A first version of this essay, which I wrote after a road trip through Texas and Louisiana with Yoke-Sum Wong in the fall of 2010, appeared on this blog. I thought it was too short—and idiosyncratic in its subject-matter—to publish as a stand-alone piece, but I didn’t want to lose it. For a while I considered using it as a suitably off-center introduction to Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century, but eventually decided to begin the book with Walter Benjamin instead.
I have now removed the essay from this blog since a revised version will appear as the “Prologue” to my forthcoming co-edited collection: Dariusz Gafijczuk and Derek Sayer (eds), The Inhabited Ruins of Central Europe: Reimagining Space, History and Memory (Palgrave, Fall 2013). For fuller details of the book see here.