METROPOLIS

2012

 

 

“The metropolis simultaneously materializes the total loss of community and the infinite possibility of regaining it.”

 

 

“It is only in those places and circumstances where the Spectacle’s effect is temporarily suspended that the most intimate truth about Bloom comes out: that he is, at bottom, in agapê. Such a suspension arises in an exemplary manner in uprisings, but also at the moment when we talk to a stranger in the streets of the metropolis, and in the final analysis anywhere that people must recognize themselves, beyond all specifics, as simply people; as separate beings, finite and exposed.”

 

 

“As an observable Stimmung, as a specific affective tonality, Bloom is in touch with the extreme abstraction of the conditions of existence that the Spectacle fleshes out. The most demented, and at the same time the most characteristic concretion of the spectacular ethos remains — on a planetary scale — the metropolis. That Bloom is essentially the metropolitan man in no way implies that it might be possible by birth or by choice for him to remove himself from that condition, because there is no outside of the metropolis: the territories that its metastatic extension does not occupy are always polarized by it; that is, they are determined in all their aspects by its absence.”

 

 

“The dominant trait of the spectacular-metropolitan ethos is the loss of experience, the most eloquent symptom of which is the formation in it of the very category of “experience” in the restricted sense where one has “experiences” (sexual, sporting, professional, artistic, sentimental, ludic, etc.). Everything about Bloom flows from this loss, or is synonymous with it. Within the Spectacle, as they are within the metropolis, men never have the concrete experience of events, but only of conventions, rules; a wholly symbolized, entirely constructed second nature. There, what reigns is the radical split between the insignificance of everyday life — called “private” life — where nothing happens, and the transcendence of a frozen sphere called “public” which no one has access to.”

 

 

“Metropolises are distinct from the other grand human formations first of all because the greatest proximity, and usually the greatest promiscuity, coincide in them with the greatest foreignness. Never have men been gathered together in such great number, and never have they been so totally separate from one another.”

 

 

“In the metropolis, man experiences his own negative condition, purely. Finiteness, solitude, and exposedness, which are the three fundamental coordinates of this condition, weave the décor of each person’s existence in the big city. Not a fixed décor, but a moving décor; the amalgamated décors of the big city, due to which everyone has to endure the ice-cold stench of its non-places.”

 

 

“The hip, plugged-in metropolis-dwellers here comprise a rather remarkable type of Bloom not only in terms of intensity but also in the numerical extent of their legions: Bloom’s imperialist fraction. The hipster is the Bloom that offers himself up to the world as a tenable form of life, and to do so constrains himself to a strict discipline of lies.”

 

 

“The metropolis appears, moreover, as the homeland of all freely selected mimetic rivalries, the sorry but continuous celebration of the “fetishism of little differences.” PEOPLE play out all year-round a tragicomedy of separation: the more people are isolated, the more they resemble one another; the more they resemble one another, the more they detest one another; and the more they detest one another the more they isolate themselves. And where men can no longer recognize each other as the participants in building a common world, everything only further catalyzes a chain reaction, a collective fission.”

 

 

“The teachings of the metropolis show, from different angles, the extent to which the loss of experience and the loss of community are one and the same thing. It must however be taken into account, in spite of the nostalgia that a certain romanticism so enjoys cultivating even in its enemies, that before our era there had not, and had never been, any community. And these are not two contradictory affirmations. Before Bloom, before “separation perfected,” before the unreserved abandon that is ours — before, then, the perfect devastation of all substantial ethos, all “community” could be but a hummus of falsehoods — a false “belonging,” to a class, a nation, a milieu — and a source of limitation: and anyway, if it were otherwise it would not have been annihilated. Only a radical alienation from the Common was able to make the primordial Common burst forth in such a way that solitude, finiteness, and exposedness — that is, the only true bond between people — could also appear as the only possible bond between them. What PEOPLE call a “community” today, while gazing out upon the past, obviously shares in this primordial Common, but in a reversible way, because it’s just second-hand. And so it’s up to us to have for the first time an experience of real community, a community based on the honest assumption of our separation, exposedness, and finiteness.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

quotes from Theory of the Bloom, by Tiqqun