… We no longer see the Metaphysical city, so contiguous are its dimensions to the commonplaces of late modernity …
… “I had not understood,” Aragon conceded in his Le Paysan de Paris, “that myth is above all else a reality, a necessity of the spirit, that it is the road of consciousness, its treadmill.” It is by staying within the syntax of de Chirico’s streets — their conjunctions and catechreses, analogies and aporias — that one grasps the particular modernity of their myth.
[line break added] For myth does not amount, here, to a set of strange objects laid along the way. Myth in the Metaphysical city is — to borrow from a very different aphorism — the way itself. This perhaps explains why, for all its strangeness, de Chirico’s imagery has rejoined the platitudes from whence it arose. As shorthand for spatial disquiet, the expressions “Chirico-esque” and “Chirico-like” form part of our era’s verbal furniture. We no longer see the Metaphysical city, so contiguous are its dimensions to the commonplaces of late modernity: alienation, (sub)urban solitude, studied surprise.
[line break added] The “immense museum of strangeness” that de Chirico spied in the world at large remains at once invisible and available. In an age where the piazza becomes every day more virtual, and the wall something less than solid, the metaphysical arrogance of these images perhaps offers something intractably, indissolubly physical still.