Friday, March 6, 2009

Excerpts from Georg Simmel "The Metropolis and Mental Life"

modern mind has become more and more calculating

to transform the world into an  arithmetic problem, to fix every part of the world be mathematical formulas

so that all the most banal externalities of life finally are connected with the ultimate decisions concerning the meaning and style of life

the blase attitude results first from the rapidly changing and closely compressed contrasting stimulations of the nerves 

a life in boundless pursuit of pleasure makes one blase because it agitates the nerves to their strongest reactivity for such a long time that they finally cease to react at all

no one object deserves preference over any other


as a result of this reserve we frequently do not ever know by sight those who have been our neighbors for years

indeed, if i do not deceive myself, the inner aspect of this outer reserve is not strangeness and repulsion but, more often than we are aware, it is a slight aversion, a mutual strangeness and repulsion, which will break into hatred and fight at the moment of a closer contact, however caused

hierarchy of sympathies  indifference's, and aversions of the briefest as well as of the most permanent nature

our physic activity still responds to almost every impression of somebody else with a somewhat distinct feeling. 

it offers a circle which through its size can absorb a highly diverse variety of services 

it is decisive that city life has transformed the struggle with nature for livelihood into an inter-human struggle for gain

conduces the urge for the most individual person existence

the individual in his intellectual development follows the growth of this spirit very imperfectly and at an ever increasing distance

perhaps less in his consciousness than in his practice and in the totality of his obscure emotional states that are derived from this practice

one the one hand, life is made infinitely easy for the personality in that stimulations interests, uses of time, and consciousness are offered to it from all sides. they carry the person as if in a  stream and one need hardly to swim for oneself. on the other hand, however, life is composed more and more of these impersonal contents and offerings which tend to displace the genuine personal colorations and incompatibilities. this results in the individuals summoning the upmost in uniqueness and particularization in order to preserve his most personal core. 

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