Metropolis And Mental Life Analysis

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In two books, Open City and Portrait with Keys, the narrative voices differ greatly, yet both reflect similar realities about the existence of privileged individuals within cities stricken by extreme poverty, crime and sexual assault; both works demonstrate the desensitizing nature of cities on their inhabitants, and convey that the city itself allows violence and loneliness to exist as commonplace realities in an environment that simultaneously suppresses the visibility of individual action while magnifying that action’s ability to perpetuate negative aspects of the cityscape. Teju Cole depicts New York City as a metropolis so inherently overwhelming and isolating that individual experience is consumed by commotion. Julius’ narrative indifference …show more content…
Cole and Vladislavic approach the exploration of city with differing identities and in several instances, differing feelings toward the city as a home, but both call into question the impact of place on individual experience and morality.
In “The Metropolis and Mental Life,” Simmel notes that the “violent and unexpected stimuli” and “ unrelenting hardness” which result in the “domination of the metropolis ” must be combated with intellectualism and a certain level of indifference towards what we typically consider necessary, humanistic elements of life. The community-based small-towns in which connectivity is an integral element of life deeply contrast the cityscape: a machine uninterested in the person, in which individuality, in many ways, exists only to the extent that it serves the greater agendas of the metropolis. Therefore, maintaining a sense of autonomy or personhood becomes a daunting, and often impossible task. Throughout Open City, we see Julius, a naturally aloof medical resident, struggling to reconcile his profound isolation with his desire to remain an elitist. At one particular moment, Julius describes sitting in a movie theatre: “In the great cave of the theater, I sat alone. No, not alone, exactly: in the company of a hundred

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