Bridge by ahmadshaabanegy


									                                        Chapter 1

             The Metropolis and Mental Life
                                    Georg Simmel

The deepest problems of modern life flow         modern aspects of contemporary life with
from the attempt of the individual to main-      reference to their inner meaning ± when, so
tain the independence and individuality of       to speak, one examines the body of culture
his existence against the sovereign powers       with reference to the soul, as I am to do
of society, against the weight of the histor-    concerning the metropolis today ± the
ical heritage and the external culture and       answer will require the investigation of
technique of life. This antagonism repre-        the relationship which such a social struc-
sents the most modern form of the conflict       ture promotes between the individual
which primitive man must carry on with           aspects of life and those which transcend
nature for his own bodily existence. The         the existence of single individuals. It will
eighteenth century may have called for lib-      require the investigation of the adaptations
eration from all the ties which grew up          made by the personality in its adjustment to
historically in politics, in religion, in mor-   the forces that lie outside of it.
ality and in economics in order to permit           The psychological foundation, upon
the original natural virtue of man, which is     which the metropolitan individuality is
equal in everyone, to develop without in-        erected, is the intensification of emotional
hibition; the nineteenth century may have        life due to the swift and continuous shift of
sought to promote, in addition to man's          external and internal stimuli. Man is a crea-
freedom, his individuality (which is con-        ture whose existence is dependent on differ-
nected with the division of labour) and his      ences, i.e. his mind is stimulated by the
achievements which make him unique and           difference between present impressions
indispensable but which at the same time         and those which have preceded. Lasting
make him so much the more dependent on           impressions, the slightness in their differ-
the complementary activity of others;            ences, the habituated regularity of their
Nietzsche may have seen the relentless           course and contrasts between them, con-
struggle of the individual as the prerequisite   sume, so to speak, less mental energy than
for his full development, while socialism        the rapid telescoping of changing images,
found the same thing in the suppression of       pronounced differences within what is
all competition ± but in each of these the       grasped at a single glance, and the unex-
same fundamental motive was at work,             pectedness of violent stimuli. To the extent
namely the resistance of the individual to       that the metropolis creates these psycho-
being levelled, swallowed up in the social-      logical conditions ± with every crossing
technological mechanism. When one in-            of the street, with the tempo and multipli-
quires about the products of the specifically    city of economic, occupational and social
12                                      GEORG SIMMEL

life ± it creates in the sensory foundations of   omy and the domination of the intellect
mental life, and in the degree of awareness       stand in the closest relationship to one an-
necessitated by our organization as crea-         other. They have in common a purely
tures dependent on differences, a deep con-       matter-of-fact attitude in the treatment
trast with the slower, more habitual, more        of persons and things in which a formal
smoothly flowing rhythm of the sensory-           justice is often combined with an unrelent-
mental phase of small town and rural exist-       ing hardness. The purely intellectualistic
ence. Thereby the essentially intellectualis-     person is indifferent to all things personal
tic character of the mental life of the           because, out of them, relationships and re-
metropolis becomes intelligible as over           actions develop which are not to be com-
against that of the small town which rests        pletely understood by purely rational
more on feelings and emotional relation-          methods ± just as the unique element in
ships. These latter are rooted in the uncon-      events never enters into the principle of
scious levels of the mind and develop most        money. Money is concerned only with
readily in the steady equilibrium of un-          what is common to all, i.e. with the ex-
broken customs. The locus of reason, on           change value which reduces all quality
the other hand, is in the lucid, conscious        and individuality to a purely quantitative
upper strata of the mind and it is the most       level. All emotional relationships between
adaptable of our inner forces. In order to        persons rest on their individuality, whereas
adjust itself to the shifts and contradictions    intellectual relationships deal with persons
in events, it does not require the disturb-       as with numbers, that is, as with elements
ances and inner upheavals which are the           which, in themselves, are indifferent, but
only means whereby more conservative              which are of interest only insofar as they
personalities are able to adapt themselves        offer something objectively perceivable. It
to the same rhythm of events. Thus the            is in this very manner that the inhabitant of
metropolitan type ± which naturally takes         the metropolis reckons with his merchant,
on a thousand individual modifications ±          his customer and with his servant, and fre-
creates a protective organ for itself against     quently with the persons with whom he is
the profound disruption with which the            thrown into obligatory association. These
fluctuations and discontinuities of the ex-       relationships stand in distinct contrast with
ternal milieu threaten it. Instead of reacting    the nature of the smaller circle in which
emotionally, the metropolitan type reacts         the inevitable knowledge of individual
primarily in a rational manner, thus creat-       characteristics produces, with an equal in-
ing a mental predominance through the             evitability, an emotional tone in conduct, a
