“The Metropolis and Mental Life” - Georg Simmel

Georg Simmel begins his essay by addressing the city's immediate effect on the "individual" -- that is to say, because we are constantly exposed to a flip book of external and internal stimuli, we knowingly, and eventually subconsciously, make decisions based on logic unhindered by emotion. These unrelenting contacts soon become regular, undifferentiated, a blur. Because we are always in such close proximity with one another, whether it be in the train or on the sidewalk, we ignore each other. This ignoring is ironically a courteous act. We acknowledge each other's presence, but do not "bother" the other with greetings and conversation. We continue on with our day, without a need for emotion. That is the mentality which becomes engraved in our minds in the city.

"Just as an immoderately sensuous life makes one blase because it stimulates the nerves to their utmost reactivity until they finally can no longer produce any reaction at all, so, less harmful stimuli, through the rapidity and the contradictoriness of their shifts, forces the nerves to make such violent responses, tear them about so brutally that they exhaust their last reserves of strength and, remaining in the same milieu, do not have time for new reserves to form" (51).

The city is a drug, which we as inhabitants are consumed by. The initial exposure illicits senses of fear of the unknown, excitement for novelty, and want of more. In time, the fear dissipates , nothing is new, and we live with it.

"With the 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 sensory foundations of psychic life."

We are in a sense, not in contol of our lives within the metropolis. Although it is our decision to commute to work and school in the morning, it is not in our power to get there as we choose to. From the grid locked streets of taxi's to the streams of people pouring into Grand Central Station, an individual's movement and decisions revolve around time and speed of City.

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