One of the best ways to approach Aldo Rossi’s project for the city is to understand it as a psychoanalysis of cities. That would explain the quote from Sigmund Freud’s Civilisation and its Discontents comparing the unconscious to the Eternal City, with which Peter Eisenman prefaces Rossi’s The Architecture of the City . It would explain the melancholy that prevails in the work; it would explain the shadow hand of an Other who witnesses the work but who – unlike the chorus in Greek tragedy – remains unannounced and absent. It would also explain the difference between historicism – with which Rossi is often associated by those who misunderstand him – and the retrospective glance that is the defining trope of psychoanalysis and which has nothing to do with nostalgia. In an analysis, the subject gazes at the unconscious with a kind of retrospective glance forward. 1