"A vlslonory work which by oil rights ought to hove the lmpoct

of such sixties bibles os Growing Up Rbsurd ond Life Rgolnst Death"
-Robert Chrlstgou. Thtl VI/loge \blce

All Tl1at Is Solid Mt:lts
ll'ltoAir

All That Is S Welts
Into Air
The Experience
Marshall Berman of Modernity

PENGUIN BOOKS

PENGUIN BOOKS
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: Harmondsworth, In Memory of
Middlesex, England
First published in the United States of America by Marc Joseph Berman
Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1982
This edition with a new preface published in Penguin Books 1988 1975-1980
Published simultaneously in Canada
20 19 18 17 16
Copyright© Marshall Berman, 1982, 1988
All rights reserved
Parts of All TllaJ Is Solid Melts Into Air were previously published in slightly
different form in Dissent magazine, Winter 1978; American Review #19,
1974; and Berkshire &view, October 1981.
The author is gratefulfor permission to use excerpts from the following wor/cs:
Mminetti: Selected Writings, edited and with an introduction by R. W
Flint, translated by R. W Flint and Arthur A. Coppotelli. Copyright ©
1971, 1972 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Inc., and reprinted with their
permission.
Beyond Good and Evil by Fredrik Nietzsche, translated by Marianne
Cowan, Regnery Gateway, 1967.
Futurist Manifestos, English language translation copyright © 1973 by
Thames and Hudson, Ltd. Reprinted by permission ofthe Viking Press, Inc.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA
Berman, Marshall, 1940-
All that is solid melts into air.
Bibliography: p.
Includes index.
I. Civilization, Modern-20th century.
2. Civilization, Modern -19th century. I. Title.
CB425.B458 1988 909.82 87-29174
ISBN 0 14 01.0962 5
Printed in the United States of America
Set in Baskerville

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition
that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or
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to Erwin Glikes. and to keep at it. my deepest thanks to Betty and Diane Berman. but who did not live to see it in print. Still. It is impossible here to acknowledge all those who lived through the book with me and who helped make it what it is: the subjects would be too many. to my stu- dents and colleagues at the City College and the City University of New York. Todd Gitlin. . Meredith and Corey Tax. not named here. Denise Green. the emotions too intense. to Lionel Trilling and Henry Pachter.ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This is far from a confessional book. who gave me special help with St. the predicates too complex. as I carried it for years inside me. who encouraged me to begin this book. who helped. Gaye Tuchman. or else would never end. Michael Walzer. sup- port and love. George Fischer and Richard Wortman. I felt that in some sense it was the story of my life. and at Stanford and the University of New Mexico. to the National Endowment for the Humanities. to Allen Ballard. ideas. to Georges Borchardt and Michel Radomisli. to the Purple Circle Day Care Center. Sam Girgus. and to many others. Petersburg. and of the NYU seminar in the Culture of Cities. but not forgotten. Morris and Lore Dickstein. Irving Howe. the work of making the list would never begin. to the members of the Columbia University seminar in Political and Social Thought. Barbara Grossman and Susan Dwyer at Simon and Schuster. Leonard Kriegel. For energy. What follows is no more than a start.

Innovative Self-Destruction 98 8. The Heroism of Modem Life 142 8. Goethe's Fawt: The Tragedy of Development 37 First Metamorphosis: The Dreamer 41 Second Metamorphosis: The Lover 51 Third Metamorphosis: The Developer 60 Epilogue: The Faustian and Pseudo-Faustian Age 71 II. Nakedness: The Unaccommodated Man 105 4. All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: Marx. Pastoral and Counter-Pastoral Modernism 134 2. The Melting Vision and Its Dialectic 90 2. Baudelaire: Modernism in the Streets 131 1. The Loss of a Halo 115 Conclusion: Culture and the Contradictions of 120 Capitalism III. Modernism 87 and Modernization 1. Today and 15 Tomorrow I. The Family of Eyes 148 .Contents Preface to the Penguin Edition: The Broad and Open Way 5 Preface 13 Introduction: Modernity-Yesterday. The Metamorphosis of Values 111 5.

In the Forest of Symbols: Some Notes on 287 Modernism in New York 1. The Twentieth Century: The City Rises. The 1860s: The New Man in the Street Chernyshevsky: The Street as Frontier 206 212 215 Sold llelts The Underground Man in the Street 219 Petersburg vs. Fact and Symbol 235 3. the 249 City Fades 1905: More Light. The Mire of the Macadam 155 5. The 1960s: A Shout in the Street 312 3. Paris: Two Modes of Modernism in the Streets 229 Into Air The Political Prospect 232 Afterword: The Crystal Palace. Prospect Gogol: The Real and Surreal Street 189 195 AIIThHIIs Words and Shoes: The Young Dostoevsky 2. The Real and Unreal City 176 "Geometry Has Appeared": The City in the 176 Swamps Pushkin's "Bronze Horseman": The Clerk and 181 the Tsar Petersburg Under Nicholas 1: Palace vs. The Twentieth Century: The Halo and the 164 Highway IV. The 1970s: Bringing It All Back Home 329 Notes 349 Index 370 . Petersburg: The Modernism of Underdevelopment 173 1. More Shadows 249 Biely's Petersburg: The Shadow Passport 255 Mandelstam: The Blessed Word With 270 No Meaning Conclusion: The Petersburg Prospect 284 v. 4. Robert Moses: The Expressway World 290 2.

genre and academic discipline. It creates conditions for dialogue atnong the past. It cuts across physical and social space. language. very different from the curatorial approach that breaks up human activity into fragments and locks the fragments into separate cases. but it has advantages. religious and political activities as part of one dialectical process. and between residents of what we clumsily . This is a broader and more inclusive idea of modernism than those generally found in scholarly books. The broad and open way is only one of many possible ways. to get a grip on the modern world and make them- selves at home in it. and to develop creative interplay among them. the present and the future. I define modernism as any attempt by modern men and women to become subjects as well as objects of modernization. and reveals solidarities between great art- ists and ordinary people. intellectual. It implies an open and expansive way of understanding culture. It enables us to see all sorts of artistic. labeled by time. place.Preface To The Penguin Edition: The Broad and Open Way IN All That Is Solid Melts Into Air.

I agree that man is preeminently a creative ani~al. or around a plaza mayor. Brasi!Ia construct a material embodiment of certain ideal. culture in general. Our most creative constructions and cratic public space where people can come and assemble freely from achievements are bound to turn into prisons and whited sepulchres all over the country. a modernism that seeks one great 1950s and early 1960s. fect and complete. 'Dostoevsky's Underground Man suggests this in his inex. But it makes sense if we want culture to be a Brasilia's design might have made perfect sense for the capital of a source of nourishment for ongoing life. haustible dialogue with himself: Before long. yet a nightmare to have to live in it. change. does not want to live in it.. It was planned and designed by ~ucio Costa a~d Os~~r busier.. following Le Cor- try.. it tance and not at all at a close range. believed that the modern architect should use technology to Niemeyer. p~edes­ zilian people and any attack on its design was an assault on the peo- tined to consciously strive toward a goal. But . and indeed participated in it. may it not be . eternally and incessantly.. The great tradition of Latin urbanism. argued in public discussions and the mass media. to build new roads. a~d can be a creative adventure for modern men to build a palace. in which city life is organized Certainly this is not the only way to interpret modern culture. and to engage m engmeer.is beyon~ dis. The great gulf between these hopes and their realization seems to illustrate the Underground Man's point: it I experienced the dash of modernisms ~~ry dramatically. Man loves to create r~a~s. it is a scandal." . but one's overall zens-and those of the country as a whole-"with nothing left to do. but it would never From the ground level.. in the late or is hostile to change-or. the capital city that was cre. and then no more. wherev~r vacuity by pretending to be a modernist while attacking a work that they may lead . and communicate their will. will have to escape or transform if life is to ment-because. the New and the Third Worlds. My first stop was Brasilia. rather. This IS not the Notes from Underground. it is one of the most dismal cities in the world. that city would be per- plane from which I (and virtually all other VISitors) first observed It. eternal classic looked dynamic and exciting: in fact. when I visite~ Braztl m. in particular.6 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR Preface to the Penguin Edition 7 call the Old. and depth. If this could be done for a whole city. it needs demo- ernism can ever be definitive. in the 1950s and early 1960s. as it is imagined in work. Niemeyer and Costa. debate their needs and desires. to talk to each other and address their govern- that we or our children. that he ~s mstm~uvely afra1? of All this gave me pause. left-wing disciples of Le Corbus1er.. After saying various uncomplimentary things about me. where people actual. This problem is especially acute for a modernism that forecloses ated ex nihilo by fiat of President juscelino Kubitschek. it was ?~ilt to resemble the J~t forms. rather than a cult of the military dictatorship. however.ly.. As the capital of a democ- If we think of modernism as a struggle to make ourselves at home racy. One of his followers added that I revealed my inner ing. perhaps he only likes to build it. Brasilia was conceived and planned. is one of the supreme embodiments of modernism. their desire for modernity. pute. we will realize ~hat no mode. ple themselves. ruled by generals who wanted the people kept dead. that is. in the exact geographical center of the coun. There is a deliberate absence of public space in which people more to our lives than we thought. kept apart and kept down. It unites people across feeling-confirmed by every Brazilian I met-is of immense empty the bounds of ethnicity and nationality. I in a constantly changing world. If Brazil is going to stay democratic. ~at .. shows us that there IS moon. or simply look at each other and hang around. at a distance. perhaps he only likes that edifice from a dis. it is after all their government-and go on. ~t spaces in which the individual feels lost. in a democracy. Costa and Niemeyer's Brasilia left its citi- place for a detailed account of Brasilia's design. is explicitly rejected. however. Niemeyer was right about one thing: when attaining his goal and completmg the edifice he ~s construcun~? How do you know. Niemeyer began to respond. From the air.Au~st 1987 to dis. as alone as a man on the enlarges our vision of our own experience. live and develop from within. he made a more interesting You gentlemen perhaps think I am mad? Allow me to defend statement: Brasilia symbolized the aspirations and hopes of the Bra- myself. Like the Crystal Palace. and really did embody the hopes of the Brazilian people. of mod. of sex and class and race. cuss this book. its boundaries might extend. gives our days a new resonance can meet and talk.

had no place Abstract Ex~ressionists or the Plastic People of Prague? The sim- for them. There may not seem to be anything particularly ~lashes sharply with the one in this book. chance to live in them. moderns say. Freud. Post-modernists maintain that the horizon of as primary human values by the Prophets and Socrates more than modernity is closed. I found myself serving as a conduit for widespread indigna. to argue. that moder- two thousand years ago. plest a~sw~r IS that I wanted All That Is Solid Melts Into Air to appear And yet. Brazilian democ. Niemeyer should have known that a modernist work that way we organize our cities and our lives. which help hfe and art and thought have the capacity for perpetual self-critique to define-the beginnings of civilization. Sao Paulo. they (and their children) began to mty. how much was Niemeyer to blame? If some other archi. because subjectivity and inwardness have become at once and public happiness.A. These hopes. to develop a series of most deadening in Brasilia spring from a worldwide consensus v1s1on~ and para~1gms ~hat could enable people to explore their own among enlightened planners and designers? It was only in the 1960s expenence and history m greater detail and depth. it was inevitable that many of them would on us-to talk together. In the years of the sourc~ of dehght. M1chel Foucault.encyclopedia o~ modernity. and which were celebrated and self-renewal. 1 didn't state it as clearly as it deserved: the importance of communica. I have argued that modern modern about these activities. ideas and movements that would seem to fit my over- bound to make numerous enemies. expenences are among the few solid sources of meaning we can ous crimes to worry about than any defects in the capital's design. Jean Baudrillard and their legions of fol- My sense of what Brasilia lacked brought me back to one of my lowers. and to create an alternative largely fr~m disillusioned rebels of. l~tion o~ co. a book that would be open and stay open. to assemble. isn't it likely that it much to end the book as to stop it. In the 1980s. at the end ofthe 1970s the enhanced opportumt1es It offers us-and sometimes even forces and in the early 1980s. Post-modernist social thought pours scorn on all the logue have taken on a new specific weight and urgency in modern collective hopes for moral and social progress.-had a would be able to write chapters of their own. moving in the orbit of post~ modernism that would assert the presence and the dignity of all the structuralism: Roland Barthes. But I believe that communication and dia. cation and di~logue become both a desperate need and a primary racy was overthrown by a military dictatorship. Then. not so tect had won the competition for the city's design. Why no Proust or Recife. like the Under.8 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Preface to the Penguin Edition 9 In 1964. In such a context. shortly after the new capital opened.ntemporary discourse around the idea of post-moder- ground Man in the Crystal Palace. I never intended to write would be more or less as alien a scene as it is now? Didn't everything a~ . a theme that seemed so salient to me that I and literary discussion in the U. these dictatorship (which Niemeyer opposed). communi. its energies exhausted-in effect. New York's tion toward a city that. least as well as the subjects I chose. all proJect at. for personal freedom times. a book in which readers where-not least in my own country's cities and suburb. have been shown to be bankrupt. and more lonely and of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. people who had been left out. Jacques Derrida. that were bequeathed to us by the modernists richer and more intensely developed. Post-modernists may be said to have developed a paradigm that tion and dialogue. post- entrapped. I wanted to write and 1970s. Jean-Fran~ois Lyotard. Th1s d1scourse began to emanate from France in the late 1970s make rude gestures and Bronx cheers. nity is yasse. rather. That meant I had to decide. count on. to reach and understand each other. We come to resent a capital that seemed to be designed to keep them need to make the most of these possibilities. As I spoke in Rio. I hoped. Berhn or Shanghai. which go back to-indeed. In a world where meanings melt into air. at a certain point. at best vain and futile . Besides. people had far more griev. to communicate their needs-would be people: places. Mishima or Sembene. than they ever were before. they should shape the quiet. One of the thi~~s t~at can make modern life worth living is But once Brazilians regained their freedom.1968. • deprived people of some of the basic modern prerogatives-to Many readers have wondered why I didn't write about all sorts of speak. post-modernism became a staple of aesthetic book's central themes. that they discovered how much was missing Some readers may think that I give short shrift to the vast accumu- from the world these modernists had made. after the generation that built proto-Brasilias every. as so many Brazilians told me. m my hfet1me.S.

It shows. Many move~en~ in this power. or to apt phrase in 1941) by any means possible. at worst engines of domination and monstrous ens~ave­ techniques of mass mobilization. the struggles for democracy that are going on all over the 1922-1945 may turn out to be only a first chapter in the still unfold. Even Ameri- Inquisitor says. or to civil rights (even if they fear and distrust blacks). One of the most powerful forces in the coalition that brought that I have developed in this book." that will reveal all sorts of cultural and political movements as part of The Grand Inquisitor has cast a somber shadow over the politics one process: modern men and women asserting their dignity in the of the twentieth century. This resis- his freedom of conscience. striving to make a place for themselves in the peoples they rule of the burden offreedom.10 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Preface to the Penguin Edition II fantasies. But But now. Marx.. asAllThatls SolidMeltsintoAir sive detail.des." He then steps out of his story. Post-modernists claim to see through the "grand narratives" freedoms. to freedom of chmce m the knowl. but nothing that is a greater cause of suf. and use them to crush modern ment. a place where they can feel at home. I will be writing more in this vein in the coming year. Some of these movements have won ardent support from of modern culture. modern world. but they are clearly greater depth."2 modernist needs to look longer and deeper into this abyss than I Jiirgen Habermas's recent book. people are persuaded that they are modernists even if they've never heard the word in their lives. They will not ate fear of the freedom that modernity opens up for every mdtvtd. 1881). that people can be audience: "Look now. Celine. humanism" and turn the U. frenzied (and lavishly funded) militancy of this drive convinced grown the dilemmas that arise when "all that is solid melts int~ air. (Iran's current holy des. "Man pr~fe~s peace. The Philosophical Disc~r~e of have done so far. Baudelaire." many people. in the courts (even the "Reagan of their own. today.A. I am talking about the widespread and often . The masses of anonymous people who are putting their lives mold actually celebrate modern technology. This distinctively modern freedom of expression (even if they don't like pornography). exposes the weaknesses of post-modern thought m mci. is radically different from our own. "and even death. It strikes me that an honest even nostalgia for the lost narrative. The structed it. et al." the they disapprove of abortion and abhor homosexuals). The paradoxes ofliberty. I felt this very acutely in early 1981. or to darkness was first mapped by Dostoevsky in his parable of the Grand the right of privacy and the freedom to make sexual choices (even if Inquisitor (The Brothers Karamazov. Heidegger.S. freer than ever before. So many demagogues and demagogic present-even a wretched and oppressive present-and their right movements have won power and mass adoration by relieving the to control their future. Dostoevsky. tance-even among Reagan supporters-to the Reagan "social fering. contemporary world are central to modernism's meaning and ing history of radical authoritarianism.P~r­ unwilling to lay their freedoms at the President's feet. Reagan's inquisitorial zealots are being I hope this book will better equip readers to make judgments decisively rebuffed in Congress. Court") and in the court of public opinion. say goodbye to due process of law (not even in the name of a war on ual. The American people There is one modern sentiment that I regret not exploring in may have been deluded enough to vote for him. that it was the wave or the dream of a life in which "the free development of each IS the of the future. into a theocratic police state. seven years later. including passionate opponents. commumcattons and on the line-from Gdansk to Manila. There is nothing more seductive for man than a theocratic crusade that would force them to their knees. cans who consider themselves deeply religious have recoiled against edge of good and evil." It is the mark of post-modern sophistication to have "lost and perils in all this are dark and deep. The was going to press and Ronald Reagan was entering the White best I can do for now is to reaffirm the overall vision of modernity House. as I have con. and the desire to escape from freedom (this was Erich Fromm's crime). yet they have brought their freedom to us In All That Is Solid Melts Into Air I tried to open up a perspective and laid it humbly at our feet. from Soweto to Seoul-are . Have we really out. From this point pot even looks like the Grand Inquisitor. set in Counter-Reformation agenda" testifies to the depth of ordinary people's commitment to Seville. and directly addresses Dostoevsky's late-nineteenth-century modernity and its deepest values.) The Fascist regimes of of view. especially "the narrative of humanity as the hero great modernists: Ezra Pound. condition of the free development of all"? I do not think so. Readers can ask themselves if the Reagan to power was a drive to annihilate all traces of "secular world of Goethe. too. Modernity.

The open way leads to the public square." I hope that readers of this book will remember that the streets. the Communist Manifesto. and many more. and yet to be undeterred in our determination to face • This theme suggests connections with thinkers like Georg Simmel. to fight to change theh world and make it our own. I have been fascinated by the meanings of modernity. Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace. Robert Moses' highways through New York. of life falling apart. The book moves and develops through a number of ways of reading: of texts -Goethe's Faust. big construction sites. I have tried to show how all these people share. dams and power plants. They all know the thrill and the dread of a world in which "all that is solid melts into air. to explore and chart the adventures and horrors. The great critic Lionel Trilling coined a phrase m 1968: "Modern- ism in the streets." To be modern is to live a life of paradox and contradiction. are where modernism belongs. from Goethe's time through Marx's and Baudelaire's and into our own. Martin Buber these forces. In this book I have tried to open up some of these dimensions of meaning. It and Jilrgen Habermas. is to be both revolutionary and conservative: alive to new possibil- 13 . certain distinctively modern con- cerns. our streets. Notes from Underground. and finally. They are moved at once by a will to change-to transform both themselves and their world-and by a terror of disorientation and disintegration. and all these books and environments express. Petersburg prospects." in the Bronx of thirty years ago. but also I try to read spatial and social environ- ments-small towns. since I learned that I was living in "a modern building" and growing up as part of "a modern family. reading fictional and actual people's lives. Solid~rity and Peopl~ Power are modernist breakthroughs as stunmng as The Wastela~d or "Guernica. Prefuce For most of my life. the ambiguities and ironies of modern life.12 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR creating new forms of collective expression . values. Haussmann's Parisian bou- levards. It is to be overpowered by the imme_nse bureaucratic organizations that have the power to control and often to destroy all communities. ." The book is far from closed on the "grand n~rrattve" that presents "humanity as the hero of liberty": new subJeCts and new acts are appearing all the time. lives..

to be going through it. and maybe the only ones. growth.re-modern Paradise Lost. this feeling has engendered numerous nos- talgic myt~s of P. as he was. at the same time. longing to cre- ate and to hold on to something real even as everything melts." To be modern is to find ourselves that haunt it. that it may take desperate and everythmg we are. everything we know. realism. the idea that the daily routine of playgrounds and in an enviro~ment that promises us adventure. great and ever-mcreasmg numbers of people have been going through 15 . five years old. But it is a paradoxical unity. as New York City Marx said. and kisses. modernity can be dren makes him want to give back his ticket to the universe. it infuses millions of ordinary people's everyday lives. I dedicate All That Is Solid Melts into Air to ~HERE IS a mode of vital experience-experience of space and him. to restore the spiritual wealth of modernist culture to the modern rna~ an~ woman in the street. power. This book Introduction aims to bring these works and these lives together. I van across all boundaries of geography and ethnicity. was taken from me. infinitely precarious and fragile. at the same time. and sometimes we lose. of class and na- Karamazov says that. joy. In fact. may be most vulnerable to the demons body of experience "modernity. however. of the self and others. tion ~nd renewal. Shortly after I finished this book. This will not resolve the contradictions that pervade mod- ern life. so that we can Today and Tomorrow be clear and honest in facing and sorting out and working through the forces that make us what we are. No wonder then that. But s~1d t? u~1te all mankm~. modermsm IS Modernity-Yesterday. of life's possibilities and perils-that is to home: the idea that those who are most happily at home in the shared by men and women all over the world today. "all that is solid melts into air. to show how. for all of us. ti~nality. Modern irony animates so many great works of art and thought over the past century. He keeps on fighting and loving. of ordinary hugs transformation of ourselves and the world-and. more than anything else. frightened by the nihilistic depths to which so many modern adventures lead. but it should help us to understand them. as the great modernist and anti-modernist Kierkegaard said. I will call this modern world. bicycles." January 1981 People who find themselves in the midst of this maelstrom are apt to feel that they are the first ones. We might even say that to be fully modern is ~o be anti-~odern:. may be not only infinitely joyous and beautiful but also that thr~atens to destroy everything we have. a unity of he does not give it back. Modern environments and experiences cut heroic struggles to sustain this life. the death of chil. of shopping and eating and cleaning up. the deepest modern seriousness must express itself through irony. my dear son Marc. 1t has been 1mposs1ble to grasp and embrace the modern wor~d's potentialities wit~?ut loathing and fighting against some of Its most palpable reahues. he keeps ~1sumty: 1t pours us all mto a maelstrom of perpetual disintegra- on keeping on.14 Preface ities for experience and adventure. of ambiguity and angUish. of stru~gle and contradiction. ~f religion a~d ideology: in this sense. To be modern IS to be part of a universe in which. from Marx's and Dostoevsky's time to our own. His life and death bring so many of its ideas and themes close time.

as everyone power to change the world that is changing them. bureau. systems of mass communication. los~s much of. ~great. enveloping and binding together the most diverse a multttude ?f fragments. Although most of these people modern life.u~e~ the m. Over the past sources pecultar to h1s own stramed life. ~uch of his anguish springs from way through the maelstrom and make it their own. Its capital-as a whirlwind. They grope. have come to be called "moderniza. the process of modernization expands to lions of people from their ancestral habitats.ttona~y age. From this inner d~chotomy. word moderni. they hardly know what has hit them. Rousseau was. drastically fluctuat. as the modern public expands. finally. a dee~ly trou~led man.neteenth-century modern public can remember the universe and our place in it." This book is a study in ing to shape millions of people's lives.on of personal. we find ourselves today in the midst of a modern control over their lives. th1rd. I the1r trtals and h?pes can be shared. this sense of living ates new human environments and destroys old ones. an age that generates explosive upheavals The maelstrom of modern life has been fed from many sources: m eve~ d1mens1. generates new forms of corporate power m?dernism emerge and unfold. social and political life. uph~avals. 1 end of the eighteenth.lally th~ whole world. the 1dea of modernity. speaking incommensurable private lan- people and societies. what It IS ltke to ltve. it is the processes that bring this maelstrom into being. it has. changing our images of same . l1ttl~ o~ no sense of a modern public or community within which developed a rich history and a plenitude of traditions of its own. modern public abruptly and ways in which they may obscure or impoverish our sense of what ~ramattcall~ comes to ltfe. mass social movements of people. and their powers. In the first phase. an~ final phase. and the lution ~nd its reverber~tions. to give them the scrutmy to part1c1patory democracy. urban growth. increasingly powerful national states. Rousseau astounded his the dialectics of modernization and modernism. At the great discoveries in the physical sciences. striving to gain some a result of all th1s. In the twentieth century.re IS one archetypal. to understand the ways the great revolutiOnary wave of the 1790s. take tn vtrt'. le tourbillon social. and he is the source of some of our most vital variety of visions and ideas that aim to make men and women the mod~rn traditio~~· from nostalgic reverie to psychoanalytic self- subjects as well as the objects of modernization. an ever-expanding. people are just beginning to experience How was the self to move and live in the whirlwind? .. chal. ~ot modern at al. its vividness. ple and institutions along. hurtling them half. rapid and often cataclysmic of modermsm ach1eves spectacular triumphs in art and thought. materially and spiritually. ary. I have divided it into three phases. guages. severing mil. Rousseau is the first to use the state of perpetual becoming. bearing and driving all these peo. they have their histQry and traditions. modern voice in the early phase of ing capitalist world market. dynamic in their On th~ other hand. our and class struggle~ immense demographic upheavals.ste in the ways in which the nineteenth and twentieth tion. loses Its capac1t~ to orgamze and give meaning to people's lives. and keep it in a vo1ce of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. and peoples. constantly striving to expand tary ~ays. have probably experienced modernity as a radical threat to all ~esperately but half blindly. before the Amencan and French revolutions. contemporaries by proclaiming that European society was "at the In the hope of getting a grip on something as vast as the history edge of the abyss. resonance and depth. the industrialization of produc. H~ experienced everyday life in that society-es- which goes roughly from the start of the sixteenth century to the pecially m Pans. speeds up m two worlds Simultaneously. age that ha~ lost touch with the roots of its own modernity. for an adequate vocabulary. but some of it derives century. If the. in the course of five centuries.16 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Introduction 17 it for close to five hundred years. these visions and values have come to be loosely grouped from his acute responsiveness to social conditions that were com- together under the name of "modernism. In the twentieth century. With the French Revo- in which they can nourish and enrich our own modernity. the social m~dermty." on the verge of the most explosive revolution- of modernity. As lenging their political and economic rulers. Th1s publtc shares the feeling of living modernity is and what it can be.l. to make their knows. cre. the 1deas of modernization and the whole tempo of life. and the developing world culture way across the world into new lives. conceived in numerous fragmen- cratically structured and operated. Our second phase begins with want to explore and chart these traditions. ~n a revolu. it shatters into development. which transforms scientific knowledge into technology. in worlds that are tion." These world-historical processes have nourished an amazing centuries will use it.

telegraphs. "small fractures and fissures in the dry crust I belong to. With such a multitude of objects associated with any sort of modernism at all. yet all of them London in 1856. co~­ capable of everything except solidity and stability. ~u­ tomatic factories. if we listen briefly to two of its most distinctive voices: Nietzsche. 5 "The so-called revolutions of 1848 were but poor together disturb my feelings. versity." 2 This atmosphere-of agna~1on and tu~bu­ weighs upon everyone with a 20. there have started into life industrial and sci- cities that have grown overnight. who is generally perceived as a primary source of many I'm beginning to feel the drunkenness that this agitated. psychic dizziness and drunkenness. he fears that "I don't know one day what I'm going to love the rock. telephones and other Saint-Preux. to adjust his spirit with every step. Marx says. his young hero. have only a local and limited existence. of daily newspapers. yet even as he says only needing expansion to rend into fragments continents of hard it." The ruling classes of the reactionary 1850s tell the world next. often with dreadful human con: entific forces which no epoch of human history had ever sus- . of an ever- Preux experiences metropolitan life as "a perpetu~l ~lash of expanding world market embracing all. yet all find themselves remarkably at home in it. strong national states and multinational aggregations of capital. Marx goes on: "There is one bility is born. and strive to tear it down or explode it from within." This is passionately. makes an exploratory move-an archetypal move for mass media. yet "I that all is solid again." and "everything IS absurd. of the modernisms of our time. tational force-images that will continue to resonate in our own century's modernist art and thought. earthquakes. a fact the distinctive rhythms and timbres of nineteenth-century mo. Samt. alive to its pos- virtue. sequences. of try to the city. is that this life is radically contradictory at its ferentiated and dynamic new landscape in which modern base: experience tak~s place. self-enlargement and self-derangement. crushing gravi- street and in the soul-is the atmosphere in which modern sensi. of sibilities. Beneath the apparently solid surface. conflicting opinions ." he begins. them "must be more pliable than Alcibiades. phantoms in the 1mages-abysses.. the first thing we will notice is the highly developed." He longs desperately for something solid to cling to. tumul. there is none that holds my heart. but anyone who wants to enJo_y ironic even in their moments of gravest seriousness and depth. from the depths o~ le mass social movements fighting these modernizations from above tourbillon social. capable of appalling waste and devastation." The basic fact of modern life. playful and new experiences offer themselves. Marx experiences it. capable of the most groups and cabals. He writes to his love. they betrayed oceans of liquid matter.18 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Introduction 19 In Rousseau's romantic novel The New Eloise. the beautiful. a continual flux and reflux of p~ejudic~s and spectacular growth. passing before my eyes. and for the unities that infuse its di- After a few months in this environment. as dernity. of increasingly millions of young people in the centuries to come-from the coun. affirmative even in their radical negations. characteristic of this our nineteenth century. but disapp~ar as soon as I believe it. truth." A multitude. In fact. it?" One of Marx's most urgent aims is to make people "feel it". communicating on an ever wider scale. I'm getting dizzy. expansiOn of expenen." teenth-century modernism. who is not ordinarily tuous life plunges you into. but nothmg 1s modernists of the nineteenth century all attack this environment shocking.000-pound force. If we move forward a hundred years or so and try to identify great fact. the ugly. which no party dares deny. railroads• vast new industrial zones. but it is not clear if even they themselves see only phantoms that strike my eye. volcanic eruptions. a workl in which "the good. of teemmg On the one hand. so that I forget what I am and who incidents. But they denounced the abyss. Everyone constan~ly places himself m. with their own modes of modernization from below. The great tradiction with himself. of European society.. "the atmosphere in which we live try to grasp them. speaking in awkward but powerful English in strike me. ready to change h1s We can get a feeling for the complexity and richness of nine- principles with his audience. the bad. This is a landscape of steam engines. because everyone is accustomed to everything. Of all the things that Here is Marx. dif. He reaffirms his commitment to his first love. Julie. ti:al possibilities and destruction of moral boundaries and personal ~his is why his ideas are expressed in such intense and extravagant bonds. but do you feel lence. and tries to convey his wonder and dread. and Marx.

there exist symptoms of decay. They are as much the invention of bience-including Marx's own. to Nietzsche in the 1880s. and men at last conflicts". On the other hand. as for Marx. into sources of want." Modern mankind found itself in the will overthrow _the modern bourgeoisie springs from that bour.. ing its predecessor's fate and melting down in the modern air? quakes. which we will explore later on. all that is holy is profaned. uninterrupted disturbance tifying human labor. and that a communist movement who are thoroughly modern. the aristocracy and the poor scene. gifted with the wonderful power of shortening and fruc. others will tr'y to balance progress in industry with a are forced to face . am- such are the working men. But one of the distinctive virtues of Marx turns abruptly playful and connects his vision of the future modernism is that it leaves its questions echoing in the air long with the past-with English folklore. we see that the revolutionary dynamism that and "the advent of nihilism." surprisingly similar voice and feeling for modern life. and with them all the relations of society . that we will find very different prejudices. in . production. personal and social abysses. man This is probably the definitive vision of the modern environment. relations with their fellow men. All our invention and progress unfolds: seem to result in endowing material forces with intellectual life. with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions. prophets of regression. weird spells. distin- new-fangled sources of wealth. we behold starving and overworking it. But it may not stop turning of society want only to be mastered by new-fangled men-and there: after all. seems to become enslaved to other men or to his own infamy. a motion that is open-ended. the real conditions of their lives and their neofeudal or neoabsolutist regression in politics. Con- chinery. and that flows will to truth had come to explode Christianity itself. For Marx's writing is famous for its endings. The vision dark background of ignorance. formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. the old mole that can work in the earth so fast. the bourgeoisie. Ma.20 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTs INTO AIR Introduction 21 pected. the new-fangled forces its prime movers. allegiances and hopes. Thus. by some weird spell. Having said this.. the currents of modern history were ironic modernist. Marx. Here." Thus a class of "new men. yet a worthy pioneer-the Revolution. and with them the relations of In our days everything seems pregnant with its contrary." men bourgeois forms decompose. that modern time as machinery itself.far The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing surpassing the horrors of the latter times of the Roman Emp1re. All fixed. as Marx supposes. fast-frozen relations.. Suppose. Goodfellow. we will notice the dialectical motion that underlies and and dialectical: thus Christian ideals of the soul's integrity and the animates his thought. midst of a great absence and emptiness of values and yet. in the were the traumatic events that Nietzsche called "the death of God" Communist Manifesto.. that environment which has brought forth an amazing plenitude Even the pure light of science seems unable to shine but on the of modernist movements. will be able to resolve the contradic. with Shakespeare: "In the after the questioners themselves. all modern movements are caught up in this. and stultifying human life into a material force. stant revolutionizing of production. All that is Some would "get rid of modern arts. The of all social relations... and their answers. are swept away. from Marx's time to our own. . are turned guish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. But if we see him as a Nietzsche. we do not mistake the shrewd spirit that continues to mark all these con. We know that to work well . have left the signs that bewilder the middle class. everlasting uncertainty and agitation. at the geoisie's own deepest impulses and needs: same time. At the same pace that mankind masters nature. earth. in order to get rid of modern solid melts into air. we recognize our brave friend Robin If we move a quarter century ahead. however. • proclaims a paradigmatically modernist faith: "On our part. in whose midst Marx understood this question and suggested some answers. the instruments of production. surges into power: what is to keep this new social form from shar- tions of modernity. The victories of art seem bought by the loss of character.. all modern men and women are forced to live. a remarkable abundance of possibilities. all new- These miseries and mysteries fill many moderns with despair. Thus the dialectical motion of modernity turns ironically against tradictions. The results against the current of his own concepts and desires. to overcome the crushing pressures.

not medieval. battling each other for sun and light. the genius of the race and Nietzsche share is not only its breathless pace. Strindberg. "the individual dares to individuate himself. to express and grasp a world recesses of wish and will. any considerateness within the morality at their disposal . Baudelaire Mel- ners" around whose solution to the chaos of modern life is to try ville. decay. the immeasurable. one's own heart. a taste and tongue for every. As ardently as Marx." ~his voice r~sonates at once with self-discovery and At times like these." 'Become mediocre' is the only morality more-speak m these rhythms and in this range. It i~ ironic and contradictory. Nothing but new "wherefores. a sort of tropical tempo in ri. its vibrant en- welling up over the cornucopias of good and ill. Nietzsche's own stance toward in Marx. we ourselves are a kind of dialectical. onto the street. a world where everything is pregnant with its contrary: 5 the perils of modernity is to embrace them all with joy: "We mod- erns. a fateful simul. Dostoevsky. The only stimulus that tickles us is and often entangled with one another. juxtaposed when we are most m danger. the day after tomorrow"-who. but also its fast and drastic shifts in taneity of spring and autumn . and 'many not to live at all: for them. the infinite. live in t~e ~ids~ of this d~nger forever. we half-barb~rians. not Oriental-"so he keeps trying novel. "Our instincts can now o~ its . any check." So many roads open up from this point.. In painting and sculpture.energy. ergy." will have the courage and imagination to "create new val- any limitation." And yet Nietzsche is not willing to jungle-like growing and striving. that d1dn t even exist a century ago. and to stretch itself beyond its ca- one's own child. of Jaws of his own. any communal formulas." Another type of modern throws himself into parodies of the . where everythmg 1s pregnant with its contrary and "all that is solid melts into air. . onto the nearest and dearest. All men and women to find the resources to cope with their "every. the great modermsts of the mneteenth century-spirits as diverse thing"? Nieusche notes that there are plenty of "Little Jack Hor. Rimbaud.media and a wide range of scientific disciplines "can never really look well-dressed. "standing in opposition to his exploding. needs his own skills and wiles for self-preser.transform itself into a great r:ange of the individual. in poetry and the itive. What has become of nineteenth-century modernism in the twen- past: he "needs history because it is the storage closet where all the tieth c~ntury? In some ways it has thrived and grown beyond its costumes are kept. Carlyle. Whitman and Ibsen. he valry of development. onto harmomc or dissonant vmces. one's own innermost secret pacities into a~ en?Iessly wider range." The pos. hoping-often against hope-that amounts to an instinct for everything. How are modern the wounds that ~reck the m?dern men and women of today. ~timer.." self-mockery.. and an enormous destruction and self-de.. We are in the midst of our bliss only At these turning points in history there shows itself. a magnificent. asserts h1s fa1th m a new kmd of man-"the man of tomorrow and struction. own w~ldest hopes. thanks to egoisms violently opposed to one another. self-heightening." Modern man's sense of himself and his history "really modernity ~t~elf has created. we find. manifold. Again there is danger. self-liberation. self-awakening. vice. in architecture and design. this daring individual desperately "needs a set knows pain and. He notices that none really fits him"-not prim. the tone and i~flection. a new allegiance of misunderstanding and mutual disrespect.. but believes in its power to come through. It is a voice that On the other hand." unable to accept the fact that a modern man array ?f ~lectronic . and the most superior desires What is distinctive and remarkable about the voice that Marx gruesomely bound up with one another." because no social role in mod. the modermues of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow will heal thing. m theater and dance. just as we found ern times can ever be a perfect fit. dread.. wuh self-dehght and self-doubt. in a whole on more and more." no longer ues" th~t mo?ern. unable to find today. its imaginative richness. but not even the deepest wounds can stop the flow and overflow sibilities are at once glorious and ominous. Grave danger IS everywhere. as Marx and Kierkegaard. denouncmg modern life in the name of values that chaos.22 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Introduction 23 Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil (1882). polyphonic and run back in all sorts of directions. not classical. ~e~ and ~omen need to steer their way through the penlous mfimt1es m wh1ch they live.its readiness to turn on itself. to . to question and mother of morality-great danger-but this time displaced onto negate ~II It h~s sa1d. that makes sense. our century has produced an . vation. and may strike at any moment.

wrestling youthful verve and enthusiasm. Richard and hammers. But ironies and inner tensions were a primary source of their creative so much is left out of this new world! We can see it even in that power.. .]. there are no loose ends. di Suvero. but wounds could be healed. wreck the venerable cities. find) themselves. experience political upheaval in an aesthetic (musical. Open visions of modern life have futurist picture. polyphonic tides of revolu- modern art. Indeed. Garcia Marquez. deep- about modernity and compare them to those of a century ago. Herzog." It is a real expansion of human sensibility to be able to embraced with a blind and uncritical enthusiasm. Philip Glass.human type in whom moral suffering. Fass. etc. adventurous steamers . Marx yet.. Both/And by Either/Or.. it is conceived as a closed monolith. Our century has nourished a spectacular not. The basic polarizations take place at the very start of our cen. we and Nietzsche could also rejoice in the modern destruction of tra- have missed or broken the connection between our culture and ditional structures. incapable of being shaped swept away in those tides? Their experience is nowhere in the or changed by modern men. bridges that stride the rivers like giant gymnasts. we fection..24 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Introduction 25 amazing plenitude of works and ideas of the highest quality. pitilessly! Foreman. Twyla Tharp. together-simply equals docile slavery. In many ways. human feeling are dying. we can still feel stirred by the futurists' multaneously enthusiasts and enemies of modern life. non. tones hung on clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke· gressed. we don't know how to use our modernism. of recognizing ourselves as participants and protagonists in the art ~e will si~g ~f great crowds_excited by work. but we seem to have forgotten how to grasp the mod. polyphonic tides of revo- toward rigid polarities and flat totalizations... Maxine Hong Kingston. energies with modern technology and create the world anew. by pleasure and by and thought of our time. and wreck. flashing in th.. their self. what happens to all the people who get case. yet gr~edy railway stations that devour smoke-plumed serpents. Modernity is either lution. in either way. dom. the gay incendiaries world where there is so much to be ashamed and afraid of. we will sing of the nightly fervor of ern life from which this art springs. it seems to me. And with charred fingers! Here they are! Here they are!" Now. by their desire to merge their inexhaustibly with its ambiguities and contradictions. not least because its creative energies have are confident in the radiant splendor of our future. and the sleek light of planes [etc.' will find a radical flattening of perspective and shrinkage of imaginative range. passionate partisans of mo.. changes that are hacking an abyss twentieth century may well be the most brilliantly creative in the between those docile slaves of tradition and us free moderns who history of the world.. inter- tell you now that the triumphant progress of science makes rupters of our powerful bodily electricity. Seventy years later. "Take up your pickaxes. or else con. On the other hand. If w-e listen closely to twentieth-century writers and thinkers sun with a glitter of knives. thought since Marx and Nietzsche has grown and developed.:give us a great deal to be proud of.. and so many Come on! set fire to the library shelves! Turn aside the canals to more who surround us. "we look for the creation of a tury. The brilliance and depth of no ambiguities here: "tradition"-all the world's traditions thrown living modernism-living in the work of Grass. of course. Kenzo Tange. So let them come. painterly) demned with a neo-Olympian remoteness and contempt. will be abolished. Nevelson. Our nineteenth-century thinkers were si. Here are the Italian futurists.. Robert Wilson. we have mostly lost the art of putting ourselves in the picture. even as machines are coming to life. Cunningham. and modernity equals free- Fuentes.. goodness of heart. fac- our thinking about modernity seems to have stagnated and re. our lives. The changes in humanity inevitable." 6 There are burst out in every part of the world." 8 On . modern arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons. Sembene. we ch~sted locomotives . It appears that some very important kinds of been supplanted by closed ones. but they knew the human costs of this progress. jackson Pollock imagined his drip paintings as forests in and knew that modernity would have a long way to go before its which spectators might lose (and. we wdl smg of the mulucolored. those corrosive poisons of vital energy.and love. in later futurist writing. Their twentieth<entury successors have lurched far more marvelous metaphor "the multicolored. in a flood the museums! . af- dernity in the years before the First World War: "Comrades.. tion in the modern capitals. your axes binder.

just as in futurist and will set its workers an example of rauonal behav1or. ~ygiene. in the spaced-out h1gh-tech rhapsodtes bureaucratic.the dignity of the worker. in McLuhan's Understanding Media. At the climax of Max Weber's One in the refined forms of the machme aestheuc. modern man as a subject- balance. the as a living being capable of response.. the techno. cious little for modern man to do except to plug in. W1thm two they would surely be delighted with the vision of the factory as an years. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. sensualists without heart.nt~ what The futurists might deplore the low intensity of this prose.'" critics of "the iron cage" adopt the perspective of the cage's keep- . 9 with." lished in 1964. The rest survived to become cultural of Man.26 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTo AIR Introduction 27 this note.. which en~ured t?~t their as the factory is the subject in the quotation above-there is pre- extravagances would never be repeated. they could imagine an open future. and. Twen- leled by the condition of speechlessness that could confer a per. caught in the delusion that it has achieved .. their two most creative spmts-the p~mter-sculptor ~m­ exemplary human being which men and women should take as a berto Boccioni. We find th1s mode ~f mo?ermsm a~te~. with irresistible force. the world's only. is that. is a hymn to the modern factory but all the people in it are shaped by its bars. once they understood it. pub. promise. without sexual or personal identity ("this nullity . Third World. to bypass lan~~ages i~ fa~or of a gen. which can be a powerful on the world-has disappeared. into this mechanism . written in 1904." This inexorable order. "determines the lives of all individuals who are born of Buckminster Fuller and Marshall McLuhan and in Alvin Tof." 1~ 1914. without heart. the cratic pastorals of the Bauhaus. pulverized by the dead hand of the and initiative in modern life. Inkeles' essay is entitled "The Modernization by the machines they loved. Marx and Nietzsche-and Tocqueville and Carlyle and Mill and Kierkegaard and all the other great nineteenth-century critics The computer. in short. and this nullity is caught in the postwar American social scientists. ")-we A factory guided by modern managem~nt and per~onnel po~icies might almost say without being. even in the midst that biologists say promises a physical immortality. and respect for the opinions. may be paral. twentieth-century example of the principles and practices of modern living. with brilliant ma- The futurists carried the celebration of modern technology to a chines and mechanical systems playing all the leading roles-just grotesque and self-destructive extreme. But the1r uncnucal ro. developed for export to the attained by mankind. whole "mighty cosmos of the modern economic order" is seen as Le Corbusier and Leger. Ironically. the Ballet Mecanique_. "an iron cage. all modernisms in the futurist tradition. We find tt aga~n. and the problem of future. Now.. But its problem. of a wretched present. to fight it. Gropius and Mies van d~r Ro~e. fused with their utter remoteness ~rom peo... tieth-century critics of modernity almost entirely lack this empathy petuity of collective harmony and peace. To Weber." It is bound to "de- fler's Future Shock. emotional techno-pastoral forms of modernism. Here. World War similar vision of what that life is like.. not only is modern society a cage. Hence. But they all believed that step would seem to be . the young futurists ardently threw ~hemselves i. and faith in. open communication. Here. termine man's fate until the last ton of fossilized coal is burnt out. legalistic and after another World War. the architect Antonio Sant'Eha-would be ktlled model for their lives. we find a surprisingly longer-lived. judgment and action in and feelings. for instance. If we move to the OJiposite pole of twentieth-century thought. we are beings without by the social psychologist Alex Inkeles: spirit." and is meant to show the importance of human desire hacks in Mussolini's mills. but they called "war." 11 Thus. capitalistic. Here.: modern individuals had the capacity both to understand this fate era! cosmic consciousness . and. The condltlon of weightlessness. The next logtcal cial organization determined man's fate. ple.s by techn~logy a Penteco~tal -also understood the ways in which modern technology and so- condition of universal understandmg and umty.. would be reincarnat~d in modes that wo~ld be less b1zarre and which says a decisive "No!" to modern life.. often working under lav1sh delusion that it has achieved a level of development never before government and foundation subsidies.. mance of machines. their fellow modern men and women. his contemporaries are nothing but "specialists without This modernism underlay the models of modernization wh~ch spirit.

the result teenth-century modern tradition in whose orbit Marcuse claimed was a politics far to the right of Weber's own. Two roads opened up from Weber's neo-Olympian perspective appropriated. the "one-dimensional" para- power to govern us? In the ideas and intellectual gestures of digm procla1med that no change was possible and that.* themselves m the1r commod1t1es. thought and controversy over the ultimate meaning of even their dreams. with monolithic cultural despair. According to this paradigm. the admini~tered. at could qualify as a revolutionary vanguard because they were sup~ least for a time._ ~plit-level_ homes. one-d1mens1onal parad1gm to heart. for instance "Politics as a Vocation" and "Science as a Vocation" (in Hans Gerth and roughly divided into three tendencies. then." "Group Expansion and the Development of Individuality. edited by Donald Levine (University of Chicago. In Simmel-and later in his youthful followers Georg Lukacs. no one in the contemporary world is critical thought. it seemed that the only thing ical conflicts and contradictions have been abolished by the state of left was futility and despair. that these tam httle but the1r names. Modernism in the 1960s can be • A more dialectical perspective may be found in some of Weber's later essays." Fo~ radicals who understood this. the one that strives to withdraw 1971). the critical tradition of Hegel and Marx.d and the une~ployabl~. but recent attitudes toward modernity is probably the closest thing to a twentieth-century dialectical theory of modernity." in Georg Simmel lectical than those of a century ago.28 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Introduction 29 ers: since those inside are devoid of inner freedom or dignity. their inner lives are "totally modermty. even as the young radicals "mass men" (or "hollow men") should have not only the right to of the 1960s fought for changes that would enable the people govern themselves but also. is to re- spirituality or dignity like our own. Now this 1s a fam1har twentieth-century refrain. 1946). through their mass majorities. the exploited and persecuted of other races and other col- What is more surprising. are "not their own".heir ~ision of history as restless activity. Of course. Eliot and Allen Tate. Much of the most interesting of this thought revolved around the nature of modernism. based on attitudes toward C. constituted by 1ts machmes. "The Conflict in Modern Culture. is the extent to ors. of which modern men and women are ian remoteness and contempt for modern men and women were merely mechanical reproductions. But it is a travesty of the nine- split off from Weberian skepticism and critical insight. This contemporary and friend Georg Simmel intimates. bureaucratic or revolu. isn't it absurd. T.stem ~an satisfy. their needs. which this perspective thrived among some of the participatory whether m Amenca s ghettos and pnsons or m the Third World democrats of the recent New Left. Oxford. Barthes m hterature and Clement Greenberg in the visual arts. Adorno and Walter Benjamin-dialectical vision and depth are always entangled." 12 classes. "total administration. ~?d no more. body of. often in from m~de~n life. Meanwhile. "The people recognize emptiness they crave and need. See. posedly untouched by modernity's kiss of death. but never really develops. kitchen equipment. From Max Weber. such a cuse's "One-Dimensional Man" became the dominant paradigm in search is doomed to futility. One was t?e se~rch for a vanguard that was wholly magnified by the modern mandarins and would-be aristocrats of outside modern soc1ety: the substratum of outcasts and out- the twentieth-century right. But when the' Weber. indeed. shared by those tionary. and more disturbing. to move. less subtle and dia- Life. . But this is what happened.unempl~ye. we see these people· weren't even really alive. at least in the last years of his who ~ove the ~odern :world and those who hate it: modernity is life. their souls The volatile atmosphere of the 1960s generated a large and vital are devoid of inner tension or dynamism: their ideas. Ortega. no ids. who press upon us in the street and in the state have no sensitivity. but even less in their ruling tomobiles: ~i-fi sets. the . negative and withdrawn. for example. at the very end of the 1960s. Spengler." program~ed to produce exactly those desires that cage is not a prison.t. The first of these modernisms. Wright Mills." The masses have no egos. they find their soul in their au- Weber had little faith in the people. it merely furnishes a race of nullities with the the soc1al sy. was a perpetually embattled liberalism. distorted and ~his ~oi?. both Marx and Freud orca~ be "~utside.'' 13 These groups. whether aristocratic or bourgeois. editors and translators. yet took the are obsolete: not only class and social struggles but also psycholog. the a~ound the~ to control their lives. Weber's ~o~~rn life as a whole: affirmative. on Individuality and Social Forms. dialectical struggle and progress. siders. Maurras. was proclaimed most forcefully by Roland the same sentence. Hence his political stance. To invoke those century thinkers have seen things this way: the swarming masses thinke~s while reJe~ting t. S." "The Metropolis and Mental have m fact tended to be cruder and simpler. T. W. Many twentieth. d~na~mc contrad~ct1on. what div1s1?n may sound crude. when Herbert Mar.