intensification of consciousness, which in        sphere which is beyond the mere objective
turn is caused by it. Thus the reaction of        weighting of tasks performed and pay-
the metropolitan person to those events is        ments made. What is essential here as
moved to a sphere of mental activity which        regards the economic-psychological aspect
is least sensitive and which is furthest re-      of the problem is that in less advanced cul-
moved from the depths of the personality.         tures production was for the customer who
   This intellectualistic quality which is        ordered the product so that the producer
thus recognized as a protection of the            and the purchaser knew one another. The
inner life against the domination of the          modern city, however, is supplied almost
metropolis, becomes ramified into numer-          exclusively by production for the market,
ous specific phenomena. The metropolis            that is, for entirely unknown purchasers
has always been the seat of money economy         who never appear in the actual field of vis-
because the many-sidedness and concentra-         ion of the producers themselves. Thereby,
tion of commercial activity have given the        the interests of each party acquire a relent-
medium of exchange an importance which            less matter-of-factness, and its rationally
it could not have acquired in the commer-         calculated economic egoism need not fear
cial aspects of rural life. But money econ-       any divergence from its set path because of
                              THE METROPOLIS AND MENTAL LIFE                                13
the imponderability of personal relation-        cerns of the typical metropolitan resident
ships. This is all the more the case in the      are so manifold and complex that, espe-
money economy which dominates the                cially as a result of the agglomeration of
metropolis in which the last remnants of         so many persons with such differentiated
domestic production and direct barter of         interests, their relationships and activities
goods have been eradicated and in which          intertwine with one another into a many-
the amount of production on direct per-          membered organism. In view of this fact,
sonal order is reduced daily. Furthermore,       the lack of the most exact punctuality in
this psychological intellectualistic attitude    promises and performances would cause
and the money economy are in such close          the whole to break down into an inextric-
integration that no one is able to say           able chaos. If all the watches in Berlin sud-
whether it was the former that effected the      denly went wrong in different ways even
latter or vice versa. What is certain is only    only as much as an hour, its entire economic
that the form of life in the metropolis is the   and commercial life would be derailed for
soil which nourishes this interaction most       some time. Even though this may seem
fruitfully, a point which I shall attempt to     more superficial in its significance, it tran-
demonstrate only with the statement of the       spires that the magnitude of distances
most outstanding English constitutional          results in making all waiting and the break-
historian to the effect that through the         ing of appointments an ill-afforded waste
entire course of English history London          of time. For this reason the technique of
has never acted as the heart of England          metropolitan life in general is not conceiv-
but often as its intellect and always as its     able without all of its activities and recipro-
money bag.                                       cal relationships being organized and
   In certain apparently insignificant char-     coordinated in the most punctual way into
acters or traits of the most external aspects    a firmly fixed framework of time which
of life are to be found a number of charac-      transcends all subjective elements. But
teristic mental tendencies. The modern           here too there emerge those conclusions
mind has become more and more a calcu-           which are in general the whole task of this
lating one. The calculating exactness            discussion, namely, that every event, how-
of practical life which has resulted from a      ever restricted to this superficial level it
money economy corresponds to the ideal of        may appear, comes immediately into con-
natural science, namely that of transform-       tact with the depths of the soul, and that the
ing the world into an arithmetical problem       most banal externalities are, in the last an-
and of fixing every one of its parts in a        alysis, bound up with the final decisions
mathematical formula. It has been money          concerning the meaning and the style of
economy which has thus filled the daily life     life. Punctuality, calculability and exact-
of so many people with weighing, calculat-       ness, which are required by the complica-
ing, enumerating and the reduction of            tions and extensiveness of metropolitan
qualitative values to quantitative terms. Be-    life, are not only most intimately connected
cause of the character of calculability          with its capitalistic and intellectualistic
which money has there has come into the          character but also colour the content of
relationships of the elements of life a preci-   life and are conductive to the exclusion
sion and a degree of certainty in the defin-     of those irrational, instinctive, sovereign
ition of the equalities and inequalities and     human traits and impulses which originally
an unambiguousness in agreements and ar-         seek to determine the form of life from
rangements, just as externally this precision    within instead of receiving it from the out-
has been brought about through the general       side in a general, schematically precise
diffusion of pocket watches. It is, however,     form. Even though those lives which are
the conditions of the metropolis which are       autonomous and characterized by these
cause as well as effect for this essential       vital impulses are not entirely impossible
characteristic. The relationships and con-       in the city, they are, none the less, opposed
14                                          GEORG SIMMEL

to it in abstracto. It is in the light of this that   dullness, but rather that the meaning and
we can explain the passionate hatred of               the value of the distinctions between things,
