Vivanco - Tarzan - Chapter 06
They Sold Adventure
Martin and Osa Johnson in the New Hebrides
The twentieth century dawns and the high modernist crash of urbanism, industrialism,
bureaucracy, new mass media, and the centralizing state gives
young sociologists something to write about. How can society and the individual
coexist? In France, Émile Durkheim worries about social stability
and community given disparate, often conflicting individual interests. The
division of labor, luckily, provides some moral glue. Across the Rhine,
Georg Simmel picks up the German end of the stick. He frets that the tightening
imperatives of mass society have corroded and subjugated humanity.
In response, he produces a series of optimistic portraits of individuals who
manage to live in society yet nonetheless retain a golden measure of autonomy
and authenticity. Not everyone is a mere cog in the societal works.
There are also the Stranger (see Levine 1979), the Renegade, the Noble, the
Artist, the Gambler, and the Adventurer.