March 16, 2014

see the table vanish (1958)

To live together in the world means essentially that a world of things is between those who have it in common, as the table is located between those who sit around it, the world like every inbetween relates and separates men at the same time. What makes mass society so difficult to bear is not the number of people involved, or at least not primarily, but the fact that the world between them has lost its power to gather them together, to relate and to separate them. The weirdness of this situation resembles a spiritual séance where a number of people gathered around a table might suddenly, through some magic trick, see the table vanish from their midst, so that two persons sitting opposite each other were no longer separated but also would be entirely unrelated to each other by anything tangible.

Hannah Arendt (1958)