personalities like Ruskin and Nietzsche               and therewith of the things themselves, are
for the metropolis ± personalities who                experienced as meaningless. They appear
found the value of life only in unschema-             to the blase person in a homogeneous, flat
tized individual expressions which cannot             and grey colour with no one of them
be reduced to exact equivalents and in                worthy of being preferred to another. This
whom, on that account, there flowed from              psychic mood is the correct subjective re-
the same source as did that hatred, the               flection of a complete money economy to
hatred of the money economy and of the                the extent that money takes the place of all
intellectualism of existence.                         the manifoldness of things and expresses all
   The same factors which, in the exactness           qualitative distinctions between them in the
and the minute precision of the form of               distinction of how much. To the extent that
life, have coalesced into a structure of the          money, with its colourlessness and its indif-
highest impersonality, have on the other              ferent quality, can become a common de-
hand, an influence in a highly personal dir-          nominator of all values, it becomes the
ection. There is perhaps no psychic phe-              frightful leveller ± it hollows out the core
nomenon which is so unconditionally                   of things, their peculiarities, their specific
reserved to the city as the blase outlook. It
                                     Â                values and their uniqueness and incompar-
is at first the consequence of those rapidly          ability in a way which is beyond repair.
shifting stimulations of the nerves which             They all float with the same specific gravity
are thrown together in all their contrasts            in the constantly moving stream of money.
and from which it seems to us the intensifi-          They all rest on the same level and are
cation of metropolitan intellectuality seems          distinguished only by their amounts. In in-
to be derived. On that account it is not              dividual cases this colouring, or rather this
likely that stupid persons who have been              de-colouring of things, through their equa-
hitherto intellectually dead will be blase.      Â    tion with money, may be imperceptibly
Just as an immoderately sensuous life                 small. In the relationship, however, which
makes one blase because it stimulates the
                  Â                                   the wealthy person has to objects which can
nerves to their utmost reactivity until they          be bought for money, perhaps indeed in the
finally can no longer produce any reaction            total character which, for this reason,
at all, so, less harmful stimuli, through the         public opinion now recognizes in these
rapidity and the contradictoriness of their           objects, it takes on very considerable pro-
shifts, force the nerves to make such violent         portions. This is why the metropolis is the
responses, tear them about so brutally that           seat of commerce and it is in it that the
they exhaust their last reserves of strength          purchasability of things appears in quite a
and, remaining in the same milieu, do not             different aspect than in simpler economies.
have time for new reserves to form. This              It is also the peculiar seat of the blase atti-
incapacity to react to new stimulations               tude. In it is brought to a peak, in a certain
with the required amount of energy consti-            way, that achievement in the concentration
tutes in fact that blase attitude which every
                          Â                           of purchasable things which stimulates the
child of a large city evinces when compared           individual to the highest degree of nervous
with the products of the more peaceful and            energy. Through the mere quantitative in-
more stable milieu.                                   tensification of the same conditions this
   Combined with this physiological source            achievement is transformed into its oppos-
of the blase metropolitan attitude there is
             Â                                        ite, into this peculiar adaptive phenomenon
another, which derives from a money econ-             ± the blase attitude ± in which the nerves
omy. The essence of the blase attitude is an
                                   Â                  reveal their final possibility of adjusting
indifference toward the distinctions be-              themselves to the content and the form
tween things. Not in the sense that they              of metropolitan life by renouncing the
are not perceived, as is the case of mental           response to them. We see that the self-
                              THE METROPOLIS AND MENTAL LIFE                                 15
preservation of certain types of personal-        suggestions would be unbearable. From
ities is obtained at the cost of devaluing        these two typical dangers of metropolitan
the entire objective world, ending inevit-        life we are saved by antipathy which is the
ably in dragging the personality downward         latent adumbration of actual antagonism
into a feeling of its own valuelessness.          since it brings about the sort of distantiation
   Whereas the subject of this form of exist-     and deflection without which this type of
ence must come to terms with it for himself,      life could not be carried on at all. Its extent
his self-preservation in the face of the great    and its mixture, the rhythm of its emergence
city requires of him a no less negative type of   and disappearance, the forms in which it
social conduct. The mental attitude of the        is adequate ± these constitute, with the sim-
people of the metropolis to one another may       plified motives (in the narrower sense) an
be designated formally as one of reserve. If      inseparable totality of the form of metro-
the unceasing external contact of numbers         politan life. What appears here directly as
of persons in the city should be met by the       dissociation is in reality only one of the
same number of inner reactions as in the          elementary forms of socialization.
