Daydreaming is inescapable in the metropolis. Whatever the direction in which our typical day takes us, whatever our time-worn trajectory, the city barlines are always there to give pitch and shape to our reveries. An emporium of endless delights, the big city is also the home of sheer functionality and the notion that time is money. Not since we were children have we been shown so many things and then told not to touch them. Sitting on the top deck of the bus in the early morning we see our route to work mapped out before us. So to steal a glimpse of other people getting on or off at various stops, crossing the street, or simply standing on the pavement, is to imagine for ourselves (every day) many different ways of being, alternative rhythms as well as alternative directions. Regardless of what these people are actually thinking and seeing, and of where they are going, to the man on the top of the Clamham omnibus they are all just so many tempting side-streets to his own avenue of inevitability, an eager spray of possibilities around his narrow isthmus of self. Nor is the accuracy of such imaginings ever an issue, for in such moods other people are only there to act as surrogates or ideals. That is why we should never talk about the big city as if it were a fundamentally rational or irrational place, but rather, as a space in which the highly systematic nature of late capitalist work-discipline is always, however inadvertently, giving birth to its opposite—fantasy, reverie, daydream—as a form of resistance.
Excerpt from Gregory Dart’s “Daydreaming” in Restless Cities