You learn a new thing every day…

A spray of pussywillows outside a florist's on Roncesvalles Ave.

Roncesvalles, the name of Toronto’s Polish neighbourhood, is of Spanish origin, not, as I thought, French.

In Toronto it’s pronounced idiosyncratically as “Ron-says-veils”, and if it were a French name it would be more like “Ronh-se-vahl” (which I always figured was the “right” way to say it)…but Spanish is a whole new ballgame and I don’t know the rules!

A quick Google turns up a dictionary entry which says it should rhyme with “on the bias”. Ron-says-vye-us. Now, ask ten typical befuddled tourists at Dundas West Station, and you’ll get ten new pronunciations…!

City as mental condition

The worst thing about Beijing is that you can never trust the judicial system. Without trust, you cannot identify anything; it’s like a sandstorm. You don’t see yourself as part of the city—there are no places that you relate to, that you love to go. No corner, no area touched by a certain kind of light. You have no memory of any material, texture, shape. Everything is constantly changing, according to somebody else’s will, somebody else’s power.

To properly design Beijing, you’d have to let the city have space for different interests, so that people can coexist, so that there is a full body to society. A city is a place that can offer maximum freedom. Otherwise it’s incomplete.

[…] This city is not about other people or buildings or streets but about your mental structure. If we remember what Kafka writes about his Castle, we get a sense of it. Cities really are mental conditions. Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare.

—Post-detention, artist Ai Weiwei reflects on Beijing. Read the whole thing.