The City Planners & the Planners

Topics: Grid plan, City, Lewis Mumford Pages: 5 (1710 words) Published: April 8, 2013
Explore the Ways in Which the City Planners & the Planners Powerfully Convey the Negative Impact of the City Planning Upon the Environment? In, both, City Planners and Planners, the concept of the redesigning of personality, past, and environment as a whole, is very much a theme – ‘so history is new again’ – and, indeed, thought of in a negative light. Through this idea, both Kim Cheng and Atwood explore whether nature will, conclusively, be a stronger force than the planners and, essentially, an artificial society – ‘the houses, capsized’ – and, perhaps, suggest that the planners’ attempts to ‘sanitize’ the world are futile, regardless of their mathematical ‘grace’ and utilization of, effectively, brainwashing – ‘they erase the flaws, the blemishes of the past’. This is elaborated, particularly, in the City Planners, in which Atwood proposes that this form of society is temporary, whereas nature is long-lasting and, therefore, nature is more powerful than the planners. The idea of a lack of personality is particularly stressed in the City Planners – ‘what offends us is the sanities’ – which negatively acts upon the environment. The fact that ‘these residential Sunday streets’ are so devoid of personality and difference unsettles the speaker and makes her feel conscious of her imperfections – ‘the planted sanitary trees […] rebuke to the dent in our car door’. The way she judges, or views, perfection is clearly very contradicting to that of the planners; individuality is very much frowned upon by the city planners. Atwood also hints at the theme of history (which Kim Cheng expands in the Planners) – ‘houses […] will slide obliquely into the clay seas’. As the sea is described as ‘clay’, there is an impression that, once bellow the seas, the house won’t be seen, or heard of again, much like the planners’ eradication of history in the Planners. The planners in Kim Cheng’s poem drill ‘through the fossils of last century’ to eradicate history. History is, arguably, what creates personalities, and destroying all memory we have of the past most definitely changes how we act in the future, hence ‘the blueprint of our past’s tomorrow’. When Kim Cheng states he wouldn’t ‘bleed […] a single drop [of poetry]’ , he could be implying that our new, revised, tomorrows will be boring and, therefore, he has little inspiration to write about. Part of history eradicating in the Planners is to do with the idea of, essentially, brainwashing. This brainwashing comes hand in hand with many dental references in stanza two: ‘all gaps are plugged with gleaming gold. The country wears perfect rows of shining teeth.’ This correlates with the idea of getting rid of history, as a natural tooth is part of your body’s history. Yet when, what the planners see as, an improvement is needed; the tooth (history) is painfully removed and replaced with an artificial ordinary filling. A reference sanitary procedure is mentioned in the City Planners too: ‘the planted sanitary trees’. The idea of brainwashing, itself, is brought up in the middle of the second stanza of the Planners – ‘anaesthesia, amnesia, hypnosis.’ Again, this reference is incorporated with the idea of dentistry, as you would take anaesthesia before having a filling. The ordering of medical terminology is significant – the anaesthesia would numb the pain of having your history eradicated, before amnesia would come into effect (you wouldn’t remember the history taken from you) and through taking these actions, the planners could, then, brainwash you into believing something completely different. The concept of brainwashing has parallels to fascist states, such as Nazi Germany, in which through propaganda, the masses were brainwashed into yielding to the Nazis. Atwood insinuates that the ‘insane […] political conspirators’, too, have an influence on people. In this case, the way people conceive the idea of perfection. Her theory, that these city planners have conspired to make the masses...

References: to maths and science, too, suggest that the planners are well-educated as, both maths and dentistry, are very academic professions. However, the final stanza contradicts all the above points concerning the planners’ powers. The fact that Kim Cheng’s heart does ‘bleed poetry’ shows that, regardless of initial power, the planners cannot prevent Kim Cheng staining their blueprint. He undermines all that the planners have achieved in creating perfection – such as creating ‘buildings [which] are in alignment with the roads’ .
Therefore, in conclusion, not only do both poems convey negative impacts of the city planning upon the environment through stating how it destroys personality and history, but also by declaring that the planners are weak and, essentially, just temporarily preventing the overriding force of nature and, meanwhile, repressing nature from its natural behaviour. In neither poem does the final stanza conclude that the city benefits from the planning and, therefore, the planning has a negative effect on the environment.
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