There is something about the very idea of a city which is central to the understanding of a planet like Earth, and particularly the understanding of that part of the then-existing group-civilization which called itself the West. That idea, to my mind, met its materialist apotheosis in Berlin at the time of the Wall. Perhaps I go into some sort of shock when I experience something deeply; I'm not sure, even at this ripe middle-age, but I have to admit that what I recall of Berlin is not arranged in my memory in any normal, chronological sequence. My only excuse is that Berlin itself was so abnormal - and yet so bizarrely representative - it was like something unreal; an occasionally macabre Disneyworld which was so much a part of the real world (and the realpolitik world), so much a crystallization of everything these people had managed to produce, wreck, reinstate, venerate, condemn and worship in their history that it defiantly transcended everything it exemplified, and took on a single - if multifariously faceted - meaning of its own; a sum, an answer, a statement no city in its right mind would want or be able to arrive at.
Iain M. Banks