small town, in which one knows almost                This reserve with its overtone of con-
every person he meets and to each of              cealed aversion appears once more, how-
whom he has a positive relationship, one          ever, as the form or the wrappings of a
would be completely atomized internally           much more general psychic trait of the
and would fall into an unthinkable mental         metropolis. It assures the individual of a
condition. Partly this psychological circum-      type and degree of personal freedom to
stance and partly the privilege of suspicion      which there is no analogy in other circum-
which we have in the face of the elements of      stances. It has its roots in one of the great
metropolitan life (which are constantly           developmental tendencies of social life as a
touching one another in fleeting contact)         whole; in one of the few for which an ap-
necessitates in us that reserve, in conse-        proximately exhaustive formula can be dis-
quence of which we do not know by sight           covered. The most elementary stage of
neighbours of years standing and which per-       social organization which is to be found
mits us to appear to small-town folk so           historically, as well as in the present, is
often as cold and uncongenial. Indeed, if I       this: a relatively small circle almost entirely
am not mistaken, the inner side of this ex-       closed against neighbouring foreign or
ternal reserve is not only indifference but       otherwise antagonistic groups but which
more frequently than we believe, it is a          has however within itself such a narrow
slight aversion, a mutual strangeness and         cohesion that the individual member has
repulsion which, in a close contact which         only a very slight area for the development
has arisen any way whatever, can break out        of his own qualities and for free activity for
into hatred and conflict. The entire inner        which he himself is responsible. Political
organization of such a type of extended           and familial groups began in this way as
commercial life rests on an extremely varied      do political and religious communities; the
structure of sympathies, indifferences and        self-preservation of very young associations
aversions of the briefest as well as of the       requires a rigorous setting of boundaries
most enduring sort. This sphere of indiffer-      and a centripetal unity and for that reason
ence is, for this reason, not as great as it      it cannot give room to freedom and the
seems superficially. Our minds respond,           peculiarities of inner and external develop-
with some definite feeling, to almost every       ment of the individual. From this stage
impression emanating from another                 social evolution proceeds simultaneously
person. The unconsciousness, the transi-          in two divergent but none the less corres-
toriness and the shift of these feelings seem     ponding directions. In the measure that the
to raise them only into indifference. Actu-       group grows numerically, spatially, and in
ally this latter would be unnatural to us as      the meaningful content of life, its immedi-
immersion into a chaos of unwished-for            ate inner unity and the definiteness of its
16                                     GEORG SIMMEL

original demarcation against others are          people of incomparably individualized per-
weakened and rendered mild by reciprocal         sonalities were in constant struggle against
interactions and interconnections. And           the incessant inner and external oppression
at the same time the individual gains a free-    of a de-individualizing small town. This
dom of movement far beyond the first             created an atmosphere of tension in which
jealous delimitation, and gains also a pecu-     the weaker were held down and the stronger
liarity and individuality to which the div-      were impelled to the most passionate type of
ision of labour in groups, which have            self-protection. And with this there blos-
become larger, gives both occasion and ne-       somed in Athens, what, without being able
cessity. However much the particular con-        to define it exactly, must be designated as
ditions and forces of the individual situation   `the general human character' in the intel-
might modify the general scheme, the state       lectual development of our species. For the
and Christianity, guilds and political parties   correlation, the factual as well as the histor-
and innumerable other groups have de-            ical validity of which we are here maintain-
veloped in accord with this formula. This        ing, is that the broadest and the most
tendency seems to me, however, to be quite       general contents and forms of life are intim-
clearly recognizable also in the develop-        ately bound up with the most individual
ment of individuality within the framework       ones. Both have a common prehistory and
of city life. Small town life in antiquity as    also common enemies in the narrow forma-
well as in the Middle Ages imposed such          tions and groupings, whose striving for self-
limits upon the movements of the individual      preservation set them in conflict with the