furthermore. in any given form or genre was the nature and limits of that genre: Alyosha Karamazov. It leaves out all the affirmative and life. Then. Marshall McLuhan. and embracing the earth. "Modernism has been the seducer. could be expelled from the modern garden. presumably. Robert Venturi. a by a heterogeneous group of writers. was ing but trouble: it tends to posit a model of modern society as one the quest for the pure. self-referential art object. When students at Columbia University rebelled in and confronts the world of objects without going through any of 1968. woven with assault and revolt: the erotic joy." 15 Modernism thus appeared as as "modernism in the streets. few modern artists or writers have stayed with this modernism for they would have remembered how much of modernism-Baude- long: an art without personal feelings or social relationships is laire. Molly Bloom bringing the archetypal ble subject for a modernist painter was the flatness of the surface modernist book to an end with "yes I said yes I will Yes. an aggressive absurdity" (Leo Steinberg). 22 If only the modernist snake violent overthrow of all our values. Calder. 19 It seeks the between space and time.. perfectly sealed their noise and dissonance into beauty and truth. 16 an The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism. et al. etc. and confined to university classrooms and libraries and Museums tablishing the autonomy and dignity of their vocations. then. Barthes put this absence in a positive. space. Joyce. struggling to keep life itself alive even as they shriek their art was art itself. in revolt. emergence of pop art in the early 1960s. and literary critics-have been grateful to this modernism for es. Law- crucial force in modernism from Carlyle and Marx to Tatlin and rence Alloway. and men and machines in some circles." etc. industrial . and agitation" that have for two hundred years been basic facts of even a heroic light: the modern writer "turns his back on society modern life. some of their conservative professors described their action the forms of History or social life. Thus~ for instance. "The modern movement "adversary culture" (Lionel Trilling). Leger. a dence as the 1960s progressed and the political climate heated up: techno-pastoral golden age would return. "modernism" became a code word for all the forces could lie down together happily forevermore. 20 This obviously tells part of the truth. Ironically." "shatters the 'rational cosmology' (Renato Poggioli). Lawrence. because "flatness There is a further problem with the idea of modernism as noth- alone is unique and exclusive to the art. close the gap" (Fiedler). were that we must "wake up to the very life we're living" (Cage). And that ~as ~ll that is in itself devoid of trouble. but it leaves far The affirmative vision of modernism was developed in the 1960s too much out. It coincided loosely with the and Robert Smithson. Boccioni. radical image of modernism as pure subversion helped to nourish Then there was the vision of modernism as an unending per." Daniel Bell wrote in "a tradition of overthrowing tradition" (Harold Rosenberg). even more. Mark di Suvero Richard Poirier. always locked in mortal one thing. 21 Had the professors learned their own lessons. breaking down the barriers between "art" and other embrace with his nihilistic rage and despair. H. 17 a "culture of negation" disrupts the unity of culture.30 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTs INTO Ara Introduction 31 Greenberg argued that thf' only legitimate concern of modernist Guernica. art if only modern culture could somehow have been kept off them. in the midst of chaos and anguish. This image gained force and cre. But very of Modern Art. 23 This meant." Presumably those streets would a great attempt to free modern artists from the impurities." (canvas. Mayakovsky. the neoconservative fantasy of a world purified of modernist sub- manent revolution against the totality of modern existence: it was version. It leaves out the great romance of construction. It leaves out all the "uninter- it was: the proper relationship of modern art to modern socral hfe rupted disturbances of all social relations. everlasting uncertainty was no relationship at all. etc. Many artists and writers-and. The freedom it itself on the real trouble in the modern streets. such as commercial entertainment. 18 The modern work of art was said to "molest that underlay the bourgeois world view of an ordered relation us with.) on which the painting takes place. including John Cage. and cares little about recon." 14 Modernism. the tomb. time and the structing the worlds it destroys. the only rightful focus for an artist death. the figures in Picasso's human activities. natural beauty and and "cross the border. Leslie Fiedler.-has nourished bound to seem arid and lifeless after a little while. kissing the medium is the message. the only permissi. Its dominant themes sustaining force that in the greatest modernists is always inter. Susan Sontag. vulgar. cosmos would straighten themselves out. the triumphant last choruses of Coltrane's A Love Supreme. yet!- ities of modern life. for human tenderness in D. Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. and transformed confers is the freedom of a beautifully formed. have been calm and orderly~in the middle of Manhattan.

politics. that we're living in a ridiculous way? JOHN~ON: It's feudal and futile. rigid and closed.. morality goodbye. and the point where -by the post-modernists-and were unknown. the failure of moral imagination was not o~ post-modermsm.. generated a common lan- mixed-media productions and performances that would create gu~ge. too the contemporary world to make themselves at home in this world. Johnson's monologue goes on and on.. have virtually ceased Whitman. constricting to the modern spirit. Motkm Movemmts in Architecture. Apollinaire.Hence. I think in New York your aesthetic sense is in a curious. although sh~ clearly wants to play. but rience of things. I think it much better to be nihilistic and SONTAG: Well I think we are learning the limitations of. of some of the great modernists of the past-Baudelaire.. When a creative spirit like selve~ in the world o_f structuralism. t~ey hav~ ~pli~ modernity into a series of separate com- BBC in 1965: ponents-mdustnah~auon. materials and ideas v1s1on and 1rnagmat1on. attempts to connect the turbulent "post-modernists. I see for myself that I just now see things in a Sonta~. consider this black-comic monologue the task of building a model that might be truer to modern life. if this modernism matched their imaginative sympathy. ebte formatiOn-and resisted any attempt to very modern way more developed than anywhere else. I know I'm attacked by my moral friends. play. present with a past and a future. All the modernisms and anti-modernisms of the 1960s then ers. develop- SONTAG: I think.if all human feeling. and per. I think. Mayakovs~y. and from an ardent desire to seize the day. expressive- a critical perspective which might have clarified the point where ness. the fact m1ght engage the1r own lives an<l works and their place in his- that we can't use morals as a means of judging this city because we couldn't JOHNsoN: What good does it do you to believe in good things? stand it? And that we're changing our whole moral system to suit the fact SONTAG: Because I . too self-righteous. composers and filmmakers to break down ~ere ~eriously ~a~ed. and speaks as . of moral expe. discourse and controversy over the vision. mea~mg of modermty. self and h1story:-off t~e mal?. it never Many artistic and literary intellectuals have immersed them- learned to recapture their critical bite. This has freed them from extravagant encing things morally one is in a state of continual indignation and horror. Pop to want to make the large human connections that the idea of modernism recreated the openness to the world. But to ex1st today. who.. interspersed with perplexed stammers by SONTAG: Welf. really. forget It a!l. a world that simply wipes the John Cage accepted the support of the Shah of Iran. who is being interviewed by Susan Sontag for the Instead.* by critical attacks on their techno-pastoral models. a vibrant ambience. to enjoy things as they are-we see entirely differ- ent beauty from what [Lewis] Mumford could possibly see. that the modern world inexhaustibly brought forth. I mean. Virtually no one today seems in the 1950s had become unbearably solemn. It also encouraged writ. painters. wh1ch stnves to cultivate ignorance of modern his alone. even inconceiv- the modern artist needs to see and to say that some of the powers able.. er. ~ent of mark~ts.. who sometimes called themselves orientations toward history. g~nerahzauons an~ vague totalities-but also from thought that JOHNSON: Do you suppose that will change the sense of morals. But their sheer plenitude. social scientists embarrassed of this world have got to go. I think it's possible to be aesthetic . 24 Meanwhile. sta~e-building. don t they shake themselves up over nothing? JOHNSON: To merely. des1re. . If you are ex peri· mtegra~e t~em mto a whole. Others have embraced a mystique oners shrieked and died. All these visions and revisions of modernity were active For modernists of this variety." the modernism of pure form and the modern. before last week. the generosity of mode~nity entails . Their ideal was to open oneself ~~ese init~ative~ al! failed. can't quite bring herself to kiss kind of split-level way. question o_f modermty-along with all other questions about the formed modernist spectacles a few miles from where political pris. by the architect Philip Johnson. They It was the absence of these generous visions and initiatives that breathed fresh air and playfulness into a cultural ambience which made the 1970s such a bleak decade.. have fled from • For pop nihilism in its most insouciant form. a shared horizon of experience and richer and more multivalent arts.. sexuality and commumty have only just been invented openness to the modern world has got to stop. dancers. urbanization.32 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Introduction 33 technology. 208-10.. but [they laugh] but if one has a very modern kind of . to help men and women all over ism of pure revolt were both too narrow. both morally and . William Carlos Williams. the boundaries of their specializations and work together on mtens1ty and hvebness of expression. The trouble was that pop modernism never developed h1story and cultu~e. so hvely a decade ago. but they sprang from a largeness of to the immense variety and richness of things. Quoted m Jencks. fashion and design. along with thei.

. in sensi- protect human rights? Mere ')uridical regression" from the feudal bility-growth that destroys both the physical and social land- ages. and th':'s reco~er its powers of renewal. two hundred years. Foucault is obsessed with mo?ernism of the nineteenth century to life again." and hence only add to the triumphant "dis. with sadistic flourishes." Do we act politically.s and needs that inspire and torment us: our desire to in its grip on bodies and their materiality. our ideas and fantasies-that spreads authority to another. even as we develop a deeper After being subjected to this for a while. on the Weberian themes of the iron cage and the human nullities In this bleak context. indeed. as Marx said. sensations and pleasures. ~f modern life. either outside these institutions war~ at such a dizzy pace that it cannot take root." driven by "the deployment of sexuality by power dictory force. create constitutions to establish and b~~ for growth in experience. the modernisms of the past can ideas down on his readers like iron bars. And hnks to our chams. we realize that there is sensltlVlty and empathy toward our ordained enemies and come to no freedom in.Foucault's world. in societies radically dif- think we feel a spontaneous rush of sexual desire? We are merely ferent f~om our own-and with millions of people who lived being moved by "the modern technologies of power that take life through It a century or more ago. Do we modernization thousands of miles away. since we are part of its social and political forces that propel us into explosive conflicts mechanism. Experiences like these unite us with the nineteenth-cen- dreamed of. The mystery is why so tury modern world: a world where. They can help us connect our lives with the Foucault reserves his most savage contempt for people who lives of millions of people who are living through the trauma of imagine that it is possible for modern mankind to be free. I suspect. Foucault denies the modernity is "cut off from the past and continually hurtling for- possibility of any sort of freedom. clamping his ment of th1s book IS that. refugees from the 1960s a world-historical alibi for the sense of vate material and spiritual interest groups." Unlike Goffman." 27 with. is that Foucault offers a generation of tened the disintegration of our world into an aggregation of pri. with what Erving Goffman has called ermst. m fact. in pleasure. ties of modern hfe and experience that obliterate all values· the fects of power. He develops these themes with obsessive beginnings. and gies. "everything is . that they are not so different from us seamless web. There is no point in trying to resist the oppressions and injustices Just about the only writer of the past decade who has had any. The answer. overthrow our msatlable des1re for growth-not merely for economic growth tyrannies. that it merely or within their interstices. A great mod- prisons. all our 1dent1t1es all over the map." 28 The argu- relentlessness and. roots that go back into our flesh like a new turn of the screw. which we bring to ourselves. because his language forms a realize. invested by its ef. at least we can relax. their forces." and the inter- to be trying to do? Forget it. excruciating series of variations all. their ener. ~t~er people and other peoples. nat~onal. and our desire to embrace the limitless possibili- himself or herself is "in the panoptic machine. Foucault's totalities swallow up every survives from one day to the next: it is unable to return to its facet of modern life. our desire for clear and solid course of power. twisting each dialectic give us back a sense of our own modern roots. ~ur ~~ks and music. forms that [make] an essentially normalizing power acceptable. has lamented that "total institutions. once we grasp the total futility of it what he has to say is an endless. It has has. however. I want to bring the dynamic and dialectical whose souls are shaped to fit the bars. be r?ote? in a st~ble and coherent personal and social past. because constitutions and bills of rights are merely "the scapes of our past. The eclipse of the problem of modernity in the 1970s has many of today's intellectuals seem to want to choke in there with meant the destruction of a vital form of public space.34 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTo AIR Introduction 35 25 tory. make revolutions. and our emotional links with those lost worlds. him. ~ince even our dreams of freedom only add more thing substantial to say about modernity is Michel Foucault. far more isolated than we need to be." 26 our despe~ate allegianc~s t? ethnic. a cage far more airtight than anything Weber ever after all. however. living in windowless passivity and helplessness that gripped so many of us in the 1970s. sometimes too late. because the critic ~alues to live by. asylums. the Mexican poet and critic Octavio Paz. hospitals. because all forms of inquiry into the nationalization of everyday life-of our clothes and household human condition "merely refer individuals from one disciplinary goods. into which no life can break. clafs and sexual Do we use our minds to unmask oppression-as Foucault appears groups wh1ch we hope w1ll g1ve us a firm "Identity. monads." Any criticism rings hollow. in knowledge. They can illuminate the contra- as their object.

just after the explosion of the first It may turn out. Nietzsche and their contemporaries experienced moder- nity as a whole at a moment when only a small part of the world was truly modern. a society that has conjured up such own environments with fresh eyes. onto the nearest and dearest.. at every moment in their everyday lives. -Norman Mailer. if only we come to know it as our own.36 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR pregnant with its contrary" and "all that is solid melts into air". 1971 to confront the adventures and dangers that lie ahead. atom bomb in july 1945 ward: that remembering the modernisms of the nineteenth cen- We are a Faustian age determined to meet the Lord or the Devil tury can give us the vision and courage to create the modernisms before we are done. we will see that there is more gigantic meam of production and exchange. Paradoxically. is lilce the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the underworld that he has depth in our lives than we thought. modernism back to its roots. the mother of morality-great danger . but modern men and women. onto one's own child. not so much about their age as about our own. We Goethe's Faust: The have lost our grip on the contradictions that they had to grasp with all their strength. New and health. If we can make their visions our own. these first modernists may turn out to understand us-the modernization and modernism that constitute Development our lives-better than we understand ourselves. we can learn a great deal from the first modernists. when the processes of modern- ization have cast a net that no one. one's o. Mexico. We will feel our community called up by his spells. then. a world where. as Nietzsche said. and the ineluctable ore of the authentic is our of the twenty-first. To appro- priate the modernities of yesterday can be at once a critique of the modernities of today and an act of faith in the modernities-and in the modern men and women-of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. 37 . displaced onto the individual.secret recesses of wish and will. with people all over the world who have been struggling with the -Communilt Manifesto same dilemmas as our own. not even in the remotest corner of the world. and use their perspectives to look at our Modem bourgeois society. This act of remembering can help us bring only 1cey to the loch. Marx.wn heart." Modern machines have changed a great deal in the years between the nineteenth-century modernists and ourselves. one's own innermost . as Marx and Nietzsche and Baudelaire and Dos- toevsky saw them then. A century later. so that it can nourish and renew itself. "there is danger. that going back can be a way to go for. may only now be coming fully into their own. in order Tragedy of to live at all.. can escape. onto the street. the long-haired boys have lost control! of these struggles: a culture that contains vast resources of strength -An army officer at Alamogordo.. And we will get back in touch with a remarkably rich and vibrant modernist culture that has grown out Good God! ..

fame and . and ern in a way that twentieth-century readers can recognize at once.. it isn't all could never be the land of the free once Faustus got it in his slimy that easy to explain. when he was twenty-one. at the other end of the cultural but whose material and social conditions are still medieval. a recent issue of Captain America comics features "the work ends in the midst of the spiritual and material upheavals of Deadly Designs of . 4 Thus the work was versions. object of transformation is not merely the hero. strikingly resembles Orson Welles. Though the figure of Faust has taken the next sixty years. indifference to life: "The Faustian proposal that the experts make Faust begins in an epoch whose thought and sensibility are mod- to us is to let them lay their fallible human hands on eternity." 5 Goethe's work on the Faust theme began around to vulgar farce. with great personal intensity. through. which Faust's being affixed to special hookups within the dirigible's exhaust sys. It starts in an intellectual's lonely room. it ends in the midst a giant dirigible. in every known me. "Even as we watch." he tells his dynamism. in every lit. indicts Faust as a symbol of scientific irresponsibility and ment of Western society. thought is helping to create. in process all through one of the most turbulent and revolutionary trol" of the energies of his mind. In all not appear as a whole until after he was dead. jaded 1970s readers. of a far-reaching realm of production and exchange. power over others. Much of its strength springs from dynamic and highly explosive life of their own. it has proven irresistible to every type of modern 1770. the subject and agents will begin flooding the city with it. Its sheer immensity. DOCTOR FAUSTUS!" This villain. which then proceed to take on a eras in the history of the world. ating McCarthyism. "those canisters containing my ingenious mind-gas are giant corporate bodies and complex organizations. In the four centuries its historical perspective. bringing every man. Thus The New Yorker magazine. many of the world-historical grip the modern imagination. sex. too. and ambition but in genuine vision." 1 Meanwhile. a year before his death at the age of eighty-three. "And. myth has always explored.38 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTo AIR The Tragedy of Development 39 FoR AS long as there has been a modern culture. the tragedy or comedy comes when Faust "loses con. 1831. the terrified souls in exchange for certain clearly defined and universally de- Statue of Liberty feels free to smile again. and that generates much of its richness and this enemy. It opens up new Tragical History of Doctor Faustus a year later. Goethe's Faust expresses and dramatizes the process by CONTROL!" This means trouble: the last time Dr. a distinctively modern world-system comes into paranoiacally suspect· and denounce their neighbors. the story has been dimensions in the emerging modern self-awareness that the Faust retold endlessly. its psychological sensitivity and insight. Earlier incarnations of Faust have sold their grip!" When the Faustian villain is finally thwarted. in dramas and traumas that Goethe and his contemporaries went an anti-nuclear editorial just after the accident at Three Mile Is. he confused the minds of all Americans." he tells two bound and help. a marginal and suspicious character. in its moral imagination. 2 sired good things of life: money. and it did lectual nonconformist. At my command. its political in- since Johann Spiess's Faustbuch of 1587 and Christopher Marlowe's telligence. leading them to the nineteenth. unfashionable as it may sound.. the figure of Goethe's Faust surpasses all others in the richness and depth of Faust has been one of its culture heroes. it is not acceptable. but the whole woman and child in New York under my absolute MENTAL world. soars over New York Harbor in in an abstracted and isolated realm of thought. the whole movement of the work enacts the larger move- land. in every modern language. these loyal [robotized] National Force more. who an industrial revolution. is an impulse that I will call the desire for development. he did not consider the work finished until many forms. America Goethe's Faust tries to explain this desire to his devil. ruled by less victims. that marks it off reluctant Captain America comes out of retirement to confront from its predecessors. and gener. led Pushkin to call it "an Iliad erary form from lyrical poetry to theologico-philosophical tragedy of modern life. Faust continues to ence. Faustus passed which. Who knows what he will be up to now? A The vital force that animates Goethe's Faust. being. the spectrum. not only in scope dium from operas to puppet plays and comic books. In Goethe's version of the Faust theme. and continued intermittently for artist all over the world. at the end of the eighteenth century and the start of through. and which are enabling him to create tem. he is virtually always a "long-haired boy"-an intel. "I've got to do it for the nation. this history: Goethe's hero and the characters around him experi- Almost four hundred years after his debut.

he will reach his life's climax as The Devel- things. Goethe's Faust tells Mephistopheles that. my mind Shall not be henceforth closed to any pain. has expanded. a long line of modern heroes and heroines whom we find talking ment. And yet the further his mind he first emerges as The Dreamer. And what is portioned out to all mankind. Pile on my breast their agony and bliss. through Mephisto's media. he wants these tragedy of love is over. nothing human the best. oper. he IS about as successful as a middle-aged man in his modern promises can be fulfilled. and eventually in the whole society around him. Faust is not only middle-aged (he is one of the Goethe believes that these two modes of development must come first middle-age~ heroes in modern literature. The Dreamer And let my own self grow into theirs unfettered. but these things aren't in themselves what he wants. is alien to him-he has done all he could do to cultivate his capacity The Faust story can be traced through three metamorphoses: for thought and feeling and vision. am shattered. too. I have no thought of joy! The reeling whirl I seek. impoverished. looks like a pile of junk. [1765-75]' As THE curtain rises. . Enamored hate and quickening distress . dreary hole in the wall . paintings and diagrams and scientific instruments- repressed human energies. . First Metamorphosis: I shall enjoy deep within myself. Goethe's hero is heroic by virtue of liberating tremendous manuscripts. is by radically a theologian. We find him surrounded by rare and beautiful books and lives in. philosopher. the most painful excess. What makes Faust's triumphs feel like traps to him is that up to oped only through what Marx called "the powers of the under. before either of these archetypally be the next). moral. long after the has isolated himself. through world. scientist. 6 we find Faust alone in his room. contain Within my spirit summit and abyss. 418) This scene should ring a bell for us: Faust is part of even the self's destruction will be an integral part of its develop. the more he tion. This is the meaning of hasn't lived at all. transforms himself into The Lover. tragedy of development. and finally. He is recognized and esteemed as a doctor. For years. not only in himself but in all those he all the paraphernalia of a successful life of the mind. now they have all been triumphs of inwardness. Anyway! there's a wide world outside!" and that will assimilate them all into his self's unending growth. late at night.. Till as they are.. and the more impoverished have become his . . at last I. everything around him great developments he initiates-intellectual. (398-99. "Ach! am I still stuck in this jail? this God-damned include every mode of human experience." dark and fearful energies that may erupt with a horrible both meditation and experimentation. Faust and we will find out. But the everything he has achieved rings hollow. ibly deprived of experience by the class or sexual or racial barriers ment and the real social movement toward economic development. so. economic. the deeper his sensitivity has grown. the One of the most original and fruitful ideas in Goethe's Faust is speaker is youthful.40 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTo AIR The Tragedy of Development 41 glory. professor and college admin- transforming the whole physical and social and moral world he istrator. joy and misery alike.. a lawyer. through reading books and force beyond all human control. Usually. Goethe's Faust is the first. What this Faust wants for himself is a dynamic process that will feeling trapped. then. Captain Ahab may together. inexperienced-indeed. of a cruel society. must fuse into one. to transform himself. however. Faust's relationship with the devil: human powers can be devel. and still taking drugs-he is a humanist in the truest sense. And yet touches. He talks endlessly to himself and says he cial-turn out to exact great human costs. The only way for modern man world can be. forc- the idea of an affinity between the cultural ideal of self-develop. yes. Do you not hear. to themselves in the middle of the night.

Just as often.ator. At the same time. He is straining to find a way for. that are socially. as we will see. arises. The social division of labor in We see Faust call up his magical powers. These years will see the birth of a new social divi- I look and feel my powers growing. its potential wealth and fruitfulness. "Superman. pendent producers of culture and ideas. a brilliant and dynamic modern culture. The split I have described in Goethe's Faust is pervasive in Eu~ To enter the jaws of the shipwreck and never to flinch. and with it new relationships-adventur- I feel the courage to plunge into the world. he is part of a stagnant and closed society that is still encrusted in me- The powers of his mind. has produced a large class of relatively inde- the visionary gleam: "A great show! Yes. at the close of Part Two. But it has a special resonance in countries He invokes the Earth Spirit and. centuries. legal and philosophical specialists have created. have turned against dieval and feudal social forms: forms like the guild specialization him and turned into his prison. modern intellectuals will find striking new ways to break out of their isolation. Goethe brings the Obermensch into being not so much to intellectuals in the Third World. even to Faust's problems are not his alone. French and Industrial Revolutions. the place of a passive spect. And yet the Faust craves a connection with the world that will be more vital. but only a show. at other times (as in German roman- the centuries to come: Obermensch. to grapple and clinch. whether mystical or mathematical (or both). sion of labor in the West. it has led only to . those sources of all life . Why don't you strive to become a Mensch-an authentic tionary visions. Faust participates in. As if I'd drunk new wine I'm glowing. Before the Earth Spirit fades from Faust's vision. how can I grasp you? around it. book. most often a volatile mixture could be written about the metamorphoses of this symbol. what of both. and helps to create. he encounters the symbol of the Earth Spirit. Leafing through his magical and outer life. it flings at him a with expanding America. to express itself dynamic culture within a stagnant society. and all at once. over three keeps the visionary in his place. In the sixty years it takes Goethe to finish Faust. have experienced the Faustian split with a much of the striving is misplaced.-century Russia. actions and creations-as it will for Goethe's Faust human being-instead. These artistic and scien- templative vision. This mixture will next occur in nineteenth. has opened up a range and depth of human desires and dreams Toward which my dry breast strains? [455-60] far beyond classical and medieval frontiers. they dramatize larger ten- his own needs and active powers. a culture that Where are your breasts. in turning inward. This "underdeveloped" identity was derisive epithet that will have much resonance in the culture of sometimes a source of shame." ship with it. all earthly joy. asserts his kin. tific. locked away from the world Infinite nature. to nature. But he turns away from Goethe's own time. ous and. matters here is the metaphysical and moral context in which it first which we will examine in detail later on. that keeps him and his ideas locked away. at very division of labor that has enabled this modern culture to live once more erotic and more active. In the twentieth century.. tragic relationships-between thought and To bear all earthly grief.. Their inner anguish has often inspired revolu- to Faust." Con. His culture has developed by sions that agitated all European societies in the years before the detaching itself from the totality of life. To wrestle with the storm. from the Renaissance and Reformation to vision unfolds before his (and our) eyes. [462-67] ropean society. with France. but the spirit laughs at him and his cosmic aspirations German intellectuals in Goethe's age were the first to see their and tells him he will have to find a spirit closer to his real size. political and social life. he is torn between inner through action in the world outside. As the bearer of a the abundance of his inner life to overflow. Goethe's Earth Spirit is saying special intensity. society this way when they compared it with England. when it appears.42 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 43 relationships to life outside-to other people. and a marvelous cosmic early modern Europe. bearers of avant-garde cultures express modern man's titanic strivings but rather to suggest that in backward societies." Whole books tic conservatism) a source of pride. however. and thrive has also kept its new discoveries and perspectives. and it will be one of the primary sources of inter- national romanticism. economically and politically "underdeveloped.

At first he is happy to be back in his old neighborhood. But Romanticism. the flask drops from the con. rejoice in the rence. He grasps a flask of poison. till at last he resolves to kill himself. urban working people all around him. stop to chat and reminisce. individual As he remembers that in his childhood the Easter bells made him people emerge from this crowd. Faust has inadvertently return to childhood. I know this sound so well. the demned man's lips and he is saved.and twentieth-century writers would see Faust's and affirmation. and so closeted. of divine life in the Easter Resurrection. Floodgates of memory are thrown open in his mind. It is Easter Sunday now. What strikes him is something else: tance of the bell scene to the development of Faust-and of Faust -reveals the importance of the Romantic project of psychic liber- And yet.44 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 45 blind alleys of futility and despair-as it does for Faust at first in we will explore some of them. to Proust and their various followers. and the theme of Faust. but the rediscovery of childhood feelings-can liberate tremendous it is more complex than it seems. in touch with his deepest springs of feeling. of human and unity-and he is engulfed by the depths of a childhood world that social life (most strikingly the life of the oppressed lower classes) his whole adulthood has forced him to forget.in 1808. as the very pealing of bells outside. and his life as a physician's son. Indeed. That even now it calls me back to life. tenderness. Now he feels a connection between his own opened himself up to a whole lost dimension of his being. a lovely lyrical celebration (903-40) of life-of natural life in the waves of lost feeling rush in on him-love. Part Two: modernization. The whole room shakes.) It is easy to see how this scene the solitary depths of "Night. they recognize him at once. to start a new life in the world outside. the development of feeling. as more memories return. the sun comes up and a great angelic choir negation of the emotional freedom he has found here. bring Faust into touch with the whole buried life of his vivified by its liveliness and color and human variety. ation in the historical process of modernization. Faust is thrilled to be back in the world. "Burst from your prison." prefigures some of the great achievements of twentieth-century As Faust sits up through the night. Goethe rescues him and Hoods him with light many nineteenth. [769-70] At first. greet him affectionately and first time since he grew up. (Goethe's Faust contains several of these points. and published. The whole bursts into song: for it is Easter Sunday. from the conservative-radical tradition. and thousands of people are streaming out of the These bells. his role as an industrial developer. he is ready his career as a medical doctor. But it may not be clear what seal himself up once and for all in the tomb his inner space has Faust's rediscovery of childhood has to do with our other central become. however. But just at the point of his theme. for the for years. is one of the high points of European grateful for the good feelings of the people he grew up with. there is a tremendous last metamorphosis. Their memories reveal to us another and he can emerge from the cave of his study into the spring buried dimension of Faust's life. "Christ is arisen. from Burke through D. composed in 1799 or 1800 this district. which may then generate much of the power and Jesus Christ: he laughs off the manifest Christian content of what initiative for the project of social reconstruction. We learn that Doctor Faust began sunlight. He gives us childhood. H.' practicing medicine and public health among the poor people of This moment of Faust's rebirth. he remembers why . sees the development of industry as a radical negation of day!" The angels sing soaringly on. esoteric sufferings and strivings and those of the poor put himself in touch with sources of energy that can renew him. the crowd-a crowd he has avoided all his adult life-and feels tury later. This miracle has always struck psychic breakthroughs of Romantic art and thought-in particular many readers as a crude gimmick. Like a drowning in the public joy of the holiday. from childhood. the cave of his inwardness modernist art and thought: the most obvious links are to Freud. like the apparently random but luminous sights and city gates to enjoy their short time in the sun. What saves Goethe's Faust is not human energies. and soon his heart sinks. desire. of his own emotional life in his man giving himself up to be carried away. Before long. Faust merges with sounds and sensations that Proust and Freud will explore a cen. darkest negation. grows darker and deeper. Thus the impor- he 'hears. although they have not seen Faust cry with joy and yearning. Now the How becomes an overflow. spring. 8 In Goethe's vision. an arbitrary deus ex machina. Law- womb of decay!" they say. he finds himself crying again.

he cannot go on living mindlessly in the world he left. who defines himself and proves his divinity although the people loved them." (1335ff. for all that comes to be of his famous lament "Two souls. only the theoretical attitude as the truly human attitude. He explicates the subtext of the Judeo-Christian myth of last night. and yet creates the good.* than they saved. in his first Thesis on Feuerbach (1845). the quest that has led both to knowledge is to personify the dark side not only of creativity but of divinity and to intensified isolation. bold and brilliant in a vacuum. he remembers now. Jerrold Seigel. and human condition. construction. at the same time he is "part of the power that would I Do must participate in society in a way that will give his adventurous nothing but evil. In a typically Goethean irony.e. and the guilt he has blocked out comes back. only to find himself the world "out of nothing"? In fact. which equated come back to his solitary study once again to meditate on the the nineteenth-century Jewish community with the Old Testament God. Faust has and anti-Semitism should be seen in the context of this symbolism. they groped randomly and blindly in the dark. points out an affinity between the radical humanist Gospel of John: "In the beginning was the Word.") for all these years. says Mephisto.. played an important symbolic role in all nineteenth- to embrace a whole new order of paradoxes. which is articulated in German writers and crucial to the structure of both the modern psyche and the modern thinkers from Goethe and Schiller to Rilke and Brecht. he and America? Or. solidity and warmth of life with people-everyday life lived within the matrix of a concrete community-and the intellectual and cul. casts about for an alternative gard . was the Deed. should it hold aloof from such "worldly" concerns and cultivate an inward-looking "German-Christian" way of life? German philo- appears to Faust just when Faust feels closest to God. alas. he came to feel. His father's work. . in Marx's Fate (Princeton. He needs to make a connection between the Thus. He opens the Bible to the beginning of the equated both with modern modes of activism and worldliness.. 112-19. of the Book of Genesis. nothing comes from nothing. that is. Marx. while practice is and finally chooses and writes a new beginning: "In the beginning understood only in its dirty-Jewish form"-i." He Deserves to perish wretchedly . It It is at this point-to work out the meaning of Faust's new rev- was to overcome this fatal inheritance. paradoxes that are century German culture. ative worldly deeds. in the manner of England. alternately. the demonic lust for destruction turns out to be creative. Practicing medicine as a traditional me. This conflict. this God.. offers a perceptive discussion of the equation of Jewishness with himself through action. he is sure they killed more people by creating the heavens and the earth. Goethe's Mephistopheles materializes as the master of "Jewish" material and practical activity. His God will be the God of the Old Testament. In order to bring about the synthesis he craves. Faust will have * Conflict between Old and New Testament gods. (God's creation of the world knows he can't let himself drift as far from home as he has been itself "usurped the ancient rank and realm of Mother Night. are living in my breast. He knows he cannot fall back it is only by virtue of "everything that you call sin." He considers Feuerbach and his reactionary "German-Christian" opponents: both parties "re- this beginning cosmically in:tdequate. was in fact a veiled debate about the modernization of Germany: Should German society throw itself into economy.. Mephistopheles explains that his function solitary intellectual quest. the form of the Jewish God who gets his hands dirty making the world. France tian role as the father of lies. Only if thesis work..) Paradoxically. to make such a syn. cannot go on living as a disembodied mind. But it will take "the powers of the just as God's creative will and action are cosmically destructive. he declares himself ready to reconsecrate his life to cre- was ignorant patchwork. What needs to be done now is to explore this world. through the primal act of creating the practical life in Marx's thought. along with liberal political reform. between the God of the Word and the God of the Deed. dieval small craft. This is the point And rightly so. I am the spirit that negates all! tural revolution that has taken place in his head. creation: Can Faust be so naive as to think that God really created Faust began the day with a new hope. spirit room to soar and grow. into economic development and these paradoxes-a modern complication of his traditional Chris. that he elation and to give him the power to imitate the God he conceives withdrew from all practical work with people and set out on his -that the devil appears. he lights up with enthusiasm for the spirit and power of symbolism in the larger context of modern German history..46 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 47 he left his old home behind." He is elated at the idea of a God who defines 1978). and that almost led him to his death itself. so underworld" to pull these polarities together. evil" on the claustra! comforts of his childhood home-though he also that any sort of creation can go on. destruction. thrown into a new form of despair. He And yet.

My own perspective emphasizes ity. in defining this context too narrowly. and all their capacities. I believe. intensity. speed has its the contradiction and tragedy in all forms of modern enterprise and creativity. my mind Mephisto will show Faust how. and be a real man. as elsewhere. "money as an extension of man. of good and evil was first perceived by the most penetrating observers of the devel. but in experience. Thus. ways that the capitalist bottom line is not. as his power over men and cir- ity. He will become a sort killing people. as they are. And let myself grow into theirs. as a purely capitalist affair. And what is portioned out to all mankind. all that phistophelean themes here that go beyond the scope of the capi- he may create in the future-must be destroyed to pave the way talist economy. "magical enlargement of the radius of human action instead. 197-200. Years before. Will not henceforth be closed to any pain. Hell! you've got hands and feet. Mephisto's message is not to blame oneself for the of symbolic capitalist. later. virtue. unfettered. he not only left the practice of medicine but withdrew from to pursue these aims (Mephisto will supply him).48 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 49 Faust works with and through these destructive powers will he be I can race along. [ 1768-75] Does that make them any less my own? If I can buy myself six steeds. uses: anyone who wants to do great things in the world will need . which he will throw inces- casualties of creation. for that is just the way life is. generate public inherently bourgeois about the experiences he wants Faust to buy.* maximum return-not. The paradoxes go even deeper: he won't be able to create by means of money. now he finds himself face to face with the power of destruction cumstances". but his capital. And head and arse are yours alone. he will learn to do it on his own. embrace in order to move and live. How to do it? Mephisto gives some fast advice: I wiii enjoy deep in myself. it is only by working As if their two dozen legs were mine. remem. and willing "nothing but evil. felt life. indeed. but mistaken." It is obvious here that capitalism is one of the anything unless he's prepared to let everything go. Pile on my breast their agony and bliss. ." The road to heaven is paved Money will work as one of the crucial mediators: as Lukacs says. 9 But there are several Me- fact that all that has been created up to now-and. the only vital question is How to do it? As a start. No longer need you be inhib. [ 1820-28] with the devil. First. able to create anything in the world: in fact. as the hero lives and grows. contain Within my spirit summit and abyss. who had argued in his Fable of tM Bees (1714) that private vice-particularly the crudities of the capitalist economy itself. with bad intentions. closer to opment of capitalism. This is the dialectic that modern men must man's body and mind. Here. but the accumu- all practical activity because he and his father were inadvertently lation of money is not itself one of his aims.. is speed. Accept destruc. however." Luklics attaches special importance to Bernard de Mande- ville. Body and soul are to be exploited for a a whole. Faust says. in money. if pursued by everybody. Tiii. I too will be shattered. Mephisto's economics are cruder. Faust will be glad to use money ber. the idea evoked in the first quatrain that for more creation. Faust yearned to tap the sources of all creativ. We have here an emerging economy of self-development that can Then aren't all their powers mine? transform even the most shattering human loss into a source of * Luklics. will be him- tiveness as part of your share of divine creativity. ited by the moral question Should I do it? Out on the open road to self-development. creativity. Faust's fears and scruples are powerful." that he can end up on God's side and "create the good. to accept the essential forces in Faust's development. If I can find delight in things. from Mephisto's perspective. state and society as long-range development. and you can self. This will make his aims complex and ambiguous in all sorts of throw off your guilt and act freely. santly into circulation and seek endlessly to expand. claims that "this new form of the dialectic psychic gain and growth. action.. Luklics is valuable in emphasizing the concrete economic The "six steeds" quatrain suggests that the most valuable commod- and social context of the Faustian tragedy. But there is nothing the economic vice of avarice-would. First of all. in GoetM and His Age. and it is the dialectic that will either as tools for immediate application or as resources for soon envelop and move the modern economy. are there to be used. more conventional.

It is equally central to the collec- Second Metamorphosis: tivist mystiques of twentieth-century socialism. on Goethe's Faust as a story. what am I. of development. sex and power is far from exclusive to capitalism. and to the various populist mythologies of the Third World: the huge posters and The Lover sculptural groups in the public squares evoking whole peoples on the move. although. Her simple innocence and spotless purity belong more to keep moving: "If I stand fast [Wie ich beharre]. He rejoices at the genuinely tragic figure than she is usually made out to be. however. This was the world of Faust's childhood. at the same time.50 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 51 to move around and through it fast. are the was instantly canonized and repeatedly celebrated as one of the Faustian pressures to use every part of ourselves. and the "little world"-the closed world be. he is worried about what kind of man he is going to prove to Gretchen herself." Faust carries this ambi. Faust develops into a genuinely better man. Universally modern. if I cannot in his first metamorphosis he couldn:t fit into. which merely mocks moment of his deepest despair. and a tragedy. ences. Contemporary readers and audi- else. not the result: "it's rest. in his second metamorphosis. to interact with it. the point at Goethe's heroine seems simply too good to be true-or to be int~r­ which he makes his bargain. Now. Her chance to "plunge into time's whirl. distinctively her own. interesting and minute he wants to rest-even in contentment. ALL THROUGH the nineteenth century. it which modernization takes place. This equation of money. their bodies straining and heaving as one as they surge forward to overtake the effete and declining West." depth and power will come across more vividly. the more sexy-he can be. regardless of the ideology under concludes Part One of Faust was seen as the heart of the work. I want to (1692-1712). at his Reach mankind's crown. This less activity that proves a man. Beyond this. There must be some sort of ultimate goal to human life. awaken Gretchen into modes of action and interaction that are guity out the door and into the world with him as he goes. are we supposed to be going? At one point. are apt to be skeptical and impatient with this There is one more universally modern problem here: Where. the world that Alas. story for some of the very reasons that our ancestors loved it: ultimately. Our senses' craving like a star? [1802-05)] it is the world that in his last metamorphosis he will utterly destroy. he will way: "You are in the end-what you are. a few moments segment of the tragedy will turn out to have three protagonists: later. we must grasp a basic irony that infuses this story from its start: in the course of working with and through the devil. he will find a way to confront Mephistopheles answers him in a typically cryptic and equivocal this world actively. speed. I shall be a slave" the world of sentimental melodrama than to tragedy." the more of a "real man"-the more masculine. Before we can fathom the tragedy that lies at the story's end." (1755-60) And yet. Faust. The way in which Goethe makes this hap- pen is worth special notice. and of the devoutly religious small town from which Gretchen emerges. and of everybody great love stories of the ages. Their love affair will dramatize the tragic impact-at once explosive and implosive-of modern desires and sensibilities on a traditional world. its bells brought him back to life. however. Like many middle-aged men and . Faust feels that the crucial thing is to esting. too. speed generates a distinctively sexual aura: the faster Faust can "race along. I think. into the torrent of events. if we focus and says that what matters is the process. to push ourselves and others as far as we can go. the "Gretchen tragedy" that tions are universally modern. These aspira. he is willing to give up his soul to the devil the argue that Gretchen is in fact a more dynamic.

once Faust learns to do this. procured for Faust by Mephisto. And in this prison. ironically. feeling strange stirrings." the cottage as "a kingdom of heaven. Faust is not about to turn that in fact she is as restless here as Faust was in his study. Now he is clearly disengaged much the poor people around her covet such things. then his first love. Faust's social status and role change significantly: furnished with easy money and mobility. we see that she is We began with Faust intellectually detached from the traditional more sophisticated in the ways of the world than Faust expects. all as a symbol of everything most beautiful in the world he has left Faust becomes radiant and exciting. He is too serious a person to along. he overflows because we know-in ways that at this point he cannot know-that with charm and self-assurance that. He is enthralled with her childlike innocence. are enough to sweep women off their feet. the deepest and most enduring: he encourages Faust's voyeuristic idyll is almost unbearably uncomfortable for us Faust to "trust himself". Their is even more serious than before. If she lacked this inner restlessness. he suddenly finds himself interested in other people. some stranger whose very marginality makes him a figure of mys. her small- through artificial aids: chic and dashing clothes (he has never town simplicity. her Christian humility. the first step in a process that is bound to destroy it.52 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 53 women who experience a kind of rebirth. along with his native brilliance his very homage to her room (read: her body. Then she discovers the gift- fail to see the real and admirable human growth he goes through. looks in the mirror. he can return to it as a stranger. finally his first casualty-strikes him first of learns to live and act. room as "a shrine. jewels. celebrates the younger. And not out of any malice on his part: it is only by shattering her rapher. Lewes (Goethe's first great biog. erotic life is the sphere in which he first lay. peaceable kingdom that he will be able to win her love or express morphosis and urged their readers to endure it bravely for the his own. as Mephistopheles urges him to do now that he she lacks the vocabulary to express her discontent until he comes has the looks. given a thought to how he looks. survey it fact of life that. and sings to herself a what they feel and need. too. what ravishment! [2691-94] tery and romance. he is free now to drop What sense of calm embraces me. After a life of increasingly narrow self-absorption. despite the air of pious moralism that chokes this as a whole from his emancipated perspective-and. from the start. a rich man's mistress still counts for more than a . Indeed. she puts them on and we will be unable to comprehend the human costs of that growth. and George Eliot's lover) gritted their teeth at this meta. money and equipment. But Goethe's own view of Faust's world if she were as happily at home in it as he thinks. Then. how the story usually ends. though into a Don Juan. but physically still in its grip. moralists like Carlyle and G. all his discretionary income till There is a scene (2679-2804) in which he prowls about her now has gone for books and equipment) and drugs from the room. We will see transformation is far more affirmative. fall cramped town.) armchair he sits in as "a patriarchal throne. ready not only for sex but for love. a wandering hand. But the most important of the devil's gifts is the least artificial. other people's or his own. ah. He caresses the furniture. her life) is part of a and energy." the particularly those of middle age-who lived through the 1960s. he was able to become they are after. Faust first feels his new in love with it. sensitive to Gretchen enters." Besides this. What bounty in this poverty. Victorian design on it. After a little while in Mephisto's company. She knows. world he grew up in. through She knows all about men who bestow rich gifts on poor girls: what the mediation of Mephisto and his money. Gretchen-the young girl who becomes Faust's first powers as sexual powers. Some of the changes come and lost. he able to Faust. because the scope of his concerns tragic romance could not develop if they were not kindred spirits has enlarged. there would be nothing he could give her. It is a bitter from "the littl~ world". As she muses to herself. If we haunting lyric of love and death. out of academic life (as he says he has been dreaming of doing for Of order and complete content! years) and to move fluidly through the world. (This last item will have a special poignancy for those. he would not be able to subvert her sake of ultimate transcendence. H. preparing Witch's Kitchen that make Faust look and feel thirty years to leave her a secret gift. how physically as well as spiritually free. she would be imperme- play with bodies and souls. a neat but shabby room in a poor family's cottage. On the other hand.

