A dark tower, or two or three or more — I heard about them, tower blocks, I forget where at first. Didn’t actually see any until I came to London, though, and now that I think about it, probably not actually until my second time there in 2000. At that time I would be visiting my girlfriend in New Cross, and the train and/or tube line there would pass through a stretch of town where I saw things like Millwall’s stadium, a variety of low row houses, and tower blocks.

They creeped me out and still do. It’s not that I have something against apartment buildings per se — I’ve lived in a few, none so tall though, and in Coronado where I more or less grew up was a stretch of them down near the beach. So context and place and what I heard about them may be all in this case and probably is — all I know is that whenever I saw them I got a slow chill of desperation and oppression crawling up my back. Probably a fair amount of it is just plain stereotyping via inculcation, societally conditioned bullshit pure and simple. Heck, maybe not just a fair amount of it, perhaps all of it, I’m not sure.

I know nothing about the political and social situation that led to the creation of such places en masse beyond vague bits and pieces — supposedly the great era of their creation was the sixties and seventies, correct me if I’m wrong. I gather the idea was to create cheap but affordable housing, and I suppose in a place less prone to earthquakes than out here such tall buildings made a certain sense somehow. I will defer to those who remember what happened or who lived there to say more.

I don’t think they’re some sort of scar on the landscape transforming pristene London or any hogwash like that, there is no ur-London beyond consensual memory and its transformations. But something in particular about the way they look just seems to me less of a home and more of some monolithic escarpment or stretches of them, like the intent was less to house and more to block out the sun and glower down on the surroundings, to serve as a reminder of a power beyond oneself. It’s not comfortable.