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Simmel- The metropolitan city

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University of Toronto St. George
Irving Zeitlin

Simmel The Metropolis and Mental Life - The deepest problems of modern life derive from the claim of the individual to preserve the autonomy and individuality of his existence in the face of overwhelming social forces, of historical heritage, of external culture, and of the technique of life. - In addition to more liberty, the 19th century demanded the functional specialization of man and his work; this specialization makes one individual incomparable to another, and each of them indispensable to the highest possible extent. However, this specialization makes each man the more directly dependent upon the supplementary activities of all others. * How the personality accommodates itself in the adjustments to external forces? * The psychological basis of the metropolitan type of individuality consists in the intensification of nervous stimulation which results from the swift and uninterrupted change of outer and inner stimuli. * Man is a differentiating creature. His mind is stimulated by the difference between a momentary impression and the one which preceded it. * The rapid crowding of changing images, the sharp discontinuity in the grasp if a single glance, and the unexpectedness of onrushing impressions --> these are the psychological conditions which the metropolis creates. * with each crossing of the street, with the tempo and multiplicity of economic, occupational and social life, the city sets up a deep contrast with small town and rural life with reference to they sensory foundations of psychic life. * The metropolis exacts from man as a discriminating creature a different amount of consciousness than does rural like. * In rural life, the rhythm of life and sensory mental imagery flows more evenly. * Precisely in this connection the sophisticated character of metropolitan psychic life becomes understandable -- as over against small town life which rests more upon deeply felt and emotional relationships. * Rural are rotted in the more unconscious layers of the psyche and grow most readily in the ready rhythm of uninterrupted habituations. * The intellectual, however, has its locus on the transparent, conscious, higher layers of the psyche; it is the most adaptable of our inner forces. In order to accommodate to change and to the contrast of phenomena, the intellect does not require any shocks and inner upheavals; it is only through such upheavals that the more conservative mind could accommodate to the metropolitan rhythm of events. - Thus, the metropolitan type of man -- which, of course, exists in a thousand individual variants -- develops an organ protecting him against the threatening currents and discrepancies 矛盾 of his external environment which would uproot 扫地出门 him. - He reacts with his head instead of his heart. In this an increased awareness assumes the psychic 心理的 prerogative特权 . - Metropolitan life, thus, underlies a heightened awareness and a predominance of intelligence in metropolitan man. - The reaction to metropolitan phenomena is shifted to that organ which is least sensitive and quite remote from the depth of the personality. - Intellectuality is thus seen to preserve subjective life against the overwhelming power of metropolitan life, and intellectuality branches out in many directions and is integrated with numerous discrete phenomena. - The metropolis has always been the seat of the money economy. - The metropolis has the multiplicity and concentration of economic exchange. - Money economy and the dominance of the intellect are intrinsically本质的 connected. - The intellectually sophisticated person is indifferent to all genuine individuality, because relationships and reactions result from it which cannot be exhausted with logical operations. - Money is concerned only with what is common to all: it asks for the exchange value, it reduces all quality and individuality to the question: How much? - All intimate emotional relations between persons are found in their individuality, whereas in rational relations man is reckoned with like a number, like an element which is in itself indifferent. Only the objective measurable achievement is of interest. - These features of intellectuality contrast with the nature of the small circle in which the inevitable knowledge of individuality as inevitably produces a warmer tone of behaviour, a behavior which is beyond a mere objective balancing of service and return. - The modern metropolis, however, is supplied almost entirely by production for the market, that is, for entirely unknown purchasers who never personally never personally enter the producer‟s actual field of vision. - Through this anonymity the interests of each party acquire an unmerciful残忍的 matter-of-factness; and the intellectually calculating economic egoisms of both parties need not fear that any deflection because of he imponderables of personal relations. - The money economy dominates the metropolis. - The matter-of-fac切合实际的 attitude is obviously so intimately interrelated with the money economy, which is dominant in the metropolis, that nobody can say whether the intellectualistic mentality first promoted the money economic or whether the latter determined the former. - Modern mid has become more and more calculating. - Only money economy has filled the days of so many people with weighting, calculating, with numerical determinations, with a reduction of qualitative values to quantitative ones. - Through the calculative nature of money a new precision, a certainty in the definition of identities and differences, an unambiguousness in agreements and arrangements has been brought about in the relations of life elements. - The relationships and affairs of the typical metropolitan life are so varied and complex that without the strictest punctuality in promises and services the whole structure would break down into an inextricab纠缠的 chaos. - Above all, this necessity is brought about by the aggregation of so many people with such differentiated interest, who must integrate their relations and activities into a highly complex organism. - The technique of metropolitan life is unimaginable without the most punctual integration of all activities and mutual relations into a stable and impersonal time schedule. * Punctuality, calculability, exactness are forced upon life by the complexity and extension of metropolitan existence and are not only the most intimately connected with its money economy and intellectualistic character. - these traits must also color the contents of life and favor the exclusion of those irrational, instinctive, sovereign traits and impulses which aim at determining the mode of life from within, instead of receiving the general and precisely schematized form of life from without. - The same factors which have thus coalesced结合 into the exactness and minute precision of the form of life have coalesced into a structure of the highest impersonality; on the other hand, they have promoted a highly personal subjectivity. * There is perhaps no psychic phenomenon which has been so unconditionally reserved to the metropolis as has the blase attit厌烦于享乐的,厌世态度 . * The blase attitude results first from the rapidly changing and closely compressed contrasting stimulations of the nerves. * From this, the enhancement of metropolitan intellectuality, also, seems originally to stem. Therefore, stupid people who are not intellectually alive in the first place usually are not exactly blase. * A life in boundless pursuit of pleasure makes one blase because it ag鼓动ates the nerves to their strongest reacti反应tfor such as long time that they finally cease 停止 to react at all. * An incapacity thus emerges to react to new sensations with the appropriate energy. * This constitutes that blase attitude which, in fact, every metropolitan child shows when compared with children of quieter and less changeable milieu环境. - This physiological source of the metropolitan blase attitude is joined by another source which flows from the money economy. - The essence of the blase attitude consists in the blu率直iof discrimination. - They appear to the blase person in an evenly flat and gray tone; no one object deserves preference over any other. - This mood is the faithful subjective reflection of the completely internalized money economy. - By being the equivalent to all the man繁多的ld things in one and the same way, money becomes the most frightful可怕的 leveler水平测量员 . - Money, with all its colorlessness and indifference, becomes the common denominator of all values; irreparab不能修补的 it hollow挖空 out the core of things, their individuality, their specific value, and their incomparability. - The large cities, the main seats of the money exchange, bring the purchasability of things to the fore much more impressively than do smaller localities. That is why cities are also genuin真正的 locale of the blase attitude. - In the blase attitude the concentration of men and things stimulates the nervous system of the individual to its highest achievement so that it at损坏iits peak. - Through the mere quantitative intensification of the same conditioning factors this achievement is transformed into its opposite and appears in the peculiar adjustment of the blase attitude. - In this phenomenon the nerve find in the refusal t
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