54 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 55
hungry saint. "For gold contend, I On gold depend I All things where he meditates alone, in lovely romantic lyrics, on the richness
... Woe to us poor!" (2802-04) Still, for all her wariness, some- and beauty and beneficence of Nature. The only thing that shakes
thing real and genuinely valuable is happening to her. No one has his serenity here is the presence of Mephistopheles, who reminds
ever given her anything; she has grown up poor in love as well as him of desires that disturb his peace. Mephisto delivers a caustic
in money; she has never thought of herself as worthy of gifts or of critique of Faust's typically romantic Nature worship. This Nature,
the emotions that gifts are supposed to convey. Now, as she looks desexualized, dehumanized, drained of all conflict, subject only to
at herself in the mirror-maybe for the first time in her life-a calm contemplation, is a cowardly lie. The desires that drew him
revolution takes place inside her. All at once she becomes self- to Gretchen are as genuinely natural as anything in this idyllic
reflective; she grasps the possibility of becoming something differ- landscape. If Faust really wants to unite with Nature, he had better
ent, of changing herself-of developing. If she was ever at home in confront the human consequences of his own emerging nature.
this world, she will never fit in here again. While he makes poetry, the woman whose "naturalness" he loved,
As the affair unfolds, Gretchen learns to feel both wanted and and made love to, is coming apart without him. Faust torments
loved, both lustful and loving, she is forced to develop a new sense himself with guilt. Indeed, he even exaggerates his guilt, minimiz-
of herself in a hurry. She mourns that she is not clever. Faust tells ing Gretchen's own freedom and initiative in their romance.
her it doesn't matter, he loves her for her sweet meekness, "su- Goethe uses this occasion to suggest how self-protective and self-
preme among the gifts of nature"; but in fact Goethe shows her deceptive an emotion guilt can be. If he is an utterly despicable
becoming smarter from moment to moment, because it is only person, hated and mocked by all the gods, what possible good can
through intelligence that she can cope with the emotional upheav- he do her? The devil, surprisingly, acts as his conscience here, and
als she is going through. Her innocence must go-not merely her drags him down into the world of human responsibility and mu-
virginity but, far more important, her naivete-for she has to tuality. But he is soon off again, this time on a more exciting Hight.
build up and maintain a double life against the surveillance of He comes to feel that Gretchen, by giving him all she can give, has
family, neighbors, priests, against all the suffocating pressures of made him hungry for more than she can give. He takes a night
the closed small-town world. She has to learn to defy her own Hight into the Harz Mountains with Mephisto to celebrate Walpur-
guilty conscience, a conscience that has the power to terrorize her gisnacht, an orgiastic Witches' Sabbath. There Faust enjoys women
far more violently than any external force. As her new feelings who are far more experienced and shameless, drugs that are
clash with her old social role, she comes to believe that her own headier, strange and marvelous conversations that are trips in
needs are legitimate and important, and to feel a new kind of self- themselves. This scene, the delight of adventurous choreogra-
respect. The angelic child Faust loves disappears before his eyes; phers and set designers since the 1800s, is one of Goethe's great
love makes her grow up. set pieces; and the reader or onlooker, as much as Faust himself,
Faust is thrilled to see her grow; he does not see that her growth is bound to be diverted. It is only at the very end of the night that
is precarious because it has no social underpinning, and receives he has an ominous Hash, asks after the girl he left behind, and is
no sympathy or confirmation except from Faust himself. At first told the worst.
her desperation comes across as frenzied passion, and he is de- While Faust was away expanding himself beyond Gretchen's em-
lighted. But before long her ardor dissolves into hysteria, and it is brace, the "little world" he plucked her out of-that world of
more than he can handle. He loves her, but his love comes in the "order and complete content" that he found so sweet-has crashed
context of a full life, surrounded by a past and a future and a wide in on her. As word of her new life has got around, her old friends
world that he is determined to explore; while her love for him has and neighbors have begun to turn on her with a barbaric cruelty
no context at all, it constitutes her only hold on life. Forced to face and vindictive fury. We hear Valentine, her brother, a vain, mean
the desperate in~ensity of her need, Faust panics and leaves town. soldier, tell how he once put her on a pedestal, boasting of her
Faust's first Hight leads him to a romantic "Forest and Cavern," virtue in bars; now, however, every scamp can laugh at him, and

56 ALL THAT Is Soun MELTS INTo AIR The Tragedy of Development 57
he hates her with all his heart. As we listen-and Goethe protracts pressing down on its subjects, crushing their bodies and strangling
his diatribes so we will be sure to get the point-we realize that he their souls.
never noticed her then, any more than he notices her now. Then The end comes fast: Gretchen's baby dies, she is thrown in a
she was a symbol of heaven, now a symbol of hell, but always a dungeon, tried as a murderess, condemned to death. In a heart-
prop for his status and vanity, never a person in her own right- rending last scene, Faust comes to her cell in the middle of the
thus Goethe on family feeling in the "little world." Valentine at- night. At first she does not know him. She takes him for the exe-
tacks Faust in the street, they fight, Faust wounds him mortally cutioner and, in a mad but horribly apt gesture, offers up her
(with Mephisto's help) and runs for his life. With his last breath, body to him for the final blow. He swears his love and urges her to
Valentine curses his sister obscenely, blames her for his death and escape with him. Everything can be arranged: she need only step
urges the townspeople to lynch her. Next, her mother dies, and out the door and she will be free. She is moved, but she will not
again she is blamed. (Mephisto is the guilty party here, but neither move. She says his embrace is cold, he doesn't really love her. And
Gretchen nor her persecutors know.) Next, she has a baby- there is some truth here: although he does not want her to die,
Faust's baby-and cries for vengeance mount. The townspeople, neither does he want to live with her anymore. Drawn impatiently
glad to find a scapegoat for their own guilty lusts, lust for her toward new realms of experience and action, he has come to feel
death. With Faust absent, she is utterly unprotected-in a still- her needs and fears as more and more of a drag. But she does not
feudal world where not only status but survival depends on the mean to blame him: even if he really did want her, even if she
protection of people more powerful than oneself. (Faust, of could bring herself to go, "What good to flee? They lie in wait for
course, has had excellent protection all along.) me." (4545) They lie inside her. Even as she imagines freedom,
Gretchen takes her sorrows to the cathedral, hoping to find com- the image of her mother rises up, sitting on a rock (the Church?
fort there. Faust, remember, was able to do just that: the church the abyss?), shaking her head, barring the way. Gretchen stays
bells called him back from death. But then, Faust could relate to where she is and dies.
Christianity as he has related to everything and everybody else, Faust is sick with grief and guilt. In an empty field on a dismal
including Gretchen herself: he could take what he needed for his day, he confronts Mephisto and cries out against her doom. What
own development and leave the rest. Gretchen is too earnest and kind of a world is it where things can happen this way? At such a
honest to be selective in this way. Hence the Christian message, point, even poetry dies: Goethe frames this one scene in stark,
which he could interpret as a symbol of life and joy, confronts her gnarled prose. The devil's first response is terse and cruel: "Why
with a crushing literalism: "The day of wrath, that day shall dis- do you make a community [Gemein.schaft] with us if you can't go
solve the world in fire," is what she hears. Torment and dread are through with it? You want to fly, but you get dizzy." Human
all her world has to offer her: the bells that saved her lover's life growth has its human costs; anyone who wants it must pay the
now toll her doom. She feels it all close in: the organ is stifling her, price, and the price runs high. But then he says something else
the choir dissolves her heart, the stony pillars imprison her, the that, although it sounds harsh, turns out to contain a certain com-
vaulted roof is crushing her. She screams, falls to the floor in fort: "She is not the first." If devastation and ruin are built into the
delirium and delusion. This terrifying scene (3776-3834), expres- pr.ocess of human development, Faust is at least partially absolved
sionistic in its dark and stark intensity, constitutes a particularly of personal guilt. What could he have done? Even if he had been
scathing judgment on the whole Gothic world-a world that con- willing to settle down with Gretchen and stop being "Faustian"-
servative thinkers would idealize extravagantly, especially in Ger- and even if the devil had let him stop (contrary to the original
many, in the century to come. Once, perhaps, the Gothic vision terms of their deal)-he could never have fit into her world. His
might have offered mankind an ideal of life and activity, of heroic one direct encounter with a representative of that world, Valen-
striving toward _heaven; now, however, as Goethe presents it at the tine, erupted into lethal violence. Clearly there is no room for
end of the eighteenth century, all it has to offer is dead weight dialogue between an open man and a closed world.

58 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 59
But the tragedy has another dimension. Even if, somehow, Faust name of love. Her way is surely more beautiful, but Faust's is
had been willing and able to fit himself into Gretchen's world, she finally more fruitful: it can help the self to survive, to confront the
herself was no longer willing or able to fit into that world. In old world more successfully as time goes by.
moving so dramatically into her life, Faust set her in motion on a It is this old world that is the final protagonist in the Gretchen
course of her own. But her trajectory was bound to end in disaster, tragedy. When Marx in the Communist Manifesto sets out to describe
for reasons that Faust should have foreseen: reasons of sex and the bourgeoisie's authentic revolutionary achievements, the first
reasons of class. Even in a world of feudal enclaves, a man with achievement on his list is that it has "put an end to all feudal,
lots of money and no attachment to land, family or occupation has patriarchal, idyllic conditions." The first part of Faust takes place
virtually unlimited freedom to move. A woman who is poor and at a moment when, after centuries, these feudal, patriarchal social
embedded in family life has no room to move at all. She is bound conditions are breaking down. The vast majority of people still live
to find herself at the mercy of men who have no mercy for a in "little worlds" like Gretchen's, and those worlds, as we have
woman who doesn't know her place. In her closed world, madness seen, are formidable enough. Nevertheless, these cellular small
and martyrdom may be the only places she has to go. Faust, if he towns are beginning to crack: first of all, through contact with
learns anything from her fate, learns that if he wants to get in- explosive marginal figures from outside-Faust and Mephisto,
volved with other people for the sake of his development, he must bursting with money, sexuality and ideas, are the classical "outside
take some sort of responsibility for their development-or else be agitators" so dear to conservative mythology-but more impor-
responsible for their doom. tant, through implosion, ignited by the volatile inner develop-
And yet, in fairness to Faust, we must recognize how deeply ments that their own children, like Gretchen, are going through.
Gretchen wants to be doomed. There is something dreadfully will- Their draconic response to Gretchen's sexual and spiritual devia-
ful about the way she dies: she brings it on herself. Maybe her self- tion is, in effect, a declaration that they will not adapt to their
annihilation is mad, but there is something strangely heroic about children's will to change. Gretchen's successors will get the point:
it as well. The willfulness and activism of her death confirm her as where she stayed and died, they will leave and live. In the two
more than a helpless victim, either of her lover or of her society: centuries between Gretchen's time and ours, thousands of "little
she is a tragic protagonist in her own right. Her self-destruction is worlds" will be emptied out, transformed into hollow shells, while
a form of self-development as authentic as Faust's own. She, as their young people head for great cities, for open frontiers, for
much as he, is trying to move beyond the rigid enclosures of fam- new nations, in search of freedom to think and love and grow.
ily, church and town, a world where blind devotion and self-abase- Ironically, then, the destruction of Gretchen by the little world will
ment are the only roads to virtue. But where his way out of the turn out to be a crucial phase in the destruction of the little world
medieval world is to try to create new values, her way is to take the itself. Unwilling or unable to develop along with its children, the
old values seriously, to really live up to them. Although she rejects closed town will become a ghost town. Its victims' ghosts will be left
the conventions of her mother's world as empty forms, she grasps with the last laugh.*
and embraces the spirit that underlies these forms: a spirit of
* In recent years, as social historians have developed both the demographic tools
active dedication and commitment, a spirit that has the moral cour- and the psychological sensitivities to grasp the currents of change in sexual and
age to give up everything, even life, out of faith in its deepest and family life, it has become possible to see with increasing clarity the social realities
dearest beliefs. Faust fights the old world, the world he has cut that underlay the Faust-Gretchen romance. Edward Shorter, in The Making of The
Modem Family (Basic Books, 1975), especially in Chapters 4 and 6, and Lawrence
himself loose from, by transforming himself into a new type of Stone, in Tht Family, Sex and Marriage in England, 1500-1800 (Harper & Row, 1978),
person, one who asserts and knows himself, indeed who becomes especially Chapters 6 and 12, argue that "affective individualism" (Stone's term)
himself through restless, endless self-expansion. Gretchen clashes played a crucial role in subverting the "feudal, patriarchal, idyllic conditions" of
European rural life. Both historians, building on the work of many others, argue
just as radically with that world by asserting its noblest human that in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries significant numbers of
qualities: pure -concentration and commitment of the self in the young people were forming intimate bonds that violated traditional family, class,

for all the vast energy expended by the sea. it to America. Faust springs up likely to leave in search of. He goes on: It is initiatives of young women. he strives to change not only his own life but every- one else's as well. he connects his personal drives with our minds forever the cruelty and brutality of so many of the the economic. for they feel less an end with the end of Part One. The Developer He and Mephistopheles find themselves alone on a jagged moun- tain peak staring blankly into cloudy space. He expands the horizon of his being remember Gretchen's fate. to confront natural forces in the industrial world today. and no doubt love are still there to be seen and felt. Faust did). in his last incarnation. So long as we learns to build and to destroy. He contemplates the sea and more than 5000 lines very little happens. and they have played an important part in American Jews' self-aw~re­ merely surges endlessly back and forth-"and nothing is ness. end m (partially voluntary. His portrait should etch in Now. emphastze t~e hberatmg b~t tra. munion to organization.l cases. environments more supporti~e of their love. the woman (hke Gretchen) was lost. hke. so impervious to the works of man. its primal and implacable religious and occupation~! boundaries. he says. but Faust only yawns. contains much brilliant intellectual play. explored endless experiential possibilities. human interest tends to flag. if the man deserted ~as power. trait in all literature of a Gemeinschaft. they could usually marry-often on. Now he finds a way to act effectively against the feudal and patriarchal world: to construct a radically new social environment that will empty the old world out or break it Third Metamorphosis: down. But tf thl! couple managed to suck So far this is a typical theme of romantic melancholy. from com- ing for the worlds we have lost. as we Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (Community and Society. It's nothing personal. wh!ch. especially in England. These stones.60 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 61 Our century has been prolific in constructing idealized fantasies and Five that dramatic and human energies revive: here Faust's of life in tradition-bound small towns. set a century later in the late-devel. be accepted and mtegrated mto normal hfe. with their children (born on the move and frequently out of wedlock). Tevye and His Daughters has been recently sweetened f~r mass (and non-Jewtsh) consumption in the_ musical Fiddler on 1M Roof. On the Continent. For ually. he forms of life that modernization has wiped out. he makes a few desultory suggestions. however. T~~s they enraged: Why should men let things go on being the way they contributed to the great nmeteenth-century demographtc movements to cttles and have always been? Isn't it about time for mankind to assert itself new nations and. going nowhere. political and social forces that drive the world. for he seems to have run out of temptations. In his first phase. Part Two. Faust has begun to use post-1789 political language in a context oping countryside of Eas~ern E~rope: see Sholem Alei~hem's s~ory crcle Tevye a~ His Daughters. story comes to its climax and its end. and learned to love. After Gretchen's condemnation energetic than they were at the story's start.gtc that no one has ever thought of as political. Goethe's saw. and Me- together. established the type of mobile nuclear family that has come to pervade against nature's tyrannical arrogance. from private to public life. pretext of. Grad- but its life is suffocated under ponderous allegorical weight. It is only in Acts Four evokes lyrically its surging majesty. Faust's last metamorphosis begins at a point of deep impasse. the name of "the free spirit that protects all rights"? (10202-05) For a Jewish version of the Gretchen story. partially forced) emtgrauon outrageous that. He pits all his powers against nature and society. to most of Goethe's audience. between 1825 and 1831. 1887). Mephisto is even more and redemption. we will be immune to nostalgic yearn. and now find them- MosT INTERPRETATIONS and adaptations of Goethe's Faust come to selves at point zero. suddenly. But now. but not to Faust himself: . these couples were more have always been this way. he inter- Gretchen tragedy gives us what must be the most devastating por. premarital p~egnancy­ phis to hardly notices. he lived alone and dreamed. the elements and. Now Faust takes on what I fluential of these fantasies is elaborated in Ferdinand Toennies' call his third and final metamorphosis. The most popular and in. twined his life with the life of another person. Faust. from intimacy to activism. or even behind that point. written dejected than Faust. Faust begins to stir. In virtually al. They have taken exhausting trips through all history and mythology. In his second period. where small towns were apt to be less tolerant. but the tragtc resonances of modern achieved!" This seems natural enough to Mephisto.

The through the titanic work of economic development. solid and efficient." 10 Thus Faust and Me- cultural ideal is merging into an emerging material and social real. we see him come to life again. plan upon plan unfolds. he notices that the Its main function is to give Faust and Mephisto an easy rationale devil is dazed. challenging him. In his new work. As Faust unfolds his plans. A great spiritual and render political revolution superfluous. emperor who is pleasant but venal and utterly inept. or even theories. a crumbling sible! . will give them unlimited however. pace is frenzied-and brutal. readers as farfetched. green Goethe sees as the most voracious and cynical force of all. new towns and cities to come-and all this to Goethe may have been onto something. An old lady. to suit himself to a new again." (10222ff. whom we will meet forming himself into a new kind of man. their magic to the Emperor." Faust's battle with the elements appears as grandiose as King Goethe is aware that the issue of development is necessarily a Lear's. to exploit whatever workers they need and displace whatever in- We suddenly find ourselves at a nodal point in the history of digenous people are in their way. Where can he get this power? The bulk of Act Four energy into the fuel for new collective human purposes and proj. He. Faust's projects will require not only a great deal of But the Faustian enterprise will be less quixotic and more fruitful. capital but control over a vast extent of territory and a large num- because it will draw on nature's own energy and organize that ber of people. ity. He does not feel at home with any of the existing political dreams and fantasies. his visions take on a radically new form: no longer sity.) multinational empire left over from the Middle Ages. are: on one side. life." Lukacs writes. Goethe appears uncomfortable with this polit- ects of which the archaic kings could hardly have dreamt. his protege has outgrown him: Faust wants to move the rights to develop the whole coastal region. Faust gets his concession. a vast and intensive agri. exhausted. political issue. For once he has nothing to say. Long for the political bargain they make: they lend their minds and ago. which has carried with great fanfare. ruled by an Suddenly the landscape around him metamorphoses into a site. The alternatives. this I would subdue! [10218-21] deeply ambiguous figure that our age has come to call "the devel- oper. in exchange. and his language loses much of its normal force and inten- Now. The romantic quest for self-development. Faust so far. idea of the Church as a revolutionary vanguard has always struck culture. options and wants to get through this part fast. he will be the consummate wrecker and creator. Fast in my mind. "Goethe could not seek the path modern self-awareness. We are witnessing the birth of a new social o( democratic revolution. Two radically different historical movements are restricted and grandiose development of productive forces will converging and beginning to flow together. The Faustian political division of labor. "And it is pos. Faust throws himself passionately into the task at hand. dams for large-scale irrigation. purposeless! creative and some of the most destructive potentialities of modern There dares my spirit soar past all it knew.. including carte blanche world itself. (The fields and forests. to help him make his power newly digm of the way for a man to move through the world. or. but recent events in Iran suggest that thriving settlements. waterpower to attract and support emerging industries. and backed by the Church. flaccid. is working itself out through a new form of romance. a gang of pseudo-revolutionaries out for human purposes: man-made harbors and canals that can move nothing but power and plunder.62 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 63 This drives me near to desperate distress! occupation. which ships full of goods and men. however. as they are defined in Act Four.) be created out of a barren wasteland where human beings have We should not belabor Goethe's travesty of modern revolution.. pastures and gardens. a new vocation. operational plans for transforming earth and sea. Faust is trans. Now. as King Midas' whipping of the waves. for that matter. the dark and Here I would fight. phisto help the Emperor prevail. but concrete programs. he will work out some of the most Such elemental power unharnessrd. and. a new relationship between ideas bargain shows Goethe's vision of "another way" to progress: "Un- and practical life. ical interlude: his characters here are uncharacteristically pale and As Faust's new vision unfolds. provides a solution. never dared to live. stands at the edge of the construction site and tells the story: . on the other He outlines great reclamation projects to harness the sea for side. the work of development begins. Mephisto called up the vision of a speeding coach as a para.

use an expression of Marx's. Goethe assigns Mephisto only the victory that mankind will be able to enjoy once Faust himself is most peripheral role in this project. and some commentators think that Mephistopheles "bringing the earth back to itself. but even the Green are the meadows. scientific or technological discoveries: his men seem to use the But he is convinced that it is the common people. specifically. a power over labor-power. each one thrives. industrious will. not securely. And as it gnaws. or be severe. He exhorts his foremen and that will "open up space for many millions I To live. I hasten to fulfill. too. to rush in with full force. to Raised by the masses' bold. I Setting the waves a boundary. To walk on free ground with people who are free! [11563-80] . Let happy eyes behold my daring plan. The master's word alone has real might! . but one that has been created through social organization and meQt. He has found. I must be operating behind the scenes for so much to be accom.. to "use every possible means I To get but free for action [tatigfrei). All natural and human Both men and herds live on this newest earth. But if he drives his workers hard. To consummate the greatest work. overlooks the whole new world that he has brought into being. primary human dualism of day and night. manhood and age lead active lives.." It is a physical and natural space. who will benefit most from his great works."). he world" at work here are the forces of modern industrial organiza. to overleap all boundaries: not only the boundary between land and sea. What has been staked must at once be made. it is the sound of shovels that And where blazes seaward spread vivifies him now. and tion. [11123-30] Faust radiant with real pride. This is the highest wisdom that I own. Then let the dams be licked by the raging tide. bells called him back to life long ago. If church Tortured screams would pierce the night. intensive and He has replaced a barren. overseers. The key to his achievement is a visionary. used his mind to transform the world. WhatJ have thought. We should note. and in mirth." (11541-43) And it is a collective plished so fast. at last. The crucial point is to spare nothing and no one. however. as the work comes together. Up from your beds. Putting a ring around the ocean. fertile. especially in the twentieth century-makes no striking sacrifices bled. allure or repress!" (11551-54) action. not only traditional moral limits on the exploitation of labor. He knows he has made people suffer ("Human successors. gone. years. my servants! Every man! Communal will fills gaps and checks its course. Settled along the edges of a hill Faust revels in his new power over people: it is. sterile economy with a dynamic new one systematic organization of labor. One mind for a thousand hands will do. : . I Spur them on with enjoy. led by Mephisto. In such a crowd I would be glad to be. A veritable paradise inside. The only "forces of the under. I Pay them well. Gradually. a fulfilling purpose for his mind: Surrounded by such danger. In fact.64 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTo AIR The Tragedy of Development 65 Daily they would vainly storm. [11501-10] Where the flames would nightly swarm Was a dam when we awoke. Pick and shovel. the mass of same picks and shovels that have been in use for thousands of workers and sufferers. so he drives himself. Childhood. stroke for stroke. I Tortured screams would pierce the night. crowds and crowds of workers here. we see A canal would greet the light. about all this. He The old lady feels that there is something miraculous and magical has helped mankind assert its rights over the anarchic elements. stir shovel now and spade! The best that mankind ever knew. Take up your tools. He has finally achieved a synthesis of thought and action. that Goethe's Faust-unlike some of his it looks good. Human sacrifices bled. barriers fall before the rush of production and construction. Freedom arid life are earned by those alone Who conquer them each day anew. Standing on an artificial hill created by human labor.

confident they will win." ( 11269-72) look at. They are the These new men feel at home in their community and proud of first embodiments in literature of a category of people that is going it: they are eager to pit their communal will and spirit against the to be very large in modern history: people who are in the way-in sea's own energy. is an arche. a garden full of linden narrow folk of his home town. All that interests him is the end from life. mediated by complex organizations and one small piece_ of ground along the coast remains as it was before. as obsolete. They have come together to form a new kind of commu. He does not want to see it. Part One:-they ha~e source of life and joy in this wretched land. too. is age? And how. freely offer hospitality to Jupiter and Mercury in disguise. humility. accord- active. to use his mind in action in the name of a general wtll and lindens in my grip. ment on a new estate. In order to understand the developer:s proaching the end of life here. we must judge his vision of the world not only by what 1t lives somewhere else? They refuse to move. selfless devotion. Only evil: indirect. and endows them with distinctively Christian virtues: in- constructive action in common to protect the collective resources nocent generosity. of development. Finally. result: he wants to see the land cleared next morning. adventure. the old people out of the way. impersonal. They have a little cottage feels far more at home than he ever felt with the friendly but on the dunes. Goethe that enable every individual to become tatig-frei. amid plenty. Thus the process of economic am. in which they alone which they can be. as modern as trees. Mephisto and his special unit return in "deep This is occupied by Philemon and Baucis. whole land.f social development Undo my worldwide ownership . I One soon grows tired of being just. so the new As Faust surveys his work. people who are -men whom he has helped to come into their own-Faust can classified. But what should they do with money at their typal modern hero. a sweet old couple who night" with the good news that all has been taken care of. Goethe's Faust. . but on free in Ovid. institutional roles. after living their whole long lives here. This is a characteristically modern style of been renewed. and a whole new society created in his image. I Since these few trees that are denied me I welfare. with a distinctively modern pathos. "Resistance and such sees-by the immense new horizons it opens up for mankind. what potentialities it cannot bear to face. or to his tragedy will stem precisely from his desire to ehmmate tragedy know the details of how it is done. stubbornness I Thwart the most glorious success. They offer aid and hospitality to shipwrecked sailors and Faust himself. Ironically. resignation. and.66 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 67 Walking the earth with the pioneers of his new settlement. and ap- tragic as well as heroic. like Faust himself. but also by what it does not see: what human realities it ref~s~s to to one's disgust. Goethe borrows their moved here in search of action. of his work: an observation tower from which he and his public Thus Goethe sees the modernization of the material world as a can "gaze out into the infinite" at the new world they have made.. fulfill a hope he has cherished ever since he has left his father's Faust becomes obsessed with this old couple and their little piece side: to belong to an authentic community. or else resettle- "the developer" who puts the world on its new path." (11239-52) They must women who can grow into the emerging new world. a world where personal growth and soctal summons Mephisto and his "mighty men" and orders them to get progress can be had without signific~nt h_uman c_os~s. invests them. too. free to act. But the developer. These are new men. tatig-frei. I Till in the end. they alone are saved when the gods flood and destroy the nity: a community that thrives not on the repression of free indi. an environment m name and situation from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Emigrants and refugees from a hundred Gothic wanderers. I To feel. In the midst of such men the way of history. He and strives to create. can they be expected to start new tragedy. ingly. and disposed of. to make room for what Faust comes to see as the culmination generates a home for the developer himself. the whole region around him has construction can start. as Goethe conceives him. Hence is our soul upon the generates new modes of self-development. it go. Faust envlSio~s. Faust have been there from time out of mind. Goethe gives them more individuality than they have viduality in order to maintain a closed social system... in his activity as He offers Philemon and Baucis a cash settlement. what we lack. ideal for men and rack. I I want their people. a chapel with a little bell. sublime spiritual achievement. to work with a~d for of land: "That aged couple should have yielded. Faust commits his first self-consciously evil act. of progress. Faust. At this point. Over the years they have become beloved as the one villages and towns-from the world of Faust.

who are at Gretchen's fate. maybe even too stupid. . It is their job. burdened by the social system. Faust is aghast and outraged. Faust has been pretending no. high produc. First he contracted out all stubborn. like the gentleman he is. and in that world. is the oldest story in the world. but they the dirty work of development. with his past terrifies him. No of the bells on Easter morning was their power to put Faust in doubt he is right. repressive. could never have developed the inner strength to transform the tive. something dark in those shadows But there is still an element of mystery about Faust's evil act. but why is Faust threatened by even the slightest traces of the old he laughs before he leaves. This is how the tragedy of develop. now he washes his hands of the are beautiful people. And yet. hatred for the closed. those (11235-55) trees? Why is his observation tower so important? And why are Those church bells. "And if I'd rest there from the heat.t only to world? Goethe unravels. "My realm is end- the very process of development. and on his power to fulfill that will. For the developer. are the sound of guilt and doom those old people so threatening? Mephisto sees no mystery in it: and all the social and psychic forces that destroyed the girl he "Here. and I rage!" Why. is that there is nothing new about Faust's ready to die. "That little bell rings. recreates the wasteland that it is terrifying to look back. He protests that he didn't say anything about willing to pit their communal strength and spirit against any violence." (11286 7 87) Mephisto's point. those lindens' sweet perfume widen the mystery.68 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 69 suddenly concerned. asks where the old folks have been moved. To point to this pervasive modern need. It is clear. We are bound to be in sympathy with Faust's Enfolds me like a church or tomb. to let the sessed with Philemon and Bauds. abundance and learns that their house has been burned to the ground and for all. their shadows would fill me ment works. long-distance trade and cosmopolitan commerce." He comes to feel into a thriving physical and social space. guilt it brings him. peared without a trace. There is more of him in those acquisition policy: the narcissistic will to power. a system oriented toward free activity. tivity. occurs what long occurred: I Of Naboth's vineyard you loved: who could blame him for wanting to silence that sound have heard. vicious Gothic world where he began-the world that destroyed Gretchen. he has cultivated a class of free and enterprising workers they have been killed. then. a totally modern." If he were to stop. They are too old. the bells' promise of peace must sound like . on the will to change. The threat. personify hands. is death. who will risk their lives for it. the point where he becomes ob. to rest in the shadows. might catch up with him. in invoking King forever? Yet church bells were also the sound that. too. in which the look and feel of the old world have disap. however. when he was Ahab's sin in 1 Kings 21. The magical power those who are most powerful. Faust does get increasingly carried away by the touch with his childhood. to such a man. But there is another motive for the murder the primary source of spontaneous energy and delight in life-he that springs not merely from Faust's personality. just as he was who love their new world. he calls Mephisto a monster and sends him away. It appears that beauty and nobility that make Faust so uneasy. does he do it? Does he really need that land. Without that vital bond with his past- arrogance of power. of course. he is still not ready to accept responsibility for the human all the best that the old world has to give. than he likes to think. behind my back I hear it mocked. inside the developer himself. to stop moving. the salt of the earth where they are. to look the old world in the face. his bond ized space. and she was not the first. But at this point in time. This old couple. like Gretchen. with extraordinary penetration. that there is no real danger of reaction. finally. the de- others but to himself that he could create a new world with clean veloper's deepest fears. called him back to life. and disavows the jobber once the work is done. most rampant in bells. working world a death l?low: he has opened up a vibrant and dynamic new under the explosive pressures of development. to adapt and to move. So prince of darkness departs gracefully. impersonal drive that seems to be endemic to modernization: present and future. IS only to That bell. he has already dealt the Gothic old people enfold him. with fear. But now that he has staked his whole identity the drive to create a homogeneous environment. even as it transforms a wasteland less to the eye. too suffering and death that clear the way. but from a collec.

In a totally modern soci. as turns out to be the ironic climax of his life. and he must go. Yet inside me there shines a brilliant light. but not quite. the words that seal his life in fulfillment and deliver him over to The care he would not admit has stricken him to depths far past death: Verweile doch. in his last scene on earth. he stands on his balcony at midnight and contemplates the smol. Part Two. ing. and Care. the tragedy of modernization-including its tragic hero. Guilt. In killing the old he banished the devil not long before. he drives himself to wipe them out. developing himself and the world around him to the very end. he turns out to be pronouncing a death sentence on him. swallows up the man who gave it life and power. Precisely because Faust finds the bells so sweet. need or guilt. breathes on him-and with her breath strikes him blind.] dering ruins that will be cleared for construction in the morning. of the construction site. and his wound obstacles away. in the end. But he cannot banish care from his mind. As she self. amid the noise of construction. Faust says. the vaguest and deepest one. continues to haunt him. is all he sees. an ety. But he is a distinctively modern hero. he goes on striv- gray hover toward him. As What I have thought I hasten to fulfill. Faust banishes care from his mind. archaic and mythical grandeur: he appears as a peer of Oedipu!! comes naturally to an end. But human resonance of this episode. and hence ready to die. This might turn out Commentators on Goethe's Faust rarely grasp the dramatic and to be a source of inner strength. dark and deep. Goethe shows us how the category of obsolete persons. Want. touches him. Ironically. But before she departs. Faust only drives him to drive himself and his workers harder. sad. Faust is disturbed but ada- mant. the threat to Faust's freedom Pseudo-Faustian Age springs not from the presence of these dark forces but from the absence that he-soon forces on them. Faust's sudden blindness gives him. Goethe plunges us into the symbolist am. it is central to Goethe's he cannot bear to confront anything that might cast shadows on historical perspective. Faust almost grasps his own tragedy-almost. But the fourth. Care. "I have not fought my way through to freedom yet. he does not history of modern times? If we try to place the particular type of . He has striven WHOSE TRAGEDY is this? Where does it belong in the long-term mightily to create a world without want. Once he has obliterated every trace of them and their world. All these are forces that Faust's program of development has banished from the outer world. In fact. his whole reason for being in the world. he has destroyed whose power he refused to face. Deep night now seems to fall more deeply still. that he declares himself fully alive. however. and proclaim themselves: they are Need. she couple. but they have crept back as specters inside his mind. He destroyed those old people and their little Goethe's reasons refer not only to the structure of Faust. magic. he himself is in the way. Faust's destruction of Philemon and Baucis his brilliant life and works. so central to modernity. His problem is that he cannot look these forces in the face and live with them. she tells him that he has been blind all along. Ironically." developer has destroyed the pre-modern world. it is out there is nothing left for him to do. Now he is ready to pronounce of inner darkness that all his visions and all his actions have grown. The master's word alone has real might! [ll499ff. to finish turns out to have been speaking truer than he knew: Philemon the job fast: and Baucis' bells were tolling for him after all. if only he could face the fact. Suddenly four spectral women in in the dark his vision and energy go on thriving. the infinite "Mother Night. Even bience of Faust's inner world." He Epilogue: The Faustian and means by this that he is still beset by witchcraft. It is at this point. once this activity could be infinite. Once the developer has cleared all the and Lear. world-his own childhood world-so that his scope of vision and but to the whole structure of modern history. and he drives the first three specters away. the woods so even feel guilty about Philemon and Baucis-though he does feel lovely.70 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTs INTo AIR The Tragedy of Development 71 bliss. ghosts in the night. du bist so schoen! Why should Faust die now? his understanding. the scene suddenly and jarringly shifts: from the concrete realism And so it goes.

12 The Conversations with Eckermann are full of admir. effusive over proposals for a Panama Canal.) Goethe then conjures up two ing references to the young writers of Le Globe. the quick conquest of markets. with his eye for the main chance." A canal moreover. will in thirty or forty years have occupied and peopled the after he is gone. and another Goethe as much as he appreciated them. "more rapid communication Goethe's time. when the last sections of Faust were being com. and who seem to have appreciated ites: a canal connecting the Danube and the Rhine. When he says that he means "to open to the the prospect of a glorious future opening up for America. important commercial towns will gradually spring from its most honorable aims and its most authentic arise. not in the capitalism of that age. his celebra. but absolutely indispensable. we may at first be perplexed. would be not only desirable.. Mephisto is constantly pointing out money-making pianism that captured the old Goethe's imagination. cism with modern energy and rationality." (He is death in 1832. opment would bring: steady jobs and decent incomes for "the most trial phase. .72 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTs INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 73 modern environment Faust creates. and argues that the last act social benefits that the Saint-Simonians claimed wholesale devel- of Faust is a tragedy of "capitalist development" in its early indus. the vision that will be realized and dramatized in Faust's last italists. where nature has already formed the most capacious Goethe's point is that the deepest horrors of Faustian development and secure harbors. but Goethe's Faust is universally dismissed as "Utopian." He the place where the word socialisme was coined just before Goethe's dreams. where capitalism was then act." Goethe is certain that "innu- Le Globe." capitalist bottom line. 11 The trouble with this scenario is that. but in its socialism. Goethe is confident "that along the Pa- original in it and. It may be but rather for the long-range future of mankind." abundance and welfare for all. seventy-eight. new modes of community that would synthesize medieval organi- Goethe's Mephisto. conforms pretty It was no surprise that the Saint-Simonian projects were almost well to one type of capitalist entrepreneur. moreover. forming Saint-Simonian proposals and programs into poetic vi- cial and the imaginative resources of early nineteenth-century cap. Goethe's favorite reading included the Parisian newspaper ture. most dynamic-were oriented primarily toward the individual en- The clearest analogue seems to be the tremendous surge of indus.. Neither were those capitalists much interested in the 1760s. In between the seas. Here he is. as of all Saint-Simonian writings." 1g We see Goethe in the process of trans- an enormous scale. either at Panama or farther north. and the East Indies and the United States. but Faust himself 1827. what makes it genuinely tragic. with its decided predilection to the public freedom and happiness that will come to fruition only long West. sion." With the emergence If we want to locate Faustian visions and designs in the aged of a sphere of transpacific activity. will play a the late 1820s. in opportunities in Faust's development schemes. who included many more enormous development projects. who-especially in England. tion of selfishness and his genial lack of scruple. realities of that age but in its radical and Utopian dreams. for the furtherance of a great intercourse between China achievements. If we try to cut the Faustian project to fit the large tract of land beyond the Rocky Mountains. "All this is reserved for the fu- posed. "I millions living-space I not danger-proof. but free to run their should be amazed if the United States were to let an opportunity race. These projects were far beyond both the finan. works! it would well be worth the trouble to last some fifty years stant stream of proposals for long-range development projects on more for the purpose. and. and thrilled by couldn't care less. Faust's motives and aims are clearly not capitalistic. trepreneur. was a con. one of the organs of the Saint-Simonian movement. and for an enterprising spirit. we will cut out what is noblest and most Looking further ahead. and merable benefits would result to the whole human race. cific Ocean. Lukacs makes this connection. One of the standard across the Isthmus of Suez. "Would that I might live to see it! but I shall not. leading role in this development. the pursuit of imme- trial expansion that England had been going through since the diate profits. for the sake of foreseen that this young state. tion to the text. the place to look is not in the economic and social between the Eastern and Western shores of North America . "Would I could live to see these great features of Le Globe. numerous and the poorest class. if we pay atten." it's clear that he is not building for his own short-term profit of getting such a work into their own hands escape. also Saint-Simonian favor- scientists and engineers." But it was precisely this Uto- worlds away. five years from death.

long-range planning and which come in the same forms and colors everywhere. mostly under Napoleon III. technical and spiritual resources capitalist and social democratic countries. the Suez Canal. constantly changing and forc- Many of the youthful Saint-Simonians of Le Globe went on to ing the characters in the foreground themselves to change-has distinguish themselves. "Faustian model" of development. Robert Moses. accumulated powers that are enormous. verge. open-ended. In so-called underdeveloped countries. It is only in the twentieth century that conceived as a great human adventure has become in our own era Faustian development has come into its own. This has generally taken two forms. It will open up an exciting and ambiguous word broadly enough and is willing to understand it undogmati- world-historical role for the modern intellectual-Saint-Simon cally-into communism. Thomas Mann. it will strive to integrate them all. an international home in our own. In the capitalist a life-and-death necessity for every nation and every social system world it has emerged most vividly in the proliferation of "public in the world. This model gives top priority to these authorities have brought about a "changing balance of public gigantic energy and transportation projects on an international and private power" that has been a crucial force in capitalist suc- scale. both in the most advanced state oper"-who can bring material. economic activity). was right to place Goethe at the nodal point and Faust. and in dozens of nations together. systematic plans for hydroelectric power plants. dams and irrigation systems. I have favored "the devel. still only marginal in Goethe's world. 14 Faustian developers as diverse as David Lilien- opment of productive forces. which. It aims less for immediate profits than for long-range devel. nuclear reactors. con- tury when development tended to be private and piecemeal. uncontrolled and all too struction projects. and backward societies. gov. capitalist and socialist ideologies. distinct though . the private 1917. development authorities everywhere have authorities" and superagencies designed to organize immense con. cess and growth. especially in transportation and energy: canals often lethal.. The distinctive environment that formed the modern people's persistent need for adventurous. and transform them into new structures of social life. Faust the Devel- innovators in finance and industry. The process systematic regional development were scorned as vestiges of the of development that the creative spirits of the nineteenth century despised mercantilist age. authority that derives from the leader's capacity to satisfy order of the day. and realized one of Goethe's fondest dreams. which it believes will produce the thal. and railroads. symbolized by the union of Mephistopheles. They organized the French oper. Hyman Rickover. the public planner who conceives and directs the where "the bourgeois attitude passes over . ism far more imaginative and resilient than the capitalism of a tary and competitive activities. -if one takes the work as a whole. sealed with victims' blood. in power all over the world today. century ago. investment bank to finance the emerging world energy industry. undergirded with their bones. Robert McNamara and jean best results for everyone in the end. and public initiative. and particularly since World War Two. would be completely at railway system. rapid development have generally meant systematic repression of the exploration of outer space. Monnet have utilized this balance to make contemporary capital- neurs and workers waste themselves in piecemeal and fragmen. Instead of letting entrepre. writing in 1932. heroic development as the first rity. As a result. established the Credit Mobilier. new towns and cities. see themselves as Finally. "underdeveloped" and see rapid. in the midst of the first freebooter and predator who executes much of the dirty work." 15 We can find visionaries and authorities called this figure "the organizer". stretching ever-renewed development.74 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 75 Goethe synthesizes these ideas and hopes into what I will call the In the last half century. the Faustian model will present a new mode of autho. the masses. stage for Faust's last act-the immense construction site. regardless of their reigning ideology. bridges and highways. But Faustian development has been an equally potent It will create a historically new synthesis of private and public force in the socialist states and economies that have emerged since power. as brilliant become the stage for world history in our time. out boundlessly in every direction. But Goethe insists that it is a terrible and tragic conver- ernments remained in the background (and often masked their gence. Soviet Five-Year Plan. But Goethe presents a model of social action around which advanced their visionary style and scale were generally disparaged in a cen..

76 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTo AIR The Tragedy of Development 77
generally interfused. The first form has involved squeezing every uine tragedy, rather than a brutal farce in which real people were
last drop of labor power out of the masses-Faust's "human sacri- killed by pseudo-events.*
fices bled, I tortured screams would pierce the night" -in order to It should be noted that in the pre-Stalin 1920s it was ~till possible
build up the forces of production, and at the same time drastically to talk about the human costs of progress in an honest and search-
restricting mass consumption so as to create a surplus for reinvest- ing way. Isaac Babel's stories, for example, are full of tragic losses.
ment in the economy. The second form entails seemingly gratui- In "Froim Grach" (rejected by the censors), a Falstaffian old scoun-
tous acts of destruction-Faust's destruction of Philemon and drel is summarily killed for no particular reason by the Cheka.
Bauds and their bells and trees-not to create any material utility When the narrator, himself a member of the political police, pro-
but to make the symbolic point that the new society must burn all tests indignantly, the killer replies, "Tell me as a Chekist, tell me
its bridges so there can be no turning back. as a revolutionary: What good was this man for the society of the
The first Soviet generation, especially during the Stalin years, future?" The heartbroken narrator can think of no retort, but
provides vivid illustrations of both these horrors. Stalin's first resolves to commit to paper his vision of the flawed but good lives
showcase development project, the White Sea Canal (1931-33), that the Revolution has destroyed. This story, although set in the
sacrificed hundreds of thousands of workers, more than enough recent past (the Civil War), was a dire and apt prophecy of the
to leave any contemporary capitalist project behind. And Philemon future, including Babel's own. 16
and Bauds could stand all too well for the millions of peasants who What makes the Soviet case especially depressing is that its
were killed between 1932 and 1934 because they stood in the way pseudo-Faustian enormities have been enormously influential in
of the state's plan to collectivize the land they had won in the the Third World. So many contemporary ruling classes, right-wing
Revolution barely a decade before. colonels and left-wing commissars alike, have shown a fatal weak-
But what makes these projects pseudo-Faustian rather than ness (more fatal to their subjects, alas, than to themselves) for
Faustian, and less tragedy than theater of cruelty and absurdity, is grandiose projects and campaigns that incarnate all Faust's gigan-
the heartbreaking fact-often forgotten in the West-that they tism and ruthlessness without any of his scientific and technical
didn't work. The Nixon-Brezhnev wheat deal of 1972 should be ability, organizational genius or political sensitivity to people's real
enough to remind us that the Stalinist attempt to collectivize the desires and needs. Millions of people have been victimized by di-
land not only killed millions of people but dealt Russian agricul- sastrous development policies, megalomaniacally conceived, shod-
ture a crippling blow from which it has never recovered. As for dily and insensitively executed, which in the end have developed
the canal, Stalin seems to have been so intent on creating a highly little but the rulers' own fortunes and powers. The pseudo-Fausts
visible symbol of development that he pushed and squeezed the of the Third World have in barely a generation become remark-
project in ways that only retarded the reality of development. Thus ably adept at manipulating images and symbols of progress-the
the workers and engineers were never allowed the tiine, money or public relations of pseudo-development has become a major
equipment necessary to build a canal that would be deep enough worldwide industry, thriving from Tehran to Peking-but noto-
and safe enough to carry twentieth-century cargoes; consequently, riously inept at generating real progress to compensate for the real
the canal has never played any significant role in Soviet commerce misery and devastation they bring. From time to time, a people
or industry. All the canal could support, apparently, were tourist manages to overthrow its pseudo-developers-like that world-class
steamers, which in the 1930s were abundantly stocked with Soviet
• Solzhenitsyn devotes some of his most scathingly brilliant pages to the canal. He
and foreign writers who obligingly proclaimed the glories of the shows ho~ the technical imperatives of the work were systematically violated from
work. The canal was a. triumph of publicity; but if half the care the start, m the rush to prove to the world that modernization could be accom-
that went into the public relations campaign had been devoted to plished overnight by force of revolutionary will alone. He is particularly trenchant
on the readiness of writers, including some of the very best, to embrace and to
the work itself, there would have been far fewer victims and far transmit techno-pastoral lies, even as the bodies lay under their feet. The Gulag
more real development-and the project would have been a gen- Archipelago, translated by Thomas Whitney (Harper & Row, 1975), II, 85-102.

