Mechter, Eytan, and Avital Maya. Between the Intimate and the Anonymous in Urban Space. A Socio-Cultural Perspective on Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv: Resling, 2016 (in Hebrew).
This book seeks to contribute to the socio-cultural discourse on the first Hebrew-cosmopolitan city, a discourse that may serve as an alternative to the conventional economic content in relation to urban processes. The attempt to decipher the secret of the transformation of the first Hebrew city into a “world city” will be made by examining the uniqueness of the culture and ethos of Tel Aviv in connection with universal norms. The socio-cultural discussion presents the tension between rationality and desire that late capitalism is based on, while highlighting the manifestations of this tension in the urban, local, and general arenas–both by the conquest of space through capital and in the design of and objectified consciousness and consumerist styles.
Multiculturalism and density are distinct urban characteristics contributing to urban activity based on openness, creativity, innovation and sophistication, but also reflect expressions of convergence and alienation. The individuation process serves as a central axis f or the translation of the rational subject into an object of consumerist desire as a result of the capitalist system. Individuation and the process of self-branding encourage the growth of various forms of unique and dynamic identities and styles, but hinder the constructions of relationships based on emotions and commitment. “The neighborhood community” is offered in this book as a possible solution to anonymity and the instrumentalism of interpersonal relationships, a solution which enables interpersonal relationships in the metropolin without disrupting the dynamic nature of variability and diversity, while creating a stable core, whether territorial or virtual.
The concluding chapter discusses the spiritual challenge of the big city to cultivate expressions of “Hard Liberty” following Levinas, as a substitute for the splitting of the subject and the self-alienation which endanger the urban soul.
Eytan Mechter is a scholar and lecturer of sociology of culture at the NB Haifa School of Design, Holon Institute of Technology, and the Arts Faculty of the Kibbutzim College.Avital Maya Mechter was a lecture of creative education at Hemdat Hadarom college.