in his relationships with the outside world      broad and general on the outside, as well
and on his inner independence and differen-      as the freely mobile and individual on the
tiation that the modern person could not         inside. Just as in feudal times the `free' man
even breathe under such conditions. Even         was he who stood under the law of the land,
today the city dweller who is placed in a        that is, under the law of the largest social
small town feels a type of narrowness            unit, but he was unfree who derived his legal
which is very similar. The smaller the circle    rights only from the narrow circle of a
which forms our environment and the more         feudal community ± so today in an intellec-
limited the relationships which have the         tualized and refined sense the citizen of the
possibility of transcending the boundaries,      metropolis is `free' in contrast with the trivi-
the more anxiously the narrow community          alities and prejudices which bind the small
watches over the deeds, the conduct of life      town person. The mutual reserve and indif-
and the attitudes of the individual and the      ference, and the intellectual conditions of
more will a quantitative and qualitative in-     life in large social units are never more
dividuality tend to pass beyond the bound-       sharply appreciated in their significance
aries of such a community.                       for the independence of the individual than
   The ancient polis seems in this regard to     in the dense crowds of the metropolis, be-
have had a character of a small town. The        cause the bodily closeness and lack of space
incessant threat against its existence by en-    make intellectual distance really perceiv-
emies from near and far brought about that       able for the first time. It is obviously only
stern cohesion in political and military         the obverse of this freedom that, under cer-
matters, that supervision of the citizen by      tain circumstances, one never feels as lonely
other citizens, and that jealousy of the         and as deserted as in this metropolitan crush
whole toward the individual whose own            of persons. For here, as elsewhere, it is by no
private life was repressed to such an extent     means necessary that the freedom of man
that he could compensate himself only by         reflect itself in his emotional life only as a
acting as a despot in his own household.         pleasant experience.
The tremendous agitation and excitement,            It is not only the immediate size of the
and the unique colourfulness of Athenian         area and population which, on the basis of
life is perhaps explained by the fact that a     world-historical correlation between the
                              THE METROPOLIS AND MENTAL LIFE                                  17
increase in the size of the social unit and the   him temporally and spatially. In the same
degree of personal inner and outer free-          way the city exists only in the totality of
dom, makes the metropolis the locus of            the effects which transcend their immediate
this condition. It is rather in transcending      sphere. These really are the actual extent
this purely tangible extensiveness that the       in which their existence is expressed. This
metropolis also becomes the seat of cosmo-        is already expressed in the fact that individ-
politanism. Comparable with the form of           ual freedom, which is the logical historical
the development of wealth ± (beyond a cer-        complement of such extension, is not only
tain point property increases in ever more        to be understood in the negative sense
rapid progression as out of its own inner         as mere freedom of movement and emanci-
being) ± the individual's horizon is en-          pation from prejudices and philistinism.
larged. In the same way, economic, per-           Its essential characteristic is rather to be
sonal and intellectual relations in the city      found in the fact that the particularity and
(which are its ideal reflection) grow in a        incomparability which ultimately every
geometrical progression as soon as, for the       person possesses in some way is actually
first time, a certain limit has been passed.      expressed, giving form to life. That we
Every dynamic extension becomes a prep-           follow the laws of our inner nature ± and
aration not only for a similar extension but      this is what freedom is ± becomes percep-
rather for a larger one, and from every           tible and convincing to us and to others
thread which is spun out of it there con-         only when the expressions of this nature
tinue, growing as out of themselves, an           distinguish themselves from others; it is
endless number of others. This may be il-         our irreplaceability by others which shows
lustrated by the fact that within the city        that our mode of existence is not imposed
the `unearned increment' of ground rent,          upon us from the outside.
through a mere increase in traffic, brings to        Cities are above all the seat of the most
the owner profits which are self-generating.      advanced economic division of labour.
