St.

Stephen
2/21/2010

Five & Dime: (or 1 in 10 + 1): [1-5; pp. 200-210]
ABENJAMINIANPROJECT

Failure, Decay, Music, Architecture… (a series, collected): [H2;7,H2a,1+ “One may start from the fact that the true collector detaches the object from its functional relations. But that is hardly an exhaustive description of the remarkable mode of behavior. For isn’t this the foundation (to speak with Kant and Schopenhauer) of the ‘disinterested’ contemplation by virtue of which the collector attains to an unequaled view of the object…” (p. 207). *H1,1+ “aborted and broken-down matter…—between a discount bookstore, in which dusty tied-up bundles tell of all sort of failure” (p. 200) *H1,2+ “At a certain point, an attempt was made to entice the crowd back by filling the rotunda each evening with harmonious music, which emanated invisibly from the windows of a mezzanine. But the crowd came to put its nose in at the door and did not enter, suspecting in this novelty a conspiracy against its customs and routine pleasures… Fifteen years ago, a similar attempt was made—likewise in vain—to books the <Berlin> department store W. Wertheim. Concerts were given in the arcade that ran through it” (p. 200) [H1,3] [Concerning the artist Zola and what a writer says about their writing… don’t trust it+, “Which— by no accident—takes place in an arcade. If this book really expounds something scientifically, that it’s the death of the Paris arcades, the decay of a type of architecture.” *H1a,2+ “What is this ‘completeness’? It is a grand attempt to overcome the wholly irrational character of the object’s mere presence at hand [pre-Heidegger, Marx?] through its integration into a new, expressly devised historical system: the collection. And for the true collector, every single thing in this system becomes an encyclopedia of all knowledge [Bataille?] of the epoch, the landscape, the industry, and the owner from which is comes” *italics added, with thoughts bracketed], (p. 204-5). Let us turn to attention to Architecture and Bataille by way of a different dictionary, a “Critical Dictionary,” placed in a headless encyclopedia. The ‘definition’ of architecture begins by positing, “Architecture is the expression of the true nature of societies, as physiognomy is the expression of the nature of individuals” *bolded italics added for emphasis+, *taken from my paper Deconstructively Teaching] [ George Bataille, et al., “The Critical Dictionary,” in Encyclopædia Acephalica, compiled by Alastair Brotchie (London: Atlas Press, 1995), 35-36.] *H1,5+ “Music seems to have settled into these spaces only with their decline, only as the orchestras themselves began to seem old-fashioned in comparison to the new mechanical music” (p. 204). 1

*H1,4+ “In 1893, the cocottes [women prostitutes] were driven from the arcades” (p. 204). “That’s one old *x+ooker!” x=,h,l- …. “Yeah, what a classic…” …. “Do you have a mirror?”… “Yeah, it’s broken…” [Ode to Medusa] *H1a,1+ “Brittle, too are □ Mirrors □ <See R1,3>” (p. 204) [R1,3] Brittle, too are the mosaic thresholds that lead you…Paris is the city of mirrors…Before any man catches sight of her, she already sees herself ten times reflected… But the man too, sees his own physiognomy flash by…Even the eyes of passerby are veiled mirrors, and over that wide bed of the Seine, over Paris, the sky is spread out like the crystal mirror hanging over the drab beds in brothels”[italics and bolding added] (p. 537-8) *H1,5+ “Nevertheless, there was music that conformed to the spirit of the arcades—a panoramic music, such as can be heard today only in old-fashioned genteel concerts like those of casino orchestra in Monte Carlo: the panoramic compositions of <Félicien> David, for example—Le Désert, Christoph Colomb, Herculanum” (p. 204). *H1,6+ “you can hear the music of Saint-Saëns” (p. 204). *H1a,1+ “follow the trail of the past” (p. 204) Music and Architecture are related in ratio… thinking of early pre-Gothic or first gothic cathedral building in France, The Rheims… *H2,1+ “‘Your understanding of allegory assumes proportions hitherto unknown to you *then makes a note in passing]… illuminated by intoxication.’ Charles Baudelaire, Les Paradis artificiels (Paris, 1917)” (p. 206) “The creepy crack-head friend of mine The homeless place he calls his heart The silly putty tinker toy The mirror ball reflects below The grazing herd the lemming goat The move toward the moving from The winter home upon the hill The summer shade a caving in 2

The psychotronic talking box The mainstream antidepressant The laughing dying culture pop The famous moldy party pop A fantasy the way it could The shaping things a prostitute A naked mix a magazine A picture of us in a dream” [italics and bolding added] Ohgr, lyrics to song titled, p0re (2001) *H1a,3+ “Extinct nature: the shell shop in the arcades…” (p. 205), [Shells? Shells! The shells of the Kabbalah, such that they (first attempt broken them, leaving residue, see ZimZum, and the work of R. Isaac Luria Ashkenazi of Zfat/Safed School of Kabbalah) are empty, dead, shells, give one pause for thought. Are we here with the shell of Kafka’s K., emptied out, as the house will soon will be, the ending of the Metamorphosis? The emanation that has passed (past) through, but leaves its aura; what of it? What of this aura? Is it reproducible, should we care, does it matter? History and its life, plastic copies, imitations, devoid of the aura or is it just that there aura is less?] [H1a,5+ “(At bottom, we may say, the collector lives a piece of dream life. For in the dream, too, the rhythm of perception and experience is altered in such a way that everything---even the seemingly most neutral—comes to strike us; everything concerns us. In order to understand the arcades from the ground up, we sink them into the deepest stratum of the dream; we speak of them as though they had struck us)” [italics and bolding added] (p. 205-6) *H2,3+ “The true method of making things present is to represent them in our space (not to represent ourselves in their space)” (p. 206) “To understand an ancient question, bring it into present time” (William S. Burroughs, The Cat Inside, 2002, p. 10, Penguin book edition) [H2,7;H2a,1] “the collector attains to an unequaled view of the object—a view which takes in more, and other, than that of the profane owner and which we would do best to compare to the gaze of the great physiognomist?” (p. 207) [H2,7;H2a,1] “It must be kept in mind that, for the collector, the world is present, and indeed ordered, in each of his objects… in every single one of his possessions, to form a whole magic encyclopedia, a 3

