If people really, really are deciding to do whatever the hell they want to at any moment of the day, why does the city run with such regularity? And the answer is that people aren’t autonomous. It’s back to flow dynamics. We’re always trying to keep at bay the fact that we know that the city, by definition, deprives us of our autonomy. So once you’re deprived of your autonomy, you relocate your feeling body in the city itself. Since you’ve been annulled, you’re just part of this flow — what are you flowing through? So the way to humanise the fact that you’re dehumanised is to infuse the city with corporeality. I don’t think anybody does it at a conscious level. If you stopped somebody in the Metro, in the rush hour, and said, ‘Do you realise you haven’t chosen to go down here? You haven’t chosen to go to work, and you’re not even choosing to go home now, you’re not acting out of free will. You have no more free will than a drop of water,’ they’d look at you like you were completely mad, right? Nobody wants to be conscious of that fact.
Jo Mortimer interviews Will Self in Paris.