78 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTo AIR The Tragedy of Development 79
pseudo-Faustian, the Shah of Iran. Then, for a little while-rare~y The shovels that made Faust feel alive, and that made the last
for more than a little while-the people may be able to take their sound he heard as he died, have become gigantic earth movers
development into their own hands. If they are shrewd and fortu- capped with dynamite today. Even yesterday's Fausts may find
nate, they will create and enact their own tragedies of develop- themselves today's Philemons and Baucises, buried under debris
ment, simultaneously playing the Faustian and the Gretchen I where their lives used to be, even as today's enthusiastic young
Philemon-Baucis roles. If they are less than lucky, their brief mo- Gretchens are crushed in the gears or blinded by the light.
ments of revolutionary action will lead only to new suffering that
leads nowhere at all. Within these advanced industrial countries, the Faust myth has
In the world's more advanced industrial countries, development served as a kind of prism over the past two decades for a great
has followed more authentically Faustian forms. Here the tragic array of visions of our lives and times. Norman 0. Brown's Life
dilemmas that Goethe defined have remained urgently in force. It Against Death ( 1959) offered a fascinating critique on the Faustian
has turned out-and Goethe could have predicted it-that under ideal of development: "The Faustian restlessness of man in history
the pressures of the modern world economy the process of deve!- shows that men are not satisfied by the satisfaction of their con-
opment must itself go through perpetual development. Where 1t scious desires." Brown hoped that psychoanalytic thought, radi-
does, all people, things, institutions and environments that are cally interpreted, might "offer a way out of the nightmare of
innovative and avant-garde at one historical moment will become endless 'progress' and endless Faustian discontent, a way out of
backward and obsolescent in the next. Even in the most highly the human neurosis, a way out of history." Brown saw Faust pri-
developed parts of the world, all individuals, groups and commu- marily as a symbol of historical action and anguish: "Faustian man
nities are under constant relentless pressure to reconstruct them- is history-making man." But if sexual and psychic repression could
selves; if they stop to rest, to be what they are, they will be swept somehow be overcome-this was Brown's hope-then "man
away. The climactic clause in Faust's contract with the devil-that would be ready to live instead of making history." Then "the rest-
if ever he stops and says to the moment, "Verweile doch, du bist so less career of Faustian man would come to an end, because he
schoen," he will be destroyed-is played out to the bitter end in would be satisfied and could say, Verweile doch, du bist so schoen." 17
millions oflives every day. Like Marx after The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, and
In the past generation, even through the economic slumps of Joyce's Stephen Dedalus, Brown experienced history as a night-
the 1970s, the process of development has spread, often at a fran- mare from which he longed to awaken; only his nightmare, unlike
tic pace, into the most remote, isolated and backward sectors of theirs, was not any particular historical situation but historicity as
advanced societies. It has transformed innumerable pastures and such. Nevertheless, intellectual initiatives like Brown's helped
cornfields into chemical plants, corporate headquarters, suburban many of his contemporaries to develop a critical perspective on
shopping centers- How many orange groves are left in Califor- their historical period, the comfortably anxious Eisenhower Age.
nia's Orange County? It has transformed thousands of urban Even though Brown professed to detest history, to take on Faust
neighborhoods into freeways and parking lots, or into World was a historical gesture of great audacity-indeed, a Faustian act
Trade Centers and Peachtree Plazas, or into abandoned, burnt- in its own right. As such, it both prefigured and nourished the
out wilderness-where, ironically, grass has come to grow again radical initiatives of the decade to come.
amid the rubble, while small bands of brave homesteaders stake Faust went on to play important symbolic roles in the 1960s. A
out new frontiers-or, in the standard urban success story of the Faustian vision can be said to have animated some of the primary
1970s, into glossy airbrushed antique-stained parodies of their old radical movements and journees of the decade. It was dramatized
selves. From abandoned New England mill towns to ravaged strip- very powerfully, for instance, in the mass march on the Pentagon
mined Appalachian hills to the South Bronx to the Love Canal, in October 1967. This demonstration, immortalized in Norman
insatiable development has left spectacular devastation in its wake. Mailer's Armies of the Night, featured a symbolic exorcism con-

80 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 81
ducted in the name of a vast syncretistic assemblage of familiar economic development and overall social evolution had, by a sim-
and strange gods, with the intention of driving the Pentagon's ilar process, reached the end of the road. History had brought us
structural demons out. (Liberated from the weight, the exorcists to a point where "economic well-being [is] taken for granted," and
proclaimed, the building would levitate and float or fly away.) For there is nothing significant left to do:
participants in this remarkable event, the Pentagon appeared as
an apotheosis of Faustian construction gone awry, construction And here we can perceive an internal contradiction of progress.
that had built up the world's most virulent engines of destruction. Progress depends on the exertion of Faustian Man, whose moti-
Our demonstration, and our peace movement as a whole, ap- vational mainspring is the idea of the will to power. But when
peared to us as an indictment of America's Faustian visions and progress has proceeded far enough to provide an ambiance of
designs. And yet this demonstration was a spectacular construction economic security for Everyman, the resulting social ethos works
in its own right, one of the American left's few chances to express against the transmission of the will to power in child rearing, and
its own Faustian longings and aptitudes. The weird ambivalences hence aborts the development of Faustian Man.
of the whole affair made themselves felt as we got closer and closer
to the building-one could get closer forever, it seemed, without Through a process of natural selection, Faustian Man was being
ever getting there: it was a perfect Kafkaesque environment-and gradually phased out of the environment he had created.
some of the little figures inside it, framed by their windows far The younger generation, who had grown up in this new world,
away (windows are ultra-Faustian, Spengler said), pointed, waved dearly felt no desire for action or achievement, power or change;
and even reached out their arms to embrace us, as if to recognize thcty cared only to say Verweile doch, du bist so schoen, and to keep on
us as kindred spirits, to tempt or welcome us in. Before long, saying it till the end of their days. These children of the future
soldiers' clubs and tear gas would clarify the distance between us; could even now be seen happily lolling, singing, dancing, making
but the clarification was a relief when it came, and there were some love and getting high in the California sunshine. Lucas Cranach's
troubled moments before it did. Mailer may have had that day in painting of the Golden Age, which Stent reproduced as his fron-
mind when he wrote, at the decade's very end, "We are a Faustian tispiece, was "nothing other than a prophetic vision of a hippie Be-
age determined to meet the Lord or the Devil before we are done, In in Golden Gate State Park."
and the ineluctable ore of the authentic is the only key to the The coming consummation of history would be "a period of
lock." 18 general stasis"; art, science and thought might continue to exist,
Faust occupied an equally important place in the very different but they would do little but mark time and enjoy life. "The Faust-
1960s vision that we might call "pastoral." His role in the 1960s ian Man of the Iron Age will view with distaste the prospect of his
pastoral was, specifically, to be put out to pasture. His desires, affluent successors devoting their abundance of leisure time to
drives and abilities had enabled mankind to make great scientific sensual pleasures.... But Faustian Man had better face up to the
discoveries and create magnificent art, to transform the natural fact that it is precisely this Golden Age that is the fruit of all his
and human environment, and to create the economy of abundance frantic efforts, and that it does no good now to wish it otherwise."
that advanced industrial societies had recently come to enjoy. Now, Stent ended on a rueful, almost elegiac note: "Millennia of doing
however, by virtue of his very success, "Faustian Man" had ren- arts and sciences will finally transform the tragicomedy of life into
dered himself historically obsolete. This argument was developed a happening." 19 But nostalgia for a Faustian life was the surest
by the molecular biologist Gunther Stent in a book called The Com- sign of obsolescence. Stent had seen the future, and it played.*
ing of the Golden Age: A View of the End of Progress. Stent used the
breakthroughs in his own science, specifically the recent discovery * This book took on a new half-life in the 1970s, when it helped to shape the
rhetoric, and perhaps the sensibility, of California Governor Jerry Brown. Brown
of DNA, to argue that the achievements of modern culture left distributed copies widely among his aides, and referred reporters to it for dues to
that culture fulfilled but exhausted, with nowhere to go. Modern his thinking.

as the demon who had wrenched mankind out of its And yet. when Faust is removed from the scene. ecologists and anti-growth writers typecast Faust in the 1960s. often degenerated into morbid self-lac. however. The nuclear pioneers who experienced the ." are virtually all enemies of large-scale planning. the whole centuries-long project of mod. of technological innovation. Con Edison and their peers." 22 Thus the advocates of energy shrinkage. We live on an over. words. instead of damning Faust. inspired healthy and trenchant cultural self. that this is an absurd distortion of the Faust story." The paradoxical reality which escapes coveries and technological innovations. of "intermediate technologies. which would have to1 be killed selves. omy." a cultural redistribution of economic and political power would have to take anthropologist named Bernard james wrote in 1973. was "the modern progress culture. James did not appear tasks before them. 21 symbolic role. the for the sake of insatiable expansion. Now there is nothing perish. important is to point out the intellectual vacuum that emerges scrutiny. The gathering energy unlimited growth would do to nature or to man. and the redistri- new and precarious age. limits of economic growth. given the magnitude of the historical and its number-one culture hero was Faust. After painting vivid . flattening trag- nomic and political dimensions. they are full of ingenious and imaginative before it killed all mankind. "the final period of decay of bution of all their resources to the people-would be only a our Western world. generated waves of disenchant. energy. "a sense that place. and of monstrous forms of biological warfare and genetic engi- neering. and. sometimes extending to panic and puppet plays that Goethe saw as a child. as travagant and systematic "thinking big" can open up channels for we understand it today. (It does. for many people.. and on the best ways to produce and phoria of those years-John Brooks. There have in fact been many conti. It is remarkable talgic sadness. they should exhort us." ideas. of small and decentralized sources of Now. called them "the go-go years"-now seems to belong as the primal "Growthman. indeed.. an act of cosmic hu.) But he did say that "the need to know." who would tear the whole world apart to some wholly other world. with all its ecological and technological. may be a lethal cultural sport. As debate intensified through the 1970s on the desirability and nuities between the 1960s and the 1970s. which. And even this-which would mean the dissolution of Gen- . but the economic eu. dear to the Captain America comics and New nuclear scientists. The bizarre about the anti-growth or soft-energy arguments in them- Death of Progress. resemble the Faustian ment. reared his head. well-being was here to stay. to "think small. "There is a sense of desperation in the air. The various advocates of eration and self-hate. in E.) What seems to me more hysterical despair." which "thinking small.82 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 83 It is hard to reread these 1960s pastorals without feeling nos. wind and water power. And the figure of Faust now appeared in a new research." 20 Thus Faustian myth but grasped its tragic depth is the collectivity of the Faustian villain. in order for any of their visions or plans to be actually primal unity with nature and propelled us all along the road to adopted by any substantial number of people. lim- would have to be radically restricted. (He showed a special t~n­ most of these writers is that in modern society only the most ex- derness for computers. Schumacher's quite ready to denounce and renounce all modern scientific dis. prelude to the most extensive and staggeringly complex reorgani- crowded and pillaged planet. the most radical catastrophe. F." of the "steady-state econ- ernization appeared as a disastrous mistake. His lethal force. if not abolished root and ited growth and decentralization." James's book had a typical 1970s-apocalyptic title. in his account of Wall Street conserve energy. bitterness and perplexity. the predicament is clear. What is bizarre is that. edy into melodrama. without asking or caring what buoyant confidence was utterly wiped away. should embrace him as their man of the hour. james-insisted t}fat these horrors flowed quite naturally The one contemporary group that has not only used the from "the laboratory-born lust to commit the sin of Faust. Yorker editorials of the late 1970s. I need not say crisis of the 1970s. and we must stop the pillage or zation of the whole fabric of everyday life.Pictures of possible nuclear disasters. leisure and ( 1960s) or to live any life at all (1970s)-"Faustian Man" must go. Exxon. bram:h. of complex organization. man has been pitchforked by science and technology into a eral Motors. however. eco. of scientific bris and evil. not so much for the hippies of yesterday as for the to see 1960s-pastoral and 1970s-apocalypse come together in the virtually unanimous belief-shared by those upright citizens who behalf that in order for mankind to prevail-to live the good life most despised hippies-that a life of stable abundance. Within a remarkably short time." In this age. solar.

and for many years the director of the whole inner and outer world. by anguish and contra~iction..might have made this antinomy clear. who gave us in Faust our first tragedy of devel- In order to support this "all but infinite source of cheap and clean * Unfortunately. Alvin Weinberg. This w~s ra~~cally gates all"! A strange. Modern men and women in search of self-knowledge might well accustomed to. we offer-in the catalytic nuclear of the basic facts of modern life is that we are all "long-haired burner-an inexhaustible source of energy . richly ambiguous self-image. At a time when or reject the deal. The decisive dreaded Earth Spirit that had sprung from the creativity of their point here is that the scientists ("we nuclear people") are no longer minds. On the one hand.* We cannot hand over the re- helped to keep a Faustian awareness alive. it was above all the mate all modern men and women. They showed entific and technological cadres have accumulated vast powers in how these emotions can lead to action that may be supremely cre. haired boys have lost control!") never learned how to exorcise that But it is a place to take note of what he does to Faust. Mephistopheles. The "concerned scientists" of the postwar era established a playing the Faustian part. who must decide to accept everything works out for the best in the end. for their human costs. acquaintance with Goethe's Faust. not likely to win opposed to the Panglossian mode of sc1ence prevalent ~n m1htary. whatever Faustian bargains the fight for civilian control of atomic energy. and vanquish might be not only technological-this might in fact be the least of forever its diabolical potentialities. driven by that offers the deal-that is. for our discussed address on "Social Institutions and Nuclear Energy": goals and achievements." 24 This means that. They have only created In recent years. are responsible for the directions in which we develop. Our society will never be able to control its eruptive "powers of the underworld" if We nuclear people [Weinberg said] have made a F'!ustian bargain it pretends that its scientists are the only ones out of control. invoked Faust at the climax of a much." This secular holy order. and who began no right to dictate. His implicit all governments were systematically lying to their peoples about point is that the Faustian drive for development has come to ani- the dangers of nuclear arms and nuclear war. much of the force of Weinberg's Faustian insight was undermined by his other central paradigm: the endlessly quoted image of a "nuclear priest- energy. One with society. is "the society"-that is. societies and nations of the future would have hood. but appealing in its (perhaps unconscious) industrial and political ruling circles then as now. and this is a choice that we nuclear people have most heroic) who lucidly explained the truth. amplified and realized our own. in the project of development. a brilliant development of self and society.. As a result. whose founding father Weinberg apparently hoped to maintain an "eternal vigilance" against grave dangers which to be. the long. public relations awards. the debates over nuclear power have generated means to fulfill ends embraced by the modern public: open-ended new metamorphoses of Faust. "The society must haunted veterans of the Manhattan Project (Leo Szilard was the make the choice.. echoed. would protect mankind against the risks of nuclear energy. As members of modern society. begin with Goethe. "the spirit that ne- guilt and care.84 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Tragedy of Development 85 blinding Hash of light at Alamogordo ("Good God! . it is only because their visions and values have ative in organizing the survival of mankind. But it is the corollary to this piece of casting that matters the world that any trouble is fortuitous and transient and that most: Weinberg's Faustian protagonist. wh1ch assures candor. we are all experts. Weinberg obviously did not grasp the radical contradiction between his Faustian vision and his ecclesiastical aspirations. and especially with Goethe's treatment of the Now this book is no place to argue the merits and demerits of Church and priests. ." the men. sponsibility for development to any cadre of experts-precisely phistophelean claim that men could do great thmgs m the world because. we Oak Ridge Laboratory. for restrictions on are made-or not made-we have not only the right but the obli- nuclear tests and for international arms control. Weinberg's disturbing and deeply problematical nuclear bargain. 2 ~ Their project gation to be in on their making. incessant transformation of the physicist and administrator. . Some it-but social and political. demand of society for this magical energy source is both a vigi- lance and a longevity of social institutions that we are quite un.. all of us. and ~o re~ute the Me. modern society. But the price we boys" today. If sci- only by blotting out their sense of guilt and care. Instead. they fill the role of the party distinctively Faustian style of science and technology. In 1971.

a COJIImodity letter bears thir quotation from Heraclitus: "All ir flux. were brolen doum. -Capital.. Faust's unfinished construction site is the vibrant but shaky ground on which we must all stake out and build up our lives. a violmt mcroachmmt lilt thllt of an avt~lancM in itr int. it is also a challenge-to our world even more than to Goethe's own- to imagine and to create new modes of modernity." -"Shear10n Chief Builds a New Wall Street Giant. Modernism and Modernization TMrl followed on tM birth of meclumization and modern indultry . Volume Oae I am tM spirit thllt negat11 aU. But if Faust is a critique. nothing stayr rtiU. Capital ceklmJted its orgi11. Goethe's perspectives and visions can help us see how the fullest and deep- est critique of modernity may come from those who most ardently embrace its adventure and romance. Inc. of age and me." story in New YorAI TirMs.86 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO Ara opment. It is a tragedy that nobody wants to confront-neither advanced nor backward countries.. All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: Marx. neither capitalist nor socialist ideologues-but that everybody continues to re-enact. AU hounds of mortJls and nafllre. 1978 In tM r111arch raclu at SMarson Hayden Stone.mity and its atmt. but development for the sake of man. in which man will not exist for the sake of development. 1979 87 . -Mepbi110phele• in Fawt Innovative Self·Deltruction! -Ad for Mobil Oil. of day and night..

We will soon see how the real force and originality of to find in Rimbaud or Nietzsche. secon~ clause. all that is holy is profaned. ourselves in the present until we confront what is absent. Both writers share a perspective that was far more Marx. universally regarded as a prime heat that destroys is also superabundant energy. for "men. life-all these qualities are supposed to be hallmarks of the mod- but also its tragic catastrophe-in the transformation of modern ernist imagination. forces it on the reader-and. This at last are forced to face with sober senses the real conditions chapter will attempt to recover and reconstruct Marx's vision of of their lives and their relations with their fellow men. the ambiguity of its point of view-the WE HAVE seen how Goethe's Faust." It presupposes a unity of life and experience that embraces look at the whole of the sentence from which our image is drawn: modern politics and psychology. Some writers (like Vladimir Nabokov) depict Marxism as type of a century of modernist manifestos and movements to a dead weight that crushes the modernist spirit. dim~~ of Marx's. body seems to agree that he and they are worlds apart. Indeed. Everywhere it pulls like an undertow mentioned in this company. especially vivid and striking in the Communist Manifesto.." 3 Marx's modern life as a whole. The Manifesto expr~sses some of modernist culture's deepest Lukacs in his communist years) see Marx's outlook as far saner. this dualism makes sense. He is saying that the aura politics. "modernism" in art. we will find that. Flaubert. ts more complex and more interesting than the standard grain of contemporary thought. and not from any esoteric long-hidden early manuscript. Aren't there . nity is broken into two different compartments. the center does not hold. it whose clear vistas and solid values modernism has supposedly de. 1862 melts into air.. which proclaims the destruction of everything It is worth noting that this sense of wholeness goes against the holy. opens up a whole new perspective on the Manifesto as the arche- stroyed. contradictions. If we try to of holiness is suddenly missing. or sometimes as a survival against the more "solid" Marxian visions we know so well. at once subjects at all. we will find it does not rate even a branch in the genealogical tree. "-not only de- who claim to refute him generally recognize his work as a primary scribes a confrontation with a perplexing reality but acts it out. Rilke or Yeats-"Things fall Marx's "historical materialism" is the light it sheds on modern apart. This sense of whole. description of "modern bourgeois society. on the writer too. 1 On the other hand. Current thinking about moder. reaches its fulfillment. Even writers clause-"and men at last are forced to face . widely shared in their time than it is in our own: a belief that but from the heart of the Communist Manifesto. Dostoevsky-but Marx himself If we follow this modernist "melting" vision. at the same ume. 2 At this point it would not be unreasonable to ask. culture and sensibility. It comes as the "modern life" comprises a coherent whole. that apparent disorder that is in actuality the highest degree of And yet. the closer we get to what Marx actually said. hermetically Marx is moving in the dimension of time.88 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR Marx. They are just the sort of thing we are prepared material life. modern industry and spirituality. Modernist culture and consciousness are often traced back ~nd ~bjects of the pervasive process that melts everything solid to his generation. Take an image like this: "All that is solid -Dostoevsky in London.. indeed. others (like Georg ~or~e." in the literature on modernism. and men the modern ruling classes and the modern working classes. say. its vaguely apocalyptic undertones. and that we cannot understand locate Marx amid this dualism." The ness underlies Pushkin's judgment of Faust as "an Iliad of modern affimues between Marx and the modernists are even clearer if we life. mto atr. nineteenth-century materialist assertion that God does not exist. are all in it together. this image comes from spiritual life. If he is even throughout Marx's works. The final he bulks large in the literature on modernization. working to evoke an sealed off from one another: "modernization" in economics and ongoing historical drama and trauma. but every. it is as a foil." In fact. its highly compressed and dramatic power. "All that is solid melts into air. Wagner. Kierkegaard. mstghts and. It is of an earlier and more innocent age-the Enlightenment. an overflow of expression of the modern spiritual quest.. not surprisingly. Modernism and Modernization 89 . dramatizes some of its deepest inner healthier and more "real" than those of the modernists. source and point of reference for their own. the generation of the 1840s-to Baudelaire. Marx is not recognized in any way die Menschen as Marx says." The cosmic scope and visionary grandeur of this image. the less bourgeois order.

The scope of human desires and de- modernism as it can tell us about him. so bril. sets out to present an overview of what is now called the few pages of this. Production is increasingly centralized and ratio- either modernists or bourgeoisie would like to think. if we read with our full attention." and the peas- dialectical dance. In order for these great changes to go on with relative smoothness. out of The Manifesto's first section. Marx's prose suddenly becomes velopment of the modern bourgeoisie and proletariat. Meanwhile. the solid social formations around us have melted away. and they are forced to leave the land and close has sprung. But we can find a play going on within this one another. which consequently collapse. drawn into the stream. not whatever local and regional markets it touches. We might enacting the desperate pace and frantic rhythm that capitalism describe this conflict as a tension between Marx's "solid" and his imparts to every facet of modern life. "Bourgeois and Proletarians" (473. which grow almost magically-and cataclysmically- overnight. a kindred spirit of Eliot and Kafka and gence of a world market. we are hurtled along with a reckless momentum. but because he has something distinctive consumption-and human needs-become increasingly interna- and important to say. First of all. After a 83). (It is no different in the Marxism. we are exhilarated but perplexed. Modernism and Modernization 91 already more than enough interpretations of Marx? Do we really solid institutional core of modernity. a struggle inside the author's consciousness over what is breathless intensity. these processes are still going on around us. strange things begin to happen. As it spreads. We will see that they have far more in common than their workshops. some legal. Modernist thought. he can clarify the emerge. Here Marx describes the time Marx's proletarians finally appear. modernism and the bourgeoisie caught up in a strange country. liant in illuminating the dark side of everyone and everything.90 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Marx. we and Its Dialectic find ourselves on familiar ground. we find that process of modernization. Specifically. National states arise and accumulate great power. Capital is concentrated increasingly in a few hands. where farms became "factories in the field. and if we follow their movements we can learn ants who do not leave the countryside are transformed into agri- some important things about the modern world we all share. fiscal and administrative centralization must take place. there is the emer- need a modernist Marx. at once dazzled and menaced by the onward rush. I. in fact. it absorbs and destroys Schoenberg and Gertrude Stein and Artaud? I think we do. and a century of Marxism has helped to establish a language in which they make sense. THE CENTRAL drama for which the Manifesto is famous is the de. and comes worldwide. and it does take place wherever capitalism goes. industrial workers gradually awaken to some sort of The Melting Vision class consciousness and activate themselves against the acute mis- ery and chronic oppression in which they live. although that power is continually undermined by capital's international scope. can tell us as much about tional and cosmopolitan. We will see nalized in highly automated factories.) Vast numbers of the uprooted poor pour into cities. Marx is not only describing but evoking and really going on and what the larger struggle means. and sets the stage for what Marx be. By the lieves will be its revolutionary climax. He makes us feel that we are "melting" visions of modern life. cultural proletarians. and the luminous. Marx. The scale of communications be- turns out to have some repressed dark corners of its own. brilliant images succeed and blend into struggle between them. part of the action. and technologically sophisticated mass media Marx can shine new light on these. mands is enlarged far beyond the capacities of local industries. the world stage on which . a play. Production and only because he's there. In- relationship between modernist culture and the bourgeois econ. As we read this. dependent peasants and artisans cannot compete with capitalist omy and society-the world of "modernization"-from which it mass production. As we read on. control. however. incandescent. hurtled along.

Marx." Its genius for activity expresses itself first in great projects For all the marvelous modes of activity the bourgeoisie has opened of physical construction-mills and factories. they have "been the first to show what man's activity can bring selves-the new and endlessly renewed modes of activity that the about. organizing and reorganizing nature and them- all. Marx does not dwell much on par- brate the idea of vita activa. application of chemistry to agriculture and industry. the wildest and most extravagant ideas directions. He writes an impassioned. has morphosed into something unrecognizable.92 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Marx. dreams metamorphose into blueprints and fan- and Byron and Goethe's Faust. created more massive and more colossal productive power than struction that shifts and changes shape under the players' feet. shade. but to praise it. and processes that mean so much to Marx appear as mere inciden- spired. and us-far beyond clearing of whole continents for cultivation. up. their enterprises are merely means to this end. It have all previous generations put together. the only activity that really means anything to its members is railroads. cultivating. the bourgeoisie. canalization of rivers. is. artists and intellectuals have only of the ground") and ignite and nourish new forms of life and dreamed of the modern bourgeoisie has actually done. what stirs sance. But his paean is distinctive both in what it emphasizes and in what siastic. machinery. and tal by-products in the minds of their producers. to new lands-which the bourgeoisie has sometimes in. bourgeoisie brings into being. the expres- have ever known how to praise themselves. from the moment Marx starts to de- scribe the bourgeoisie. electric telegraphs. The bourgeoisie. piling up surplus value. that the Roman aqueducts. the range of his intended plot. it has "conducted expedi. Gothic cathedrals". tury had even an intimation that such productive power slept in The paradoxes at the heart of the Manifesto are manifest almost the womb of social labor? [473-75] at its very start: specifically. Nevertheless. "has played a most revolutionary role in history. making money. Modernism and Modernization 93 they were supposed to play their part has disintegrated and meta. he achievements. bourgeois have established themselves as the first ruling class graph. Marx himself will develop it in new tasies into balance sheets. as Marx sees it. in themselves of no Next there are the immense movements of peoples-to cities. "The bourgeoisie. surreal. in its reign of barely a hundred years. tions that put all former migrations of nations and crusades in the possibilities that can be realized only by those who break its power. a mobile con. Subjection of nature's is as if the innate dynamism of the melting vision has run away forces to man. all the public works that constitute Faust's final achieve. What matters to him is the processes. ideas and it leaves out. an activistic stance toward the world. all ment-these are the pyramids and cathedrals of the modern age." Marx does not mean that they have been the first to cele. the powers. often lyrical celebration of bourgeois works. enthu. it has taken on new depths and resonances in Marx's own him is the active and generative process through which one thing century. The active powers frontiers. to more than transient and intermediary interest. Thus it has action. of Napoleon leads to another. sometimes subsidized. moving. the always exploited for profit. 4 and it will go on evolving into our own era. bridges and canals. What have the bourgeois done to deserve Marx's praise? First of communicating. steam navigation. with Marx and carried him-and the workers. accumulating capital. tion that runs from Saint-Simon through McLuhan). Although Marx identifies himself as a materialist. railways. in the age of romanticism and revolution. transmits the rhythm and drama of bourgeois activism: whose authority is based not on who their ancestors were but on . evocative para. Indeed. bourgeoisie is forced to close itself off from its richest possibilities. ticular inventions and innovations in their own right (in the tradi- This has been a central theme of Western culture since the Renais." What is startling about Marx is neither the first nor the last writer to celebrate the Marx's next few pages is that he seems to have come not to bury triumphs of modern bourgeois technology and social organization. in these pages he manages to praise the is not primarily interested in the things that the bourgeoisie cre- bourgeoisie more powerfully and profoundly than its members ates. "accomplished wonders that far surpass Egyptian pyramids." he begins. The irony of bourgeois activism. Marx's get acted on and acted out ("whole populations conjured out point is that what modern poets. in a stirring. sions of human life and energy: men working. sometimes brutally enforced. to a point where his revolutionary whole populations conjured out of the ground-what earlier cen- script will have to be radically reworked.

traditional masses) have always yearned for: prolonged the everyday workings and needs of the bourgeois economy. apart is only to say that it is alive and well. ' to grasp. whatever their class. passively accept the structure of their society as it is given? their fellow men." instead of subvert- but if his dialectic works out. is embedded in matter. anyone who does not actively In order for people. for perpetual upheaval and renewal in every mode of its image. This drive. all new-formed ones become obsolete them. solid stability. stability can only mean entropy. Marx makes a great imaginative leap: Alas. tiest to the most powerful. slow Everybody within reach of this economy finds himself under pres. The one specter that really haunts the modern the human capacity and drive for development: for permanent ruling class. everlasting uncertainty and agitation. "Uninterrupted distur- free. . from the pet. Modernism and Modernization 95 what they themselves actually do." "affairs.94 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Marx." "circumstances. Modern men and women must learn to yearn for the bourgeoisie. their personalities must take on the fluid and open form ically imposed by those who dominate the market. for that personal and social life. death. all images and paradigms of the good life as a life of action. the members of "modern bourgeois change it still more? The "revolutionary activity. role only by denying its full extent and depth. who have seen what man's activity can bring senses the real conditions of their lives and their relations with about. with their train of venerable ideas and and workers are free to see where the roads lead. with them. which can be translated as "conditions. and to take opinions. disintegration works as a mobilizing and hence an The second great bourgeois achievement has been to liberate integrating force." ized and cut off from the totality of life. and men at last are forced to face with sober should modern men. actively to seek them shape and drive the modern economy cannot be compartmental- *The German word here is Verhiiltnisse. alter. "and. but positively to demand them. in context. propelled by the desperate dynamism he is striving action. Catastrophes are praised the bourgeoisie that will bury it in the end. why should the range of before they can ossify. to survive in modern change on his own will become a passive victim of changes dracon. "cannot exist without constantly change: not merely to be open to changes in their personal and revolutionizing the means of production. Our activity" that overthrows bourgeois rule will be an expression of lives are controlled by a ruling class with vested interests not the active and activistic energies that the bourgeoisie itself has set merely in change but in crisis and chaos. At different pressure to revolutionize production is bound to spill over and points in this essay it will be translated in different ways. simply in order to What kinds of people does this permanent revolution produce? keep his business and himself afloat. taken as a whole. They social conditions and relationships. all that is human activities be limited to those that are profitable? And why holy is profaned. whether from across the street or knowing for sure that we are alive. is forced to innovate. In this world. transformed into lucrative opportunities for redevelopment and renewal. not by burying it. why not organize and work together and fight to Where does all this leave us." and so on. But radical thinkers fast-frozen relationships. are swept away. may turn into abysses. and that really endangers the world it has created in change. They can go on playing their revolutionary distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier times. To say that our society is falling across the world. They have produced vivid new nately. actually serve to strengthen it. All that is solid melts into air. whichever seems most apt transform what Marx calls "conditions of production" (or."* have proved that it is possible. Under pressure. bance. it will be the virtues for which he ing this society. All fixed. practical-critical society"? It leaves us all in strange and paradoxical positions. Marx began by praising the bourgeoisie. to really change the world. The intense and relentless "relations. "productive relationships") as well. they cannot afford to look down the roads they have opened up: the great wide vistas Constant revolutionizing of production. through organized and concerted At this point. society. every bourgeois. is the one thing that traditional elites (and. while our sense of progress and growth is our only way of sure of relentless competition. Marx shows. uninterrupted distur- bance of all social relations." But the forces that social lives. [338] Since organized and concerted action can change the world in so many ways." "relationships. everlasting uncertainty and agitation. This means that of this society. to the bourgeois' embarrassment. If the good life is a life of action.

capitalist division of labor: tionships are volatile. is personal freedom possible. exchange value. can go on freely and spon- with capitalism is that. fast-frozen relationships" of the real or fan. will have an association in which the free devel- is the aged Goethe. Thus capitalism will be melted by the heat of manist culture of his youth. work that will enable or withers away for lack of use. how can capitalist forms of life-private property. Part Two-that the human. His youthful essay on "Estranged squeezed desperately till there is nothing left. everything nonmarketable. or never has a chance to come to the individual to "freely develop his physical and spiritual [or men- life at all. as most of his predecessors did not-the crucial exception antagonisms. released from the de- personality structure that this economy has produced. [353] bourgeois economic development. the insatiable pursuit of . and to their intellectual tradition. as the within us.. the more their relations with their fellow men. the tasized past. the author of Faust.96 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Marx. keep them fixed and frozen in their bourgeois roles? The more gically for the "fixed. instead of the nightmare that bourgeois society has possibilities it creates. I want to step back from the Communist Manifesto for a moment torted ways."' geois development will sweep away the class that first brought it to In Volume One of Capital. must be replaced by the fully ple in every class have become open-ended and insatiable. from can use are rushed (often prematurely) into development and his earliest writings to his last. to look more likely they will be to outgrow it itself. indeed forces. In place of the old bourgeois society. of one specialized social function. opment of each will be the condition for the free development of istic ideal of self-development grows out of the emerging reality of all. attuned developed individual. but people can develop only in restricted and dis. at last. but to delight in mobility. gets dracomcally repressed." it is essential to communism that it transcend the personal as in economic development: in a system where all rela. the partially developed individual. . impulses and talents that the market to emphasize how crucial the developmental ideal is to Marx. therefore. it can be a source of joy and beauty for all. "in the course Schiller and their romantic successors. Thus. then-so Marx prophesies at and most lasting contribution to world culture.everything else Labor" (or "Alienated Labor"). After the Revolution. Marx is perfectly the Manifesto's climactic moment-then. with its classes and class stands. for whom the different social functions he . from the thought of Goethe and its own incandescent energies." The inner life and energy of bour. wage labor. Modernism and Modernization 97 out and carry them through." For "only in community with others has under its feet the very grounds on which the bourgeoisie produces each individual the means of cultivating his gifts in all directions. of development. to thrive on renewal. the more furiously they forward to future developments in their conditions of life and will eventually turn on it as a drag on their growth. implacably they will fight it in the name of the new life it has Marx absorbs this developmental ideal from the German hu. still very much alive in our own day-Erik Erikson is its wiped away. who is merely the bearer profit-alone hold still? Where the desires and sensibilities of peo. fit for a variety of labors. whom he is constantly citing and alluding to. self-development made it. They must learn not to long nostal. for all Marx's invective against the bourgeois economy." after wealth is redistributed. Those traits. 5 tal] energies. It fosters. forced them to seek. and workers control most distinguished living exponent-may be Germany's deepest the ways in which work is organized. it destroys the human taneously. class privileges are opment. here as elsewhere. we. for everybody. munism is "the development of a totality of capacities in the Marx says. he embraces enthusiastically the Then the experience of self-development. truly human alternative to estranged labor. furiously bourgeois society agitates its members to grow or die. education is free and universal. the goal of com- The ironic and happy solution to this contradiction will occur. in the chapter on "Machinery and Mod- life. ready to face any to permanent upheavals in every sphere of life. clear about his links to these writers. proclaims. This theme and its devel." 6 In The German Ideology (1845-46). We can see this dialectical movement as much in the sphere of ern Industry. only in the community. and appropriates products. The trouble mands and distortions of the market. But he under.. when "the development of modern industry cuts from individuals themselves. written in 1844. what can possibly change in production.

built by speculators for ideologists have never been known for their humility or modesty. out Marx's century. since Plato and the Church Fathers. Now we must confront forces of capitalist development that they celebrate. 10 that they are blown away like frail reeds by the very the bourgeoisie and the world it has made. And yet.98 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Marx. who. capitalized for fast depreciation and planned to be ob- Milton Friedman. is that there is a dark side to natural and acquired powers. to the men and women who work the ma- chines. The bourgeoisie. the form of the good life. to the firms and corporations that exploit the workers. -all these are made to be broken tomorrow. The immense amounts of development-both the development of each individual and of money and energy put into building. from Adam Ferguson to disposable. un. as Marx sees. Here Marx is closer to some of his What is it that the members of the bourgeoisie are afraid to bourgeois and liberal enemies than he is to traditional exponents recognize in themselves? Not their drive to exploit people. in The Condition of the Working Class in merely more comfortable but more alive. The cele. as Marx sees it. to the point that This vision of communism is unmistakably modern. After all. have them purely as means or (in economic rather than moral language) sanctified self-sacrifice. "All that is solid"-from the clothes on our backs to the looms and mills that weave them. closer in their social functions to tents and encampments brants of capitalism tell us surprisingly little of its infinite horizons. is that through a fuller and deeper modernity. doesn't lose yearned for a still point at which all strife and all striving will reach much sleep over this. its dynamic creativity._just a few years before the Manifesto. He sees in the dynamics of capitalist Order" in modern politics and culture. its capacity to make men not • Engels. They are dimly aware of this. beautiful and impressive bourgeois buildings and public works are the whole body of capitalist apologetics. Modernism and Modernization 99 performs are only so many modes of giving free scope to his own under a bushel. and the self-consciously mon- society as a whole-a new image of the good life: not a life of umental character of so much of this building-indeed. so why shouldn't they do it to everybody else? The on in bourgeois society than are the members and supporters of real source of trouble is the bourgeois claim to be the "Party of the bourgeoisie themselves. The bourgeoisie and its England zn 1844. so they can be recycled or replaced next week. I think. The pathos of all bourgeois monuments is that their material strength and solidity actually count for nothing and carry no WE CAN see now why Marx gets so excited and enthusiastic about weight at all. was constructed to last for only forty years. they do it to one another. and the whole process can go on again and again. open-ended. than to "Egyptian pyramids. 9 everything that bourgeois society builds is built to be torn down. and deeply embarrassed and frightened by it. through- definitive perfection. fast profits. smashed or shredded or pulverized or dissolved. was appalled to find that workers' housing. Ironi- . every table and chair in a bourgeois interior sences. Innovative Self-Destruction hopefully forever. distrusted or loathed individuality and as commodities. Thus he hopes to heal the wounds of modernity this claim. but even more in its ideal of development as than look their virtues in the face and live with them. Once again we find Marx more responsive to what is going to themselves. Even the most something even more perplexing: next to the Communist Manifesto. restless. resembled a monument-testify to the sincerity and seriousness of bounded growth. in ever more profitable forms. but a process of continual. is remarkably pale and empty of life. not the embodiment of prescribed static es.• this light that they cannot blot out. to the towns and cities and whole regions and even nations that embrace them all 3."* adventurousness and romance. to the houses and neighborhoods the workers live in. Roman aqueducts. He little suspected that this yet they seem strangely determined to hide much of their light would become the archetypal pattern of construction in bourgeois society. The reason. its drals. and even an end. the truth of the matter. Gothic cathe- its revolutionary energy and audacity. to treat of communism. solete. first of all they will ignore or deny their own strength and creativity rather in its individualism.

hurtle masses of men. their enterprise his followers will ascribe to such cosmic traumas as the Death of has "conjured whole populations out of the ground. they themselves. of world. Warsaw. social and psychic abyss that their creativity opens up. They learn only at economic geographer David Harvey. too late. not magical. The want to know how deeply they are possessed. force us all to confront that abyss. even noticed by his followers. measureless. is a whole modern social and Crime and Punishment (1866-67). ence and rationality. tion "the specter of communism" -he is pointing to depths they ing of the market economy. is like the sorcerer who can no longer control up and down the earth. explosive drives that a later generation children of the Enlightenment. the consummate underworld power. Marx's imagery projects. railway. for example. for a lucid introduction and analysis. and (with very rare exceptions) never wide trade and means of transportation".. The members of the bourgeoisie repress both velopment." everyone's lives as they go.575-601. J. Budapest. our modern bourgeoisie is supposed to have buried. unleash demonic powers that erupt irratio- alist loyalties by creating a sense of continuity with the autocracies of the past. a society that has conjured up such mighty means of produc- ing and developing.) But these connections between the modern soul and the modern spiritual consequences. 67 on "the breaking up of landed prop. Modernism and Modernization I0 I If we look behind the sober scenes that the members of our from their own creativity because they cannot bear to look into the bourgeoisie create. that is. blindly as it moves. that Nietzsche con. "European Nihilism.. which for that reason must be Section I. an inventory of the roots of contemporary nihilism. here as ever. a sense of wonder consummate nihilists on a far vaster scale than modern intellec. through their inexhaustible deal. See a tremendous number of interests in a single soul. both negative and positive. striving to expand human powers through sci- achievement than from the desire of autocratic governments to mobilize tradition. of "the fact of credit.* But these bourgeois have alienated themselves ing. He unveils the modern bourgeois as deny. july 1980." in Theory Marx's bourgeois sorcerer descends from Goethe's Faust. images and analyses here have a surprisingly Marxistic ring. the term "nihilism" springs from Marx's own generation: it was coined by Turgenev as a motto for his radical hero Bazarov in Fathers and Sons (1861). especially in Book One. . and second part of Goethe's Faust. Some of Nietzsche's very strong and protean. not of darkness. nally. too. telegraph. etc. see that these solid citizens would tear down the world if it paid. behind their facades. economy are never worked out by Nietzsche. These ing the substance of the past in their great cities: Leningrad.) Considering the rapidity and brutality of capitalist de. When Marx de- will baptize by the name of "nihilism"-drives that Nietzsche and picts the bourgeois as sorcerers-remember. when it is repeated intentional destruction of the "built environment" is integral to the accu. "Modern bourgeois soci- ity and revenge. communist states have done far better than capitalist ones in preserv. but in virtually every capitalist city For this miraculous and magical world is also demonic and terri- -leased or sold off to developers. see Sharon Zukin. Harvey's writings are widely scattered. Its members they are the most violently destructive ruling class in history." It is rarely mentioned. of and Society. tries to show in detail how the moments of personal and general ruin-only." (Translated by Walter Kaufmann and R. But Marx's images also express what cally. newspapers (in place of daily prayers). pulled down by the same insatiable drives that threw them up. materials and money tion and exchange. Nietzsche explores the sources and meanings of nihilism most profoundly in The Will to Power ( 1885-88). imagination of his generation: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. the real surprise is not that so much of our architectural and constructed wonder and dread at what they have made: these possessors don't heritage has been destroyed but that there is anything stilllef~ to preserve. Their secret-a secret they have man. "Ten Years of the New Urban Sociology. less than forty years-not in Manchester alone. erty . Some of Marx's most vivid and striking images are meant to Even as they frighten everyone with fantasies of proletarian rapac. menacing and destroying instances are everywhere. beyond human control. Centralization of sidered modern politics and economics profoundly nihilistic in their own right. with horrifying results. ety. Thus. and see the way they really work and act. Prague. even the most splendid mansions of the richest capitalists would be gone in must accompany any genuine sense of wonder: a sense of dread. but worth noting. It is only recently that Marxist thinkers have begun to explore this theme. over the modern world: its vital powers are dazzling." not to men- God-are located by Marx in the seemingly banal everyday work. overwhelm- tuals can conceive. (New York's Fifth Avenue is a vivid example. See Section 63 on the Vintage. but also from another literary figure who haunted the Ironically. 1968. But this policy springs less from respect for beauty and human mythical figures. but these modern fying. All present themselves as matter-of-fact and rational. beyond anything the bourgeoisie could have imagined. (4 78) This image evokes the spirits of that dark medieval past that aged to keep even from themselves-is that. we moral. as the anarchic. In the *Actually. elaborated in a far more serious way by Dostoevsky in Notes from Underground ( 1864) which finally makes the sorcerer obsolete. course. mulation of capital. and erode or explode the foundations of the powers of the underworld that he has called up by his spells.IOO ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR Marx. swinging wildly out of control. Hollingdale. let alone calculated or planned.

Modernism and Modernization 103 system. million factories and mills." (478) In these recurrent man by the drives and pressures of the bourgeois economy. on the other. banks and exchanges. explosive social forces reason why these crises can't spiral on endlessly. these forms of adaptation only "pave the way for more proletariat. century to come: the theme of insatiable desires and drives. but of previously course of time. expand and combine more intensively to let ourselves be swept along with him toward a climax that lies and ingeniously than ever: thus they may act as unexpected just ahead." (483) The immense . Marx lays out the polari. so that we feel and more thorough exploitation of the old ones. by conquest of new markets Man plunges us into the depths of this life process. we must remember that archetypal models serve to typify not places its underworld in a worldly context and shows how. but leaving the structures of bour- of modernity to a happy end. Its foundations will be laid. infinite development. dark powers both in the Manifesto and in its illustrious successors. social forces are driven in dreadful direc. by the power spaces for new investment and redevelopment. are repeatedly destroyed. perpetual creation and intentions and his insights. and bring the tragic history families. bourgeoisie to innovate. And yet. ever really come to pass. corporations. against the creator's intentions and probably without his tions by relentless market imperatives that not even the most pow. petition with their union through association. Next we might take Marx's vision of the revolutionary commu- native power. in a only truths and strengths but also inner tensions and strains. Marx shows how both periodic return put the existence of the whole bourgeois society in these human possibilities are infused into the life of every modern question. visions of the most radiant joy and the pears to believe that these crises will increasingly cripple capitalism bleakest despair. modernists will produce a great array of cosmic created productive forces. as The sorcerer's apprentices. the members of the revolutionary Marx says. they will transform these volatile. there is no apparent is done. towns. and its radical antithesis." But. Marx's vision brings this abyss close to own immanent critique. whose inadvertent promoter is else that it is. the horror. by enforced destruction of a mass inward rhythms by which modern capitalism moves and lives. he tries to entice us to trust his vision. and new contradictions thrust themselves home. the Manifesto is remarkable for its imagi. by the bourgeoisie ful possibilities that pervade modern life. He ism. per. replaces the isolation of the workers through com- But even as we honor the Manifesto as an archetype of modern. sources of capitalist strength and resiliency. smashing people. relatively weak and inefficient. of nihilism. are bound to wrest control of modern productive extensive and more destructive crises. insatiable destruction. between what he wants and what he renewal in every sphere of life. his own vision and analysis of be simultaneously possessed by both and driven endlessly from bourgeois society show how well this society can thrive on crisis pole to pole. of productive forces. its expression and grasp of the luminous and dread. In the crises "a great part. for instance. Marx's bourgeoisie moves within this tragic orbit. be carried along by Marx's dialectical How. the bourgeoisie. Whether or not this ending should geois social life and power intact. the heart of darkness. through the veil that this vision weaves. It may be true that. "The progress of industry. When this capacity to make destruction and chaos pay. Thus. by the market's defini- being-and are simultaneouly seized by shocks and convulsions tions. Then. they can force the of his language and thought. in the first part of the Manifesto. given the bourgeois forces from the Faustian-Frankensteinian bourgeoisie. Along with everything itself. it i~ the first great modernist work of art. not only of existing products." The crises can ourselves charged with a vital energy that magnifies our whole annihilate people and companies that are. Marx's theory of crises: "crises that by their up of life. into sources of beauty and joy for all. we will find work in broad daylight. awareness. nity. We are caught up in a series of radical tensions between Marx's manent revolution. the shattering and swallowing Take. they can open up empty that threaten at every instant to annihilate us." Marx ap- and apocalyptic visions. Many of the most creative modernist artists will and eventually destroy it. we feel ourselves being ties that will shape and animate the culture of modernism in the carried away by uncharted currents of uncertainty and unease. that. Even as we let ourselves Thus.102 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTo AIR Marx. their inner dynamism will reproduce ~nd express the and catastrophe: "on one hand. ironically. the vision of revolution and resolution generates its erful bourgeois can control. the theme sees. each time more threateningly.

if it comes at all. only to find themselves scattered re-enacting the fate of the society it describes. we arrive at serious questions about unions that will oppose and finally overthrow the private. I want ist government has done this. 3. then their forces that have brought it into being. In the passage below. generating energies tomorrow among different collectivities with different conditions. how can sol- U naccommodated Man idarity. in Marx's syntax. like everything else here. different needs and interests. simply by reading the Manifesto closely and taking its vi- talist production. mightn't the spon- labor requires intricate cooperation from moment to moment on taneous flow of popular energy sweep away the new social forma- a vast scale-and so will teach them to think and act collectively. surplus value-while their human contents are thrown into perpetual flux. along with every capitalist welfare to use it to explicate some of the Manifesto's most powerful images state). Now THAT we have seen Marx's "melting" vision in action. how communism. tion itself? 11 The workers' communal bonds. sion of modernity seriously. if his overall vision of modernity is true. may turn out' hopes that have made it worth fighting for. We can see. gone in a moment. amid the flood tides of modern life. and And yet. might reproduce the to be as transient as the machines they operate or the products inequities and contradictions of bourgeois society under a new they turn out. too. swept away by the same tide of perpetual change and progress that lectivities turn out to be.. but on personal. will they ever manage to build a solid communist society? What is to prevent the social forces that Nakedness: The melt capitalism from melting communism as well? If all new relationships become obsolete before they can ossify. not merely on economic activity and enterprise (every social. The workers may sustain each other today on the name. Although. Marx is trying to show how far as such a policy succeeded. in order to hold industrial workers as "new-fangled men . But inso. however impressive at any given moment. why should we can see that even if it does come. it may be only a fleeting. generated inadvertently by capi. but how can commu. around the bend may be a long time coming. the forms of community produced by capitalist industry be any transitory episode. built for obsolescence? Marx in 1856 will speak of the floating on. exploitation. only temporary. if it gave these energies free rein. will generate militant political institutions. will force them to depend on each those very modern energies that it promises to set free? On the other and to cooperate in their work-the modern division of other hand. and ideas that melt it down into its own air. Ironically.. cultural and political expression. different processes and products. helplessly provisional. then. atomistic Marx's answers. fraternity and mutual aid be kept alive? A communist government might try to dam the flood by imposing radical restric- tions.104 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR Marx. commodities. might stifle the active. of modern life. dynamic and developmental of modern times as machinery itself.. leaving us endlessly. how. and even if that movement generates a successful revolution. Modernism and Modernization 105 productive units inherent in modern industry will throw large nism entrench itself in the modern world without suppressing numbers of workers together. as much an invention itself together. Thus. We can see that the fulfillment Marx sees just framework of capitalist social relations. more solid than any other capitalist product? Might not these col. How can any lasting human bonds grow in such loose and shifting soil? Even if the workers do build a successful communist movement. we can see Marx's dialectic of modernity assembly line or the picket line. obsolete before it can ossify. So Marx believes. wouldn't it betray the Marxist aim capitalism has transformed people's relationships with each other of free development for each and all? Marx looked forward to and with themselves. brought it briefly within our reach." But if this is so. "the bourgeoi- communism as the fulfillment of modernity. Once again the abstract forms of capitalism seem to subsist-capi- tal. might betray many of the solidarity. wage labor. sie" is the subject-in its economic activities that bring the big .

a world we have lost (or are in the process being. Modern erotic poetry elaborates this theme. of philistine sentimentalism. modern trageqy penetrates its awesome and fearsome depths. The bourgeoisie has torn apart the many feudal ties that bound The dialectic of nakedness that culminates in Marx is defined at men to their "natural superiors. off you available to us only in a future existence after death-the Pauline lendings"-and joins "poor Tom" in naked authenticity. bare. the whole world of sensuous expe. naked end: the solitary and poor abandoned in the cold. In some traditions. the veils are torn away. reality is accessible the thing itself: unaccommodated man . in first step toward a full humanity. and turned the family relation into a pure in the middle of the night at the height of a torrential and terrify- money relation . direct. We alrous enthusiasm. it has put open. "for now we see through a glass darkly. Modernism and Modernization 107 changes about-modern men and women of every class are ob. As he wanders medieval speculative thought. and to move beyond the bounds of his self-absorbed bitter- that exists for us here and now (or is in the process of coming into ness and misery. The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family even the barest traces of human dignity.. [475-76] and brutish enjoy all the warmth that power can provide. in the icy water see his voracious family. wheresoe'er you are. the tragic movement of modern history is supposed to culminate in a happy end. for the first time. of stretches his vision to take them in: becoming real. som~how. except life itself. "Is man no more than this?" Lear demands. In most ancient and himself against it even as it tosses and tears him. with his royal fool (Act III. veiled. In place of exploitation veiled by religious ing storm. stark naked. than callous cash payment. looks it in the face and affirms between a "real" world and an illusory one. Stripped not only of political power but of reverent awe . ironically. he space and time. That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm. clothed." and left no other bond between the very start of the modern age. For man and man than naked interest. forked animal"-turns out. the naked truth is what a man is forced to face when he has has drowned the heavenly ecstasies of pious fanaticism.. it will be moment of the play. of chiv." which Lear believes has placed him at the very nadir of existence The modern transformation.. beginning in the age of the Ren. but now he taking off one's clothes becomes an act of spiritual liberation. but then face to face. It Lear. . neither does he flee them. nor the fear. apparently even more wretched world is thought to be accessible only through transcendence of than he.106 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Marx.. he exposes as well as Western thought. with playful irony. to be his aissance and Reformation.. For him. This polarity. When he was in power he never noticed. they meet Edgar. aided by his own blind vanity. Such knowledge seems to be too much for us: "man's nature cannot Marx's basic opposition here is between what is open or naked and carry I Th' affliction. as gen- erations of modern lovers have experienced it. places both these worlds on earth. This act. Poor naked wretches. -"a poor.. symbolizes everywhere a distinction himself to the storm's full fury. instead. the clothes How shall your houselesS-heads and unfed sides. tear away of egoistical calculation .. As he stands and shivers. perennial in Eastern storm's icy blasts. he tears off his royal robes-"Off. while the true world is in the physical and social world sight. and yet. in others. the stripping process is jects. At this point a new symbolism emerges. while the nasty exploitation. Marx thinks and works in the tragic tradition. lost everything that other men can take away. for all are changed: violent and brutal. Clothes become an his kingdom is full of people whose whole lives are consumed by emblem of the old. and the act of right now. in Shakespeare's King Lear. because. the abandoned. "Thou art bodies. he says. This recognition enables him to grow in sensitivity and in- of losing). " Now. nakedness comes to sig. space and time. defenseless suffering that he is going through nify the newly discovered and experienced truth. it dawns on him that being). disguised rience appears illusory-the Hindu "veil of Maya"-and the true as a crazy beggar. This. illusory rnode of life. Now the false world is recognizes a connection between himself and another human seen as a historical past. Scene 4)." But Lear is not broken by the what is hidden. The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with its sentimental veil. shameless..... are ripped off. at the climactic through religious or philosophical meditation. is what human life comes down to in the and political illusions. filled with human beings. he is thrown out of doors its sentimental veil.

