Distribution Automatique

Wednesday, December 10

Walter Benjamin's *Arcades Project* and Blogging

"Thus the poet's thought, after meandering capriciously, opens onto the vast perspectives of the past or future..."
'Mareceline Desbourdes-Valmore'

from "Baudelaire"

"The correspondance between antiquity and modernity is the sole constructive conception of history In Baudelaire"

"For the decline of the aura, one thing within the realm of mass production is of overriding importance: the massive reproduction of the image."

"If the crowd is a veil, then the journalist draws it about him, exploting his numerous connections like so many seductive arrangements of the cloth."

"The poetics of *l'art pour l'art* blends seamlessly into the aesthetic Passion of *Les Fleurs du Mal*"
"The 'loss of a halo' concerns the poet first of all. He is abliged to exhibit himself in his own person *on the market.* Baudelaire played this role to the hilt. His famous mythomania was a publicity stunt."

"In the opening poem of *Les Fleurs du mal,* Baudelaire accosts the public in a most unusual fashion. He cozies up to them, if not exactly in a cozy vein. You could say he gathers his readers around like a mantilla."

"Modernity has its anitquity, like a nightmare that has come to it in its sleep."

"Professional conspirator and dandy meet in the concept of the modern hero. The hero represents for himself, in his own person, a whole secret society."

"Baudelaire would never have written poems, if he had had merely the motives for doing so that poets usually have."

from "The Flaneur"

"The most characteristic building projects of the nineteenth century- railroad stations, exhibition halls. department stores (according to Giedion)- all have matters of collective importance as their object. The flaneur feels drawn to these "despised, everyday" structures, as Giedion calls them. In these constructions, the appearance of great masses on the stage of history was already forseen. They form the eccentric frame within which the last privateers so readily deployed themselves."

*The Arcades Project* by Walter Banjamin
translated by Howard eiland and Kevin McLaughlin
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 1999

With some stretching of categories and
conceptual photoshop image-pasting
and tweaking many if not most of the
statements above could be applied to
the contemporary literary/poetic/political/
anti-propangandistic and counter
mass-media blogger.

Like the railroad stations,
exhibition halls, the
"despised , everyday"
weblogs easily adapt
themselves to the
of everyday activity
and more or less comfortably
serve as literary and political
meeting places, akin to what
was once cafe culture. Although
you have to make your own coffee,
you can amble around blogs very
much like Benjamin and Baudelaire
flaneurs wandered through the
arcades and in and out of the
bars and cafes of late nineteenth
and early 20th century Paris. Early on,
blogs started to take on names
very much like cafes: one of my
favorites was *Breakfast All Day Cafe*,
which strangely, the author switched to
a blog of his own name "Bogue's Blog"
around the time *fait accompli* was asked
to contribute its link list to the EPC. Lists of
Blog names remind me of those stacks of
ads for Band performances you see in the
Village Voice by the dozens. The idea is the
same. Blogs extend themselves as
places to hang out, virtual cafes and other
kinds of digs. In this environment, the
everydayness of poetry has an opportunity
to blossom and show itself. I like to blog my
diaries because they are returned to the
everyday spirit in which they were written.
Poems strain to get this "off the cuff" tone
to their works probably in attempt to avoid
the finality (and dullness) in the aura of a lecture

Blogs also give the poet places to exhibit
themselves as demanded by Baudelaire and
Benjamin above. Again, the blogged "place"
happily offers the writer some truly deserved
and needed privacy. You are in the town
square but behind a curtain (a screen).
Unquestionably blogland is a marketplace
but a quaint one in which all the products
are free, and can be copied and exchanged
and interchanged at will. Benjamin is fascinated
with and partly horrified by the eagerness the
masses were taking to these circumstances of
the "infinte copy. The multiple copy, so weightily
and mightly earned by the maker of books, is
available to infinitude on the computer. Its
instantaneity and availablity have a long way
to go indeed to where they feel ordinary.
Xeroxing copies is hard to compare to the
way references and their facsimilies are made
available instantly and more and more universally
by html as information gatherers more and more
expect this availability and accessibility with all information.

Art for art, like the "loss of the halo" emanated
from the rapidly expanding universal availability
and interchangeability of all informational access
points. Every bit of a collage is connectible and
transformable to every other part of the collage,
a printed circuit of currency quickly breaking
through boundaries and altering the shapes
and functions of the forms the content inhabits
and moves within. Blogs are like informational
Jackson Pollacks, decentering information by
providing nodes of connection between every
aspect of each informational byte, and
simultaneously participating in the means
by which geometically expansive transformable
content can be universally accessed and exchanged
via equally transformable formal processes.
Just as the poles of content and form transform
themselves and are absorbed by and within each
other, the various roles of readers and writers
become transformed, via disoriented and distortion-edged codes.

Blog names are the store fronts of Walter Benjamin's
ageless arcades, inviting the reader into the
contours of a day, fading into various qualities
of light in morning, noon and night's
photographic darkroom.