world order, whose outline is the fate of his object. Here, therefore, within this circumscribed field, we can understand how great physiognomists (and collectors are physiognomist of the world of things) become interpreters of fate” (p. 207) Magic, encyclopedia, fate, physiognomists, “the world is present,” the quodlibet, (Heidegger, Marx, Bergson?), these are the terms that catch my eye; moving my fingers to the keys, to repeat by (re)arranging them. Is fate a thread and/or (both and yet) a casting sea? Nor for Noir, missing the I. *H2a,3+ “With individuals as with society, the need to accumulate is one of the signs of approaching death” (p. 207-8) Primitive accumulation (Marx), La part maudite [The Accursed Share] (1949), by Bataille… *H2a,3+ “But compare collecting done by children!” (p. 208) “Baby house” or Doll Houses, interesting article at this web address: http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/106261/hobbies/why_children_and_collectors_fall_in_lo ve_with_dolls_houses.html [H3a,1] “The positive countertype to the collector—which also, insofar as it entails the liberation of things from the drudgery of being useful, represents the consummation of the collector—can be deduced from these words of Marx: ‘Private property has made us so stupid and inert that an object is ours only when we have it, when it exists as capital for us, or when… we use it.’ Karl Marx, Der historische Materialismus, in Die Frühschriften, ed. Landshut and Mayer (Leipzig <1932>), vol. 1, p. 299 (‘Nationalökonomie und Philosophie’)” (footnoted 11) (p. 209) *H3a,5+ “The quodlibet *its French variant, fricassée] has something of the genius of both collector and flâneur” (p. 209). Do we see this repeated in the popularity of the mix-taper of the 80s-90s, moving to the mix-cd, to the present (2010) popularity of the mash-up? And is this conglomeration resembling of the techni of concrete (Rome)? No to banal. Is it, the techni, rather of that of the Surrealist montage or scrapbooking? Note from Wikipedia on the key term “quodlibet,” classical examples and then contemporary example: “A quodlibet is at the end of Bach's Goldberg Variations”; “The Grateful Dead's medley The Other One includes the song, Quodlibet for Tenderfeet.” Quodlibet ∩ {collector, flâneur} (is this matheme quite right?) Does the quodlibet intersect with the elements collector and flâneur? And does, thus, the collector and the flâneur comprise part of a set? Should one go further and enter in that which is a-part of all sets? Quodlibet ∩ {∅,collector, flâneur} 4

Perhaps not too dissimilar from the motive force that moved Battaille’s former lover to Lacan, we are to moving towards both a surplus and a lack. Releasing in decay? [H3a, 6] “‘…To appropriate to oneself an object is to render it sacred and redoubtable to others; it is to make it ‘participate’ in oneself’” Balzac, The Alkahest; William S. Burrough, The Cat Inside; J.M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals (The University Center for Human Values Series) (Princeton University Press, July 1, 2001), each resonate with fragment *H3a,8+, such that Benjamin notes a fictional character, linage, “The ancestors of Balthazar Claës where collectors” (p. 210). Can we also add Giorgio Vasari, encyclopedic work of other painters, Vite [Lives]? Yes, another collector. Historical fact or fiction, real and imaginary, together in a life… Final stone(s)… all selected and noted, only slightly (re)arranged *H4,3+ “Collecting is a primal phenomenon of study: the student collects knowledge” (p. 210) *H4,2+ “*Giorgio] Vasari [was a friend of Michael Angelo and a stainer of glass and] is supposed to have maintained (in his treatise on architecture?) that the term ‘grotesque’ comes from the grottoes in which collectors hoard their treasures” (p. 210) “Another marvel of malady is found in a letter from Vasari in which he speaks of a drawing made during an illness in order to regain his health. Described in detail, the drawing, now lost, was a satire, a delightful grotesque” (Paul Barolsky of the University of Virginia, Cellini, Vasari, and the Marvels of Malady, Sixteenth Century Journal, XXIV/1, 1993, database: jstor, accessed: Feb 21, 2010).
1686 W. AGLIONBY Painting Illustr. Explan. Terms, Grotesk, is properly the Painting that is found under Ground in the Ruines of Rome. 1856 RUSKIN Mod. Paint. III. IV. viii. §4 A fine grotesque is the expression, in a moment, by a series of symbols thrown together in bold and fearless connection, of truths which it would have taken a long time to express in any verbal way [etc.].… 1864 SALA in Daily Tel. 18 Nov., The great grotesque himself will be in the grave. 1871 MORLEY Voltaire iii. (1872) 120 Some men of true genius seem only to make sure of fame by straining themselves into grotesques.” [bolding added] source: OED, key term: grotesque

*H4,4+ “What strikes one most about this noteworthy passage is that such a relation to movables would perhaps no longer be possible in an age of standardized mass production” (p. 210). One passed ten: *H4a1,1+ “As far as the collector is concerned, his collection is never complete; for let him discover just a single piece missing, and everything he’s collected remains a patchwork, which is what things are for allegory from the beginning. On the other hand, the allegorist—for whom objects represents only words in a secret dictionary, which will make know their meaning to the initiated— percisely the allegorist can never have enough of things.” (p. 211) 5

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