At this point the quantitative aspects of life    They produce such extreme phenomena
are transformed qualitatively. The sphere         as the lucrative vocation of the quatorziemeÁ
of life of the small town is, in the main,        in Paris. These are persons who may be
enclosed within itself. For the metropolis        recognized by shields on their houses and
it is decisive that its inner life is extended    who hold themselves ready at the dinner
in a wave-like motion over a broader na-          hour in appropriate costumes so they can
tional or international area. Weimar was          be called upon on short notice in case thir-
no exception because its significance was         teen persons find themselves at the table.
dependent upon individual personalities           Exactly in the measure of its extension,
and died with them, whereas the metropo-          the city offers to an increasing degree the
lis is characterized by its essential inde-       determining conditions for the division of
pendence even of the most significant             labour. It is a unit which, because of its
individual personalities; this is rather its      large size, is receptive to a highly diversified
antithesis and it is the price of independ-       plurality of achievements while at the
ence which the individual living in it enjoys.    same time the agglomeration of individuals
The most significant aspect of the metropo-       and their struggle for the customer forces
lis lies in this functional magnitude beyond      the individual to a type of specialized ac-
its actual physical boundaries and this ef-       complishment in which he cannot be so
fectiveness reacts upon the latter and gives      easily exterminated by the other. The de-
to it life, weight, importance and responsi-      cisive fact here is that in the life of a city,
bility. A person does not end with the limits     struggle with nature for the means of life
of his physical body or with the area to          is transformed into a conflict with human
which his physical activity is immediately        beings, and the gain which is fought for
confined but embraces, rather, the totality       is granted, not by nature, but by man.
of meaningful effects which emanates from         For here we find not only the previously
18                                        GEORG SIMMEL

mentioned source of specialization but                 This appears to me to be the most pro-
rather the deeper one in which the seller           found cause of the fact that the metropolis
must seek to produce in the person to               places emphasis on striving for the most
whom he wishes to sell ever new and                 individual forms of personal existence ± re-
unique needs. The necessity to specialize           gardless of whether it is always correct or
one's product in order to find a source of          always successful. The development of
income which is not yet exhausted and also          modern culture is characterized by the pre-
to specialize a function which cannot be            dominance of what one can call the object-
easily supplanted is conducive to differenti-       ive spirit over the subjective; that is, in
ation, refinement and enrichment of the             language as well as in law, in the technique
needs of the public which obviously must            of production as well as in art, in science as
lead to increasing personal variation within        well as in the objects of domestic environ-
this public.                                        ment, there is embodied a sort of spirit
   All this leads to the narrower type of           (Geist), the daily growth of which is
intellectual individuation of mental qual-          followed only imperfectly and with an
ities to which the city gives rise in propor-       even greater lag by the intellectual develop-
tion to its size. There is a whole series of        ment of the individual. If we survey, for
causes for this. First of all there is the diffi-   instance, the vast culture which during the
culty of giving one's own personality a cer-        last century has been embodied in things
tain status within the framework of                 and in knowledge, in institutions and in
metropolitan life. Where quantitative in-           comforts, and if we compare them with
crease of value and energy has reached its          the cultural progress of the individual
limits, one seizes on qualitative distinc-          during the same period ± at least in the
tions, so that, through taking advantage            upper classes ± we would see a frightful
of the existing sensitivity to differences,         difference in rate of growth between the
the attention of the social world can, in           two which represents, in many points,
some way, be won for oneself. This leads            rather a regression of the culture of the indi-
ultimately to the strangest eccentricities,         vidual with reference to spirituality, deli-
to specifically metropolitan extravagances          cacy and idealism. This discrepancy is in
of self-distantiation, of caprice, of fastidi-      essence the result of the success of the grow-
ousness, the meaning of which is no longer          ing division of labour. For it is this which
to be found in the content of such activity         requires from the individual an ever more
itself but rather in its being a form of `being     one-sided type of achievement which, at its
different' ± of making oneself noticeable.          highest point, often permits his personality
For many types of persons these are still           as a whole to fall into neglect. In any case
the only means of saving for oneself,               this over-growth of objective culture has
through the attention gained from others,           been less and less satisfactory for the indi-
some sort of self-esteem and the sense              vidual. Perhaps less conscious than in prac-
