"Chance, convenience, irony, and also the necessity for a certain mortification made me choose a capital of waters and fogs, girdled by canals, particularly crowded, and visited by men from all corners of the earth" (6.19).
But why Amsterdam? As we’ve already seen Jean-Baptiste explain, this move was a sort of self-inflicted punishment. Remember his obsession with being above other people? Here, we’ll remind you: "I have never felt comfortable except in lofty places. […] I preferred the bus to the subway, open carriages to taxis, terraces to closed-in places." OK, sounds good, except Amsterdam is below sea level. See what we mean about punishing himself? (Now go check out what we have to say on elevation and the bar Mexico City in "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory.")