dignity in our own estimation. 4. ing and no one can rise. as a consequence. And show the heavens more just." are free from deference to masters who century to a climax act out this faith: if hereditary privileges and destroy them. everything is audible. and for themselves. ornaments that cramp the use of his powers.an open wounds. they will use them for the mand a clear account of what their bosses and rulers are doing for good of all mankind. Modernism and Modernization 109 Your loop'd and window'd raggedness defend you faded away.. By contrast. man" is the point from which accommodation must be made. from their mutual vul- and stripping as self-discovery take on a new political resonance. shows itself as clearly as the face. Here is Burke on the French Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel. they will de- tered freedom to use all their powers. the symbols of na- and equality reign. All the pleasing illusions that made power gentle. which the heart uinely qualified to be a king makes it impossible for him to be one. The From seasons such as these? 0." 1 ~ Thus the naked who have been endlessly betrayed and broken by their devotion to man will be not only a freer and happier man but a better man. 28-36] But now all is to be changed. Alone in the cold and the wind and the rain. hierarchies inflict on people." and where. their "natural superiors. "everything kedness and unveiling regain the dialectical depth that Shake- speaks out.. nerability in the cold. and says that "the good man is . Unlike the common people of all ages. they have uncovered and exposed athlete who loves to wrestle stark naked. All the decent drapery of life is to manly destroys him politically: the experience that makes him gen. opening new vis- telling us that the dreadful naked reality of the "unaccommodated tas of beauty and happiness for all. the an unmitigated disaster. Shakespeare is The philosophes imagined nakedness as idyllic. the absence of veils in For Marx." modern men. a fall into nothingness from which noth- only ground on which real community can grow. so that all men can enjoy an unfet. Their only hope lies in lies: in their capacity In Montesquieu's Persian Letters. are to be exploded as a ridiculous. The dialectical they are getting nothing real in return. Because social roles are stripped away. the metaphors of nakedness as truth might learn something. Burke cannot imagine that modern men In the eighteenth century. at the same time. Lear develops the vision and courage to break out of his loneliness. writing in the aftermath of bourgeois revolutions and the streets of Paris symbolizes a new kind of society where "liberty reactions. pomp. by. exposed like politeness" that covers his age. and obedience liberal. cruelty and misery. and looking forward to a new wave. rowing and flattening of perspective. denounces "the uniform and deceptive veil of naked power and exploitation. absurd and antiquated fashion. which harmonized the dif- It is only now that Lear is fit to be what he claims to be. are to be dissolved by this new conquer- a king. 14 ness and blight. complexity and wholeness that we found in Shakespeare have Marx's hope is that once the unaccommodated men of the work- . as Lear learns. he despises all those vile new options and hopes. everything is visible." 12 Rousseau. The bourgeois revolutions. Here a hopeful dialectic lights up the tragic bleak. to reach out to his fellow men for mutual warmth.108 ALL THAT IS Souo MELTS INTO AIR Marx." have left the Arts and Sciences. The heart speare gave them two centuries before. Revolution: That thou mayst shake the superfiux to them. and the understanding ratifies. All the super-added ideas. be rudely torn off. and to raise it to a a human being. We find here a striking absence of worry as them-and doing to them-and be ready to resist and rebel where to what the naked human being will do or be." His tragedy is that the catastrophe that redeems him hu. owns. washed in "the icy water The liberal revolutionary movements that bring the eighteenth of egoistical calculation. defects of our weak and shivering nature. as necessary to cover the His triumph lies in becoming something he never dreamt of being. and narrow polarizations have taken their place. [Ill. animated rather than numbed by the cold. "every inch ferent shades of life . I have ta'en counter-revolutionary thought of this period shows the same nar- Too little care of this! Take physic. for Burke it is counter-idyllic. they know how to think of. ing empire of light and reason. the veils that Persian women are to construct mythic draperies heavy enough to stifle their dreadful forced to wear symbolize all the repressions that traditional social knowledge of who they are. in his Discourse on in tearing away veils of "religious and political illusion.

anything goes if they are intellectually and emotionally so much easter. his point is tioned self. to overcome the cold that cuts through them all.. It isn't hard to imagine alternate endings men's inner lives: they look to the price list for answers to ques- to the dialectic of nakedness. Modernism and Modernization Ill ing class are "forced to face . fought for. when 1t co~es. : it pays. the sort of individualism that scorns and fears stead. how can its people ever settle on any real selves? Wtth more. any imaginable mode of the sort of collectivism that seeks to submerge the self in a social human conduct becomes morally permissible the moment it be- role. Old modes of honor and dignity do not die. to dtscover who the banal everyday workings of the bourgeois economic order- they "really are.. so that they can recog. Marx believes that the more elusive. no thinks it is. the vision is dazzling but the light first point here is the immense power of the market in modern flickers if we look hard.110 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Marx. Marx would upheavals and catastrophes of life in bourgeois s~iety enable say that its basis is far more concrete and mundane: it is built into moderns. because comes economically possible. rather than the Marxian attempt to fuse the best subsumes them. as Lear does. they get incorporated into the market. real self underneath the masks." The Here." But if bourgeois society is as volatile as M~rx an order that equates our human value with our market price. along with community and society. what is honorable. desperate drives that propel it. connections with other people as threats to the self's integrity. and that forces us to expand ourselves in pushing all the possibilities and necessities that bombard the self and ~1~ the our price up as far as we can make it go.r worthwhile. may be more appealing than the Marxian sy~thesis. ~ay?e even "unprincipled" principle of free trade. even what is real. This is what modern nihilism is all about. Nietzsche and their twentieth-century successors will ascribe this tic from even getting under way. . rationalism. The source of this tendency is the paradoxically and mysterious as that of the old. Their union will generate the collective energy that can fuel a new communal life. or the collective costumed comforts of the Burkean that bourgeois society does not efface old structures of value but political masque. they will be prepared to fight for c?llective re~ognition o~ the self's beauty and value. Their commumsm. There is a further problem that mtght keep the Marxtan dtalec. Thus. Thus. One of the Manifesto's primary aims is to point the way out of the The Metamorphosis of cold to nourish and focus the common yearning for communal war~th. Marx believes that the shocks and predicament to science. at once keepmg Its wearers bourgeoisie has resolved all personal honor and dignity into ex- warm and setting off their naked beauty. and gain a new life as commodities. the real conditions of their lives and their relations with their fellow men. Indeed. Because the workers can come through the affliction and Values the fear only by making contact with the self's deepest resources. change-value. ~111 appear THE PROBLEM of nihilism emerges again in Marx's next line: "The as a kind of transparent garment. in an incessant. because there will no longer be any tlluston of a bourgeois really believe in this principle-that is. becomes "valuable". as so often in Marx. endings less beautiful than Marx's tions not merely economic but metaphysical-questions of what is but no less plausible. in<!ividuality itself may be melting into the modern air. by going through them. clothed one. that other values are "resolved into" exchange value." they will come together 4. and in place of all the freedoms that men have nize themselves and each other in all their radiance. no less. take on price tags. Dostoevsky. the death of God. in- of both. how can anyone define defimuvely Marx is appalled by the destructive brutalities that bourgeois which ones are essential and which merely incidental? The nature nihilism brings to life. Modern men and women might well prefe. . When Marx says the solitary pathos and grandeur of the Rousseauean uncondi. but he believes that it has a hidden tendency of the newly naked modern man may turn out to be just as elusive to transcend itself. it has put one unprincipled freedom-free trade.

he says. as he believes. to many bourgeois tels and conglomerates. the right to offer and promote and sell their goods and losing touch with what the men with money and power ac- to as many customers as they can attract. The unprincipled principle of free trade will force the power. surprisingly." ~1mply got to ~o: . This in turn extend free competition to ideas as well as things. It is of Cap1tahst Accumulation.) Baudelaire wili sie. small voices in bourgeois society. Here Marx may be in danger-a surprising danger for bourgeoisie to grant even communists the basic right that all busi. even among the few who bourgeoisie really do want a free market.. if not monstrous. A more typical bourgeois pattern is to deals. protective tariffs. because if the members of the Thus. S. "To perpetuate" such a social system." Marx understood would be "to decree universal mediocrity. in ideas. In fact.. associations. J. him-of getting carried away by what bourgeois ideologues say. t In th~ c!imactic chapt~r ~~ the first volume of Capital. Yet their they will sell. in bour. Justices Holmes and Brandeis· and Douglas open society. the members of the praise of the free market." asserts a special affinity bourgeoisie's commitment to the unprincipled principle of free between mode~n ~nterpnse ~nd modern art: both are striving "to realize the idea trade. artistic". laws and social policies. * T~e most trenchant statement of this principle-that free trade and competition This dialectic presents several problems. t ism of strength. "the spirit may have grown so strong that previous goals (convictions. by virtue of what Marx calls "free competition within the bourgeoisie really don't give a damn about freedom. Marx grounds that they may sell. on the and it will be harder than ever for communism to take root. so that people will be free to shop around and seek the best tled and marginal at best. ideas-like the Manifesto itself-must be allowed to appear. they will have to enforce really do believe in free exchange. that Marx is utterly incapable of imagining. holding companies. be discussed_ at length i~ t?e following chapter. "The Historical Tendency • See the crucial distinction in The Will to Power. like the 1850s or the 1970s. and communism as a "self-conscious. much of their cre. Phaidon." (MER 437) This is perhaps the one thing far better than Nietzsche the nihilistic strength of modern bourgeois society. 41-43. the Another problem in Marx's dialectic of the free market is that it bourgeoisie will open the political and cultural floodgates through which its revolutionary nemesis will flow. Sections 22-23: "Nihilism. Moreover. His Preface to the Salon of 18~6. The members of the bourgeoi. Marx is confident that once the ideas would say that their need for progress and innovation will force of revolution and communism become accessible to the masses them to open up their societies even to ideas they dread. Marx says that when a system of social relations acts as ambiguous: A. somehow. because each individual bourgeois from the risks of competition. consensus of mutually enforced mediocrity. tually do. open or who embraced it enthusiastically just a few years before. only to dismiss the possibility. It d1dn't get annihilated? Marx lets himself imagine this for barely an articles of faith) have become incommeasurate . Modernism and Modernization 113 unrestricted flow of commodities in circulation. a continuous meta. instant. car. what Nietzsche would call a nihil. not only economically but politically and culturally as and Black have been still." But what would happen In Type A. Mill. industrial. 1965." that social system has B. arguments hke Baudela1re s make perfect sense to large numbers of people in dynamic and progressive periods like the 1840s-or the 1960s. independent ingenuity might avoid this through a truly insidious innovation: a movement of the immense majority'' (482) will come into its own. (Art in Paris 1845-62 the breach than in the observance. of the future m Its most d1verse forms-political. embat- well. both are geois history this principle has generally been more honored in thwarted by ·:the aristocrats of thought. then they will realm of knowledge" (489). The first concerns the entad free thought and culture-may be found. politics or culture. there are fewer still who would the freedom of new products to enter the market. Nihilism as a sign of increased power of the spirit: as active nihilism. even the most subversive works and work to keep the societies they control closed against new ideas. tive strength as a violent force of destruction-as active nihilism." who would sufle the energy and progress of modern life. Indeed. But it is worth noting here that manipulate and control their markets. in Baudelaire. dedicated "To the Bourgeois. 1f. especially the most powerful.* Propelled by its nihilistic drives and energies. and bour- he sees it as active and dynamic. geois society as a whole from the risks of change.112 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR Marx. as well as in praise freedom when in opposition and to repress it when in things. hidden subsidies from the state-all accompanied by paeans in morphosis of market values. This is a serious problem. this sort of doing this-chartered monopolies.* Wilhelm von means that any full-fledged bourgeois society must be a genuinely Humboldt. fetter on "the free development of productive forces. whether in economics. price-fixing. the monopolists of things of the mind. translated and edited by Jonathan Mayne. designed to protect Thus he can live with bourgeois nihilism in the long run. Nihilism as decline and recession of the power of the spirit: as passive nihilism."It must be annihilated. nessmen enjoy. . If. trusts. It reaches its maximum of rela. a. argument is apt to sound unthinkably bizarre. it is annihilated. have generally fought torestrict. On the other hand ative energy over the centuries has gone into arrangements for in periods of reaction and stagnation.

This society is driven by us unprmc1pled p~m­ ciple of free exchange to open itself to ~ovements for rad1cal 5. despite their differences. toward peaceful harmony and m. free from fear and trembling. ~arx does ALL THE ambiguities in Marx's thought are crystallized in one of not seem to be disturbed by the amb1gmues of th1s soc1al r~le­ his most luminous images. The halo splits life into sacred and pro- the promise that communism. or fied. no one is untouchable. that the revolutionary enterpnse wdl be put out of bus~ness and looked up to with reverent awe. sees the virtue of a life without auras: it brings about a condition geois precursor-though ~lso ~ore da_ri~~.and original-~ecau~e. speak. our skeptical doubts about promoters prom1ses must gaard. as Marx aims to do. the free development of each and all m1ght de~elo~ 1-t~ own _dis. I realize the word is anachronistic to Marx's time-it stems from Nietzsche's generation-but it has the advantage of bringing together. Wissenschaft*]. A century later. den. rather than belief or dogma or theology. Modernism and Modernization 115 entails a strange collusion between bourgeoi_s societ~ a~d its m?st radical opponents. manipulative frauds and w1shful self-deceptions. life becomes thoroughly desancti- dreadful impulses might flow in along w1th It. But Marx also turn out to be far more explosive and disintegrative than its bour. for tions. wnte. a commumst mh1hsm m1ght one in their way if self-interest drives them to it. Marx's communism might launch the liberated self into immense unknown human spaces with no limits *The word Wissenschaft may be translated in many ways. and hence about himself. Thus the modern bourgeoisie may hold vast while capitalism cuts the mfimte poss1bd1Ues of modern hfe w1th material powers over the workers and everybody else. Whatever word we use. it is crucial to remember that Marx is talking here about the predicament of his own group. meet. the sanctified figure is torn from the matrix of us from the horrors of bourgeois nihilism. into its paid wage-laborers. . strike." (476) The halo. But their freedom to move transforms. Marx knows. the man of science [Mann der of promoting revolution is open to_ the same abuses _and tempta. as for his contemporary Kierke- Finally. but it will the limits of the bottom line. For Marx. of spiritual equality." "scholarship" or any sustained and seri- at all. they are free to trample down every- tinctive varieties of nihilism. I have intermittently used the word "intellectuals" as shorthand for the diverse occupational groups Marx brings together here. Marx believes that capitalism tends to destroy this mode of ex- tegration? Even if a triumphant communism should someday flow perience for everybody: "all that is holy is profaned". while upholding and a~tually fane: it creates an aura of holy dread and radiance around the deepening the freedoms that capitalism has brought ~s. orgamze. we can see how the busmess the lawyer. Indeed. change.t- onstrate. . all work with their minds. The enemies of capitalism_ may enJOY a great dea~ of free- dom to do their work-to read.114 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Marx. w1l! fre_e figure who wears it. the last one we will explore here: "The maybe because he is sure that it will ~eco~e obsolete before 1~ can bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every activity hitherto honored ossify. is a primary symbol of religious experience. this is frightful: modern men and impacted inside? It is easy to imagine ho~ a society c~mm1tted _to women may well stop at nothing. It has transformed the doctor. and they find themselves ~ast m ~he paradoxical role of merchants a_nd ~romoters ~f revolution. with no dread to hold them back. . people in diverse occupations who. In some ways. ev~~ythmg e~se. as any Marx. the1r The Loss of a Halo movement into an enterprise. narrowly as "science" or more broadly as "knowledge. currents to flow only one way. of something holy. If bourgeois society _1s the human condition. 15 ous intellectual pursuit. experience. wh1ch necessarily becomes a commod1ty hke. how can he expect all _1ts sures that animate the men and women who surround it. split off inexorably from the needs and pres- really the maelstrom Marx thinks it is. the experience other promotional line." "learning. elect. nothing is through the floodgates that free trade o~ns ~P· w~o ~nows what sacred. by its rapid success. ?r m 1ts w~ke. the priest. the poet. forms lead us to question one of the primary promises in Marx's work: the core of religious life.

all are modes of prodJ. are members of the proletariat. he is trying to make us see which vastly expands the market for their products and skills. them. identity-after all. Art. Marx's targets here are. unless their the power to live on a higher plane than ordmary humamty. members will be powerless to resist. the themselves and each other on a single plane of being. selves piecemeal" to an employer willing to exploit their brains for Why does Marx place that halo on the heads of modern profes. scribes intellectuals as wage earners. They are conditions under which they are forced to work." rather than any intrinsic work he shares this faith. one they are thrown into the working class by the historically defined that generates special privileges. the fluctuations of the market. most ready to flare up in revolutionary forms. the man of science"-":ho think the~ have will pay them unless it pays to pay them-that is. Modern professionals. When Marx de. competition. to all the fluctuations of the market. physical science. who must sell the first volume of Capital. insofar as they disenchantment with capitalism is pervasive and intense. the poet. only if someone with capital will pay home: those professionals and intellectuals-"the doctor. Thus they can write books. intellectuals and artists. bourgeoisie controls the means of production in culture. paint pictures. This passage is so beauty or value-that will determine their fate. all confront social theory like Marx's own. who wants to belong to the proletariat?-but Intellectuals occupy a peculiar position in the working class. a lot closer to historical laws. they must compete (often brutally and paradoxes of their historical role: even though they tend to ~ride unscrupulously) for the privilege of being bought. find work only so long constructing haloes of its own. [479] tive. because they must sell their labor power of"the modern working class. separated from the products of their labor. They must scheme and hustle to present themselves in a sionals and intellectuals in the first place? To bring out one of the maximally profitable light. to go on with their work.lction. commerce. and reaching out to market: the modern bourgeoisie is remarkably resourceful in tear the haloes from modern intellectuals' heads.to really has orbit of its power. more to do with them than with the Germany of Marx's time). creative processes and products will be used and transformed in The basic fact of life for these intellectuals. in his analysis of "The Fetishism of themselves piecemeal." They must "sell them- transcend capitalism in life and work. save lives. profit.. discover physical or self. These workers. . Once the work is done they are. we realize that in wringing profit out of thought. What will happen instead is that some sense it is his own head he is laying bare. but also special ironies. especially in England and France (the Manifes. For the first time in history. the bourgeoisie will prove remarkably inventive in live only so long as they find work. Modernism and Modernization 117 never achieve the spiritual ascendancy that earlier ruling classes modern culture as part of modern industry. In the next twenty years or so. 16 In the climate of 1848. could take for granted. and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of tions between men in a market society as purely physical. and anyone who wants to create must work in the when. and . simply in order themselves on their emancipated and thoroughly secular mmds. "objec. the proletariat. Marx will try to strip these away in as their labor increases capital. this bourgeois pseudo-religiosity had not yet established it. are a commodity like every other article of Commodities"-a mystique that disguises the intersubjective rela. as Marx sees them. for that matter. Marx does not arresting because. as we see Marx identifying himself with the expect that great ideas and works will fall stillborn for want of a critical force and insight of the bourgeoisie. for both him and us.116 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Marx. goods and services go on sale. the priest. and al. beneficiaries of the bourgeois demand for perpetual innovation. like all they turn out to be just about the only moderns who really believe other workers." unalterable relations between things. Their that they are called to their vocations and that their work is holy. But the pressures of bourgeois society are such that no one yer. the law. and it is "the vicissitudes of compe- It is obvious to any reader of Marx that in his commitment to his tition. ways that will dumfound or horrify their creators. to works somehow help to "increase capital. But the creators is that they are "paid wage-laborers" of the bourgeoisie.. a self-deception. And yet he is suggesting here that in truth or beauty or value-or. as in We must remember that Marx is writing at a historical moment everything else. any lack of truth or some sense it is a bad faith." They may deny this in order to live.

absurdly complacent in their faith that they had alone but for spiritual sustenance-a sustenance they know the the power to transcend it. and so "increase capital. Modernism and Modernization 119 often stimulates their creative audacity and imagination. dependence-on the bourgeois world they despise. Faust also embodied a faith. contains depths that its creator could not have fore- to be perpetually pushed and pressed in order to maintain its seen. This is what stripping away the haloes vision of bourgeois society is at all accurate. Next. because they are personally in. If being a paid wage laborer is the it creates. agitation. trapped in these am. like all the great images in the history of literature requires constant revolutionizing. In "selling themselves piecemeal. This twentieth-century Leninist "vanguards" who make an identical- means. caught up and entangled in them. sometime'! which dialogue on a public scale can take place: no idea can reach interfused-sanctified themselves as avant-gardes. then. and-if aim to destroy it." they stacles: their ideas and movements are in danger of melting into are selling not merely their physical energy but their minds. and its need to satisfy the insatiable needs image of the working class. Even as Marx was discovering socialism in the Paris of the complex of needs endemic to intellectuals: they are driven not 1840s. it raises questions about Marx's own romantic tion and development. Hence they turn out to be dependent on the market not for bread at the same time. it needs and thought." while the circle around Auguste Comte was desire to communicate. Marx's indictment of the nineteenth-century ar- elasticity and resilience·. They were at or change moderns unless it can be marketed and sold to them." Now. to transform enmity into intimacy and volved in their work-unlike most wage laborers. But its very capacity for development enables it they are shrewd enough and lucky enough to exploit the need for to negate its own inner negations: to nourish itself and thrive on brains-enables them to escape the chronic poverty in which most opposition. would imagine radical ways out: in their situation. The lutionary ideas would spring from the most direct and intense networks and ambiguities of the market are such that everybody is personal needs. they will expand be possible to overcome these contradictions unless we confront and enrich the market. once perceptive and trenchant in their critiques of capitalism. Goethe's Faust gave us climate is to try to destroy danger by denying it. to appropriate and assimilate new ener. to become stronger amid pressure and crisis than it workers live. virtually the whole of themselves. their the same modern air that decomposes the bourgeois order they sensibilities." Both men. body in bourgeois society can be so pure or safe or free. To surround oneself with a halo in this powers.118 ALL THAT Is SouD MELTS INTO AIR Marx. however. but by a "art for art's sake. there is every reason means. egoistical calculation and brutal exploitation. revo. if Marx's them directly and openly. On the other hand. Intellectuals must recognize the ism also serve to frustrate it. their deepest feelings. disturbance. however. The intellectuals the archetype of a modern intellectual forced to "sell himself" in of Marx's time were particularly susceptible to this sort of bad order to make a difference in the world. needs. tistic and scientific avant-gardes cuts just as deeply against the gies. to drive itself to new heights of activity and growth. that men and movements that proclaim their and equally groundless-claim to transcend the vulgar world enmity to capitalism may be just the sort of stimulants capitalism of need. could ever be in peace. attackers into inadvertent allies. which they share with all men. who a~e alien. We saw that even the most subversive depths of their own dependence-spiritual as well as economic ideas must manifest themselves through the media of the market. interest. 17 It is easy to see why modern intellectuals. ated and indifferent-the fluctuations of the market place strike In this climate. First of all. Bourgeois society. This system This image. radical intellectuals encounter radical ob- them in a far deeper way. that they could live and work freely market cannot be counted on to provide. 18 to think that it will generate a market for radical ideas. their visionary and imaginative are working to overcome. It will never Insofar as these ideas attract and arouse people. But the social conditions that inspire their radical. how can Marx speak of the proletariat . Gautier and Flaubert were developing their mystique of only by a need to live. through its insatiable drive for destruc. inevitably produces radical ideas and movements that antithesis of having a halo. Marx's point in tearing the haloes from their heads is that no- biguities. and. But the cultural commodity market offers the only media in these groups-sometimes in conflict with each other. beyond its norms and demands. to engage in dialogue with their fellow constructing its own parallel mystique of "pure science.

its pitiless destruction of everything and everyone it cannot use- so much of the pre-modern world. I have tried to read modernism in a Marxist transcendence. in the I HAVE been trying in this essay to define a space in which Marx's expressionists. dadaists and constructivists of 1914-25. modern disintegration and nihilism. phony claims of transcendence is to demand and fight for real At the same time. exploded. as he understood it. thought and the modernist tradition converge. uncertainty about what is basic. to suggest how its characteristic energies. Rimbaud's "Il faut etre absolument moderne"-as the way dernity. as much the invention of modern time as machinery step further. futurists. But as revolutions have been sup- tion fused with a sense of horror. Modernism and Modernization 121 as a class of new men. a basic dialectical process. even what is real. from Prague to Paris ence.A. they have come together on their own at several points over the past century. the volatility and endless meta- morphosis of all its values in the maelstrom of the world market. embrace a vision of ultimate or ultramodernity-Marx's "new-fan- dictions of modern life? Indeed. To do this. Criticism. what is valuable. its demands on people to exploit not only their the intellect. the ravages of throw out the hopes as Utopian and naive. decomposed. and itself: the glory of modern energy and dynamism. Some readers may be he develops the themes by which modernism will come to define inclined to take only the criticism and self-criticism to heart. one of the great commu. we can carry this questioning a gled men . the sense of being caught in a vortex where all facts and thinking. in the radical initiatives of the 1960s. both through with contradictory impulsions and potentialities. described as "pessimism of moral bounds. from its relentless and insatiable pressure for growth and prog- dynamic balance that Antonio Gramsci. Wagner. national and nist writers and leaders of our century. Both confront this realm with mixed emotions. the strange intimacy between would be to miss what Marx saw as the essential point of critical them. to drive and in. insights and anxi- a halo around one's own stagnation and resignation. Courbet. In fact.120 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR Marx. To give up the quest for transcendence is to erect way. through and beyond these contradictions. but so much of itself and its own modern world as well-and its capacity to exploit crisis and chaos as a springboard for still more development. was part of an ongoing values are whirled. optimism of the will. haloes. My language.S. to unmask negations. as well as Marx. and to betray eties spring from the drives and strains of modern economic life: not only Marx but ourselves. to bring out the vividness and richness of his tension between Marx's critical insights and his radical hopes. in 1848. Thus. radical fusion has given way to fission. I don't pretend to be the first to bring Marxism and modernism Contradictions of Capitalism together. First of all. death. itself". We can see their fusion in Baudelaire. awe and ela. a flaring up of the most radical hopes in the midst of their radical to propel both parties toward a new synthesis. both in the ferment and agitation in Eastern Europe after Stalin's are attempts to evoke and to grasp a distinctively modern experi. and both Marxism and modernism have congealed into orthodoxies and . Both see modern life as shot pressed or betrayed." 19 fellow men but also themselves. veils. It was meant to be dynamic. and confronted all its endemic ironies and ambiguities. its expansion of human desires beyond local. heat. the depth and complexity of his imagery-clothes and emphases in this essay have leaned toward the skeptical and self. uniquely equipped to transcend the contra. We need to strive for the precarious.. most dramatically at moments of historical crisis and revolutionary hope. If we have followed Marx's unfolding vision of mo. spire the person criticized to overcome both his critics and himself. cold-and to show how brilliantly critical undercurrents in Marx's thought. to feed itself on Conclusion: Culture and the its own self-destruction. however. how can we expect anybody to transcend all this? In the spirit of convergence. I have tried to read Marx as a Once again we encounter a problem we have met before: the modernist writer. ress. nakedness. and throughout the U.. recombined.

give modernist art and thought a new ist polemics. working hard to fulfill his wayward wife's insatiable desires worked to repress it. In place of the old wants. the surrealism of the 19~0s and the work of American universal interdependence. for writers like Bell. But Marxism's strength has always lain in its willingness to orthodoxies-the autonomy of culture. requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. that has set and kept the pot boiling-reluc- deny or defy. is a pale reproduction of his ancestral trust. According to Daniel Bell. perhaps. so in spiritual thinkers like Paul Goodman and Norman 0. modernism and modernization. [4 76-77] ." and ex- end of the 1960s. to abandon this primary source of strength him-and turning it against modernism itself. erature. but all too often dutiful. but who often create brilliant syntheses in spite of themselves. free from society and history. This portrait of capitalist in- phrase) if they kept looking into the abyss ~he abyss wo~ld start nocence has a fine pastoral charm. Adorno and Sartre. now Burroughs International. and that have flourished in the reactionary am. Another sort of convergence pervades the ~orks of men . out of fear. Benjamin. "Modernism has been the seducer." enticing contemporary men and women (and even children) to desert their moral. complex and ironic relationships for more than a hundred years.like Mayak?~sky.ways. is the fact that these spiritual and cultural movements. whose solidity and invest its creations with an unsuspected resonance and profits financed his avant-garde career: the Burroughs Adding depth. and laugh all the way to the bank. Marxism as tin'feslt Burg of solid rock.ually distrustful. they need to learn that it could give them back all their eruptive power. 211 Orthodox modermsts.as. 21 leaves Marxism with little but the name. plained how modern bourgeois society was bringing a world cul- bience of the past decade. numerous national and local literatures there arises a world lit- ing between them. It is modern capitalism. of political quiescence: cf. a favorite bete noire in anti-modern- -and. we find new wants. In place of the old local and • Marxism and modernism may also come together as a Utopian . have to take it seriously if he hoped to survive for even a week in the spared no expense of spirit in refashioning fo~ themsel~es the hal~ real world that capitalism has made. to work through them and all the norms and needs that bind the ordinary mortals around work them through. have been bubbles on the surface of a something better in exchange: a heightened capacity to imagine social and economic cauldron that has been teeming and boiling and express the endlessly rich. become common property. oped here to bear on some contemporary debates concerning In addition to these polemical attacks. essay tries to close off an exit route for orthodox Ma~xi~ts by sh?w. Machine Company. who experaence modermsm . Marx in the Manifesto the conservative indictments of modernism that developed at the took up Goethe's idea of an emerging "world literature. political and economic stations and duties. I will begin by considering elicited objections of a very different order. at the same time. As for the orthodox mod. satisfied by the productions of the italism. for of their haloes. Cap. especially in his most original work.fantasy in a period national self-sufficiency. but no capitalist could afford looking back into them. and who spend the1r bves plung. A fusion of Marx with modernism should melt the tant as capitalism may be to face the heat. (On the other hand. sober nihilists I want in this concluding section to bring the ideas I have devel. the most ture into being: serious of these polemicists. a spmtual mindedness become more and more impossible.122 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Marx. Herben Marcuse [geistige] production. the artist's superiority to start from frightening social realities. Brown m the 1950s. we have intercourse in every direction. The spiritual creations of individual nations spans both generations. meanwhile.* So-called or. Th1s can certainly enjoy this picture as a fine piece of public relations. modernism has always Marx. It would reveal modernism as the realism of our time. Eros and CiviliUilion (1955). by modernists and anti-modernists ernists who avoid Marxist thought for fear that it might strip them alike. But what is masked here. is wholly innocent in this affair: it is country. unexciting but decent and thodox Marxists have at best 1gnored modermsm. Modernism and Modernization 123 gone their separate and mut. not mod- between them and the "modern bourgeois society" that they try to ern art and culture. National one-sidedness and narrow- Brecht. portrayed as a kind of Charles Bovary.) Then. The drug-crazed too-solid body of Marxism-or at least warm it up and thaw it out nihilism of William Burroughs. and from the maelstrom. of the bottom line. capitalists of an unconditioned "pure" art. we must admire ing how the abyss they fear and flee opens up w1thm Marx1sm Bell's ingenuity in taking one of the most persistent of modernist itself. that (in Nietzsche's and to pay her insupportable debts. too. And as in material.

modernism. Western. forced to develop or disintegrate-or rather. to achieve China's Maoist mandarins and their comrades in the West-isn't what nineteenth-century Russians called the leap from feudalism even supposed to have a word for individuality.124 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTo AIR Marx. ernism for their own good. the whole point of doing and what they are. the modernist spirit is one of the first things to come out: it is the cessity inexorably awaiting the whole of mankind. It is the culture of to socialism: in other words. so many seem to share a fervent desire to wipe modern Governments don't like it. as Octavio Paz says. (Indeed. countries to be free of this alien influence. but it is likely that in the long run culture off their respective maps. to attain the modernism that inspires the hauntingly intense electronic rock heights of modern community without ever going through the music of the Plastic People of Prague. sometimes as a desperate hope-it was only in the West spirit that forces Latin American writers to write from European that "all that is solid melts into air. as it generally turns out." they Now it would be stupid to deny that modernization can proceed are bound to produce cultures that will show them what they are along a number of different roads. as Marx governments say. But it is relevant to point out the fact that. or is blown off. in many different ways. mass impoverishment and class polarization. by heroic exertions. that expresses the and interests of those who would protect their people from mod- universal scope of modern desires. But what if this culture were not universal after all. on the run from their own censors and The twentieth century has seen a great variety of attempts to political police. as the Third World is increasingly modernization theory is to chart these roads. and that." or North American exile. "condemned to modernity. anarchy-might be a cultural peculiarity rather than an iron ne. If this culture were really exclusively tions of the bourgeois economy. So long as they are forced to sink or swim in the people can be protected from this culture." is in fact the middle of the nineteenth century by various Russian populists. would these governments need to expend as thought it would be? What if it turned out to be an exclusively and much energy repressing it as they do? What they are projecting parochially Western affair? This possibility was first proposed in onto aliens. When They argued that the explosive atmosphere of modernization in government spokesmen and propagandists proclaim their various the West-the breakdown of communities and the psychic isola. what they really mean tion of the individual. This is no place to sands of barricaded rooms on bootlegged cassettes even as the explore the many different modes of modernization that are avail. It is this spirit that speaks from the dissident wall realize nineteenth-century populist dreams. other nations and civilizations achieve more harmonious fusions It is this spirit. musicians languish in prison camps. It is modernist culture that able in the world today. going off in a multitude of directions to pursue volatile and uncon. at once lyrical and ironical. fantastic and realistic. Their hope is that. then they can be mobi. Thus. When the lid comes off. that has made Latin American liter- In short-sometimes this belief was expressed as a complacent ature the most exciting in the world today-though it is also this dogma. despite the media. far . that every modern city must look and think like New York or Los tional modernism that has flourished from his era to our own: a Angeles or Tokyo. corrosive and com- of traditional ways of life with modern potentialities and needs? mitted. maelstrom of the world market. we need to scrutinize the aims culture that is broad-minded and many-sided. individuality in a country that-so we were told only yesterday by These regimes have all tried. is the "common property" of man. keeps critical thought and free imagination alive in much of the in spite of the enormous differences among political systems non-Western world today. proclaiming the rights of free gimes have come to power all over the underdeveloped world. as revolutionary re. their own people's energies and desires and critical spirit. as they are. is merely that they have managed to keep a political and spiritual a cultural creativity that sprang from desperate moral and spiritual lid on their people so far. forced to strive desperately to lized in a solid front to pursue common national aims. instead of accumulate capital. and hence as irrelevant to the Third World as most of its kind. today. Nevertheless. if only the they can't help it. Modernism and Modernization 125 Marx's scenario can serve as a perfect program for the interna. and prohibiting as "Western decadence. Why should not return of the repressed. music that is played in thou- depths of modern fragmentation and disunity.) There is no reason caught up in the dynamics of modernization. to develop and disintegrate-so long trollable aims of their own. posters in Peking and Shanghai.

capacities. has degenerated into different vari~ties of frenzied Caesa. by Herbert Marcuse and Hannah Arendt. laire knew well. whom Marcuse sees Finally. Paz argues that the Third World desperately needs the imaginative and critical energy of modernism.. paradise-the Nirvana-principle not Marx. what- [They] stand for a very different reality . and Dionysus-and Baudelaire and Rilke. own. The basic premise is far from the center of Marx's imagination-but less than there that Marx uncritically celebrates the values of labor and produc. sus. "the universality of the one that follows. . Marx and the Young Hegelians in the 1840s. "the revolt of the maintained. it is valuable for Marcuse to proclaim.. the voice that does not command but sings. He might also argue that it is only against a background of Pro- methean striving that Orphic rapture gains moral or psychic value. the There is something to this-certainly "luxe. Modernism and Modernization 127 from exhausting itself. but Ideology).<which he its precarious balance from being swept away and melting in foul never put in print) that Marx wanted to turn the whole world mto a g~ant work. the halt of time.126 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTs INTO AIR Marx. He and Orpheus. t This criticism might best be summed up by T. be- symbolizes productiveness. is attacked. productivity. pleasures. or mankind would have to work incessantly-like Sisyphus. . and neglects other human activities and modes of being that not work and production but rather the far more complex and are ultimately at least as important. which raise some as death but life. If Marx is fetishistic about anything.. Third World . Marx wants to embrace Prometheus the gods. the ideal of harmony between man and nature. individual needs. understands something that . in The Human Condition. 196-98. but seem to have conceived What the Promethean/Marxian VISion fails to see is the joys of them in the 1920s.. Marcuse proceeds to nominate alternate mythological figures. . etc.* the redemption of pleasure. it is tion.. The experiences and human qualities that Marcuse values would cer- Prometheus is the culture-hero of toil. Moreover. it is obvious what is being said between the lines: (Grundrisse)." Arendt. who creates culture at the price of perpetual pain. calme et volupte" by themselves are merely boring. mystical rapture. W. and progress tainly be included in this agenda." _ . the unceasing effort to master life. night. "the free development of each will be the condition strangely never mentioned by name. sleep. -a difficult enough question in its own right-it would take an the deed which is peace and ends the labor of conquest: the immense amount of Promethean activity and striving to create it.. as the Frankfurt as their modern votaries. even if it could be created. in the milieu of German romantic existential. man with nature . peacefulness and passivity. a ism. Adorno's ~emark . as Baude- whom he considers more worthy of idealization: Orpheus. he considers communism worth fighting for. ciple. "the fully developed individual" (Capital). "luxe. Narcis.t Marx is reproached here. for a failure of moral imagination. calme et volupte" is issues they raise are as relevant as ever today. nevertheless. in which Marx's presence is evident on every page. But it is equally important for us to realize that. it would still have to be • Alternating Current. in a passage ·like for the free development of all" (Manifesto). Prometheus is the archetypal hero of the performance-prin. I want to comment briefly on two indictments of death: silence. in comprehensive ideal of development-"the free development of other words. Theirs is the image ever the concrete content of this balance and harmony might be of joy and fulfillment. is only just beginning to come into its liberty from time that unites man with god. Marcuse and Arendt formulated their critiques in America in the 1950s. "development Marcuse's most trenchant criticism of Marx occurs in Eros and of a totality of capacities in the individuals themselves" (German Civilization. where Marx's favorite culture hero. However. Prome. though there is no guarantee through repression . may at first seem to be.. cause for the first time in history it could enable men to have both . physical and spiritual energies" (1844 manuscripts). and given the dynamism of the modern economy. au. In a sense their arguments go back to the debates between state of oneness with nature rather than achieved mastery over it. but con- languishes beneath the stranglehold of bureaucracies that are both cymcal and stantly striving to develop new measures and new means-to keep fuzzy-minded. the trickster and (suffering) rebel against that they would head the list. sensual languor. Without it."' of the central issues of this book. productive forces. the absorption of In closing.rism." theus. house.. School has always proclaimed..

Thus the trouble in Marx's thought turns out to be a trouble that runs through the whole structure of modern life itself. not out of it. for his answers as for his questions.) Arendt never makes it clear what. She is right to say that Marx never developed a theory of political community. thrown together by the In a communist society where the free development of each is the same forces that pull us apart. ready to stretch ourselves to grasp new human possibili- these freely developing individuals together? They might share a ties. I have been arguing that those of us who are most critical of modern life need modernism most. to show us where we are and where we can begin to change our circumstances and ourselves. greatest of modernists. I have gone to him not so much the lack of a basis for any authority at all. thrown back on our individual dividualism that underlies Marx's communism." 24 This critique of Marx poses an authentic and urgent human problem. ironically. what is going to hold together. But Arendt comes no closer than Marx to resolving the problem. The great gift he can give us rectly. modern life but a surer and deeper way into these contradictions. But the problem is that. (These are consigned to "the cares of the household. but this would be together as the fierce modern air blows hot and cold through us "no true public realm. as in many of her works.'' A society like this might well come to feel a sense of collec- tive futility: "the futility of a life which does not fix or realize itself in any permanent subject that endures after its labor is past. the nihilistic directions in which that individualism may lead. though with an unjustified glee. Modernism and Modernization 129 liberal critics of Marx generally miss: the real problem in his search of a place to begin. their work and production relationships. modern men can or ought to share. in spite of all. forced to exploit each other and ourselves in too. In . "Marx predicted cor. and understands.'' Arendt understands the depth of the in. ment of 'the productive forces of society. it is not at all clear what political bonds modern men can create. can fully communicate. will and energy. order to survive. Karl Marx.'" The members of his He knew that the way beyond the contradictions would have to communist society would find themselves. "caught in lead through modernity. is not a way out of the contradictions of public realm under the conditions of the unhampered develop. aesthetic. open. to develop identities and mutual bonds that can help us hold common quest for infinite experiential wealth. she weaves a splendid rhetoric of public life and action." a subpolitical realm which Arendt considers to be devoid of the capacity to create human value. but leaves it quite unclear what this life and action are supposed to consist of-except that political life is not supposed to include what people do all day. I have gone back to one of the first and thought is not a draconic authoritarianism but its radical opposite. but only private activities displayed in the all. moral haloes and sentimental veils. the 'withering away' of the today. Here.128 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Marx. He knew we must start the fulfillment of needs that nobody can share and which nobody where we are: psychically naked. besides lofty rhetoric. given the nihilistic thrust of modern personal and social development. dimly aware of all we might be condition for the free development of all. and right that this is a serious prob- lem. stripped of all religious. and yet. it seems to me.

and yet mtding it represent something beyond it.lf-tlu:Jt Baudelaire laM created a mode of reka" and ~re11ion for other men. "Baudelaire.Baudelaire: Modernisn1 in the Streets But now imllfine a city liM Paril . Eliot. 3 May 1827 It il not merely in /ail "" of imagery of common life." which they see as a species of pure spirit. -Goethe to Eckermann. S. not merely in the imagery of the sordicllife of a great metropolil. Much of this energy has fragmented itself in perverse and self-defeating ways. -T. an immense amount of energy has been expended all over the world in exploring and unraveling the meanings of modernity.. evolving in accord with its autonomous artistic and 131 . Our vision of modern life tends to split into material and spiritual planes: some people de- vote themselves to "modernism. but in the elevation of such imagery to first intenaity--pr11enting it M it il." 1930 IN THE past three decades. imllfine tlail metropolil of the world ••• where lailtory confronts us on every street corner..

MER." a complex of material structures and processes oped along the lines de Banville suggests: the more seriously West- -political. ingly elusive and hard to pin down. powerfully and origi. and two of his great essays. his aspirations and his despair. but this purely formal criterion for nally.." 1 The poet Theodore de empties the idea of modernity of all its specific weight. the contingent. as brant senses. Baudelaire culture.. its morals.au~elai. the youthful Paul Verlaine tried to revive interest deprives it of "originality. his brain saturated with Baudelaire says. by spreading modernity through all history. have set agendas for a whole century of art and costumes and gestures will produce eternal verities leaves French thought. But this this sensitive individual as a type. modern art-these terms occur incessantly in Baudelaire's antiquarian classical fixations that dominate French culture. life: the interfusion of its material and spiritual forces. illness art stuck in "an abyss of abstract and indeterminate beauty. new scene of world history in this time-honored disguise and this borrowed lan- and move them when other artists left them cold.re. su~pos~dly. his blood burning with alcohol. the more we under way. modern man . "We work. in terms surprisingly similar to Bau- to sights that did not possess beauty in themselves. the intimate And yet. In 1865. for instance.ns. This dualism. cuts us all off from one of the pervasive facts of modern would surely be the man. If we had to nominate a first modernist." The sterile faith that archaic lished in 1863). once.132 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in the Streets 133 intellectual imperatives. they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past sad and often tragic heart of the modern city.."* We can see what ness: "Baudelaire's originality is to portray. other people work within the orbit of Baudelaire's reputation in the century since his death has devel- "modernization. battle slogans and costumes in order to present the haunted. elist or philosopher) of modern life is one who concentrates his This chapter is built around Baudelaire. He had thus been able to give beauty * Marx." The painter (or nov- ing about modernity sadly lacks.. Baudelaire portrays far as he captures the look and feeling of his own era. pervasive in contemporary pioneer. "Every old master has his own modernity. pub. runs on its own momentum with httle or no mput from appreciate Baudelaire's originality and courage as a prophet and human minds or souls. Modermty. the short "Heroism of Modern are struck by a general tendency among artists to dress all their Life" and the longer "Painter of Modern Life" (1859-60. dernity' I mean the ephemeral." inso- tobacco. That was why he and borrow from them names. subjects in the garments of the past. the half of art it gave their visions a richness and depth that contemporary writ. It makes any and all times "modern times"." This concept of modernity is meant to cut against the life. .. most famous dicta. but by bringing to light the por. modern man with h1s acute and VI. Stendhal and B. . not by making delaire's. And just when men seem engaged in revolutionizing themselves and things. economic. one salient quality of Baudelaire's many writings on unity of the modern self and the modern environment. with his weaknesses. its emotions. ana would always haunt." which can only come from "the seal in him by stressing his modernity as a primary source of his great. By this criterion. tion of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. But the modern life and art is that the meaning of the modern is surpris- first great wave of writers and thinkers about modernity-Goethe. about classical and antique fixations in the politics of the left: "The tradi- them romantically picturesque.. one of his Hegel and Marx. Baudelaire is driving at here. from 'The Painter of Modern Life": "By 'mo- Herzen and Dostoevsky-had an mstmcuve feehng for this umty. him directly away from where he wants to go. was complaining. his painfully subtle spirit. at Baudelaire's grave: ironically. its concrete Banville developed this theme two years later in a moving tribute historical content. it has got ern culture is concerned with the issue of modernity." on anyone in the nineteenth century to make the men an? women of "the passing moment and all the suggestions of eternity that it his century aware of themselves as moderns. as the refinemen~s o~ an excessiv~ modernity-whatever is unique about any period-in fact takes civilization have made him. that Time imprints on all our generations. in the same decade. he had thus revealed the creating something entirely new . the minds of modern men. who did more than vision and energy on "its fashions. whose other half is eternal and immutable. 595." and and obscurity. in tion of the human soul hidden in them. it leads us away from the special qualities of our own modern history. Take." The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. 3 The first categorical imperative· of Baudelaire's modernism is to He accepted modern man in his entirety. social-which. Ca~lyle and J?icke. 2 guage. 1851-52. modern contains. when Baudelaire was living in poverty. a hero.