of filling a position. In the same sense            tical activity and in the obscure complex of
there operates an apparently insignificant          feelings which flow from him, he is reduced
factor which in its effects however is per-         to a negligible quantity. He becomes a single
ceptibly cumulative, namely, the brevity            cog as over against the vast overwhelming
and rarity of meetings which are allotted           organization of things and forces which
to each individual as compared with social          gradually take out of his hands everything
intercourse in a small city. For here we find       connected with progress, spirituality and
the attempt to appear to-the-point, clear-          value. The operation of these forces results
cut and individual with extra-ordinarily            in the transformation of the latter from a
greater frequency than where frequent and           subjective form into one of purely objective
long association assures to each person an          existence. It need only be pointed out that
unambiguous conception of the other's per-          the metropolis is the proper arena for this
sonality.                                           type of culture which has outgrown every
                              THE METROPOLIS AND MENTAL LIFE                                  19
personal element. Here in buildings and in        unnatural form and for a long time an unjust
educational institutions, in the wonders and      inequality. In this situation arose the cry for
comforts of space-conquering technique, in        freedom and equality ± the belief in the full
the formations of social life and in the con-     freedom of movement of the individual in
crete institutions of the State is to be found    all his social and intellectual relationships
such a tremendous richness of crystalizing,       which would then permit the same noble
de-personalized cultural accomplishments          essence to emerge equally from all individ-
that the personality can, so to speak,            uals as Nature had placed it in them and as it
scarcely maintain itself in the fact of it.       had been distorted by social life and histor-
From one angle life is made infinitely more       ical development. Alongside of this liberal-
easy in the sense that stimulations, interests,   istic ideal there grew up in the nineteenth
and the taking up of time and attention,          century from Goethe and the Romantics, on
present themselves from all sides and carry       the one hand, and from the economic div-
it in a stream which scarcely requires any        ision of labour, on the other, the further
individual efforts for its ongoing. But from      tendency, namely, that individuals who
another angle, life is composed more and          had been liberated from their historical
more of these impersonal cultural elements        bonds sought now to distinguish themselves
and existing goods and values which seek to       from one another. No longer was it the `gen-
suppress peculiar personal interests and          eral human quality' in every individual but
incomparabilities. As a result, in order that     rather his qualitative uniqueness and irre-
this most personal element be saved, ex-          placeability that now became the criteria of
tremities and peculiarities and individual-       his value. In the conflict and shifting inter-
izations must be produced and they must           pretations of these two ways of defining the
be over-exaggerated merely to be brought          position of the individual within the totality
into the awareness even of the individual         is to be found the external as well as the
himself. The atrophy of individual culture        internal history of our time. It is the function
through the hypertrophy of objective cul-         of the metropolis to make a place for the
ture lies at the root of the bitter hatred        conflict and for the attempts at unification
which the preachers of the most extreme           of both of these in the sense that its own
individualism, in the footsteps of Nietzsche,     peculiar conditions have been revealed to
directed against the metropolis. But it is also   us as the occasion and the stimulus for the
the explanation of why indeed they are so         development of both. Thereby they attain a
passionately loved in the metropolis and          quite unique place, fruitful with an inex-
indeed appear to its residents as the saviours    haustible richness of meaning in the devel-
of their unsatisfied yearnings.                   opment of the mental life. They reveal
   When both of these forms of individual-        themselves as one of those great historical
ism which are nourished by the quantitative       structures in which conflicting life-
relationships of the metropolis, i.e. individ-    embracing currents find themselves with
ual independence and the elaboration of           equal legitimacy. Because of this, however,
personal peculiarities, are examined with         regardless of whether we are sympathetic or
reference to their historical position, the       antipathetic with their individual expres-
metropolis attains an entirely new value          sions, they transcend the sphere in which a
and meaning in the world history of the           judge-like attitude on our part is appropri-
spirit. The eighteenth century found the in-      ate. To the extent that such forces have been
dividual in the grip of powerful bonds            integrated, with the fleeting existence of a
which had become meaningless ± bonds of           single cell, into the root as well as the crown
a political, agrarian, guild and religious        of the totality of historical life to which we
nature ± delimitations which imposed              belong ± it is our task not to complain or to
upon the human being at the same time an          condone but only to understand.

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