Urban Voices: Georg Simmel (on urban movement)

Georg Simmel (1858-1918) was a sociologist of the urban environment who wrote (among other essays) the essay “The Metropolis and Mental Life,” where he in effect describes the modern urbanized consciousness: “The psychological basis of the metropolitan type of individuality consists in the intensification of nervous stimulation which results from the swift and uninterrupted change of outer and inner stimuli” (original emphasis).

Simmel continues: “Lasting impressions, impressions which differ only slightly from one another, impressions which take a regular and habitual course and show regular and habitual contrasts–all these use up, so to speak, less consciousness than does the rapid crowding of changing images, the sharp discontinuity in the grasp of a single glance, and the unexpectedness of onrushing impressions. These are the psychological conditions which the metropolis creates.”

–in a sense, Simmel was an early forerunner of more contemporary urban theorists who define the city in terms of movement and mobility (of which there are too many to count–maybe start with these two journals):

Mobilities

and

Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies

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