Scene :: 4 Train, Sunday Morning

The 4 train on a Sunday morning:
Excuse me folks, I'm really sorry, but if anybody can find it in their heart, I just need a little help, just a little something to get a donut, a cup of coffee. I'm not a bad man, I just need a little help.
He moves slowly from one end of the car to the other. I'm scribbling notes, those with headphones try to sustain the illusion the rest of the world is silent, people bend themselves over their books, busy themselves with their hands. I spend a lot of time on the train thinking about the ways that we allow other people -- or, as is more often the case, that we don't allow -- into our everyday lives.

Georg Simmel's passage on the 'blasé attitude':
The essence of the blasé attitude is an indifference toward the distinctions between things. Not in the sense that they are not perceived, as in the case of mental dullness, but rather than the meaning and the value of the distinctions between things, and therewith of the things themselves, are experienced as meaningless. They appear to the blasé person in a homogenous, flat and grey colour with no one of them worthy of being preferred to another.
And I wonder a lot at my own position in this -- on the one hand, I listen (and note), but on the other, I don't reach out in a gesture of acknowledgment.

Remembering something I wrote a year ago:
I went to a talk last week where the speaker spoke about his imagination of a revolutionary humanism, a world in which exchange value was more in line with the use value of things, one in which money no longer stood as a proxy for social power. It was an inspiring talk, in that best sense of giving one breath to speak, but I wondered at myself: At my ability to tell a man on the street in shabby, unwashed clothes that I didn't have a dollar, even as I was walking to give away a bag of clothing. What saddened me most was not the substance of my response so much as it was how easy it was.
"Naw," as I let my voice shift into a different register, "I don't have one."


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