detroit

Ed Fraga

Joy Emery Gallery

In his book Devil’s Night and Other True Tales of Detroit, Ze’ev Chafets likens Detroit to a third world nation, portraying the city as crude in terms of its quality of life and paralyzed by the struggle with issues of self-determination. While Chafet’s sound-byte adequately summons images of squalor and desperation, the cultural reality of the third world—the politics of moving from a “lesser-developed” to a consumer economy—is quite unlike the dilemma facing Detroit, a city that has become derelict as a result of postindustrial disinvestment. It would be more apt to compare Detroit’s condition to a medieval one, for the city is a ruin after the fall of the golden age of Modernism.

According to Umberto Eco, the medieval period has held particular fascination for Modernists because “all the problems of the Western world emerged in the Middle Ages: modern languages, merchant cities, capitalist

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