The Fantastic Failing of Words
Undergrad Julia Plale reports from the Summer in Prague program.
I haven’t been posting nearly as much as I wanted to on this trip and it irks my brain meats, but I think I figured out why: Prague is a difficult city to commit to paper. There’s a bouquet of adjectives I could throw around to describe the architecture and the river and the parks, but nothing lines up properly when I try to get it down.
I could tell you Letna Park is a huge wooded hill that overlooks the Vltava River and Old Town sections of the city, with a spiderweb of trails that’ll lead you to the Castle if you follow them far enough; or paint a word picture of Lookout Point, where a mammoth monument of Stalin was erected and then blown up a decade later, how it frames a perfect view of the Baroque layer-cake stucco manors under Spanish tile roofs—but does that honestly capture this place? The cobblestones in the sidewalks are uneven and smooth under the rubber soles of my boots, as if they’ve been eroded by the wind—does that say enough for you to feel them they way I do?
I come to Prague to write, and instead I discover the fantastic failing of words.
I don’t mean this to be negative in any way. How I feel right now is the exact opposite. This place has aged so gracefully that an iridescent veil of medieval alchemy still clings to her hair.
Our trip coordinator says Prague is a dream city; I say it’s a fairy tale—tomato/tomahto, really.
Maybe that’s the problem. I can’t capture this city because it doesn’t exist. It’s a folktale, a legend, a wink. It only stands because we need to believe a hilltop kingdom in a river valley can thrive outside of a Disney cartoon.