Manhattan and Mental Life – commuting with Georg Simmel



Exiting my apartment building, the city greets me –  by the sounds of traffic, heels on concrete, screeching bus brakes, and by the blank stares of nameless faces with souls locked behind stopped-down irises.  I, also wearing my ‘stranger face’, dash forward into the onslaught of grey pedestrians with brisk, purposeful strides towards the subway entrance.  Making unmotivated eye contact with anonymous familiar faces, they stare back blankly or glance behind them, seeking, themselves, the object of this unexpected contact.  The great blur of Walk, Don’t Walk, curb, puddle, NARS ad with the red lips, excuse me,  baby carriage, sorry, no thank you, merge, pass, construction passageway, Metro newspaper lady whose shrill vocal chords found an unfortunate vocation, dodge disembodied text messenger, sorry, smeared poop, Walk, Don’t walk, Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar flapping on a pole, a pigeon bearing signs of stress disorders, snippets of conversation including ‘I don’t mind being touched’ and ‘I don’t think I’m bipolar, do you?’, Walk, Don’t Walk, Taxi horns, beep, click, turnstyles, sorry, salmon upstream, descend, and disappear into book.

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