These visions often intelligence. sphere of culture: just as chartered monopolies are (presumably) a drag on economic life and energy. it would be unworthy of their lairean perspective that is far deeper and more interesting. so "the aristocrats of thought. but entitled "To the Bourgeois. have formed companies. that wres. what has become of the working class. Nevertheless. economic and political life will be most open to intellectual and sion occurs in the Preface to Baudelaire's "Salon of 1846. in the spheres of politics and culture as well. Baudelaire's faith in the bourgeoisie ne- glects all the darker potentialities of its economic and political drives-that is why I call it a pastoral vision. naivete of "To the Bourgeois" springs from a fine openness and generosity of spirit. for their tains several distinctive visions of modernity. we toward modernity. all of Baude. but even flatters them. Baudelaire also appeals." 5 Contemporary readers who are ac- Baudelaire does not make it immediately clear what these forces customed to think of Baudelaire as a lifelong sworn enemy of the are. you have raised loans" -it is not. to make lots of money. he "You are the majority-in number and intelligence. "to realize the idea of the future in all its diverse forms-political. have taken on lives of their own." If the bourgeoisie constitutes a them with great originality and depth. therefore you presents them all with verve and brilliance. this pastoral vision proclaims a natural affinity between material and spiritual modernization. 6 Here Baudelaire less. Baudelaire's pastoral visions of desire for infinite human progress." his . In any case. we must remind ourselves. as Mill will appeal a generation later tive that resists all final resolutions. if we go through Baudelaire's work. his counter-pastorals would turn into what the laire is appealing to what he sees as their innate creativity and twentieth century would call "cultural despair. industrial. the monopolists of things of the mind. aesthetic or political. Neverthe. modern art and thought. his vehement denunciations of modernity. and all his contradictory critical attitudes let alone the peasantry? However. as some critical interpretations of modernity: his lyrical celebrations of might think. It will not-it could not-survive June 1848 Pastoral Modernism or December 1851. and deprive the bourgeoisie of the rich resources of I. not just in the economy. but modernity would be elaborated in our century under the name of universally. Moreover. but for a far loftier purpose: modern life that created distinctively modern modes of pastoral. progress in i~dustry and politics." The fundamental bourgeois motive here is the ern forms of counter-pastoral. you This essay will start from Baudelaire's most simplistic and un. This preface is orient ourselves toward the primary forces of modern life. In this world. Still. and Baudelaire does nance. we will move on. It is not entirely clear of whom this class is meant to consist: not always seem to be aware of the tensions between them. when the bourgeois under- death and into our own time. universality of vision: since they are animated by the drive for ited visions. laire's modern visions. and often elaborates are the power-which is justice. but. long past his are in a pastoral world. take immense enterprises-"you have combined together. it is lovely while it lasts. not only celebrates the bourgeois. (and even Marx in the Communist Manifesto). we will find that it con. though probably less well known and less influential-a perspec. for most of the essay. in a spirit as biner as Baudelaire's. or what our stance toward them is supposed to be. willpower and creativity in industry. and demands that this ideal be extended to the illuminate not only Baudelaire's modernity but our own. to the bourgeois belief tles boldly with its own inner contradictions. and that can in free trade. it holds that the groups that are most dynamic and innovative in LET us start with Baudelaire's modern pastorals." 4 From these lim. Baude- "modernolatry". majority of the population. Modernism in the Streets 135 134 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR critical review of the year's showing of new art. dignity to stand still and accept stagnation in art. to a Baude. The earliest ver." will suffocate the life of the spirit. artistic. which generated mod. bourgeois and all their works are in for a shock. the Pastoral and Counter. trade and fi- seem to be violently opposed to one another.

but also his peculiar integ- rity-is that the vision leaves him out. glittering triumphs of decoration and destgn. and in a few moments the resulting "poem" will be virtually composed. on its way. and and obedience. "universal life. and in an instant Monsieur G. However. music. What is really sad is that Baudelaire has written pages of prose against-and could easily have been killed by-the men whose that go only too well with them: animal-like '1oy in obedience" so thrills him now. will amid the turmoil of human freedom. and Baudelaire's archetypal figure of the Dandy. play a central role in the he delights in universal life." Readers familiar with Bau. the dazzling smartness of the grooms. Glittering equipment..p~ars sees the whole spiritual adventure of modernity incarnated in the as a great fashion show. bnlhant latest fashion.) But this mode of pastoral plays an tions and his despair"-are completely out of this world." If we turn to Guys's slick renderings of the "beautiful people" and their ~orld. We . fast and graceful movements. wonder what's the joke.. have been raised and skirts have become fuller. we · external aspect of that company. as it may be. tossing into the air of the boulevards its trumpet-calls as of life in capital cities. See how his soul lives with the soul of that eantry of life [la pompe de la vie] as it is t?. In the world A regiment passes. a harmony so provtdenttally mamtamed winged and stirring as hope. it ~s. is th~ pag. if bows and curls have bee? sup- flowing lines. a~azing ~arr~ony earth. writers.136 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in the Streets 137 artistic creativity-"to realize the idea of the future in all its diverse important role not merely in Baudelaire's own career but in the forms". solemn mustaches-he absorbs any. 7 is an important body of modern writing. or-and here it gets sinister- facades. it sees both economic and cultural change as unprob. it all pell-mell. la vie elegante. with his weakness.. Armies on pa- of the children. the spectator "marvels at the ·. often by the most serious Baudelaire's 1859-60 essay "The Painter of Modern Life" pre. If a fashion or the cut of a garment pastoral vision of modernity: glittering hardware. the latest machine. "The kind of subject preferred by our arti~t . of fashton. 1f waists tears." what is universal dissonances of Parisian life have been cleaned off these streets. his art resembles nothmg so much as Bonwtt s or Bloommgdale s On both those occasions Baudelaire went into the streets to fight ads.. already have seen. the pageantry of mtlttary hfe. as long Baudelaire's own turbulent inwardness. rade. we will see only an array of dashing costumes. determined glances. has been slightly modified. military display-psychological as well as political importance- ness of the footmen. 10 The passage above should alert us to a fact of modern life that students of He [the painter of modern life] delights in fine carriages and poetry and art could easily forget: the tremendous importance of proud horses. a system of da~zlmg appe~rances. the expert. if bavolets have been enlarged and c~1gn~ns have dropped a fraction toward the nape of the neck.• of love [la vie militaire. filled by hfeless These are the soldiers who killed 25. from Baudelaire's time to our own. be very sure that Perhaps the strangest thing about Baudelaire's pastoral vision his eagle eye will have spotted it. examined and analyzed the bearing of the delaire will be startled to hear him sound like Dr. There lematical progress for mankind. until we conclude ruefully that there isn't bold. a proud image of joy the civilized world. This writing sents a very different mode of pastoral: ~ere modern life ap." -it typifies his perverse sense of irony. Th~ heroes the latest model regiment. gaudy colors. though of course he would called "modern man in his entirety. (He could have used the money. All the social and spiritual If this is. Pangloss. the beauty and its power to captivate even the freest spirits. heavy. that sounds a great deal like advertising copy.n't Guys's f~ult th~t and who opened the way for Napoleon III in December of 1851. modernity without planted by cockades.be se~n m the capttals of regiment. marching like a single animal. of this pageant are the painter and illustrator Constantm Guys. the sinuous gait of the women. anguish and yearning- as he was writing advertising copy. death? Those who love Baudelaire will think it a pity that. he couldn't arrange to get paid and his whole creative achievement in representing what Banville for it. happy to be alive and well dressed-in a word. century of modern culture between his time and our own. his aspira- never have dori"e it for money. la vie galante]. to the ends of the Guys portrays.000 Parisians in June 1848 mannequins with emp~y faces. as Baudelaire says.

fatuation is a symptom of an already too visible decadence. industrial philosophies that he has lost all notion of the differ- tionary rhetoric to pour scorn not merely on the modern idea of ences between the phenomena of the physical world and those of progress but on modern thought and life as a whole: the moral world.. Such is the darkness that has gathered in that convey something true and important about modernity: its power unhappy brain! to generate forms of "outward show. The counter-pastoral theme first emerges in an 1855 essay "On the Modern Idea of Progress as The poor man has become so Americanized by zoocratic and Applied to the Fine Arts. Romans. There is yet another and very fashionable error which I am anx. But he is as silly as the straw man in the cafe when belong to the late 1850s. has discharged each man from his duty. but it goes a lot further This obscure beacon. to have no connection with the material world at all: delaire is wholly unaware of it. Anyone who work.he artist ste~s only from himself. untouched. and he will answer he knew and loved).. freely above it. as the archetypal "painter of modern life. so dazzling that they can blind even the most incisive Baudelaire is perfectly reasonable in fighting the confusion of ma- self to the radiance of its own darker life within. when Baudelaire chooses Constan.. he leaps to the opposite pole. electricity and gaslight.. but even ous light. rather than Courbet or Daumier or Manet (all of whom and ask him what he understands by progress. has released the will from wrong to even think about an artist's forerunners or the influences all the bonds imposed on it by the love of beauty . tern throws a stream of chaos on all objects of knowledge. does over the ancients. has de- livered the soul from responsibility. glamorous spectacles. wholly ex." 12 Baudelaire leaps into a transcendence that Here beauty appears as something static. from the material world of steam. Take any good Frenchman who reads his newspaper in his cafe.. and defines art in a way that seems ern Life": if there is a contradiction between the two visions. and becomes especially rampant in periods of eco- Baudelaire's most vivid counter-pastoral images of modernity nomic boom. whose discovery bears full witness to our superiority ment of himself. licensed without guarantee of Nature or God-this modern lan. ethics-still operate in a material world of time and space. pastoral vision of the modern artist and his art-is tual order" thaf the modern romance of progress spreads. The dualism first sketched here-counter-pastoral vision of the ried about an increasing "confusion of material order with spiri. extended and deepened in Baudelaire's famous 1859 essay. it is modern fatuity.138 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in the Streets 139 should be able to see now that. Baudelaire resorts to this reactionary bombast because he is wor. modern world. or on what." it that it is steam. "Every efflorescence [in art] is spontaneous." of the noumenal and phenomenal realms. miracles unknown to the is not merely a lapse in taste but a profound rejection and abase. in the service of a counter-revolutionary Church and State. pathetic as it is. Such an in. leaves Kant far behind: this artist becomes a walking Ding-an-sich. which has flowered on the soil of from the whole past and future history of art. for whom noumenal experiences and activities-art. extinguishing all counter-pastoral image of the modern world generates a remark- forms of Enlightenment. T. rel. He stands security only for h1mself..igion. His encounter with Guys." brilliant designs. functioning as a kind of spiritual police ably pastoral vision of the modern artist who floats. Baudelaire goes further: he disconnects his artist not only wants to see history clearly must first of all put out this treacher.. . Bau. He d1es ch1ldless. I refer to the idea of "progress. unchanging. Thus. This grotesque idea. punishment [chatiment] disappears. the same period as "The Painter of Mod. than Kant. He has been his own king." 11 Here Baudelaire uses familiar reac. Thus. terial progress with spiritual progress-a confusion that persists in our century. this Baudelairean artist can melts away. liberty It Is not at all clear where. demanding rigid obedience and imposing pun. tin Guys. "The . between the natural and the supernatural.. his own priest. ternal to the self. individual. invention of present-day philosophizing. the ishments on its recalcitrant modern subjects. his own God. in Baudelaire's mercurial and paradoxical sensibility. Thus. he says. electricity and gas. This dualism bears some resemblance to the Kantian dissociation ious to avoid like the very devil. on him.

from the bills that modern man has to pay. and the utter lack of awareness that there can be rich and complex relations.. only it shouldn't stifle the desire for and more deeply implicated in la vie moderne. it clearly. Wyndham Lewis. resisting exclusive em." This is the rhetoric of balance. authentic beauty. which he says is "an excellent lesson in criti- that photography was developed. Even his visions of trans- But why this mortal enmity? Why should the presence of reality. per. misery and anxiety..g.140 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTs INTO AIR Modernism in the Streets 141 Modern Public and Photography. however. is the way in he believes it at this moment) that he doesn't even thmk of saymg which what he dreams is inspired by what he sees. as ical progress. undermine or destroy its beauty? The marks Baudelaire off radically from his romantic precursors. which. delaire. Narcissus cism": to a man. (Kandinsky's 1912 ity to reproduce reality more precisely than ever before-to show manifesto." Even worse and that after gazing at a little house from which a thin wisp of than the photographers. Balzac (and who would not listen with reality in modern art is crippled here by an uncritical loathing for respect to any anecdote. is inseparable from its innate ential in defining a distinctive mode of aesthetic modernism. cellars and garrets of Paris." streets. ever he is in the midst of sealing off modern art from modern life. and apparent answer. For his poetic genius and achievement. and inso. is the radical dual- ism. when- only of beauty but of even the potential for beauty. "But what are who are influenced by photography: more and more. heavy with hoarfrost what exists. unconditioned. skies. are the modern painters smoke was rising. cendence are rooted in a concrete time and place. and their plaining that "the exclusive taste for the True (so noble a thing many followers-in which modern people and life are endlessly when limited to its proper applications) oppresses the taste for the abused. sections of this essay. phases: truth is essential. than they would like beauty.) But one artist whom this vision wholly leaves out. is far as the development of photography is a product of technolog." Because photography has the capac. I prefer and thinly sprinkled with cottages and mean-looking peasants. rushed to gaze at its trivial image on a scrap of metal. Other twentieth-century artists like Kandinsky and Mon- should see nothing but Beauty (I mean in a beautiful painting) our drian have created marvelous works out of the dream of a public looks only for Truth. nearly hysterical contempt for modern men and their life animates he keeps reaching out to trip himself up and bring the two to- statements like these: "The idolatrous mob demanded an ideal gether again. and uncritical. concerning that the real modern people around him. then "Poetry and progress are like two ambitious much as any poet before or after him. the modern they doing in that cottage? What are their thoughts? What are painter "is given to painting not what he dreams. Baudelaire says. Thus he stops in the midst of the 1855 "Progress" appropriate to itself and worthy of its nature." Baudelaire's serious critical discussion of the representation of The story is told of M. empty not Baudelaire must have known this. in Pound. between The lesson for Baudelaire. is full of echoes of Bau- the "Truth"-this new medium is "art's mortal enemy". One thing that of "truth" in a work of art. at least unconsciously. while modern artists and their works are exalted to the Beautiful. because nothing that exists satisfies me . Concerning the Spiritual in Art. But the sense of balance doesn't last long: "Where one ' to think. mutual influences and interfusions. but what he their sorrows? Has it been a good harvest? No doubt they have bills to pay?" [Baudelaire's emphasis] sees. A . one lar material reality: the everyday life-and night life-of the or the other must give way. which Baudelaire believes so vehem~ntly (at l~ast from his symbolist and twentieth-century successors. is that modern life has a distinctive and Baudelaire's polemic against photography was extremely influ.. When they meet on the same road." From the mo~ent essay to tell a story. alas.." ~ Baudelaire begins by com- 1 vasive in our century-e. dematerialized. "our squalid society. "pure" art. A categorical. "How beautiful it is!" he cried. the monsters of my fantasy to what is positively trivial. cafes. which we will unfold in the following what an artist (or anyone else) dreams and what he sees. This leads him once more to great genius?) that one day he found himself in front of a beau- a pastoral conception of art: it is "useless and tedious to represent tiful picture-a melancholy winter-scene." What makes this pastoral. no matter how trivial. is that modern reality is utterly loathsome. is bound up with a particu- men who hate each other. without any suspicion that these artists may be more human. Baudelaire himself.

142 ALL THAT Is Soun MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in the Streets 143
couple of pages later, in the midst of fulminating complacently present: "and yet the heroism of modern life surrounds and
against the modern idiots who think themselves capable of spiri- presses in on us." He goes·on:
tual progress, he becomes suddenly serious and cuts sharply from
a patronizing certainty that the modern idea of progress is illusory T~ere is n? lack o~ subjects, or of colors, to make epics. The true
into an intense anxiety over the possibility that this progress is real. painter were lookmg for will be one who can snatch from the life
ihere follows a brief and brilliant meditation on the real terror of today its epic quality, and make us feel how great and poetic
that progress creates: we are in our cravats and our patent-leather boots. Next year let's
hope that the true seekers may grant us the extraordinary delight
I leave aside the question of whether, by continually refining of celebrating the advent of the new! ••
humanity in proportion to the new enjoyments it offers, indefi-
nite progress might not be its most cruel and ingenious torture;
These thoughts are not very well developed, but two things are
whether, proceeding as it does by a negation of itself, it would
not turn out to be a perpetually renewed form of suicide, and worth noting here. First, Baudelaire's irony in the "cravats" pas-
whether, shut up in the fiery circle of divine logic, it would not be sage: some people might think that the juxtaposition of heroism
like the scorpion that stings itself with its own tail-progress, that with cravats is a joke; it is, but the joke is precisely that modern
eternal desideratum that is its own eternal despair! •• men. really are heroic, despite their lack of the paraphernalia of
hermsm; mdeed, they are all the more heroic without parapher-
Here Baudelaire is intensely personal, yet close to universal. He nalia to puff up their b~dies and souls.* Second, the tendency of
wrestles with paradoxes that engage and enrage all modern men, modermty to make all thmgs new: next year's modern life will look
and envelop their politics, their economic activities, their most in- and feel different from this year's; still, both will be part of the
timate desires, and whatever art they create. This sentence has a same modern age; but the fact that you can't step into the same
kinetic tension and excitement that re-enact the modern condition modernity twice will make modern life especially elusive and hard
it describes; the reader who arrives at the end of this sentence feels to grasp.
he has really been somewhere. This is what Baudelaire's best writ- Baudelaire goes deeper into modern heroism a year later in his
ing on modern life, far less well-known than his pastorals, is like. short essay of that name. 16 Here he gets more concrete: "The
We are now ready for more of it. spectacle of fashionable life [La vie elegante] and the thousands of
floating existences-criminals and kept women-that drift about
in the underworlds [souterrains] of a great city; the Gazette des Tri-
bunaux and the Moniteur all prove to us that we need only open our
ey~s t~ rec~gnize our heroism." The fashionable world is here, just
1:. as It will be m the essay on Guys; only here it appears in a decidedly
nonpastoral form, linked with the underworld, with dark desires
and deeds, with crime and punishment; it has a human depth far
.The Heroism of more arresting than the pallid fashion plates of "The Painter of
Modern Life." The crucial point about modern heroism, as Bau-
Modern Life *See Baud~laire's comments, in the "Heroism" essay, on the gray or black suit that
was becom~ng ~he standard _modern man's outfit: it expresses "not only political
beauty,. wh1ch IS an e~press1~n of universal equality, but also poetic beauty, an
expressiOn of_ the pubhc S?ul. The emerging standard outfit is "the necessary garb
AT THE very e11d of his review of the Salon of 1845, Baudelaire of our suffermg age, wh1ch wears the symbol of perpetual mourning on its thin
complains that the painters of the day are too inattentive to the black shoulders."( liS) ·

Modernism in the Streets 145
144 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR
delaire sees it here, is that it emerges in conflict, in situations of toevsky, Nietzsche-for whom the basic fact of modern life is the
conflict that pervade everyday life in the modern world. Baude- fact that, as the Communist Manifesto says, "all that is solid melts into
laire gives examples from bourgeois. life a~ .w.ell as from the fash- air."
ionable high and low life: the hermc pohuc1an,. t~e g~vernment Baudelaire's "Painter of Modern Life" is undermined by its pas-
minister in the Assembly beating back the opposition w1th a sear- toral romance with the vapidities of the vie elegante. Nevertheless,
ing and stirring speech, vindicating his poli~ies and hims~lf; the it offers some brilliant and arresting images, poles away from pas-
heroic businessman, like Balzac's perfumer B1rotteau, fightmg th~ toral, of what modern art should seek to capture in modern life.
specter of bankruptcy, striving t~ reh~bilitate not only his cre~ht First of all, he says, the modern artist should "set up his house in
but his life, his whole personal Identity; respectable rascals hke the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of motion, in the
Rastignac, capable of anything-of the meanest a~ well as.the n~­ midst of the fugitive and the infinite," in the midst of the metro-
blest actions-as he fights his way to the top; Vautnn, who mhab1ts politan crowd. "His passion and his profession are to become one
the heights of the government as well as the depths of the un~er­ flesh with the crowd"-"epouser la Joule." Baudelaire gives special em-
world and who shows the essential intimacy of these two metzers. phasis to this strange, haunting image. This "lover of universal
"All these exude a new and special beauty, which is neither that of life" must "enter into the crowd as though it were an immense
Achilles nor yet that of Agamemnon." Indeed, ~audelai~e .s~ys­ reservoir of electrical energy .... Or we might compare him to a
in rhetoric guaranteed to outrage the neoclass1ca.l sens1b1hty of kaleidoscope gifted with consciousness." He must "express at once
many of his French readers-"the heroes of the Ihad are as pyg- the attitude and the gesture of living beings, whether solemn or
mies compared to you, Vautrin, Rastignac, Birotteau ... an~ you, grotesque, and their luminous explosion in space." Electrical en-
Honore de Balzac, you, the most heroic, the most extraordmary, ergy, the kaleidoscope, explosion: modern art must recreate for
most romantic and most poetic of all the characters you h.a~e p~o­ itself the immense transformations of matter and energy that mod-
duced from your womb." In general, contemporary Pans1an hfe ern science and technology-physics, optics, chemistry, engineer-
"is rich in poetic and marvelous subjects. Th~ ma~v~~ous envelops ing-have brought about.
and soaks us like an atmosphere, but we don t see 1t. The point is not that the artist should utilize these innovations
There are several important things to notice here. First, the wide (though, in his "Photography" essay, Baudelaire says he approves
range of Baudelaire's sympathy and generosity, so different fr?m this-so long as the new techniques are kept in their subordinate
the standard image of an avant-garde snob who exudes nothmg place). The real point for the modern artist is to re-enact these
but scorn for ordinary people and their travails. We should note processes, to put his own soul and sensibility through these trans-
in this context that Balzac, the one artist in Baudelaire's gallery of formations, and to bring these explosive forces to life in his work.
modern heroes, is not one who strives to distance himself f~om But how? I don't think Baudelaire, or anyone else in the nine-
ordinary people, but rather the one who has plunged deeper mto teenth century, had a clear grasp of how to do this. Not until the
their life than any artist has ever done before, and who has come early twentieth century will these images begin to realize them-
up with a vision of that life's hidden heroism. Finally, it is crucial selves-in cubist painting, collage and montage, the cinema, the
to note Baudelaire's use of fluidity ("floating existences") and gas- stream of consciousness in the novel, the free verse of Eliot and
eousness ("envelops and soaks us like an atmosphere") as symbols Pound and Apollinaire, futurism, vorticism, constructivism, dada,
for the distinctive quality of modern life. Fluidity and vaporous- poems that accelerate like cars, paintings that explode like bombs.
ness will become primary qualities in the self-consciously moder~­ And yet Baudelaire knows something that his twentieth-century
ist painting, architecture and design, music and literat.ure, that w1ll modernist successors tend to forget. It is suggested in the extraor-
emerge at the end of the nineteenth century. We w1ll. enc~unter dinary emphasis he gives to the verb epouser, as a primary symbol
them, too, in the thought of the deepest moral and soc1al thmkers for the relationship between the artist and the people around him.
of Baudelaire's generation and after-Marx, Kierkegaard, Dos- Whether this word is used in its literal sense, to marry, or in a

146 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR
Modernism in the Streets 14 7
figurative sense, to sexually embrace, it is one of the most ordinary sympathized with the left; he would have appreciated the drama
of: human experiences, and one of the most universal: it is, as the a?d the charm, but would doubtless have rewarded it with a hap-
songs say, what makes the world go round. One of the fundamen- pier denouement than Benjamin's own. My own work in this vein
tal problems of twentieth-century modernism is the way this art is less compelling as drama, but perhaps more coherent as history.
tends to lose touch with people's everyday lives. This is not, of Where Benjamin lurches between total merger of the modern self
course, univetsal'ly true-Joyce's Ulysses may be the noblest excep- (Baudelaire's, his own) with the modern city, and total alienation
tion-but it is true enough to be noticed by everyone who cares from it, I try to recapture the more constant currents of metabolic
about modern life and art. For Baudelaire, however, an art that is and dialectical How.
not epouse with the lives of men and women in the crowd is not In the following two sections, I want to read, in detail and in
properly modern art at all. depth, two of Baudelaire's late prose poems: "The Eyes of the
Poor" (1864) and "The Loss of a Halo" (1865)} 9 We will see at
Sauddaire's richest and deepest thought about modernity be- once, from these poems, why Baudelaire is universally acclaimed
gins just after "The Painter of Modern Life," in the early 1860s, as one of the great urban writers. In Paris Spleen, the city of Paris
and continues through the decade until the point, not long before plays a central !?le in his sp~ritual ?~ama. Here Baudelaire belongs
his death in 1867, when he became too ill to write. This work is to a great tradition of Par~stan wr~tmg that reaches back to Villon,
contained in a series of prose poems that he planned to bring out runs through Montesquieu and Diderot, Restif de Ia Bretonne and
under the title of Paris Spleen. Baudelaire did not live to finish the Sebastien Mercier, and into the nineteenth century with Balzac
series or publish it as a whole, but he did complete fifty of these and Hugo and Eugene Sue. But Baudelaire also expresses a radi-
poems, plus a Preface and an Epilogue, and they appeared in cal b.reak. in t?is tradition. His best Parisian writing belongs to the
1868,j'ust after his death. precise h1stor~cal r:noment when, under the authority of Napoleon
Walter Benjamin, in his series of brilliant essays on Baudelaire III and the d1recuon of Haussmann, the city was being systemati-
and Paris, was the first to grasp the great depth and richness of cally torn apart and rebuilt. Even as Baudelaire worked in Paris,
these prose poems. 18 All my work is in the vein Benjamin opened the wo.rk of its modernization was going on alongside him and
up, though I have found different elements and compounds from over h1s head and under his feet. He saw himself not only as a
the ones he brought out. Benjamin's Parisian writings constitute a spectat~r, but as ~.participant and a protagonist in this ongoing
remarkable dramatic performance, surprisingly similar to Greta work; h1s own Par1s1an work expresses its drama and trauma. Bau-
Garbo's in Ninotchka. His heart and his sensibility draw him irre- delaire shows us something that no other writer sees so well: how
sistibly toward the city's bright lights, beautiful women, fashion, the modernization of the city at once inspires and enforces the
luxury, its play of dazzling surfaces and radiant scenes; meanwhile modernization of its citizens' souls.
his MaFxist conscience wrenches him insistently away from these It_ is important to note the form in which the prose poems of
temptations, instructs him that this whole glittering world is deca- Pans Spleen first appeared: as feuilletons that Baudelaire com-
dent, hollow, vicious, spiritually empty, oppressive to the prole- pos~d for the daily or weekly mass-circulation Paris press. The
tariat, condemned by history. He makes repeated ideological feUilleton was roughly equivalent to an Op-Ed piece in the news-
resolutions to forsake the Parisian temptation-and to forbear papers of.today. It normally appeared on the paper's first or cen-
leading his readers into temptation-but he cannot resist one last ter page, JUSt below or opposite the editorial, and it was meant to
look down the boulevard or under the arcade; he wants to be be one o~ the very first things the reader would read. It was gen-
saved, but not yet. These inner contradictions, acted out on page erally Written by an outsider, in an evocative or reflective tone
afteT page, give Benjamin's work a luminous energy and poignant inten?ed a~ a contrast to the editorial's combativeness-though
charm. Ernst Lubitsch, Ninotchka's scenarist and director, came out th~ p1ece m1gh~ well be chosen to reinforce (often subliminally) the
of the same B~rlin Jewish bourgeois world as Benjamin, and also editor's polemical point. By Baudelaire's time, the feuilleton was

a mo- ment later. in love.supJ. a young son. or maybe because of it. It is crucial to remember that the poems m cornices and moldings. In spite of this. gulf between the two worlds is sorrowful. Many of the greatest mne." . "The three faces were extraor- periences that arise from the concrete eve~yday hfe of Bonaparte s dinarily serious. stupid and profound. gas burned with the ardor of a debut. father's eyes seem to say. It was the evening of a long and lovely day that they has made him sad as well as angry: he sees now "how hard it is for had spent alone together." but the cafe "already ropean and American newspapers. This is why he hates her today. vulgar appeal-our age would call it Camp. Dickens. pates and game on their heads." Their fascination carries no hostile undertones. He reminds her of an expenence they re." The son's eyes seem to say.:· (Paris my thoughts there" (Baudelaire's italics)." The baby's eyes "were too fascinated to express anything but joy. the gold his own generation. Gogol and Poe in the generation before Ba'!. m. The into archetypes of modern life. displayed proudly its unfinished splendors. he says. As the lovers sit gazing happily into each other's eyes. musical without history and all mythology pandering to gluttony." a melange of "all moderne requires a new language: "a poetic prose. "How beautiful it is! All the gold of the poor world must have found its way onto these walls. He emphasizes that "it was above all from the ~xplorauon of enor. and a baby obsessive ideal was born. and those six eyes contemplated the new cafe and Haussmann's Paris but carry a mythic resonance and depth fixedly with an equal admiration. "nymphs and goddesses bearing In the Preface to Paris Spleen. dear love." and feels some sort of kinship with them. the undulations ~f rev~ ness." that propel them beyond their place and time and transform them No words are spoken. above all. Whitman and Dostoevsky ~n blinding whiteness of the walls. But when. to read OuR FIRST primal scene emerges in "The Eyes of the Poor. an established art that the gaslight lit up: a ridiculous profusion of Hebes and form. "a little ashamed of our glasses and decanters." Its most splendid teenth-century writers used this form to present themselves to a quality was a flood of new light: "The cafe was dazzling. A poor family nections [du croisement de leurs innomb~ables rappor~] th~t th~s dressed in rags-a graybearded father. but as prose. not resent- ful but resigned. however. with all its power it lit the delaire. featured in hundreds of ~u­ boulevard was "still littered with rubble. Even the mass public: Balzac. . He adds that the incident cently shared." What Baudelaire commumcates m this -come to a stop directly in front of them and gaze raptly at the language. hounds and falcons. They sat down on the terrace "in front people to understand each other. but the narrator tries to read their eyes. he can laugh affectionately." Less dazzling was the decorated interior Paris Spleen do not present themselves as verse. . is what I will call primal m?dern scenes: e~­ bright new world that is just inside. Baudelaire proclaims that la vte piles of fruits. too big for our thirst. Marx and Engels. "I turned my eyes to look into yours. the expanse of mirrors.>le enough and rugge~ enough to stances the narrator might recoil from this commercialized gross- adapt itself to the soul's lyncal Impulses. how incommunicable thought of a new cafe that formed the corner of a new boulevard. "How beautiful it is! But it is a house where only people who are not like us can go." fie is "touched by this family of eyes. . Ganymedes. differing only according to age." In other circum- rhythm and without rhyme. t h e C'1ormat o f news.conmence]. their vision of the 3. not militant." The is"-so the poem ends-"even between people in love. Modernism in the Streets 149 148 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR an extremely popular urban genre. the leaps and jolts of consciousness [soubresauts de . the nar- The Family of Eyes rator begins to feel uneasy. and enjoy its erie. suddenly mous cities and from the convergence of their mnumerable co~­ they are confronted with other people's eyes. she says. "Those people Spleen #26) This poem takes the form of a lover's complam~: the with their great saucer eyes are unbearable! Can't you go tell the narrator is explaining to the woman he loves why h~ feels distant manager to get them away from here?" and bitter toward her. 20.

soon working on Paris Spleen. is the boulevard: the new Parisian boule. with amazing precision and deadly accuracy. and ~bus help to boulevards. bridges. his most illustrious and notonous suc. off from a multitude of earlier Parisian scenes of love and class to all its inhabitants. for the first time in its history. lined with benches. They would pacify the masses by employmg ~e~s venerable historian of Paris. displaced uncounted thousands of people. which took move effectively against future barncades and popular msurrec. a little later. sewers. In the course of giving a lucid and water supply. compensation ~nd con- * In Laboring Classes and Dangerous Classes. commonplace today." The The Napoleon-Haussmann boulevards. The piece ends with an admirably incisive and trenchant critique that anticipates. aesthetic-for bringing enormous numbers of vard was the most spectacular urban inno. and large-scale city _modernization. their greatest toll in the old quartiers. But What makes this encounter distinctively modern? What marks it it opened up the whole of the city. of urban planning that included central markets. in 1942-"that he grasped the problem of step-by-step the criticism that would be directed a generation later against Moses himself. the struction costs. at last. would darkness and choked congestion.* with rubble but already displaying its unfinished splendors.created new bases-eco- difference. nourish themselves on the life and energy that flowed . 22 Pedestrian the heart of the old medieval city. in one word. after centuries of takes place: "Toward evening you wanted to sit down m front of a life as a cluster of isolated cells. Now. hundreds of buildings. armed w1th the 1mpenal mandate of Haussmann's sidewalks. At the street level they were lined with small century. but through them. Louis Chevalier. 21 Napoleon and Haussmann islands were installed to make crossing easier. Great sweeping vistas were designed. By the 1880s. social. so that each walk led toward a dramatic would enable traffic to flow through the center of the city. was blasting a vast network of boulevards through travagantly wide. like the boulevards themselves. All this suggests why the Parisian poor. with every corner zoned for the traditional city. who fought so bravely on so many fronts in the nineteenth century. the Prefect came to be seen all over the world as symbols of Ia vie parisienne. were subjected: demographic bombardment. is a special treat for all those who savor the ironies of urban history. The little-known essay by Robert Moses. cited in note 21. All these qualities helped to make the new Paris a uniquely move straight ahead from end to end-~ ~uixotic and virtually enticing spectacle. dreadful epidemics of typhus and cholera. as The boulevards were only one part of a comprehensive system Baudelaire said in another context. still piled physical and human space. . Now. a great n~~: balanced overview of Haussmann's accomplishments. even more gigantic projects after the war.along the dous expansion of local business at every level.~~dition. "Let it be said to Baron Haussmann s etern~l credit successor. and to climax.nn. restaurants and terraced sidewalk cafes. put up no resistance tions. were ex- Napoleon Ill. Modernism in the Streets 151 150 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR destroyed whole neighborhoods that had lived for centuries. the Haussmann pattern was generally defray the immense municipal demolition. it was possible to move not only struggle? The difference lies in the urban sp~ce whe~e our scene . nomic. In . gives a horrific. excruciatingly detailed account of the of thousands of them-at times as much as a quarter of the c1ty s ravages to which the old central neighborhoods in the pre-Haussmann decades labor force-on long-term public works. These cafes. while Baudelaire was where Baudelaire's lovers and his family in rags come to look. also cited in note 21. were revolutionary in the nades. writers and photographers (and.vation of the n~ne~eenth people together. from through traffic and to open up alternate routes for prome- tem. starting with the impressionists in the 1860s." The new construction wrecked that would finally help to drive Haussmann's greatest disciple from public life. of Paris and its environs. they would overall housing stock. the Opera and other cultural pala~es. like the one In the late 1850s and through the 1860s. The new boulevards the boulevards' ends. slums and open up "breathing space m the m1dst of layers of filmmakers). cessor. within neighborhoods. lush with trees. which in turn would gen. which in a pre-welfare era create long and broad corridors in w~ich troops and artill~ry could led directly to starvation. anywhere out of their world. with monuments at context of nineteenth-century urban life. a visual and sensual feast. and implicitly bids for still more Haussmann-type authority to carry out -so wrote Robert Moses. Finally. recurrent mass unemployment. Georges Eu~ene Ha~ssma. to separate local envisioned the new roads as arteries in an urban circulatory sys. Five generations of unimaginable enterprise till then. Paris was becoming a unified new cafe that formed the corner of a new boulevard. which doubled the population while the erection of luxury housing and government buildings sharply reduced the erate thousands more jobs in the private sector. to the destruction of their neighborhoods: they may well have been willing to go. t~ey would clear modern painters. Moses crowns himself as his work of parks. These images. They would stimulate a tremen. and the decisive breakthrough m the modermzauon of businesses and shops of all kinds.

" the boulevards created a family in rags step out from behind the rubble and place them- new primal scene: a space where they could beprivate ~n public.which has now become general. flows both ways. darkest." Alongside the glitter.." Marx-Engels Selected Worhs.. They may contain idyllic material. still littered with rubble . breaches in working-class quarters of our big cities. The presence of the poor be idyllic. densest. caught up in its immense and endless flux. 'Haussmann' . enable the poor to walk through the holes and out came their vision of themselves. from Santiago to Saigon. From this moment on. of making covery takes place: "a new boulevard. They could display their love _be~ore the bo~le­ tradictions in modern dty life. For lovers._ cannot point.152 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in the Streets 153 acclaimed as the very model of modern urbanism. 559. discarded stepchildren of that family. a revelauon or dis. in the meantime. Movmg along angry or demanding. there is no way would heighten it still more. poor would make do. could feel their love more vividly than ever as the still point of a This primal scene reveals some of the deepest ironies and con- turning world. neighborhoods. The trouble is not that they are intimately together without being physically alone. want a place in the light. Baudelaire shows us a mediate. in his pamphlet The Housing Question (1872). inadvertently broke down the self- going. . How should the lovers re- as the boudoir in the making of modern love. most wretched and most frightening else. too. Haussmann. the epiphany. they away. They were opening up vast new tracts for development on What did the boulevards do to the people who came to fill them? the northern and eastern fringes of the city.. . modern love loses its innocence. hke to look away. as they always did. blasting great holes through the poorest they participated in the extended "family of eyes" -the richer be. As such. I. to the accompaniment of lavish self-glorification by the bour- ble: the ruins of a dozen inner-city neighborhoods-the cny's geoisie on account of this tremendous success-but they appear at once somewhere oldest. it was the ground. on "the method called the scene a repressed reality creaks through. the commg of electne1ty a_n_d ne_on midst of the great spaces. whom did they love? The more enclosed and hermetically sealed world of traditional urban pov- they saw of others and showed themselves to others-the more erty.. to discover for the first time what In this environment." Haussmann's boulevards transform the exotic into the im- the modernization of public urban space. where did they come from and where were they down the old medieval slums. somehow. I mean the practice. The bright lights of street _and cafe on_!~ heightened they are seen: the vision.606-9. 1955). for Eugene Sue they epitomized "The Mysteries of sentimental songs. but at th~ chmax ?f *See Engels. turn~d dark lives of the people at whose expense the bright lights shine. In the the joy. Where would all these people go? Those in charge of soon stamped on emerging and expanding cities in every corner demolition and reconstruction did not particularly concern them- of the world. what did they want. in tearing these people. selves.. In fact. gard the ragged people who are suddenly in their midst? At this But primal scenes. the ~ub­ centrally situated . in the next generations.. these pnvate JOys sprmg directly from Paris. and illuminates the those cafe nymphs with fruits and pates on their head~. The physical and social and draw different forms of joy from them all. Anyone who has ever been m love m Balzac had compared those old neighborhoods to the darkest jun- a great city knows the feeling. especially in those that are displayed its unfinished splendors. urban realities could easily become dreamy the rest of their city and the rest of life is like. They could weave transformations that drove the poor out of sight now bring them veils of fantasy around the multitude of passers-by: who were back directly into everyone's line of vision. 2 vol- neighborhoods. for Baudelaire as later on for Freud. of their ravaged neighborhoods. The manifestation of class divisions in the modern city opens up ing into being. and often in the immediate neighborhood. The result is everywhere the same: the most scandalous alleys and lanes disappear. and magical. under the bright lights.* lovely in this romantic glow. And as they see. The glitter lights up the rubble. new private and public world at the very moment wh~n it is co_m. Baudelaire's 1 like the ones in "The Eyes of the Poor. home to tens of thousands of Parisians-razed to umes (Moscow. and_ it is ~elebrat~d in_ a hundred gles of Africa. selves in the center of the scene. The setting that makes all urban vard's endless parade of strangers-indeed.. the boulevard w1ll be as v1tal new divisions within the modern self. They. the Baudelaire shows us some of the most striking things. the misery that was once a mystery is now a fact. The boulevards. withm a generation humanity a great extended "family of eyes" also brings forth the Paris would be world-famous for this sort of amorous display. The trouble is simply that they will not go the boulevard. Even the most blatant vulganues.

Like reason enough to be sad. The setting into being. will be pulls the lovers out of their romantic enclosure. to the embar- liberal sentimentality and reactionary ruthlessness.affirms his ends (as its title suggests) in a loss of innocence. and future in which the joy and beauty. The ordinary man. there is no way to assimilate the poor into any exalted idea of the artist. . or between to deny the poor relations. dialogue between a poet and an the man on the street. The woman's affinities-in this instant. he wishes. The boulevard forces them to react politi- cally. kill "My friend. But our hope is bound to be suffused by the self- idyllic networks. are equally fu. Should the barricades go up on the boulevard-as m fact they will in 1871. expel and resettle the people. kinship in the universal family of eyes. the ambience. imagery and emotional tone are puzzling deepest split is not between the narrator and his love but within and elusive. even as he nobly. OuR NExT archetypal modern scene is found in the prose poem selves on opposite sides. "read my thoughts there." this poem is set on the boulevard." call somebody with the power to get rid of them. disreputable or sinister place. he shares her nasty desire the encounter is not between one person and another. and he may be off balance himself. too often. akin to those who can see but cannot share it. they want 4. my friend? you in a place like this? you. for a that magically inspired romance now works a contrary magic. Maybe he hates the woman he loves because her eyes have individual and social forces that are abstract yet concretely danger- shown him a part of himself that he hates to face. rassment of both. seven years after the poem's appearance.154 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTo AIR Modernism in the Streets 155 casts an inexorable shadow over the city's luminosity. Here. written in 1865 but rejected by That a loving couple should find themselves split by politics is the press and not published until after Baudelaire's death. like the city lights. to put them out of sight and out of people of different social classes. four years after Baudelaire's death-the lovers could well find them. Here. We can hope. a Baudelaire knows that the man's and the woman's responses. you know how terrified I am of horses and vehicles? the sources of beauty and joy that the modern city has brought Well. at least-are with the right. Only the most radical reconstruction of modern society could eater of ambrosia. just now as I was crossing the boulevard in a great hurry. Thus the distance between the lovers is not merely a gap in communication. the drinker of quintessences! I'm amazed!" even begin to heal the wounds-personal as much as social wounds-that the boulevards bring to light. And yet. the Party of Order: we have something. the back. is aghast to find one here: family of the comfortable. "Loss of a Halo" (Paris Spleen #46). into wider and less shared by all. on the other hand. it shows us how the contradictions ance. Maybe the ous. he really did. as Baudelaire ~ometimes hoped. pears as class privilege." Maybe. as he hoped to sents a confrontation that the setting forces on the subject. sentimentally. so we'd better "prier le maitre. but rather between an isolated mind. however. The poet then proceeds to explain himself: the radical solution seems to be dissolution: tear the boulevards down. In this new light. On one hand. probably a brothel. ironic sadness that permeates Baudelaire's city air. "The Eyes of the Poor. their personal happiness ap. there is no form of repression that can get rid of them for long-they'll always be "What! you here. but a radical opposition in ideolo~ and The Mire of the Macadam politics. "ordinary man" who bump into each other in un mauvais lieu. the poet seems intent on keeping his readers off bal- the man himself. that animate the modern city street resonate in the inner life of "Loss of a Halo" develops as a. it. If this is so. turn off the bright lights. to make them part of his family. But there may be other reasons: maybe. who has always cherished an tile. The man's response vibrates in the direction of the liberal left: he feels guilty about his happiness. and it do. it pre- when he looked deeply into her eyes.

to saur~ze masks the seriousness of the unmasking that is going on. He has been his own king. dignity bores me. He stands secunty o~ly for hu~self. What's more. the priest. the drama of desanctification is terrible and tragic: Marx me. In the "God forbid! I like it here. does not make this particular connection. music-hall or nightclub routines-shticks. will come dressed as anti-heroes. Marx's the- ory locates this experience in a world-historical context.mysel~.. and we are apt to feel like th~ straight . "Eyes of the Poor" and the Manifesto belong knowing something's happening here but not knowmg what It IS. a little uneasily: transformed the doctor. contending against the elements. I was much too scared to p1ck It one. the poet. and my halo slipped off my head an~ fe~l history of modernization and the history of modernism fuse into into the mire of the macadam. is desanctification. "Eyes of the Poor" contains its own drama of de- be?" sanctification. Now I can walk around mc~gmto.~an. heroic figures like Oedipus some bad poet picking it up and brazenly puttmg It on. just like yourself!" image here to one of the primary images of the Communist Mani- festo: "The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every activity hith- erto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. in the ~idst of a moving chaos. up. Besides. . the metaphysical pratfalls of dies childless. JUSt like ordinary mortals [simples mortels]. But the two men definition: respond to this experience with rather different emotions. Think of X! Think of Z! Don't you see how funny It will of desolation. readers familiar with throw myself into every kind of filth [me l1vrer a la cr~pule]. into its paid wage-laborers. What's it d?i~g of expression is ironic. Baude- No: the poet is triumphant in what we recognize as a new self- laire's poetry shows how it feels from inside. It is the point where the [un mouvement brusque]. h1s own pnest. as it was for Marx (and Burke and Blake and Shake- only from himself. I made a sudden move point in the landscape of the modern city. This is not only a spiritual point but a physical one. in which the hero's halo slips off his head and in the holiness of art. "Loss of a Halo" confronts us with a very different spirit: here the drama is essentially comic. a death galloping at me from every s1de. it:s fu. and one of the central police?" themes for modern art and thought. every cloud ~as a deep affinities between Baudelaire and Marx. He speare)-evokes vaudeville. I thought it was less unpleasant to lose my insignia than to Walter Benjamin seems to have been the first to suggest the get my bones broken. to the same spiritual world. and his vision embraces. It points forward to a century whose heroes God.."25 "Loss of a Halo" is about how Baudelaire's own God fails. pleasure to make somebody happy! especially somebody yo~ c~n stripped and scorned but not subdued. the lawyer.. h1s own Chaplin and Keaton. the man "But aren't you going to advertise for your halo? or notify the of science. ·..n to think of looks back to. slapstick. We can find a quasi-religious devotion to art rolls through the mud-rather than being torn off with a violent throughout his poetry and prose. do low th1~gs. the mode One of the' first mysteries here is that halo its~lf. I said to.156 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in the Streets 157 splashing through the mud. So here I am. JUSt as you Marx will notice the striking similarity of Baudelaire's central see me." 24 For both men. Lear on the heath.. but there the scale is intimate rather than monu- mental. and whose most solemn moments But we must understand that this God is worshipped not only by of truth will· be not only described but actually experienced as artists but equally by many "ordinary people" who believe that art clown shows. What a at Colonnus. and the comic irony is so successful that it on a modern poet's head in the first place? It 1s there . Although Benjamin silver lining. You're the only one who's recognized Manifesto. Thus: in 1855: "T~e artist stems grand geste. creating a new dignity out laugh at. the emotions are melancholy and romantic rather than It is a strange poem. with converge. The set- and artists exist on a plane far above them. Still. tragic and heroic. Baude- and to criticize one of Baudelaire's own most fervent behefs: behef laire's denouement. one of the crucial experiences endemic to modern life. "Loss of a ~alo" takes ting plays the same sort of decisive role in Baudelaire's black com- place at the point at which the world of art and the ordmary world edy that it will play in Chaplin's and Keaton's later on. Besides. It has The straight man plays along.

