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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

The Chairs Are Where the People Go

How to Live, Work, and Play in the City

Misha Glouberman with Sheila Heti

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


1. People's Protective Bubbles Are Okay

I hear people complain that, for instance, in this city, people don't say hi on the street or make eye contact on the subway. And people try to remedy this problem by doing public art projects that are meant to rouse the bourgeoisie from their slumber. But that's ridiculous! It's perfectly reasonable for people not to want to see your dance performance when they are coming home from work. People are on the subway because they're getting from one place to another, and for all you know, they're coming from a job that involves interacting with lots and lots of people, and going to a home where there's a family where they're going to interact with lots more people. And the subway's the one place where they can have some quiet time, get some reading done, not have to smile, not have to make eye contact. That's what a city is: a city is a place where you can be alone in public, and where you have that right. It's necessary to screen people out. It would be overwhelming if you had to perceive every single person on a crowded subway car in the fullness of their humanity. It would be completely paralyzing. You couldn't function. So don't try to fix this. There is no problem.

Copyright © 2011 by Misha Glouberman and Sheila Heti