flaneurs and collectors

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…..

---The flâneur is the creation of Paris. The wonder is that it was not Rome. But perhaps in Rome even dreaming is forced to move along streets that are too well-paved. And isn’t the city too full of temples, enclosed squares, and national shrines to be able to enter undivided into the dreams of the passer-by, along with every paving stone, every shop sign, every flight of steps, and every gateway? The great reminiscences, the historical frissons-these are all so much junk to the flâneur, who is happy to leave them to the tourist. And he would be happy to trade all his knowledge of artists’ quarters, birthplaces, and princely palaces for the scent of a single weathered threshold or the touch of a single tile — that which any old dog carries away. And much may have to do with the Roman character. For it is not the foreigners but they themselves, the Parisians, who made Paris into the Promised Land of flâneurs, into “a landscape made of living people,” as Hofmannsthal once called it. --- Read More:http://blindflaneur.com/contact/browse-the-archives/tutelary-spirits/the-return-of-the-flaneur/

…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.”

---Baudelaire is the source of the cruel apercu that the city changes faster than a human heart. Hessel’s hook is full of consoling leave-taking formulas for Berlin’s inhabitants. It is a genuine manual of leave-taking. And who would not he inspired to take his departure if his words could strike to the heart of Berlin, as Hessel does with his Muses from Magdeburger Strasse? “They have long since vanished. Like quarry stones, they stood there decorously holding their ball or pencil, those that still had hands. Their white, stone eyes followed our footsteps, and the fact that these heathen girls gazed at us has become a part of our lives.” And: “We see only what looks at us. We can do only . . . what we cannot help doing.” The philosophy of the flâneur has never been more profoundly grasped than in these words of Hessel’s. Once, when he was walking through Paris, he saw women concierges sitting and sewing in the cool doorways in the afternoon. He felt they looked at him like his nurse. --- Walter Benjamin. Read More:http://blindflaneur.com/contact/browse-the-archives/tutelary-spirits/the-return-of-the-flaneur/ image:http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_0cnXYhlBk1k/SNPBd-zrxqI/AAAAAAAACfE/5ZuNbhkkyZI/s1600-h/Fellini.jpg

…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

---Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories.” —Walter Benjamin--- Read More:http://www.unabashedlyprep.com/site/entry/the-cary-collection/

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 neve

d; but then he couldn’t change a light bulb or make a cup of coffee either….

---“Benjamin’s flâneur is a response to a world in which sense is disjected, scattered, crystallized in detail. The flâneur is the collector and connoisseur of detail. He is a sensibility as opposed to an intelligence. His highest aspiration is to become a medium, a precipitate in which the scattered particles of sense can reconstitute themselves. The original whole… has been shattered, by time, by history, by the hubris of progress; the flâneur, by drawing together bits and pieces from the rubble, can discover its echo. The flâneur is, thus, dedicated to the surveying of space, for it is only in space, in the network of layered particulars, that the successive images of time are concretized. Space exists to take the print of time.” Sven Birkerts, “Walter Benjamin, Flâneur: A Flanerie” Read more: Sven Birkerts, “Walter Benjamin, Flâneur: A Flanerie” ~ Could it be Madness-this? Read More:http://coulditbemadnessthis.blogspot.com/2010/03/sven-birkerts-walter-benjamin-flaneur.html image:http://www.inquisitr.com/153454/pete-seeger-arlo-guthrie-occupy-wall-street-protests/


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

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