On the sidewalk. thrown into this maelstrom is from Haussmann and his engineers. In the gutter.~ :~~~?n~~~:en 1t~3~e :~~~VIta~ pre~ence 1 m European literature since Dickens' Dombrv and Son (1846~ cial pride to the Emperor-who never walked-were dusty in the dry months of summer. no one heavy • fast an~ lethal. The new force that the boulevards have archety~al modern man. running on for miles." The chaos arrows. Between dnven back on his own resources-often on resources he ne~er 1850 and 1870." But although the two poems are separated physically by suits. 1mposes Its _tempo on everybody's time. s affic hght. an mnovauon developed in America around 1905. each of ~hom . is a pedestrian brought into being.:~· ~~~ ~~~n~. As David Pinkney says in bresaues_ and mouvements brusques. and who administratively sabo. a man alone drives him into a new state of mind. must learn to not merely keep up with quadrupled. the force that sweeps the hero's halo away and thrown _mto th~ maelstrom of modern city traffic. ~i~~t::~tt~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~. He must become adept at sou- Napoleon's and Haussmann's urbanism. riders and drivers in the heart ments m a co_m~on. spills over into every urban a hundred yards across. immensely wide. was remarkably smooth.!~~i. who clashed with Napoleon over macadam (one of the few all~s ~~~o[fa~~=~t[~?ti~: ~:~e s~:~~~t~e~~h~~e:r::Ysc. the~. more radiant and exciting only a few feet. Th~s the hfe of the boulevards.:~n~ ~~g:~~:. straight as whole_ mode~n env1ronment into a "moving chaos. spiritually they spring from different worlds. This growth exposed a contradiction at the heart of It but to stay at least a step ahead. .m~y be pursuing the most efficient route paved. space.o· f<>r tr e s. as we see him here. but he shows. people of all kinds and all classes k_now . Hauss- mann. had anticipated. would be ideal speedways for heavy he_re hes not m the movers themselves-the individual walkers or traffic. but with his arterial boulevards "were from the start burdened with a dual mmd and h1s sensibility as well. and as the volume ?n everyone. in a great hurry. gutter. ou n~te that. the surface with which the bOulevards were dnve~s. apart !he man in the modern street. in the midst of~ walk.. the two proved to be ill-compatible. It was only when the job was done that space. or temporal bounds. This makes the boulevard a perfect of the city could whip their horses up to full speed. people are forced to forget what they are as movmg chaos. transforms the people began to see that these roads. and provided perfect traction for for hn~self-but m the1r Interaction. the a~d shifts--:-and ~o~ ~nly with his legs and his body. at sudden. he must attune and million to 1. wnh death galloping at me from every side. Th1s. while the central city population (excluding newly kne~ he had-and forced to stretch them desperately in order to incorporated suburbs) grew by about 25 percent. contendmg agamst an agglomeration of mass and energy that is When Haussmann's work on the boulevards began.~~i :~:e.. Napoleon III and the Rebuilding of Paris. too. abrupt. The burgeoning street and boulevard traffic understood why he wanted them so wide: from a hundred feet to knows ~o spatial. Macadam. Improved road s~~bol of c~p1t~hsm ~ mner contradictions: rationality in each in- conditions not only speeded up previously existing traffic but-as ~IVIdual capnahst _umt.65 million. A man who knows how to uation was especially trying and terrifying to the vast majority of Parisians who walked. a source of spe.* generate a volume of new traffic far greater than anyone." The sit.3 survive . For the first time. IS the settmg for Baudelaire's primal modern scene· themselves by comparing themselves to each other as they s1t or I w~s crossmg t?e boulevard.158 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in the Streets 159 "Loss of a Halo" is set on the same new boulevard as "Eyes of s~rfa~~5 required P~risians "either to keep a carriage or to walk on the Poor. In orde~ to cross the moving chaos. The macadam pavements. The ~han urban l~fe had ever been. Baudelaire's experience of "moving chaos" antedat~s the things they ever fought about). how in doing this it also paradox- of traffic increased. jagged twists his authoritative study. leading to anarchic irrationality in the so- twentieth-century highways would do on a larger scale-helped to cial system that bnngs all these units together. is modern traffic. said that this ymbol of early state attempts to regulate and rationalize the chaos of capitalism. was also more risky and frightening gulf that separates them is the step from the sidewalk into the or t~e mulut~des of m~n and women who moved on foot. Ically enforces new modes of freedom. from about 1. function: to carry the main streams of traffic across the city and to Baudelaire shows how modern city life forces these new moves serve as major shopping and business streets. inner-city traffic seems to have tripled or ~dapt himself to Its moves. in the totality of their move- horses' hooves. and a wonderful taged imperial plans to cover the whole city with it." The they run for their lives. and muddy in the rain and snow.

political.nfold thing but to create their own word for it. corruption. it is a "high" down any of the endless urban corridors where traffic itself ~s free way of describing something "low." La fan~e in French Academie Fran~aise.oetlc by bec~m­ word isn't French. (or ra~her. Baudelaire wants works of art that w1ll be born m the m1dst is the international language of modernization. all that 1s foul and ized le parcmetre in the 1970s. His mouve. from. Thus as to resist the momentum of modernization itself.at * In the nineteenth century the main transmitter of modernization was England in dodging traffic (they were at first called the Trolley Dodger~)-can transce. fro~ the precanous may sound dissonant and jarring.* wave (or at least a show) of resistance. the powerful vehicles of new modes of life and motion.t. mings. so long as the poet's halo falls into "la value. as many of his twentieth·century successors (e. that what nations power as well. fange. in sport as mart. the word is derived from john McAdam ing more like ordinary men. a structure of norms and values not only aes- and activities for the urban masses.sees 1t he~e. One ?f . It may be the first word in that language that twentieth- new traffic is a primary symbol-he can appropnate th1s hfe f~r century Frenchmen have satirically named Franglais: it paves the art. of the B. If he throws h1mself . le drugstore. La fange might be the Moralists and people of culture will condemn ~hese p~~ular nadir of the moral universe whose summit is signified by l'aureole. degradation. urban pursuits as low. Baudelaire would pnmacy of the Enghs. because. vulgar.h language-the least pure. the ~aming). This mobility opens up a great wealth of new expenences cos~ic hierarchy. hi~ amazement that image still has meaning and power-as it clearly has for Baude- the aura of artistic purity and sanctity 1s only mCldental. le weekend. In classical oratorical and poetic diction. after refusing all through the 1960s to admit is not only a literal word for mud.aybe ev~~ the modern world. of and far more. In the century to come. he makes a great discovery. Marianne Moore) did. sordid. Consider a phrase hke Ia out embarrassing memories of underdevelopment. er:npty of soc1al or spmtual The irony here is that. It is true that "Loss of a Halo" turns out to be a declaration of something gained. ethical. purity intact by keeping off the streets. after a paradigmatic gestures of modernist art and thought. in the hope of blotting in Baudelaire's nuances of language. threatened by the flow of new words and things from other ments brusques. turn out to be sources of creative this fear: infiltrazya. vileness. IS that 1ts We can go deeper into the macadam: we will notice that the poets will become more deeply and authent~cally P. le shopping. "the mire of the r:"~cadam. unpoetic macadam is as radically destructive to Ia fange as to ['aureole: it places like un mauvais lieu where this poem itsel~ is bon~. so long as such an ing.nd ut1hty th~ twentieth centu~y it has been the U. The ''bad poet" in this world is the poet who hopes to k~ep h1s way for le parking. is. . but it is as futile to resist them pride and exhilaration of the man who has survived so far.mto the ~ovmg of Glasgow.160 ALL THAT ls Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in the Streets 161 move in and around and through the traffic can go anywhere. laire-the old hierarchical cosmos is still present on some plane of tial. loathsome. m those low. le mobile-home. but ~he and take on new modes of meaning and value. on the other side of the boulevard. those sudden leaps and swerves so cruCial for eve~y­ shores. Its new words are of the traffic. with the coming. popular culture will produce ItS own IroniC :vers10~ of this ~odermst f~Ith. the paradoxes of modernity. cum.n scene. It might well survive the decline of the American empire. The meaning of better. sk1l! . Power maps have changed. filth. ~e ~nds to. They u. it entails a whole to go." As such. But it is present precariously. (Thus the fange du macadam.'' it can never be wholly lost. not only to accept the new Ironies proliferate from this primal moder. to art. however.* There is a wonderful paranoid Soviet word that expresses day survival in the city streets. modern languages-Is greater than ever.S. and ~. as Baudelaire . In fact. thetic but metaphysical. This language is so vital and compelling because it traffic. The name expresses the way in which urban survival skdls-speclfically.e.A. We should notice. coined and quickly canon- mire. the eighteenth-century inventor of modern paving chaos of everyday life in the modern world-a h~e of ~h1~h the surface. f~ee from ~he nsks. the most elastic and adaptable of have loved this symbolism. 1t 1s al~o a figuratlv~ word for le parking meter to the French language. many nations and ruling classes feel-and have reason to feel- a rededication of the poet's powers to a new kind of ar.rook!yn Dodgers. from Baudelaire's time to our own. paves over high and low alike. not essen. and that poetry can thrive just ~s well. that will spring from its anarchic energy.) Baudelaire knew how to write in the purest and most elegant *Forty years later. The words incessant danger and terror of being there. these moves will become have normally done. But when Baudelaire's poet lets h1s halo go and keeps mov.

as Marx explains. Next they ment they impede. paradox. The spiritual creations of nations become"-note a confrontation with the "moving chaos" of the traffic. from Baudelaire's time to our own- are trying to escape from modernity. ~raffic by decomposing it into its inert original elements. in foundations from which this new world literature of the twentieth the midst of . in Budapest in 1956. however opposed the modernist and the anti- tional seclusion and self-sufficiency. in t~e days of the Commune in Paris in 1871. somewhere. Once again. Baudelaire's poet hurls himself into tual production. instead. !~corporate the wreckage they have created into their rising bar- ernist may cling to his aura of spiritual purity. there is no differ. univer. and decorum and to learn the grace of brusque moves in order to ically. are trying at once ature. an object of 1936. no matter how closely the anti-mod. Thus the halo that the death). mode o. "In place of the old na. because it adds yet another edness become more and more impossible. in the mire of the macadam from bourgeois society brings us . more likely sooner than later. or stir our own fugitive memories of so far as they are concerned. and hence more dangerous than halo that falls into the mire of the macadam is endangered but not ever. however. like the "bad poets" X and Z. as m matenal. the anti-modern the bo~levard will be abruptly transformed into the stage for a artist-or thinker or politician-finds himself on the same streets. and ence between them at all: both alike are hindrances and hazards to set the horses free: here they are avenging themselves on the the horses and vehicles whose paths thev cross. Then. and their riders. At out. the individ- destroyed. and no human multitudes of men and women who are terrorized by modern possibility is ever wiped off the books. is the endless metamorphosis of its market Baudelaire s Irony and out of the moving chaos itself. it is carried along and incorporated into the ual only aggravates the chaos. anything goes if it pays. 26 may at any mstant dart out into the road." he it. or regard The difference between the modernist and the anti-modernist. too. sal interdependence of nations. and in dozens nostalgic veneration for those who. it might sell. by contending against the moving chaos. we will see whole classes and masses move into the street at home here. emerging language. modern modernist may think they are. Ironies beget more ironies. the old photos or newsreels. they are also forced to dodge pedestrians who century will arise. as the modernist one. This will not be the sort of scene that in the same mire. in Barcelona in its very obsolescence.all this. But th. while the anti-modern searches the streets for a way together. he is bound to lose ncades: they are recombining the isolated. their movements will There are further ironies that arise from this primal scene. The become even more uncertain. As we reread the old histories. But his erty. In this economy. the vehicles and their drivers. and strives this image."intercourse i~ every ~irecti~n •. with the "Loss of a Halo. And. of cities all over the world. This modern environment Napoleon or Haussmann would like to see. But alas. the two are on~. so m mtellec. in Berlin in 1918.f action s~ems self-defeating. however.e~y formulation suggests a way that might lead beyond omy. for the same reason that the projects himself into the new. paradoxical in a bourgeois world-"common prop. traffic could learn to confront it together? This will happen just six mous warehouse in which everything is kept in stock on the chance years after "Loss of a Halo" (and three years after Baudelaire's that soneday. by virtue of Petersburg m 1905 and 1917. general flow of traffic." Marx goes on: "National one-sidedness and narrow-mind. survive. What if the values." the Manifesto says.is . new pnmal modern scene. culture becomes an enor. We will be able to discern two phases in their activity. and again in modern poet lets go (or throws off) as obsolete may. If. to make art out modernist lost it: he will be forced to discard balance and measure of the dissonances and incongruities that pervade-and. So far as the traffic is concerned. first the people stop and overturn the vehicles in their path. Thus. not only to survive but to assert his dignity in its midst. but nonetheless one serves as both a physical and a spiritual lifeline-a primary source that their mode of urbanism will have helped to make.162 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS I'NTO AIR Modernism in the Streets 163 classical French. in Paris again in 1968. there arises a world liter. unite-the whole modern world. whose free move. metamorphose into an icon. inanimate elements . the viewpoint of the endlessly moving traffic. is that the modernist makes himself 1968. One salient feature of the commodity econ. of material and energy-for both. and from the unpredictable vanable to an already unstable totality. memoirs and novels. The horses numerous local and national literatures. Here." The mire of the macadam will turn out to be one of the to outpace each other and to avoid crashing into each other.

in which one mode of the man in the mire of the macadam.emotional co~­ intensity are som~what broken. Baudelaire does not expect this (or any other) ne'. once we had crossed our threshhold. The "herois~ of ~odern hfe. his great vision arose. . In ~ther ~a~s. in L'Urbanisme (translated 5. o~ten whe? It tieth-century urbanism has been the highway. For one luminous ~o­ space.n the tations will not take place here. only to find himself driven off the street by traffic. h1s force: "it was as if the world had suddenly gone mad. It may burst into life at any moment.164 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in the Streets 165 into vital new artistic and political forms. m the movmg chaos. and the automobile has arrived on the boulevards full scenes is remarkably fresh and contemporary. This possibility is a vital ~ash of hop~ m the mmd them asunder." Shocked and disoriented. possibly the greatest twentieth-century ar- chitect and certainly the most influential." From mo- street and his spirit seem almost exotically archa~c. that cally designed and organized to ensure that collisions and confron- Baudelaire longed to see will be born from h1s pnmal scene •. late another. "the fury of the traffic grew. all in modernism's name. his great modernist manifesto of 1924. Here is Le Corbusier. 27 We shouldn't take him literally. For a httle while the chaotic laire's primal encounters happening here. This is no accident: in modernism of solitary brusque moves gives way to an ?r~ered fact. The the Second World War. he felt.the city s el~­ hoods and new towns-we should find it hard to imagine Baude- mental matter and make it their own. Nowhere is this development clearer than m the realm of urban mine. a means for putting is least expected.. formally The Halo and the Highway similar to Baudelaire's. the great differences between the nineteenth and twentieth cen. the multitude of solitudes that make up the moder~. He had gone for a peaceful walk in the evening twilight. urban spaces have been systemati- modernism of mass movement. Every day because our epoch has resolved the conflicts t~at give P?ns Spleen increased its agitation. His Preface evoked a concrete experience from which. including all our newer urban neighbor- streets belong to the people": they seize co~trol of .) He is expressing a plaintive sadness and bitterness as old as . What makes twentieth-century modernist architecture especially intriguing to us here is the very precisely Baudelairean point from which it starts out-a point that it soon does its best to blot out. we argued in it." (Here the time frame and the dramatic its life and energy-class and ideological con~Ict~. conflicts between the md1v1dual and social ened and vulnerable in the most direct way: "To leave our house forces spiritual conflicts within the self-but rather because our meant that." (Emphasis ~~· . Th1~ IS not ment to moment. l~fe to century urbanism was the boulevard. But it will be born again and again out of the streets mne. We see a strange dialectic here. we were in dan- epoch' has found new ways to mask and mystify conflict: One of ger of being killed by the passing cars. If we picture the newest urban spatial complexes we can ment. a medium for bringing ex- last. since the end of come together in a new kind of encounter. so he tells The Twentieth Century: us. . to make a peoP_le. the modernism of Baudelaire's primal moder~ Baudelaire. say.) Le Corbusier felt himself threat- flicts between intimates. for most of our century. as The City of Tomorrow). we sang in it. while the horse-bus flowed softly by. but rather understand his narrative as a modernist parable. he contrasts the street (and the city) of his middle age with that of turies is that our century has created a network of new hal?es to his youth before the Great War: "I think back twenty years. This is half a century after IN MANY ways. the hallmark of twen- contradictions. to'my replace the ones that Baudelaire's and Marx's century stripped youth as a student: the road belonged to us then. It began on a boulevard-specifically. on the Champs Elysees-on an Indian summer evening in 1924. City think of-all those that have been developed. The distinctive sign of nineteenth- street.r plosive material and human forces together. on of modernism both energizes and exhausts itself trying to annihi- the run.

he can be in the midst of it." or. One t~kes _part in th~s clear political point. needs "a new type of street" bring modern men together. the road belonged to us then". a On that 1st of October. animals and vehicles could coexist peaceably in a Baudelaire saw as the essence of everyday modern life." cesse~..166 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTs INTO AIR Modernism in the Streets 167 culture itself. At the ragged edge of Baudelaire's that will be "a machine for traffic. except for people operating machines. One be. serviced power. the next moment the personal voice ing for the textures of urban space and historical time make his utterly disappears. a moment later his point of view of World War One: the streets belong to the people. ·the joy of "the tower in the park"-linked by aerial superhighways. theirs to being menaced by it. men. the streets belong to the traffic. One moment he is speaking about himself. the post-Haussmann city street. Now. paradigms of twentieth-century modernist urban planning and de- ern city life into the paradigmatic gestures of a new art that can sign. a believer in it. noun- powerful mode of modernism. a move through. "The road belonged to us then. "a factory for producing traffic. The political connections were not fully grasped at the time-it 1s not clear whether Le Corbusier entirely grasped them himself This Orwellian leap of faith is so fast and so dazzling (just like that -but we should be able to understand them now. the best-equipped model is the most thoroughly auto- will present a third strategy that will lead to a third. teenth century. Instead of the mouvements brusques and soubresauts that and song. and in the great revolutionary uprisings at the end dodging and fighting the traffic. One participates in it. Le Corbu- kind of urban Eden. One has confidence m th1s new soci." A truly modern street must be tionary protest that transforms a multitude of urban solitudes into "as well equipped as a factory. traffic. neiges d'antan7 Whither hath fled the visionary gleam? But his feel. no People. ·~cafes traffic. he makes a sudden darmg leap: and places of recreation will no longer be the fungus that e~ts up he identifies himself totally with the forces that have been bearing the pavements of Paris. extremely mated: no people. and has shifted radically. The new man. Le Corbusier says. I was assisting in the titanic rebirth v1s1on of a new world is born: a fully integrated world of high-rise [renaissance] of a new phenomenon . imagination we glimpsed another potential modernism: revolu. 1924." 28 In this street. instead of world: it was-at least it seemed to be-open to them. Le Corbusier factory.. This vision had a power. Antithesis.. How can the spirit survive this change? Baudelaire showed us The perspective of the new man in the car will generate the one way: transform the mouvements brusques and soubresauts of mod. towers surrounded by vast expanses of grass and open space- fast! One is seized.." lieves in it. at a pace that could accommodate both argument part of it. The man is over. of strength. ?iss~lved in a flood of world-historical pro- nostalgic vision fresh and new. so that now he Jives and moves and speaks here is Le Corbusier's great contribution: no streets. and just barely surviving. Cars. with joy . and one of poetry's perennial themes: Oil sont les about his own life and experience-"! think back twenty years . as in the modern a people. One moment he is the familiar Baudelairean man in the street." The young students' relation to the street was their relation to the who 1s filled With hfe by the new world power.. ing the man in the car. one great leap that will be the last. ~rom Le Corbusier's magic moment on the Champs Elysees. In from inside the'traffic. Revolution can be ety: it will find a magnificent expression of its power. . Thesis. After fighting his way thr?ugh the armored and unmechanized pedestrians to slow the flow. and reclaims the city street for human life. to vary the basic metaphor. But now the idyll moves unnecessary. leading to the Arc de Triomphe. fast. cars. Haussmann's enormous vistas spread out sier's modern man will make one big move that will make further before them all. stated as the last words of Towards a society that is just dawning. the macadam down on him: will belong to the traffic alone.. New Architecture: "Architecture or Revolution. . avoided. a thesis traffic) that Le Corbusier hardly seems to notice that he has made asserted by urban people starting in 1789." 29 In the city of the future. The simple and naive pleasure of being in the midst of by subterranean garages and shopping arcades. and the vision must flee in the street will incorporate himself into the new power by becom- for its life. all through the nine- it. "one. filled with enthusiasm. the ne~ su~Ject 1s the abstract and impersonal on. the fundamental social and .

* modern hfe has polanzed Itself mto two sterile antitheses. the artificial city and venerable neighborhoods were turned over to "les promoteurs" and obliterated will ~ reduced to Its natural size. for two generations of planners. <.odern design and P!annmg could wipe it out. ~hat IS different. Thus modernist architecture and planning created a mod. traffic there. and all the people who fill them. despa1r. margi~al not~ by Mr. the "moving chaos" of nineteenth-century Luhan and Herman Kahn. when elevated highways cleft the Right Bank. has pulled apart. and several of Godard's later films. The book's original edition.av~. E. But if this street could only be wiped off the ties for grow~h. For modernolators. All these spaces.on. But many of his most grotesque visions were realized in the missar. And these old cities erations to define the ~odermst can. More typical of the modernist movement in archi- tecture was ~n mtense and _unqualified hatred for the city. Hulme and Ezra Pound and Eliot and Ortega. "The Assassination of Paris. Paris: A Century of Change. rich t~e urban lan?scape.168 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in the Streets 169 psychic contradictions of modern life converged and perpetually c_hronic blight. homes there. in capitalist and so. Le Corbusie~ dreamt of an ultramodernity that could ordered and protected than any place or anybody in Baudelaire's heal the mode~n city s wounds. Time and Architecture. One) t~ the horse ~nd buggy. Arendt and Marcuse. 1878-1978 (Yale. particularly Two or Three Things I Knou• The anta~onism between m~ern architecture and the city is explored sensitively AboutHer(l973). all of modern exits strictly monitored and controlled. "one-dimensional. out and split up into separate compartments. parking lots and underground garages the only of human poss1b1htles: anythmg that looks or feels like freedom or mediation. They are o_f the futur~. Serious thinking about haloes could begin to grow around people's heads once again.sibly be permitted to persist": can the police be far behind? Pompidou era. Urban Utopw.832) !his. "modernolatry" and "cultural The city development of the last forty years. work here. traffic ru~m. rich and poor. . poor there. and substantial to_ the time when.* ernize9 version of pastoral: a spatially and socially segmented Corresponding in a most curious way to this flattening out of world-people here. explosive forces that urban moderni. was used for two gen- Baudelaire's primal scenes can still take place.s m the Twentieth Century (Basic Books. sapped by dis_investment. and the ~k that. A typical modernist orientation toward the city can be fo~nd m S~ac~. the twentieth century has also produced a here.ugn agamst the street was only one phase of a wider war against the modern Richard Cobb. a. Jane Kramer." The tragic irony of modernist street!" ~0 -then maybe these contradictions need never come to a ~rb~nism is that its triumph has helped to destroy the very urban head. 1977). cut off from opportuni- threatened to erupt. m. barriers of grass and concrete in between. has systematically attacked.'t pos.Idea comes directly out of The City of Tomorrow. c~mp. it cannot possibly be perm!tte? to persist. For the visionaries of cultural people and traffic. 1980. Cannc. IS the tone. and a fervent hope that city could be. which This form of modernism has left deep marks on all our lives. chch~ was the companson of the metropolis to the stagecoach or (after World War backed by an ideology of developing modernism. The highway demo~strates that "there is no longer any place for the economically and politically condemned as obsolete. which has the chilling effect of a without a trace. constantly losmg ground in competition with areas map-Le Corbusier said it very clearly in 1929: "We must kill the that are considered more "modern. With he. may b_e ~." empty hind the scenes." New York Review of Books. In the new urban environment-from Lefrak City to of modern life can be resolved by technological and administrative Century City. more than any other. the great markets of Even ~ore ommous IS what comes next: the urban highway complex "looks forward Les Hailes were demolished. from Atlanta's Peachtree Plaza to Detroit's Renais. all the personal and social dissonances urban life. is sorted despair. from Marinetti and Mayakovsky and cialist countries alike." The New Yorker. and d1sturbmg. with its volatile mixture of leaders w1th the will to use them.ailed. means.ng between rows of houses. are far more *This needs to be_q~alified. co~clud~s ':"Ith a celebration of Robert Moses' new network of urban highways. t~e means _are all at hand. Le Corbusier's lyrical. which G1e~10n sees as the ideal model for the planning and construction than the ones that gripped them in Baudelaire's day. as I suggested earlier. The anarchic. "A Reporter in Europe: Paris. dozens of thriving streets were razed. 19 June 1978. hfe 1t hoped to set free. Le Corbusier to Buckminster Fuller and the later Marshall Mc- cessfully obl~terated. 7 February City Itself.fter the nec~ss~~y s~rgery has been performed. from T. hfe seems unif?r~ly hollow. where d1smal fl~ttemng out _of s?cial ~bought. visionary enthu- * Le Corbusier was never able to make much headway in his indefatigable schemes SI~sm h~~ been repla~ed by the tr~culent and threatening impatience of the com- for destroying Paris. loading and unloading be. See Norma Evenson. beset by city st_reet. a new wave of modernization. businesses and homes. composed in or segments of cities are under pressures far more threatening 1?38-39. with entrances and ~nward to Ellul and Foucault. and often suc. ~terile. ' by Robert Fishman. One of the primary modernist zation once brought together. suggests how. flat. and the only thing needful is sance Center-the old modern street. a monumental work by Le Corbusier's most New York is now one of the very few American cities in which aru~ulate disciple. Kunz. the 1979). This passage.

wherever they may lead • "It is disturbing to think that men who are young today. the moving chaos of our nineteenth-century modern cities itself. 1961). to give city life a new tension and excitement ern life's complexities and contradictions. as I have portrayed it here.170 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in the Streets 171 beauty is really only a screen for more profound enslavement and perspective has gathered widespread and enthusiastic assent. that the urban All this suggests that modernism contains its own inner contra- spaces created by modernism were physically clean and orderly. should accept. other modes of modernism may be submerged for generations. dictions and dialectics. may congeal into dogmatic orthodoxies and become archaic. Amid the fears and anxieties of the contemporary energy of modern life and the destruction of some of its most exciting crisis. we can learn from an- in their thinking. jacobs argued brilliantly. and to draw energy from our inner struggles. begins with Robert . and of the sterilities of the International Style as a whole. we can see now. nance that kept contemporary urban life alive. Venturi. The Jacobs perspective is developed interestingly in Richard Sennett. See. But there have we can also find in Baudelaire something that is missing in most of been enough people with enough passion and dedication to create his successors: a will to wrestle to the end of his energy with mod. translated from the clearly in Charles Jencks. It is a desire to live evanescent and already obsolete. on the grounds that thty should be modern haloes around our spaces and ourselves. conceptions about cities and traffic which are not only unworkable. with an Introduction by Vincent and in Robert Caro. and that the deepest social and urban "moving chaos" was in fact a marvelously rich and complex psychic wounds of modernity may be repeatedly sealed. the motorized pastoral appears to be breaking down. first. in his image. Within the architectural profession. and finally. There is also a rich European literature in this vein. epouse. to find and create him. And there are signs that it may last self in the midst of the anguish and beauty of its moving chaos. ment to give the old moving chaos a new lease on life. 1977). laire's modernism. Jane jacobs wrote the prophetic book of men and women of today may be the ones to whom he was truly. As it possibilities have gone on in the name of progressive modernism does. If we learned through one modernism to construct trained now for their careers. 1973). one were children. This is codified most zitas Lenz-Romeiss. this openly with the split and unreconciled character of our lives. the critique of Le Corbusier's mode of mod- ernism. the urban consolidated this hold. Despite We can find both polarities in Baudelaire. and some have even tried to cling to both at once. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. that tiges of nineteenth-century congestion. reductive and shallow. and poignancy while it lasts. lished in 1961. noise and general disso. And yet in spite of everything that old moving chaos has looks more orderly and more up-to-date every day. 1970. 1966). for instance. that forms of modernist thought and vision but socially and spiritually dead. second. indeed (as I sug. Jacobs' emphasis. a strong undertow. without human order. may turn out to be The urbanism of the past two decades has conceptualized and even more relevant in our time than it was in his own. In the past decade it has come not only to 1974). The City: New Town or Home Town. second. of the newest-to lose our haloes and find ourselves anew. 1970). The Uses of Disorder: Personal identity and City Life (Knopf. German by Edith Kuestner and Jim Underwood (Praeger." Death and Life of Great American Cities (Random House and Vmtage. but also to which nothing new of any significance has been added since their ~athers other modernism-one of the oldest but also. who. pub. Feli. third. that it was only the ves. no one has had the power to break the gested in Section 2). Thus Baude- kept-or perhaps has renewed-its hold on a great many of us. men who are being us in the end.* In the last two decades. sporadic local successes. and horror. be generally accepted but to generate an orthodoxy of its own. unnoticed by modernism only because its paradigms ever being really healed. But accumulated power of the halo and the highway. longer than anyone-even those who loved it most-would have It is ironic that both in theory and in practice the mystification thought. Scully (Museum of Modern Art. that many people have clung to both these poles at different points Every movement to stop the construction of a highway is a move- in their lives. We should note. The Language of Post-Modern Architecture (Rizzoli. first of all. this new urbanism: The Death and Life of Great American Cities. borhoods and cities from the ravages of motorized modernization. that both these modes of masses of Americans have worked steadfastly to save their neigh- thought cut across the political divisions of left and right. The contemporary desire for a city that of order were mechanical. that the old without ever being superseded. 371. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (Knopf. that is openly troubled but intensely alive is a desire to open up old but what still passed for modernism in 1960 might turn out to be distinctively modern wounds once more. might lay claim to having invented both.

where the sun rolls like a flaming chariot over the somber forests which crown the horizon. • . in the Petersburg News. even the most ordinary trifle. -Joseph de Maistre. of necessary egoism . Petersburg We have little sense of personal dignity. with a drooping head.. 1847 173 . gentlemen? ..•. though they sometimes get jobs. the fleeting twilight of the northern summer. the most insignificant fact assumes a fantastic coloring in his mind. And do you know what a Petersburg dreamer is. .. his mind seems attuned to perceive the fantastic elements in everything. In the streets he walks. paying little attention to his surroundings .. These gentlemen are no good at all in the civil service. Are there many Russians who have discovered what their real activity is? . but if he does notice something... reflected by the windows of the palaces. give the spectator the impression of an immense conflagration..Petersburg: The Modernisn1 of U nderdevelopn1ent . Evenings of St. -Dostoevsky.. It's then that what is known as dreaminess arises in characters who are eager for activity. and its rays. Indeed.

One of the servants. except in passing. The Noise of Time. this and irony. moving happened in the great cities of the West-in London. and used it as a source of creative material and energy. from the 1820s well into the Soviet period. Throughout the nineteenth century. this is the way it of modern life. Moreover. blatantly -Osip Mandelstam. 1925 abortive or weirdly distorted ways. out of the feverish babble of and culture. 1928 can. important things that this essay will not be doing. New York-where. or else as something that was hap- -Andrei Biely. modernization. elusive and paradoxical there. as something and very solemn was bound to happen. Russia wrestled with all the issues that Afri- -Mandelstam. I will work chronologically and historically. etc. at the very moment when the economies of the Western our capital city belongs to the land of spirits when reference books nations were taking off and surging spectacularly ahead. Thus. where. Petersburg. and underdevelopment played a central role in Russian politics made up out of desolation and glass. to help their fellow men Soviet. crucial facts about modern Russian history is that the economy of -Nietzsche. First of all. I will not discuss.174 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 175 Toward a history of the modern eclipse: the state nomads (civil tion in Russia for most of the nineteenth century. romantic surrender and critical perspective-modern. the endlessly rich sym- more complex. bolism that developed around the polarity of Petersburg and . and even though it went through said in the Communist Manifesto-modernization was not going on? major transformations of its own in the nineteenth century. literature to the age when it developed a distinctive mode of revo- the upheavals of modernization were going on. the Superfluous Man. he has no shadow passport. opment is that in the span of barely two generations it produced tion. Russians of the provinces who hasn't been informed of this takes only the visible nineteenth century experienced modernization mainly as some- administrative apparatus into account." as Marx majority of Russians lived there. from the age when Petersburg developed a distinctive mode of Vienna. . Petersburg. 1 WE HAVE been exploring some of the ways in which writers of the One of the remarkable features of Russia's age of underdevel- nineteenth century drew on the unfolding process of moderniza. and in some ways even re- I've been to Paris and London . Marx. it's not customary to mention that gressing. the clearest expres- and help themselves to become the subjects as well as objects of sion of modernity on Russian soil was the imperial capital of St. the Crystal Palace. But what happened in areas outside the West. Thus we can see nineteenth-century Russia as an archetype of the emerging twentieth-century Third World. lution. A man from the until the dramatic industrial upsurge of the 1890s. even when they traveled there. the Underground. halting. In that constant digressions. and finally the Workers' Council or and beauty. The WiU to Power the Russian Empire was stagnating. of freedom and solidarity. This was the situa. Karl Baedeker keeps mum about it. despite I should acknowledge. inspired a series of brilliant explorations ist art and thought came into being. are compiled. and ?e. Berlin.. out of the delirium of the Petersburg influem. the energies of economic and social change into new forms of meanmg Vanguard. it will spite the growth of a modern world culture that was unfoldmg not be discussing the Russian countryside. even though the vast along with it-modern mankind's "common property. or else.) without home. where it was happening at home. Paris. The anguish of backwardness It is terrifying to think that our life is a tale without a plot or a hero. in realms that Russians. that was happening only in the most jagged. one of the world's great literatures.a. At least. I want to examine here the ways in which this city. some of the relevant and the pervasive pressures of the expanding world market. thing that was not happening. We have seen how-from the fusion of empathy Petersburg. The Egyptian Stamp. 1913-16 pening far away. Sec- It is obvious that the meanings of modernity would have to be ond. all through the nineteenth century. experienced more as fantastic anti-worlds than as social ac- It always seemed to me that in Petersburg something very splendid tualities. at the start. environment. Asian and Latin American peoples and nations would con- front at a later date. it produced some Baudelaire and many others strove to grasp this world-historical of the most powerful and enduring myths and symbols of moder- process and appropriate it for mankind: to transform the cha~tic nity: the Little Man.. hundred years or so.

and Moscow as anti-En.000 buildings in the m1dst of these swamps. (Columbia University Press.. I will portray Petersburg in two ways: as pattern was geometric and rectilinear. that Russian history must have a new begin- ular (or perhaps atheistic). imported from England. not draconically from above. though they are not responsible for my mistakes. 877. though I have read in Russian history and the fourth or fifth largest cny m Europe. and 2 mlihon on the eve of ~o~ld War One.* Louis XIV's move from THE BUILDING of St. He pollution and miscegenation. Moscow as sacred. but Louis was instance in world history of modernization conceived and imposed seeking to control the old capital from a point just outside it. and. 3 Peter I began it in 1703. in symbolic language. and scrapping Mos- lightenment.000). He envi. with the civic center along the waterfront. w. behmd ~oscow (250. was. and Moscow. in the swamps to reduce it to political insignificance. Allen Ballard step with Vienna. It.000 by 1800. Moscow as purity of blood and soil. . Its life of Petersburg itself.•~ 1850. leading to the Baltic Sea. 1975). 2 designed and organized entirely by foreign architects and engi- Rather than re-examine the contradictions between Petersburg nee~s. simultaneously.000 m 1860. This dualism. and Pete~sburg had become. surpassed a million in 1890. Mitchell and Richard Wortman. Petersburg is probably the most dramatic Paris to Versailles constituted a sort of preceqent. Moscow as mng. France. 667. the city was laid out as a system of chosen to explore the internal contradictions that pervaded the 1slands and canals. where the Neva ("Mud") River disgorges the waters of Lake La. the accumulated indigenous and insular traditions of the Russian First of all. on a clean slate. this ne~ city. This section owes a special debt to George Fischer. standard in Western urban the clearest realization of the Russian mode of modernization. Peter insisted on establishing Russia's capital here in narod. *I do not know the Russian language. behmd London. and forbade building in stone apprentice in the Dutch shipyards. and his first achievement as * P~tersburg's population reach~d 220.000 m 1880. as an early Italian visitor said. Petersburg as Russia's head. "a window to 485. in effect. as the archetypal "unreal city" of the modern whose cities were unorganized agglomerations of twisted. one of the great metropolises of Europe.000. Nothing on earth lies beyond measurement. has been discussed in great detail and depth. Peter doga into the Gulf of Finland. 1750-1970. No ruler in the West had the power to build on such ~ vast scale. land surveying encompasses everything. It grew to The city was to be.* medieval streets. Other features were equally inconceivable in the West. or between Petersburg and the countryside. but It would soo~ overtake the old capital. planning since the Renaissance. I.176 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 177 Moscow: Petersburg representing all the foreign and cosmopolitan Europe": in physical terms-for Europe was now accessible as it forces that flowed through Russian life. Petersburg as sec. commanded every stonemason in the whole Russian Empire to sioned it as a combined naval base-he had worked as an relocate to the new construction site.as saying. The official corrector of books wrote a poem that expressed a typical amazement at the new order: geometry has appeared. Petersburg as cow. virtually overnight. history and culture. through the nineteenth century. Holland and Italy. On the other hand. equally important. L1ke Amsterdam and Venice. R.000 people. 76-78. Petersburg as the Enlightenment. important features of the new city were dis- The Real and Unreal City tinctively Russian. edited by B. At that point it was still slightly Tsar was to establish Russia as a naval power-and trading center. one of the central axes of modern Russian exc~usively European: thus Petersburg's construction was planned. European Historical Statistics. I have . Within a decade there were 35. Paris and Bedin and in literature for years. With all Its centunes of tradition and its religious aura. The inscriptions on this slate were to be its heart. Moscow signifying all had never been-but. winding world. within two decades there were close to "Geometry Has Appeared": The City in the Swamps 100. ~ith a wi~dow open to Europe. but unprecedented in Russia.

manufacturers and prisoned-like Ivan Pososhkov. Except trelli's Winter Palace (1754-62). all enjoyed imperial pa. drain the swamps. ported on short notice. especially abruptly recalled and forbidden to learn more. inexhaustibly. even for those who loved it most. monumentality. Elizabeth and Catherine. the extreme instability and volatil- mythology. raise so that. a disparity that generated violent resistance and monuments. dig canals. never to be resumed. the revolutionary waves that swept over Europe after 1789. On the other hand. rot in the Peter-Paul Fortress. they were translated and consulted. dredge the river. drive piles into the soft ground. Standard Western facades were required for all con- only to move to the new capital but to build palaces there. the dead men's bones mixed into its grandest of the country. or forfeit struction (traditional Russian styles. Two of the crucial landmarks were Bartolomeo Ras. overlooking the Neva. he ordered a large proportion of noblemen not focal points. especially as the city grew. with wooden walls and onion their titles.000 workers-physically wrecked or dead-and the princes. finally. for instance first. subsidized and often be imported from the West. dominated the city's skyline (and still does today). and then and utilitarian facades for their power. the first permanent imperial resi. both en- -than to his fellow absolute monarchs in the West. and Etienne Falconet's enormous Napoleon. civilized on the outside alone. using Western archi. political economists. only to find themselves suddenly disgraced and im- and engineers. and everyday urban life into Catherin~ the Great and her successors recoiled in horror from a spectacle. who hoped to construct rational education at the Sorbonne or in Glasgow or Germany. the whole city into a political theater. Russia's political role 1782) in Senate Square. the radical disparity. Finally. Petersburg by a series of emperors and empresses.) What was different in St. the new cap. in progress at the time of the Pugachev peasant uprising. imposing exteriors could con- earthen dams and embankments. Petersburg was. intellectual projects begun with great fanfare and then broken off ital was lavishly decorated and embellished. for ing art and science to buttress and legitimize their regimes. The human sacrifices were said about Russia as a whole. In his will and his power to destroy his subjects en masse for is the object of Rousseau's scathing criticism in his 1750 Discourse the sake of construction. feted and flattered. it~ immensity of scale. so as to give the cityscape Peter had total power over a virtually infinite labor force. only to be de- invited to St. Bentham and Herder. Petersburg became at rulers. of monumental under the Empresses Anna. Peter was closer to the Oriental despots on the Arts and Sciences. which nourished liberal and constitutional initiatives equestrian statue of Peter the Great.178 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 179 anywhere else. of ancient times-the Pharaohs with their pyramids. and 2:1 or 4:1 ratios of street people were property either of noble landowners or of the state. Leibniz and Christian Wolff. second. between the capital and the rest horrific human costs. width to building height were prescribed. jurists and political theorists. was for innovators to be sponsored and encouraged from the Peter and his successors encouraged and imported mathematicians throne. ity of a culture that sprang from the needs and fears of despotic In the course of the eighteenth century. ceal festering slums-"mantles of civilization. for young noblemen to be sent abroad for climaxing in Catherine the Great. Baroque cyclopedie. at one of the city's throughout the nineteenth century was to be the vanguard of Eu- . brusquely-as the Russian edition and translation of Diderot's En- tecture and design-classic perspective and symmetry. (This more. the use forced these captives to work breathlessly to cut through the of space behind the building facades was completely unregulated. for thinkers to tronage. Russia's first political economist. an Academy of Sciences. kings and emperors from Piedmont to Poland were enlist- state had to reach into the Russian interior. Rococo extravagance and playfulness-to turn was stopped short at the letter K. a state-supported and Dmitri Golytsin. immense: within three years the new city had devoured an army There was nothing new about this political use of culture: of close to 150. growth. in a serf society where the vast majority of domes. Petersburg's vironmentally and ideologically. At the same time. immediately became central to the city's folklore and long-term polarization. were explicitly forbidden). Petersburg's Bastille. the Bronze Horseman (installed from within the imperial bureaucracy. Vol. for the brief period of rapprochement between Alexander I and dence in the new capital. The Petersburg pattern throughout the eighteenth century once the home and the symbol of a new secular official culture. its first secular political theorist-and left to system of technical education. He a look of infinite horizontal expanse. whose tower taire and Diderot." as Peter Chadaaev and build the city at breakneck speed.

Rousseau. Pushkin was a close friend of tality and stupidity under the new Tsar Nicholas I. although it cre. Lithuania. d1stmcuve and bnlhant hterary tradition. in which his aristocratic hero Twentieth-century historians and critics take a more skeptical would participate in the December rising. by its very success. On December 14. an alternate mode of modernization from below. planned as the first phase of a o?sessively on their city as a symbol of warped and weird moder- liberal coup d'etat. it was Petersburg had made. To try to escape revolution here ?ut ci~izens a city. If we see the city itself as a symbolic Next. on the other hand. the Ukraine. mass imprisonment and Siberian exile. as it was bound to. De Maistre. 1825. What Peter's statue in Senate Square and staged a large. that the serene reasons for being there. or wanted to feel. his "novel in verse" Evgeny Onegin. But if we look at December 14 from the -but this only entangled Russia more deeply in those Western perspective of Petersburg. Bronze Horseman. defining form that they had been sent West to blot out. a tradition that focused tional reform. Herzen and many of the Decembrist leaders. and their town into a city. it had forced many of them to be magnificence of the palaces at the city center promised shelter ther~. the crucial on behalf of the peculiar sort of modern men and women that issue was a constitution and the rule of law. His new canto was writ- view. under heroes. and kept their luster burning bright throughout the 19th constant surveillance and pressure. 4 December 14. confused dem. ten in a code known only to himself. Till then. The demonstrators had never mty. and infused the returning veterans (the pro. death of Alexander I. for still others." written in 1833. obscurantism and persecution. a whole This tradition begins with Alexander Pushkin's poem "The generation decimated-ushered in thirty years of organized bru. Till quoted him at the head of this chapter.d~ ins~ead. December 14 represents ated waves of hysteria. In 1832 he began a sequel to century. 1825. for others. of course. not only reflected but magnified in his most powerful sentences. mhabuants of some of Petersburg's grandest houses to transform The first spark was ignited on December 14. but he came to feel that even . P~t~rsb~rgers ma. emphasizing the Decembrists' inchoate or muddled aims. he himself escaped imprisonment Ogarev. a generation of young nobles and officers-into definition and initiative in St. the first attempt to assert. we will see a new impulses and energies that the government was trying to blot out. he felt. at the city's spatial and political center. and it would the imperial guards-the "Decembrists" -assembled around be decades before such an attempt would be made again. as we Petersburg pubhc space and its political life in their own way. marked an attempt by th~ might turn out to be as futile as trying to escape the sun. for the first time. ironically. then suddenly the people-at least a segment of the tagonists of Tolstoy's War and Peace) with the very ardor for re. every most important. in one of might be pursuing him here. indeed. people-were t~king initiative into their own hands. xenophobia. he feared that all he had fled the nght to be there for reasons of their own. took a "Hannibalic oath" to avenge the fallen only because Nicholas enjoyed keeping him on a string. the levee-en-masse against Napoleon in 1812. Their humiliation and martyrdom-show trials. basis for the old reverence. and of modernization.180 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTo AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 181 ropean counter-revolution. the emancipation of the serfs-and they had done nothing to attract support beyond their own aristocratic Pusbkin's "Bronze Horseman": The Clerk and the Tsar and military circles. ernment. had written that houses make a town scope by the city's vast scene. petered out fast. swept a generation of Russians. sensed something of this then. the government had furnished everyone in Petersburg with paradox: on one hand. expression of modernization from above. But this role contained paradoxes. govern- thinkers-de Maistre and a whole spectrum of German Romantics ment they attacked. executions. Petersburg emanated from the gov- the streets of Paris. when hundreds of reformist members of The attempt failed. it meant enlisting the ablest and most dynamic of reactionary metically sealed aristocratic world they shared with th. Petersburgers asserted from the storm. The demonstration. federalism in the form of home rule for Poland. their commitment to autocracy and reform from above the her- First.just after the themselves into citizens. as teenagers. was a onstration in favor of the Grand Duke Constantine and constitu. over the next half century. and that struggled to take possession of this city imaginatively been able to agree on a unified program-for some.

?e to far more precarious than its creator could conceive. at thoughts. bridges have Horseman" is also. 6 At the same time. but also a certain stuffiness. "the most abstract and premedi- journalism of the day connect his poem with the traditions of the tate~ c1ty m the world"-and. never sufferin~ first in 1725. A hundred years went by. The details are aura as a 'City of hght." taken from contemporary magazines. the most vivid one I could suggest. Neva's in our own day. (They occurred almost precisely at of deserted streets show clear. ~u~l a~uvny m the years to come: much of its light will be generated "The Bronze Horseman.northern lands ." like the great tradition it inaugurates. 1ssue. There is irony in Peter's name. just the shade ofmght to dim the golden sky. It is less politically explicit feet set firm beside the sea": Petersburg's foothold will turn out but probably far more explosive than the manuscript Pushkin de. "Thought He: Here." This poem is written in the som~thin~ broken. but considered by such diverse pnde. solitary rooms and "nights full of thought" Edmund Wilson's prose translation. of Enlightenment. as Dostoevsky'~ on the concrete factuality of his material and his allusion to the Under~ro~nd Man will remark. will make the connection even clearer." So "The Bronze Horseman" begins: it is a times." to magnify Petersburg's incident described in this tale is based on fact. from all the e~rth's ends to that rich port. But "The Bronze Neva [literally mud ] h. the most recent in 1924..~arm. m 1ll-ln lonely rooms. and has a hero with the same first ~ecoil agamst the ~ity as the poem unfolds. but it is shorter and more intense.s . for our greatness. the widow of the purple." Pushkin uses the l~mense urban plazas for them). It points the way not only to great works by and now before the younger capital. Pala~e ~nd the gove. away from the official radiance of the Winter will reveal the surreal quality of Petersburg's real life.. P~shkm evokes this grandeur in proud images: "Today by spirits as Prince Dmitri Mirsky.182 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTo AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 183 this was too risky. and ap. one of the three dreadful floods when lampless m my room I write and read.oke the beauty of sleighs in winter. sometimes a matter of life and death). thronged with mighty c. He then began work on "The Bronze Horseman. of course. just after Peter's death." Pushkin's insistence Petersburg itself is a yroduct of thought-it is. setting is the great flood of 1824. First of all them from material compiled by V. Vladimir Nabokov and Edmund the bustlm~ docks crowd bulks of tower and palace. the city's creator-God.ruCJal.rnment. . the beauty and peared only after Pushkin's death. her granite banks. and to the desperate initiatives of Soviet dissidents pi~ce of Peter-I love thine aspect. It was banned by Nicholas' censors. and burned the manuscript.) Pushkin inscribes a headnote to the poem: "The to the fa~?us su. kind of Petersburg Book of Genesis. Nature freshness ~f young g1rls faces at festivals and balls.I. Berkh. stroyed. "The Bronze Horseman" is th~ m~rvel of . This alone might justify shapely: ships s. rose up in all its grandeur and its lamentably unknown in English. beginning in the mind of the Pushkm goes on t~ e." Its hmp1d dusk an. her Isles are covered with groves dark green· well as an artistic act. a political as spanned her waters. of course. stared out. it has the . 1s~lated from its foci of shared and public life. The curious may verify Several dimensions open outward from this point. but also. the lengthy discussion that is about to follow. strong and Wilson to be the greatest Russian poem.d moonless radiance of nights so full of thought. and that young city. violence that will same stanza form as Onegin. the "The Bronze Horseman" is subtitled "A Petersburg Tale.~ The fact that I will be citing the Image of la~pless.. ~reat mart1al processions (Nicholas I loved parades and created shall stand with feet set firm beside the sea." ' Mandelstam.so~ethmg else about Petersburg's intellectual and spiri- find." Pushkin is alluding here after Lenin's. and sleeping masses in Petersburg's history. and all at historically crucial moments: the and one glow ~akes haste to take another's place. like so much Russian literature. He asserts his own presence at this point: "I love thee.king through the ice in spring. only he sees the window as hfe ~orce of t?e N~va brea. out of the range of its surveillance (a "Beside the desolate waves stood He and. master- 1905 and 1917.as clothed Itself in stone. But nineteenth-century realistic novel. ~ug~ty stream. old Moscow dims-as befor~ Gogol and Dostoevsky and Biely and Eisenstein and Zamyatin and a new Tsarina. and the Admiralty's needle gleams hundred-year intervals. the celebrations of victory the familiar image of a window to Europe.mmer "white nights. Th~re is a lyncallovelmess mall th1s. the pomp of has ordained that we shall break a window through to Europe. but also to the collective revolutionary creations of . stiff lace of iron fences. graceful and severe. made by an act of violence.

comes clear. indeed. reared up and roared." . of the poem as a whole we will have every right to distrust it. and that Peter's by that fury. for walks on summer Sundays.. why not? . they will clash radically and that follows will make it clear that the elements have not made tragically with the reality that IS about to break over the city's head. Milton is the only poet in English who can write at this thrashed about. Bridges swept loose by the deluge. fell at last upon grad all clouded over. hand in hand. And so we'll live.. roofs. "All fled before her-all was left abandoned-and now the and dark. grew fiercer and fiercer. Here he was filled with ardent tury readers are likely to distrust this rhetoric.. self a modest little corner. that the at th1s moment than the secular. I shall make my- of this lyrical celebration that the full horror of Petersburg be. strike the glass with their sian literature. The river ''fell back in rage and tumult. like a passed. and whose conquest by diverse thoughts. the rain beat angry. even the fantasy.. and be nor vex with impotent rage Peter's eternal sleep.. that he must wait fired. attuned to omens. and I shall give Parasha peace. sma~l as th~y are. but the tale he is about to unfold will belie him.. may the Finnish waves forget their ancient hate and bondage. boiled.. out of the Baltic. Peter's city. and in the context tenderness. I'll take Parasha out for country tion: "Be splendid. Parasha would surely miss him . fragments of cabins." The winds coming off the spirit remains vigilantly and vindictively awake. Pushkin's introduction to the poem closes with a lofty invoca. but. like savage beasts. As he dreams of her. a sick man on his restless bed. Boats." His dreams are almost pathetically first like civic cliche will turn out to be ghastly irony: the narrative hm1~ed. the coffins from the the civil service. like a poet's soared away. like Russia. we see the modesty and ordinariness October-means every word of it. last. Indeed. the thrifty merchant's wares. there is a sense in which Pushkin-along with all o~e of the remotest and most exposed of the islands on the city's those who follow in the Petersburg tradition.. and. Pushkin suggests that his family may once have graveyard. and so go down to death. have taken their revenge. she could fight no more. What thoughts? That he was poor. superstitious. the great anonymous urban mass. against the window. the very conquered element has made her peace with thee at a snug berth." Pushkin's language erupts with images of cataclysm and Splashing with loud waves against her handsome banks. blow the Neva back on itself and "A dreadful time there was-of that I tell. the town. flooded the Pushkin emphasizes the past tense. we meet Pushkin's hero Evgeny." So the story starts. frenzied. and one of the first in world literature. "Our hero lodges in a little timbers. wind drew howling. humble I'll be and sly. over the city. the wheels of city droshkies.. "On Petro. an~ yet. Evgeny is in love with a girl even poorer than he is. Twentieth-cen... He is the first hero in Rus. Push- had to work for decent independence"-irony here. their peace with Petersburg-and. with fears of final judgment and doom-speaks more truly two years to g~t promotion. "The people see the wrath of God and await their execution. the dolorous waves were breaking through the streets .in society. washed afloat-all these drift through the town. windows.184 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTo AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 185 lofty tone of state commissions and official verse. to belong to sterns. pell-mell borne along. that the river was all bloated. the wretched chattels room. climb to the rain. it is only in the context of his desires: :'Get married? Well. November breathed the autumn cold. they'll give me lo. two chairs. disturbed Peter's imperial will had supposedly subdued. who lives on Nevertheless. bring up the children ." a clerk in the lowest ranks of of the poor. strong. as if to say that the dread has islands. rationalistic language of the rulers weather got no better. but he could not sleep long. All has been long lost. breathed steam. Gulf of Finland. but the memory. that he Petersburg was meant to embody. a pot of cabbage soup. "And so. What more should I want? . had standing in Russi. worsted conquered-that their anger is all too potent. he shook his overcoat. and I the master of the house. A bed. . come home. Parasha will keep house. and his who have brought Petersburg's people to this pass. The hour was late pitch. because we kin's images here express a radical shift in point of view: the lan- will see how indecently dependent he is forced to be-"that God guage of the people-religious." What sounds at ~u~ied by our grandchildren." At this point. and stand. that the bridges might be taken up.. ruined: roof and food! Where will it end?" The elements that undressed and went to bed. his fancy. could have given him more brains and money. cauldron. have never really been "All night the Neva had plunged to reach the sea.. Neva doom. works somewhere or other. coming through the wind and "A siege! A storming! Waves. even Eisenstein in frmge.

