I promised a reader I’d post this. Writing inspirations for the day, part deux: pictures of some of Amsterdam’s buildings notable for their slender frontages.
How did it happen? Back in the sixteenth century, Dutch authorities levied taxes from citizens based – among other things – on the width of their houses. The results were predictable. Several houses are trumpeted as ‘the narrowest house in Amsterdam’, but they’re all pretty much of a muchness. The narrowest, I believe, is around 80 cm. (Don’t breathe out.)
What was more, during the age of the tulpenmanie (the ‘tulip bubble’) in the early seventeenth century, some of these houses could be swapped for a single tulip bulb. One that wasn’t necessarily even in the possession of the vendor – it was somewhere else, represented by paper scrip which, itself, became a tradeable item. This in the 1620s.
Is this inspirational for writers? I think so. Because in this we can see an expression of our ability to abstract; and also – in those houses – our ability to creatively find ways around limits. That works for writing too. If one thing doesn’t work, try another.
I had to share one other photo. Those cars parked against the edge of the gracht sometimes drop in. I photographed one being pulled out. Apparently it’s too easy for someone wanting a parking spot to nudge the way clear. That lateral creative streak again…I think.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012