Years ago, my friends Peter and Mary Banham moved to Santa Cruz, California, where Peter was teaching architectural history. They told me the story of a friend who arrived from London at night and went to bed in the dark, as yet without a clear appreciation of his former colleague’s glorious outlook across the white California beach to the sparkling Pacific Ocean.
When they called him for breakfast the next morning, he wasn’t in his room.
An hour later, he still hadn’t returned.
They went out to search for him, and found him wandering back and forth along the coast looking disturbed.
What’s wrong? asked the hosts, concerned that their friend had gone mad in the night, or perhaps regretted the decision to visit.
Nothing’s wrong, answered their guest, frowning.
But you’ve been out here for hours! What are you doing?
The guest sighed, perhaps thinking of the grimy, grid-locked, crowded, polluted, high-pressure, rainy, grey city he’d left the previous day.
Don’t you see? he asked them, appealing desperately for understanding. I’m looking for the flaw.