be around. To put it shortly, he single handedly tainted my teenage years of high school. Reflecting back on those years, it was disappointing I wasn’t able to enjoy high school, it was unfair, and disheartening that someone in his position could be so destructive. However, looking back on those years, I realize that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t gone through those four years. I grew up faster than my peers, developed thick skin, and become a strong and resilient person.
High school for me is comparable to the city of Cecilia. They are contradictory situations, unable to have definite boundaries because when looked at from different perspectives they offer completely different impressions.