Valdrada and Sophronia:
Valdrada is a city where every action on land is mirrored by the reflection of the lake. Sophronia is a city where the fair is permanent and the society temporary. As different as these two cities are, they are united by the contrast between their image and their identity.
There are two sides to Valdrada: the land city and its mirror image the lake city. The lake city is not the same as the land city. They are inverted in comparison to each other. To say that just one side is an inversion of the other is true, but would not be fair to the other side: they are both equally inversions of each other. These sides do not stand together: they stand opposed. Each side faces the other as an opponent does. Also, each side does not treat every situation with the same severity as the other. A murder in one side will take on a new gravity when reflected in the other side. This causes personal reflection. The murderer is forced to consider the reflection of his crime when he commits it. Whether the land city or the lake city gives a distorted view of the severity of the problem is impossible to tell; quite possibly both do. Whatever the case, each side produces a distorted image of the other side.
There are two sides to Sophronia: the fair city and the societal city. The fair city is not the same as the societal city. The fair city is predictable. The rollercoaster car arrives every couple of minutes, the motorcycle stunt show starts at the same time as the day before, and the big top show is the exact same format as the previous couple of big top shows. The societal city is unpredictable. The bank which has always made a profit may suddenly go bankrupt, the factory which has always had trouble finding qualified labor may be forced to layoff several hundred people, and the school which has always had more than enough funding to operate may find they do not have enough money to pay their utility bills. The fair city seeks to fulfill wants, while the societal city seeks to fulfill needs. The fair city gives the butterflies in the stomach of the rollercoaster, the amazement of the motorcycle stunt, and the suspense of the trapeze artist: all things that make life more enjoyable but none that it needed to live. The societal city gives the government of the palace, the food of the slaughterhouse, and the training of the school: all things that people need to live. The city thus gives the impression of being complete, being both predictable and unpredictable and fulfilling both want and need. This is just a distorted image; the societal city is packed up every year, and the fair city is left: Sophronia is left incomplete. The material of the city also gives a distorted image. The fair city is made up of the temporary (cloth, iron, and dirt), but it is permanent. The societal city is made up of the permanent (marble, stone, and cement), but it is temporary.
Both Valdrada and Sophronia suffer an image problem. Valdrada gives the impression of being two identical sides of one city, when each side in actuality distorts the other, while Sophronia gives the impression of being a complete city, when the side that provides the structure of society is removed from it every year. These different cities both reveal that their looks are deceiving.
©2008 Jorge Eduardo Fernandez