A fascination with the banal, the purely mediocre or downright almost instantly obsolescent; the unspectacular and all that is the antithesis of the Society of the Spectacle. An effort to exploit, better still, to redefine and re-perceive the radical potential in those lost images. Redemption as an engagement with the world of material objects and the problem of decadent language that is used to articulate those relationships. Getting at the language of things themselves in which to Benjamin the word of god shines forth, a manifestation of presence in the forgotten and unwanted, the discarded as opposed to the shiny and desirable, the fetishized object of desire…..
…This first type of scholar, the flâneur, is someone who wanders aimlessly around urban spaces, observing and appreciating the scenery and architecture of the city. The flâneur does not look for famous landmarks that attract tourists and visitors, but is rather attracted to the details and minutae of urban life:
For the masses as well as the flâneur, glossy enameled corporate nameplates are as good a wall-decoration as an oil painting is for the homebody sitting in his living room, or even better; the fire walls are their desks, the newspaper kiosk their library, letterboxes their bronze statuettes, benches their boudoir, and the café terrace the bay window from which they can look down on their property.”
…The second type, the collector, is someone who collects things not only for their utilitarian value, but simply because they are things. For example, in his essay on book collecting, Benjamin dismisses the idea that books are collected only to be read. He advocates instead the nonreading of books:
And the nonreading of books, you will object, should be characteristic of collectors? This is news to me, you may say. It is not news at all. Experts will bear me out when I say that it is the oldest thing in the world. Suffice it to quote the answer which Anatole France gave to a philistine who admired his library and then finished with the standard question, ‘And you have read all these books, Monsieur France?’‘Not one-tenth of them. I don’t suppose you eat off of your Sevres china every day?’”
The collector is someone who appreciates the binding of books, their publication dates, rare editions, and the like not because any of this has any effect on the intellectual content of the book, but because the collector is interested in the book as a material object. By “reading” the outside of a book, the collector inverts the privilege of inside over outside, appreciating the meaning on the material surface of the object. Read More:http://www.epoche.ucsb.edu/Beaver06.pdf
These are activities both in opposition to, and complementary in the struggle for the language of paradise; a making sense of the language and concept of revolution that has been contaminated by history and succumbing to the present order. Redemption and utopianism? To Benjamin it was a negative utopianism in which philosophical struggle was an aesthetic game with the goal of soul salvation, a yearning for the eternal, the other, that tames and masters the temporal, the ever transient within reality, and all the false flags and “noise” political and other resulting in a political attitude which he termed “nihilion”.
So, eternity is the other, and would act for Benjamin as a metaphor for this elusive language of paradise. A language that has been shattered into small fragments, and the principle of language is impotent, ineffective, in the ordinary world. The so-called “thing in itself” will always be hidden behind a curtain of language, revealing itself in fragments or sparks, glimpses. And, perhaps surprisingly, “The Good” will never be completely and directly present in a positive way; the jewish theological precept of “be good” revealing itself to be exceedingly more complex than its surface meaning. Still, this is not a forgoing and discarding of the desire to transcend into a dimension, perhaps the fourth or higher dimension, of an absolute reality beyond the horizons, beyond the curtain, this natural habitat of “the other,” and “the good.” In light of the good, this was not conceived as the final world, not an “absolute”, and it seemed to remain beyond the horizon, waiting, patiently. Like Kafka’s view of a patience of waiting on god to take you. How to resolve the tension? Benjamin neved; but then he couldn’t change a light bulb or make a cup of coffee either….
The reader, the thinker, the flaneur, are types of illuminati just as much as the opium eater, the dreamer, the ecstatic. … Not to mention that most terrible drug – ourselves – which we take in solitude.
— Walter Benjamin Read More:http://humanunderconstruction.blogspot.com/2008/09/alone-again.html