Fate's mockery of man?" Square: "and right before him. the winds resounds incessantly in his ears.. Some Square. the willow. with arms tightly he never from that day went home. to speak of imperial glory at a time like this. still crazed with fear. "back turned toward him. nor did he see how his face was him.'' Children stoned rose till they lapped his soles. He knew this statue. and then a month passed- is perched high on an ornamental lion. not His eyes were fixed far out in one desperate stare. he strayed from place to place. as empty as a dream.. in your .'' The world. we won't The next day.186 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 187 Where are these rulers now? "The late Tsar [Alexander I] in radical antithesis of a god: "the idol. began to gaze about. There reared beast or man. he prowls and prowls about. "With Parasha's home at the mouth of the Gulf. nor how the wind howling had snatched his hat. no people-everything has been rivers. like Evgeny. from its fenced-in rock..'' The godlike figure who And in that steed. "Possessed by dreadful At this point we meet Evgeny again." But this idol has created a that terrible year still gloriously ruled. he didn't notice." Evgeny's wits give way. the little flimsy house-and is not yet ready to let Evgeny go. what fire! Where are you galloping. But if we don't into statues. He sails past twisted mournful brooding eyes he watched the dreadful work. still wickedly the waters boil. he [Alexander] sought the balcony enough for people to come out into the streets again. our life. "and him he knew who. then. folded. he reaches the place. How dreadful now in all-enveloping steady on its height above defiant Neva. at night slept on the docks. departed spirit. with outstretched arm. "hatless." Suddenly his thoughts grew terribly clear. wandering. the widow and her daughter. Evgeny. he can't dis. in some inner terror. not notic- they. rigid and deathly pale. He did not notice how the greedy billows His shabby clothes were torn and wearing out. not this nor that. The roar of the waves and that surges violently around it. Petersburg for the next ninety years. there broken things were tossed . we see crystallized the political "And.' " This is obviously true. forgot him soon. The pub. enough for and spoke: 'To Tsars it is not given to curb the elements. A week. bodies and debris. uprearing in the darkness. like mountains from the outraged deep. talks loudly to himself-then suddenly." there raved the storm." Why is he there? "Not for himself. coachmen whipped him. rears on its steed of mist! What power of thought upon his brow! What force within! bronze. As Peters- belong to God. life of St. up to the revolu. terror. the idol sat its copper "his ironic position on the urban stage: he has become a Petersburg steed. no gates. although "still exulting fiercely in the fullness of feel the full force of his belief in this glory's futility and emptiness. there-his dear Parasha. in an image that washed away.. nothing. it has transformed them. flows by so fast that it is easy to miss. nor yet and ravaged the waves. say." the river recedes "Distressed and baffled now. "And so he dragged his miserable life.. "As if bewitched. And This could be the end of many a heartrending Romantic story there-God! God!-within the billows' reach. and into them the streets were pouring -no house. place. based this city on the sea. even city of men in its own image. held in the mount! Around him stretches water now and nothing else. But what makes the ob. no dweller on the earth. by the Gulf's very -a poem by Wordsworth. burgers try to pick up the scattered and shattered pieces of their vious truth outrageous here is the fact that Petersburg's very exis. no willow. or a tale of Hoffmann. He dream was preying on him. caustic. striking his brow. site of Falconet's Bronze Horseman-at the water's edge. his face aghast with hope .'' Here. all his ing where he was. the idol. in "Peter's Square"-Senate thoughts he could not utter. "suddenly he stopped. poor fellow. But Pushkin brink-the paintless fence. hires a boat to take him to tence is an assertion that Tsars can control the elements.. fixed and still forever. monuments of despair. with out- Now Pushkin steps back from Evgeny's torment and points out stretched arm. and. fast rooted to the marble. Or is it a dream he sees? Or is." He has found his way back to Senate ness." It may seem ironical.. their triumph.. full of black foreboding. "All day he tramped. One night.'' Not murk of night his copper head-himself whose fateful will had quite nothing: directly opposite Evgeny. always submerged dashed with rain. The palace seemed a dismal isle. lives. but there's nothing there lic squares were lakes. Pushkin tells us. did he fear. he bursts tions of 1917: the imperial palace as an island cut off from the city out laughing.. for they Evgeny to leave his perch opposite the Bronze Horseman. haughty began both the poem and the city now stands revealed as the steed? And where will you plant your hoof? 0 you who. realize that Pushkin believed the Tsar's glory was real.

one fused instant: for Island h~pelessly cut off from the city that teems and seethes "The terrible Tsar. that Petersburg's man-god. would darken. a -"You'll reckon with me yet!" heavy-ringing gallop against the pounded pavement. that his body is washed ashore. "His r~velauon. And through the empty square he around Senate Square long after the first rebel has been wiped out plunges wildly. 1s on~ of the ~ost_dismal in modern Russian history. Quick he would press his hand the~r presence felt. smashing grandeur into rubble. Petersburg Under Nicholas 1: Palace vs. etc. the Copper Horseman comes bnef moment m Senate Square would come just a year after Ev- behind.. m Dostoevsky's image of the but out of the city altogether. soundlessly to turn his head. Fo~ the time being. remove his shabby cap their own. like rattling thunderclap.) without home"-as Petersburg's Everyman. still impend. make Russia rear? letanan-perhaps the first of Nietzsche's "state nomads (civil ser- "The poor fellow prowled about the pedestal. and all night long. how~ver.188 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 189 might. cast wild looks at vants. 'You'll reckon with me yet!' " This is one Petersburg s powers that be to crush all challenges and of the great radical moments of the romantic age: Promethean ~hallengers: the i?ol'~ strange and seemingly magical power to defiance springing forth from the soul of the oppressed common mcarn~te h1mself m h~s subjects' minds. the note of defiance that echoes. the Copper Horseman's clattering hoofbeats reaches far deeper mto the ~uy. the audacity of the com- before the arrogant statue. a Harne swept though his heart.. back to the remotest islands. masses whom the Decembnsts Ignored. But "The B~onze Ho~seman" also goes beyond them. pos. nature's revenge. dismayed. if he chanced upon the Square. "Thereafter. the futility of the first act of protest. brilliantly crystallized and compressed: a vision of the city's The _reign of Nicholas _I (1825-1855 ). for it where Evgeny will. erupting Nicholas most lasu~~ contr~but10n to Russian history was the de- cataclysmically. the power of quivering hate he hissed. It is there. And. they would slink away or and slink away. mmds. _into the lives of the impoverished hammer-pursuing. controlled by its secret Third Sec- and hopes. creatmg madne. suddenly." But now. however faintly. shattering lives ~elopme?t of a pohucal pohce. mon ~an who dares to confront the god-idol and demand a sessed by some black force: 'Good! wonderworking builder!' with reckomng. and hears behind. Somber he stood City from Its center. the established Russia m the European imagination as the archetypal . clenching his teeth and fists. did master Destiny! Did you not just so. and." It is all one line. a vision of is bound to have the last word: "You'll reckon with me yetl-And ~eter s successors on the throne as sadly impotent. their palace an headlong took to Hight. dark m ~ushkin's p~em speaks for the martyred Decembrists. whose the pale moon. the the image of the lord of half the world. an invisible police silently man. and a vision of the madness on which repression of ~he Decembnsts and ended with military humiliation it is based-the mad idea that a volatile nature can be permanently at_Sevast?pol. is in reality an idol. "and there for charity's sake they buried his cold corpse. his charger's gallop ringing brass. the vulnerability and terror of Petersburg's common tion. the educated pro- precipice. driving them at last out of their But Pushkin is a Russian realist as well as a European romantic.ss in t~e city's lower depths to complement and he knows that in the real Russia of the 1820s and 1830s Zeus the ~adness that dommates us commanding heights. Prospect man" because it seems to me that Petersburg's whole life story is here." The idol drives him not only out of the city center stay out of sight-underground. . one arm Hung up. In generations to come lion is his last. who dominates the whole blood boiled up. where 1860s-:-and Pete~sburg would continue to incarnate the paradox his love was swept away in the Hood. seemed all around 1t. his Pet~rsburg's common people would gradually find ways to mak~ face. of pubhc space without public life. tamed and dominated by imperial will. to make the city's great spaces and structures against his heart as if to calm its fluttering. aloft above the very spec~al role of the clerk in government service. tr~mphng th_em down m the night. _which ca~e _to penetrate every area of Russian life. the next spring." I have devoted so much time and space to ''The Bronze Horse. and people caught in the midst of the crossfire in a battle of giants. which began with the grandeur and magnificence." Evgeny's first moment of rebel. on the instant hot wit~ wrath. turn geny's.

ion) an~ crushed.ed m~l­ Alexander I that serfdom-because it kept the vast majority of the tiple layers of censorship. lieved that the government should actually retard economic devel- one of his achievements was to keep nearly all of them. mobile industrial labor force-was the main force retarding the What was distinctive here was neither the fact of repressiOn nor economic growth of the country. as for Belinsky. Moreover. is especially apt. an industrial thousands' of people to death after secret trials. even within the radical opposi- modern technology and industry. the Russian gentry has been transformed into a bourgeoisie" Herzen's image of a system without a motor. out of the country. But Chadaaev was officially declared insane and kept for many years under house arrest. Nicholas' insistence on the sa- its scope-the Russian state had always treated its subjects dread.. without a middle class are doomed to eternal insignificance". Pushkin's Horse.190 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 191 "police state.) Nicholas and his ministers be- more than six hundred peasant uprisings during Nicholas' re1g~. 1848. It poem and the Tsar who suppresse~ th~ poem wa~ the differ. Peter the Great had murdered and terrorized would be held back... to open the way to Western Europe and the United States were taking off and surging Russia's progress and growth. the m?st illus~rious. It took a major military difference between the Tsar who was the subject of Pushkin's defeat to shake the government's monumental complacency. · · .er through Cat~enne t. Under Nicholas. Here is a typical passage: window open again. In would have rotted him in a fortress. socialistic and pro-Western firmest pillars of Tsarist policy from Pet." But the trou~le was n?t merely that Nicholas' gov. internal process of civil development in Russia will not start until . that Russia's official celebration of its "Bronze Horseman" had pursued his countrymen in order to backwardness came to an end. to thinkers as diverse as the Moscow aristocrat Chadaaev and the man was almost as alienated as his clerk. Petersburg plebeian Belinsky. any 1dea of p~og~es~. mto pnson. packed schools and ~mversmes With population shackled to the land and its lords. under Count their liberation.. He limite~ himself to the per. One . and the1r opment. . because economic progress might well create demands repression secret from the country as a whole). this policy was consciously and decisively (about four fifths of the populat. the current ruler seemed interested only in The political and human costs of underdevelopment were clear pressing them down. after he died young of tuberculosis in early secution of any yearning for freedom. Nicholas and his pol~ce were re. eventually paralyzed the whole educatl~nal sys. "the introducing everywhere the element of paralys1s. or them for not modernizing). and prevented the growth of a free. without even a proletariat-capable of taking political initiative into their own facade of due process of law (Dostoev~ky. Even the radical. of death. he ceased to be a European .h.he thinkers of Nicholas' time shared many of the government's eco- Great was the 'mercantilist attempt to stimulate economic and m. nomic and social biases: agrarianism. "We Without becoming a Russian. repressed them w1th hornble brutahty (there ~ere Witte." one of the heads of the secret his system there was no motor . (It would not be revived until the 1890s. The considerably during the Nicolavean age. that it condemned for political reform. dustrial growth for the sake of raison d'etat: to give the system a ernment was cruelly repressive: that 1t clamped down on the serfs motor. 8 drive them forward. Belinsky's views on development-"countries During his long reign he affected in turn nea~ly all msut~uons. and new classes-a bourgeoisie. In Nicholas' Petersburg. credness of serfdom ensured that Russian economic development fully-but its goal. Ruling circles had realized since the hopeful early years of reprieved thirty seconds before execution). that 1t es~abhs. ahead. celebration of peasant com- . police said regretfully.... was hands. with spectacular success. democratic..tem. just at the moment when the economies of in order to break open a window to Europe. a political and military as ence between a "wonderworking bUilder and a pohceman.of the tion. reduced the land- informers. both said that what Russia needed Alexander Herzen. owners' incentive to modernize their estates (or in effect rewarded nally drove all thought and culture underground. an image drawn from -were very much in the minority. all hopes for abandoned. fi. The well as an economic disaster. gave the classic account most desperately was a new Peter the Great to break the Western of Nicholas' regime. Thus the relative backwardness of the country increased pressing and brutalizing in order to close that wmdow. was only after the disaster at Sevastopol. writing from exile.

is Dostoevsky in 1848. I want to suggest spanned: by graceful bridges that offered fine long perspecti~es of here that in the political and cultural . rowed. whose very existence was a symbol of Russia's dynamism squares and pubhc spaces of their own: the neobaroque cathedral and its determination to be modern. magic vision. and recogmzed as a umque urban environment. so it seemed that new buildings were rising above the th~ City's longes~. In Nicholas' Peters. "God save Russia from the bourgeoisie!" he as t~~ archetypal modern ~host town.. mad Tsar .. and proce~ded ~n a brief coda to the Alexander Nevsky sions. best-lit and best-paved street. a square block of glassed-in ter. the rococo Mikhailovsky Palace. strong and weak. miralty Square 1t moved outward in a straight line for two and that this whole world with all its inhabitants. during Alex- had suddenly turned crimson with the last purple of a sunset that was dying over the hazy horizon. to the Nevsky Prospect." Dostoevsky..icola~ean age. widest. the shelters of the poor or gilded man. while the state slept. Splendid build. as Its s1gns proclaimed). e~n~zau.. the way for h1s son Alexander. When I the three· radial streets spreading out from Admiralty Square that reached the Neva.Paul I was strangled by his bodyguards in 1801 to make the Bronze Horseman's successors were asleep in the saddle. weird. and columns of smoke the late 1820s. ~t had always been one of Petersburg's main glance along the river into the sq10ky. by the Katherine and Fontanka canals and cence are continually melting into its murky air. We will be exploring the evolution. belov~d by generations of intellectuals too poo. the early mneteenth century. three quarter miles to the southwest. finally. that Petersburg should establish itself When Herzen said.'' and we will not consider it here. of Petersburg's a centr~l cha~acter in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina).. a ghost town.ll It was the way. where the of a system that prided itself on being a system without a motor. from running people. d1stmct1vely we1rd form of modernism. From Ad- old ones. to the steam toward the dark-blue sky. whose grandeur and magnifi. spectral place. the Nev~ky was ~!most completely rebuilt by several zen steam poured from tired horses. a ghost. Petersburg acquired a reputation. then. the M01ka R1ver. as a strange. Here. Night lay over the city. The d1stmgu1shed ne~class1cal architects. I stopped for a minute and threw a piercing gave the city its shape. the neoclassical Alexander Theater· reins pulled tight but frozen stiff. for instance. animate it.ings lined the street.192 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTs INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 193 munal traditions. The Nevsky was one of home from the Vyborg side. resembled at this twilight hour a fantastic. the static equilibrium of a great dead weight. aversion to the bourgeoisie and to industry. It was crossed by identity as a mirage. one of Russia's pnmary symbols of modern energy and mobility (and. after 1851. twining and untwining on Stree. which roads .t). regime the effusion of spectral symbolism made very real sense. powerful enough to haunt the city but powerless to shoppmg arcades built on the lines of the Rue de Rivoli and Re- . Fro.atmosphere of Nicholas' the city's flowing life. I was still very young then. over a century. to af~ord hbra~1es ?f thetr own. Bouu~ues.. Ironically. These qual. 9 · bac~w~rdness in the midst of forms and symbols of enforced mod- During Nicholas' regime. Peter's dangerous but dynamic spirit was reduced to a spec.on-ma~e Petersburg the source and the inspiration for a which it never lost. often built on subsidiary This city. It seemed. a~d~r s ~e1gn. It came to be distinguished sharply from its like giants rose from all the roofs on both embankments and competing radials ~the Voznes~nsky Prospect and Gorokhovaya rushed upward through the cold sky. (It then turned aside. now found itself at the head of Our Lady of Kazan. No wonder. in a short In the N. of course. the axis and drama story entitled "A Weak Heart": ?f modermty sh1fted from the magnificent ensemble of state build- mgs and monuments and enormous squares at the city's center I remember one wintry January evening when I was hurrying along the Neva. a new city was forming in the air. frostily dim distance.'" te~mmal of the Moscow-Petersburg express train. As its new form emerged in taut air quivered at the slightest sound. the very incon- was inadvertently working to keep the system he despised from grUities that arose out of N1cholas' politics-a politics of enforced getting a motor. which would in its turn vanish immediately and rise up as Nevs~y.) It led.• In. the Gostiny Dvor (or Les Grands burg. however. nar- with all their domiciles. horse and rider supported by the Public ~ibr~ry. but th1s sectiOn was never really felt to be part of "the dream. which we might call the ities were evoked most memorably in this period by Gogo! and "modernism of underdevelopment. a Monastery.

. the Nevsky was in action a full generation for.~~::! ~~~~~?· a prospect of all the dazzling traffic." before its Parisian counterparts. e scape. First. . He tries to explain to us how this street is different from all othe streets: r .~~~~ The government could monitor but it could not generate the ac. the railroad. tohth~ l~d•es. and m tholo- good paving made it an ideal medium for moving people and g}zed It mexhaustibly. very few are in Russian alone. and left them to make of their experiences and enco:n:~. spea mgdworld. Like the boulevards that Haussmann hacked through Paris in the 1860s. gaslight and electric Gogol: The Real and Surreal Street light.the Nev~ky Prospect is an even greater delight: ut w o 1sn t dehghted w1th it? emerged as a kind of free zone in which social and psychic forces could spontaneously unfold. like so many Russian adaptations of Western pro- totypes. Petersburgers loved the Nevsky.. because it opened up for them.~ many ways. movies and mass demonstrations. the Nevsky served as a showcase for the wonders of the tic trage y and a young soldier's romantic farce We ·u d' new consumer economy that modern mass production was just their stories soon. it served as a focus for newly accumulated material and human forces: macadam and asphalt. exchange the ~evsky for any earthly blessing . length and W:hat ~h~y could . derelicts and bohemians who h~d­ whole. the street's straightness. · · . the Nevsky was an unusually cosmo.. transforming real urban space into a magical dream. The~e is nothing to co_mpare with the Nevsky Prospect at least politan zone. inflaming the imagination as the shifting sun lit up the in ez 10 ~he w:et~hed fteabags and taverns near the railroad station golden spire.~~. parent ~ffort (or even awareness). In these few pages Gogo! without an naware and clocks-were foreign styles. in th. A recently reissued ge~res 10 moder~ ~iterature: the romance of the city sf:. the Nevsky was the one place in Petersburg (and per. German chi. intro- fashions and furniture. More original however and . far surpassing the originals in scale. giving the at Its startm~ pomt nea~ the Admiralty and the Winter Palace to viewer a visual orientation and a sense of place in the city as a ~7edr>:'or artisans. a perfect artery for the emerging modes of fast and heavy ~ro~is~sn~. all were displayed attractively in the street's protagomsts m their natural habitat The framework .. The ~aut of under a repressive government like Nicholas'-the Nevsky was the the capitaL-what splendors does this street not know:> I' y one public space in Petersburg that was not dominated by the state. The Nevsky Prospect was a distinctively modern environment in tex. 'd d multitude of shops. ouses grace t e street structed 1806-10) could be seen. prostitutes..h . Hence the Nevsky ~h. 12 Furthermore-and this was especially important not m ~et~rsburg.eet i y series of lithographs from the 1830s shows more than half the w~uch the street IS Itself the hero. invents on~ of the ri~=~­ all the forbidden allure of the world outside. and it functioned far more pu ~~ e m 18~~: This story. . without devastating any old neighborhoods or lives. Gogol's narrator add ' n shop signs on the Nevsky to be either bilingual or exclusively En. namems y quare where the Prospect came to an end Th Nevsky brought them all together.194 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 195 gent Street. But because Petersburg had been planned The ~pular mytholo~y of the Nevsky Prospect is first trans- and designed so well. ' more Important ur ~ur~ses. foreign men and women. breadth. ~~ •scuss beginning to open up: furniture and silverware.e~ ~~~o art by Go~ol m his marvelous story "Nevsky Prospect. Even in a city as international as Petersburg. From every point on haps in all ~~ssia) where all the existing classes came to ether from the noblhty whose palaces and town h d hg ' the street the golden needle of the Admiralty Tower (recon. boots and books. Displayed along with foreign goods-French by a nar t h . practically unknown in the English- smoothly. but. l. Finally. heart things. electric trolleys and automobiles. wuh a breathless giddiness: resses us glish or French. for o .s Gogol's introduction. IS mostly concerned with a young artist's roman- Next. lifting up the eye. whirled them around in . IS provl e d ra or w o. Wit the ebullience of a carnival barker. fabrics and cloth. uces us to the street. that not one of the town's pale and clerkish inhabita~ts '::. English textiles and saddles. in which he frames his ing. for m that city it is everything. And the ladies' tions and interactions that took place here.

people don't show themselves because they have to. soldiers. hfe begms to stir..vision i~ carried to great lengths and depths as where greed and self-interest are stamped on pass~rsby and those Gogo! t~aces a day m th~ hfe of the street. with shopkeepers open- mg up the1r stores. the force that it's hard for anyone to look at anyone closely-before e~~rgy and momentum have become so intense that the planes of you can focus clearly. featu~e as a microcosm of their whole being. of the young lady who turns her eties ?f ladies' h. Gorkhovaya.196 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 197 Even if you had important business. which gives it its special char. dirty boot of the ret1red sold1er have been anointed with the most precious pomades. "How many metamor- who flit by in carriages and cabs. Here you'll find a thousand vari- iature slipper.her and their prospective audiences. Omniscient Nevsky Prospect! . g?wns. male and female shop- hand. not for any. and is waving a dazzling cloud above or the power of weakness. which neither pen nor ing by: brush could depict. of St. skaya. and. mustaches How dean-swept are its pavements.. Th1s IS one place where This passage. ~s the Prospect reaches its peak hours. it acts as a another-tutors. slow: only a few peasants here. the endless gradations of who people really are. where they suggests that w~ can g~asp th~ people of the Nevsky only if we aren't driven by the necessary and commercial interest that em. JS speed and mtens1ty: breathlessly he piles up one group on top of a strange mixture of reality and fantasy: on one hand.. which head to the dazzling shop windows like a sunflower to the sun. a ~o work on t~e city's vast construction projects. the black beetles of the male sex.or. bright and wispy. on the ~nd early ev~ning. and beggars stand- single day! How many metamorphoses it goes through w1thm ~~g around m fron~ of ~akerie~ whose ovens have been going all twenty-four hours! ~1ght. Petersbur~. it provides true knowledge-for those who can decode It. to the1r offices. and the message of the street as a whole. without greed or competition. we can grasp each meet on the Nevsky is less of an egoist than those on the Mor. actors. Th1s fragmented . objects of long vigils by day and midnight. goods unloading. break them up mto the1r constituent parts-in this case. and soon with their superiors' carriages. musicians setting for people's fantasies of who they want to be. trudging in from the countryside mation as the Nevsky. purpose. secretaries.ats. as it is other hand. The Nevsky IS the common phoses Jt go~s through m twenty-four hours!" Gogol's narrator meeting ground and communications line.. It seems that the man you -but also tha~. Hence much of the VISion are shattered and the unity of human form is broken into surreal fragments: vision that the Nevsky affords is a vision not so much of people presenting themselves as of fragment~d forms and features flash- Here you'll find marvelous mustaches. sometimes remam their owners' favorites for two whole days. As the day communicate their visions to one another. to which the best part of a lifetime has been devot~d. the hopeful ensign's rattling saber that draws a sharp scratch over .P~obably forget it all as soon as you stepped into the street. On the street's frantic rhythms his own. kerchiefs. which their marks on them! The clumsy. ul~enor progr~sse& and the Nevsky swells up with multitudes of people. the min- are the envy of passersby . in the late afternoon one hand. No starts slowly JUSt before dawn. but as an end m Jtsel~. gains in Their communication. Aro~nd sunnse. it propels people past each other w1th such speed and mundated With fashiOnable and would-be fashionable people. Finally. o~fice ~l~rks and foreign. of Russ1an CIVIl servants-cuttmg rapidly back and forth. Here you'll meet waists such as . if we know how to look closely. at a moment when the street itself is directory or information bureau will furmsh such correct mfor. it brings people face to face with ~ach other. making There are several paradoxes about the Nevsky's sociability. light as smoke. Meshchanskaya and other streets. Petersburg. old ladies on their way to The essential purpose of this street. on the ot. and which beneath whose weight the very granite seems to crack.. Gogol's prose. Gradually the street becomes crowded with clerks rushing to acter. Litenaya. pers. governesses and their children. the apparition is gone. too. How swift the phantasmagoria that develops here in the course . you'd . Ma~s. written as if from the point of view of the pavement. is sociability: people come here to see and be seen. their feet braces the whole of St. and how many fe~t have l~ft on wh1ch the most ravishing ointments have been poured. and p1cks ~p ene. : It looks as though a whole sea of butterflies has 5uddenly its surface~everything is marked on it by the power of strength ansen from the flowerstalks..rgy and momentum.

on however. reahsm. an- other archetypally modern theme: the special mag1cal aura of the worker's wife. class. As Gogol follows them. and the whip the least punishment Schiller could expect. the importance of these foreigners the Nevsky Prospect begins to revive and to move agam. dadaist and surrealist montage. a Russian officer? who are of course the last to leave off their ~ork. ~e foc~ses in closely and sharply on two young men you . They separate and rush off in opposite directions.ied and uneven. an artist.. at the same ume. sex. married people. to the . Then Pirogov gives the man an order for some hur. Schiller. an incentive for the husband to look the other way. that the street is now animated by dtrect and mtense real need. pick him up bodily. from this point. But P1rogov knows nothing of this. avidly seek out other people to fulfill their nee?s· 0~ the other hand.s. It is hard to know what Gogol's contempora~ies made t~e Nevsky . He considered Siberia themselves. The very people's perceptions of each other. the girl turns out to be a Swabian metal- Gogol now presents.work1~g. thetr eyes are simultaneously captivated by two girls passmg by. Gogol seems to be inventing the twentieth name has become a Russian byword. Doblin's Alexanderplatz. he finds himself in a neighborhood of century out of his own head. P1rogov mak~s an assignation with Frau Schiller. or rather somethmg resembling a pur.t of h1s ume and mto our own. everyone's pace grows to stay at home. h . when he appears. national-for which his all star. scapes. At first solid homes are all off the streets by now.and into ~he darkness of the side streets.lr on her own ~lee~es.n of thought of such an insult drove him wild. . product an officer. As Pirogov follows the girl he has seen on the Nevsk y. typical of nineteenth-century romantic the Nevsky Prospect seems to carry Gogol ou. From gtrls of thetr respective dreams. the ~rospect. the cobbler Hoffmann. "But as soon as twilight falls on the h?uses and the the goods that the Nevsky displays. Long shadows glimmer on the w~lls and on wo~k: on one hand. this writ~ng. As th~se unlikely ~omrades promenade together along of the highest art. perhaps for the first t1me 1~ literature. and the watchman scrambles up the steps to lig~t the lamp. ported by a gentleman. the Par1Slan nouvelle va~ue. and ~~en to Pe~ersburg_'s and Russia's econo~y testifies to the country's in- begins that mysterious time when lamps lend a wondrous. these are the involuntary c~rrents of purpose m however. after all. he shifts the perspective of our century. like that lady floating through the a.treats f?re1gners as he 1s accustomed to treating serfs. is indignant at his flir- to the young and avid and." Older people. Gogol adds. Berltn. light to all things. to pursue the of passages like this. This is the world of the Westerners who produce city at night. money. Both self and others are enlarged in the magtcal hght. The officer is stunned: as the. 1 not sup. a monument of cinema Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov. German craftsmen. had they chosen pose something completely involuntary. More real ~~ k~nd of bribe. people With He . IS unca~ny: from the surreal pyrotechnics of his introduction into a more con- ven~ionally coherent vein. class happily consumes. At th~s ume one Schiller and his friend. and Pirogov. Now. And what ladies' sleeves Till now. as well as thetr prese~tauo. Here you'll meet umque smiles. they say they could have been officers themselves. tation with Schiller's wife: Is he not. crude conceits and vanities-sexual. the Nevsky n?w belongs he 1s surpnsed that the husband. the very depth and intensity of the. the air· the fragmented features are resolved mto real people now • and throw him out. and nearly top the Police Bridge. classes. 'f which a lady might suddenly float up mto . He . entlct~g capactty and 1~ner weakne~s. w 'II meet on the Nevsky Prospect! sleeves like two balloons. they certainly didn't say mu~~ m ~nnt. so narrow that fear and trembling will but their grandeur is as evanescent and baseless as the shadows on yo:ail you that some careless breath of yours might injure this the walls. he seems to understand his order as a Nevsky grows at once more real an~ more u~real. Gogol's vision has been sweeping and panoramic. whose stones he ts about to tell: Pishkarev.se destres ~tstort Nothing could equal Pirogov's anger and indignation. however. asondrous product of nature and art. In fact. of Balzac and Dickens and Pushkin. Sch1ller and Hoffmann surprise him. the ~e!man expressiOniSt Lieutenant Pirogov is a great comic creation. and that the Russian officer streets." At th1s hour t~e agam. oriented toward ac- Joyce's Ulysses. . off And so on. Cl~y­ tual people and their lives. are not impressed: feels a kind of purpose. love. t~is will give him an excuse for coming around the pavement. cubo-futunst. .t e air •. The Modernism of Underdevelopment 199 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR 198 've never dreamed of.

Indeed. the helpless victim: he resolves to rescue her.200 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 20 I rushed home to change and go straight to the general. he finds that she is walls of houses stand out. to inspire her with his author enacts it. in more-the idea of love or the idea of honest work. the rather cool evening tempted him gaze. the city. Within a few tions. where they can live.. but trust ladies least of all. As the officer chases his blonde. on the road to Sevastopol. the more he disassociates himself from it. He is perfectly However enticingly the cloak of a beautiful woman floats by. plunges it. an artist. The narrator doesn't seem honest. the parts with them for far less than their market value. Again and again. Gogol's denunciation of the Nevsky is itself a way of "wrapping . and the devil lacks the experience of life and the worldly wisdom to understand himself lights the lamps in order to show everything in an unreal beauty as a mask and a commodity. story to an end by apparently negating it. And for Pishkarev. and when the whole town becomes in fact a whore-and a shallow and cynical one. finally locks himself in his identifies himself with it. love. wouldn't let my curiosity follow after her for anything. and left in a less wrathful nothing but gazing at these objects. ate a couple of Haky pastries. street. he prowls along about. He stops painting. may be the one genuinely heaven's sake keep away from the lamp! and pass by as quickly as tragic character in all of Gogol's work. do not trust the Nevsky Prospect!" But there are ironies the Chief of Staff. the more attractive he makes burg dreamer" loses his hold on both.. poor but he presents it in the most enticing way. meet with. thunderous and dazzling. playing with his readers in a fascinat- artist recovers from his first rebuff and imagines the girl as a ing way. and declares himself. In the act of denying his love for the Nevsky Prospect. Shattered by the we will encounter voices like this: the more the speaker condemns gulf between his dreams and the real life around him. and presenting them for our frame of mind. then into addiction. wheeling within ironies here. or even to try to understand it. "I always wrap my cloak more tightly But all this had a rather peculiar ending: on his way home he about me when I walk in it. to know what he's saying or doing. and myriad carriages roll down the would have known at once. . May the Prospect happily. this "Peters. of the soldier's farce? he could describe this rebellion of the German workmen in the One point is proposed by the narrator at the story's conclusion: most striking colors. I typical of the class that governed Russia until 1917. for the last fifty pages. of course. is smitten in love with the dark woman The Nevsky Prospect always lies." The irony here is that the narrator has been doing glanced through the Northern Bee.. it. however. that he is far more in need of rescue than she is. in our own everyday conversation. He the Lord defend you from gazing under the brims of ladies' hats. even as he execrates the street for its false allure. wondering whom he will conquer next. "Don't look into the shop He is humiliated in his quest for conquest. his friend. are what this whole story has been minutes Pirogov has forgotten the whole affair. to whom What is the point of the artist's tragedy. in popular culture. Pishkarev imagines her to be a great lady. but it is clear that the author approaches her. Pirogov. but Pishkarev. the narrator light. and the character to whom possible!" For-and with this the story ends- Gogol most completely gives his heart. fades into the twilight.) The young author behind the narrator. but smells of assigna- from his failure. He wanted to make a request in writing to "Oh. she doesn't know which to laugh at primary attitudes toward the modern city. the more deeply he into opium visjons. "You think those ladies . the more vividly he evokes it. and once again. bringing the to stroll along the Nevsky Prospect for a while. Once again he gathers up his courage. of course." Assignations. and postillions shout and mount their horses. In addition. in love with beauty. but too stupid to learn windows: the frippery they display is lovely. on love and art. Now we see literature. and try not to gaze at the opjects I entered a confectioner's shop. When he finally does. knows. he is unable to exploit his own paintings as commodities: he is so delighted when people appreciate their beauty that he I have quoted this conclusion at length because it shows Gogo!. a far more complex figure. In fact. tells us. to carry her off to his garret. He goes on in this vein. but more than ever when the he sees.. this ambivalent irony will turn out to be one of the she laughs in his face. the clearer it is that he can't live without room and slits his throat. (In the same way. of course. and trembles to thick mass of night settles over it and makes the white and yellow approach her.

gether with the golden letters of a shop sign and a pair of scissors If the affinity of artist and Prospect embraces Pishkarev. frightening experience is like a moment inside a When. people step into a new frame of space and time heights: his relation to the city is to represent. and which where Petersburgers live their everyday lives. do not trust the Nevsky . and forth between their own century and the next." written in 1835. a house stood upside down. on both. the bridge stretched out and wander up and down the Prospect but to wander off it: it is only broke in the middle of its arch.. the carriages with their material in time and space. seemed to glitter on the very lash of his eye. one of the strikingly modernist personify. enter upon it: Pishkarev is getting what he came for. Take. and then systematically starve himself to death. its the planes of normal vision and the boundaries of normal experi- substance. lier. I would argue that." If this is so. "the face we see in dreams. Nabokov sees it as alluring light to the devil. above all. yet the worlds they present are light-years away. is inspired by the devil. and maybe even to and possibility. Gogol ascribes the street's weird but cubist landscape. He will then create an cannot integrate the city's two worlds are likely to lose their hold ending for himself as dreadful as the one he has written for Pish. he will come to believe that all literature. apply. then the Nev. On the Nevsky. for instance. is not only the artist's "Nevsky Prospect": the girl who has caught Pishkarev's eye turns natural habitat but his fellow creator on a macrocosmic scale: he to him and smiles at him and all at once articulates with paint and canvas-or with words on the printed page-the collective dreams that the street realizes with human The pavement rushed away beneath him. But those who his own above all. after showing us how Pishkarev was destroyed by century than to Gogol's own. intelligible and coherent things. And yet. to step back and fanatical holy man. Gogol has shown us. closer in style to the twentieth narrator says. it em. is almost contem- Souls. This is made clear to do with the connection between two spatially contiguous but with a typically Gogolian twist: "This young man belonged to a spiritually disparate aspects of modern city life.202 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTo AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 203 my cloak more tightly about me" -a mode of self-concealment and tween its introduction and the two narratives that follow." So the liantly disarrayed surreal montage. class that is rather a strange phenomenon in our midst. It's all a dream." written two years ear- One of the 'main problems in Gogol's story is the relation be. and the sentry's halberd. teenth-century realism: clearly articulated characters doing What binds the street and the artist together is. Petersburg than a fact> we see structure and coherence. turns out to exalt him to great ence are shattered. however. Under the influence of a crooked but how to take the trips it offers and then come back. and Petersburg's symbolic antithesis can enrich Peters burgers' lives spectacularly." The rhetorical edy. This dazzling. painted on it.. or on a hallucinogenic drug. One of the .. he is being playful. The introduction. on the contrary. 14 poraneous with "The Bronze Horseman. is bril- dreams. is precisely what the Nevsky Prospect is meant to do to those who Seventeen years later. for those who notice. "Oh. The Nevsky Russia's traditional holy city. On the side streets. a when he confuses the luminous dream life of the Nevsky with the sentry box toppled towards him. of space and time. moments (this is Nabokov's favorite passage and his translation) in sky Prospect. a world away from the Nevsky-in Moscow. karev: he will burn the unfinished second and third books of Dead Gogol's "Nevsky Prospect. braces Gogol as well: the collective dream life that gives the street its luminosity is a primary source of his own imaginative power. this turn away from this light. as Petersburg's dream street. in the story's last line... He was an artist. these rules are suspended. to- murky and mundane real life of the side streets that he is undone. and hence on life itself. Thus Pishkarev's mistake is not to galloping horses seemed motionless. he would extinguish his own life force. The connection (and disconnection) his dreams. dreams were the motive between the two languages and experiences may have something force of the artist's life as well as of his death. normal rules of no more belongs to the citizens of St. Pish- disguise. but it is clear that if an instance of artistic vision and genius soaring beyond all social he took the image literally and sought to renounce this devil and and experiential bounds. however. but he lets us see him peeking seductively from behind karev's and Pirogov's stories are presented in the language of nine- the mask. tone of this sentence seems to dismiss the Petersburg artist. of comedy and trag- in dreams belongs to real life . so long as they know -Gogol will do just that.

e c er k pr~menadin~ on the Prospect 10 te But the Nevsky may be the street on which. but finds. "dl pstratified society in Europe. Lieutenant Pirogov.>!~st~.n t ~he one place in Petersburg that that the Nevsky confers. there will be more acts. 15 In "The ~~~~t~y~ becaus~ at this moment two rather good-lookmg young Nose" (1836). . he wouldn't d~ea~ olagtvlTnt puts the clerk 10 hts p ce. He [Lieutenant Pirogov] was very pde:~d although sometimes he 1 d with his rank. they w . Later in the conversation. "The Here. dem. only to be tram- common man and central aut or~ :1 has a very different sensi. them here (and in a great deal of his work). forces him to recognize the limitations of the freedom he is trying to express t e. Akaky Akakyevich briefly comes alive: for one fleeting mo- .204 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 205 . in reducing the clerk to bility from Pushk10 s (th~ug . and that he dare not claim it as his own. M<tior Kovalev finds his lost nose riding up and ladies were passmg.nytw:. The roles im~sed by~he mos~ nf ce~tive luminosity. so magical light unreal. hrea Gogolle~s us see the latent facts of Russian hfe: sow.this street Petersbu. sian politics was not about to forget them. he is able to look without quaking. If the fluidity of Petersburg's modern street is a mi- b k through For one ne mom . The ts was a p . a dazzling screen for autocratic power. this was part of the joy of being there-but Rus- sent themselves and 10t~ract f:~ the Bronze Horseman's hooves. too. dominated by the Bronze Horseman. "ndependently of the state. however. tts aura o ~~ feel like free individuals. ~e~~ t "ed to g ve a cover embittered clerk-protagonist of "Diary of a Madman" (1835) is overwhelmed by its people but feels instantly at home with its dogs. but also because the city'~freest space.~~~~:ky's apoliticality also ma. with different endings. an once w h" h immediately stopped him and story. turn For now he succeeds: he everything around him-except the cold that cuts through him.more e1o. This is not ~~rely bec~u~~ cou~se he does}. surreal life. The scorned and :~~!~rs?a: ~~i:~=~a~t?" . because the hero.de its integrity. "Vanity.n. . near the Neva depoliticized: Pushk10 s star ~n . his new ditgnhit. but to his own nervous self. and even to tip his hat. "t fa very different urban space.l"t Overcoat" (1842). he is ~\ e 1d nothing less-he tried to express this. tion bet:ween officer an de ~r ~ the clerk ~ quality of respect that Akaky Akakyevich. the authorities of the nineteenth century. look behind rimary Th. Its modern fluidity and mobility turn out The Nevsky Prospect wa~ 10 lac.ces IS~ a~ tr!gic confrontation between the has escaped from the "official" sector of Petersburg. In Gogol's d Go ol shows us what will become most famous and probably his greatest Petersburg story. the old order here is less solid than it may seem. them and hstenf source o the street's aura of ebullient freedom h And yet. to his horror. the Nevsky Prospect contin- he had only recently ~e~ ~~o~~t. sp. flattering. had developed and was bl~.!e:~a:ued cruelly into constricting social Pirogov has to prove his potency and primacy not only to his sup- reabty. the Nevsky Prospect is never mentioned by the pnma scene d l k The officer representative of Rus. It to be an illusory display. all is vanity! so ues to exist as a medium for intense. this reality could latter-day Bronze Horsemen are not only miniatures. dressed in his new coat. to hn~: e o ~. stark raving mad. in Peters urg 1 ergature and life·. and to the ladies. but this is only because. h s no place on Gogol's Pros. h f yet secretly. .o~ch. This is only the first phase in the confrontation between officers and clerks. rage. The men and women out on the Nevsky might forget Russian was perhaps the one ~u p "th each other without hav10g to politics-indeed. that his nose out- ranks him. convinced that he is the Tsar's equal-the King of Spain. as Gogo) sees was so umform y gnr~. submission. and . down the Nevsky. is so cut off from life that he is oblivious to sia's ruhng class. Even posed inferiors. . and the palace. f f edom something of a mtrage. so is the solidity of its ruling caste. but neither is anyplace else in the city. are merely silly.e ~~:!~ere Petersburgers coul~ pre. they are in the mtdst of t e streebt ~ fe ent like a single frame in a slide made of tin. as the century goes on.n ~~ came across a copyist cl~rk in the 1 1 with whom he strikes up animated conversations. Thus Lieutenant On . the confronta- . in shallow and shaky as to be almost endearing. h Go ol's Petersburg seems utterly most strik10g dtffer~n. ~ ro. as street who see~ed rude to lm. altypicallyinoffhanbway. pled by a miniature but malign reproduction of the Tsar even in pect.d ethat he had a lieutenant to deal d h"m seem a few curt wor s the Tsar drives by. to which In Gogol's other Petersburg stories. name. hen the presence oft e state man who made Petersburg was an awesome figure of implacable -especia~ly du~ing ~ict.

uonal power and glory.1' Makar Devushkin.he collud~s m 1t: B~t he does?'t see it all: even as he tells his why on the Nevsky one suffers half again as many jolts as in any v1ct1m stale. and what makes his story bearable (can any In 1836 Nevsky Prospect. and . The Modernism of Underdevelopment 207 . Eventually they turn on him and anoint c~ive yet genuine public life. fell ir_tlove with a beautiful actress.. he IS contmumg to act 1t out-by telling it to a woman who. As he writes his life to the English Embankment._'no man can participate in the Nevsky's distorted and de- ers to get through the day. persona1 d'1gmty- . Devushkin. other place. is a complex bustling Nevsky. his real occupation seems to be that of victim. as h1s coat mhentor of the Akakyevich mantle. but 1t enables them to satisfy the desire to most-may be ftowing against them. the traffic on the Nevsky will start to change direc- ten days off. h ut a minimal sense of ones . The point that emerges from all these stories is that work. we see that he is alive enough to resent his when the strolling began did I notice that it is rather short. Poor Folk. m" as Dostoevsky will put it in his column for the Petersburg from the mcessant banter and mtngue that enable his fellow work- . we see. a spiritual pride.lf-e~facing. indeed. They fear that. presents himself as a worthy a~ ·ng women Hashing by. he. What makes him different from his Go~ohan . they seem to be wrong With th1s sort of love in itself: it is one of the things that the willing to abandon it for a far less interesting urban space-barely perf?rming ar~s are for. The late Emperor [Alexander I] story to Varvara Dobroselova. That voice is first .. dear? Well. a young woman who lives across his loved the English Embankment. present ftowers. Devushkin But they are not the only ones. couldn't care less.and/or ncb). uncertain of th~ir power ~monty wlil hang a~ut stage doors.back. a nch mner life.rt of rit~al scapegoat. write impas- to define the street as their own. one of the forces that keep audiences half a mile long as against the Nevsky's two and three ~uarters.precursor. beautiful. necessary and cons~ientious. He is honest IS torn .! 01. since half of Nevsky Pros- pect is always taken up by craftsmen and civil servants~ which is ~h1~h .thi~ coat. he is thrilled by the brillian~ ~indow displa~s and ?ame~ess government department. shy and se. them: to g1~e the hfe of the office focus and cohesion." Gogollaments: gamza. But vic~imization. From his account of his life at ~btterl away.. has completely fallen: strolling has shifted over mtelhgence. But only tenement's courtyard. however: follows ~either the majority nor the minority route. no cafes or shops-out of fear. but a mouse others can ride to or- "Petersburg Notes of 1836. him as a so. on my way tion. published in n the way to the party that his fellow clerks give for him 1845. So what do you think I did. Most only one side. commg . he holds himself apart 0 wit . tormenting him comes to energize ~any members of the Petersburg lower classes fear the Nevsky. In a magazine article entitled des~n~s h1mself as a mouse. As delightful as the Nevsky may be. L THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR 206 ~L sounded by Dostoevsky in his first novel. In fact. 18 De~ushkin is vaguely aware that. or especially. the perpetually stirring. A bright lights. But they will remain w~ry. what he does mstead bnngs him the worst of both worlds: Words and Shoes: The Young Dostoevsky I had one ruble left in my pocket. pressure of JOlts from Sioned ~ett~rs and stnve to meet the objects of their love face to below. apart from his real poverty. He de- Thus the fashionable set is retreating from the Nevsky Prospect scnbes a youthful episode in which. lo~ehness and bad health. a copying clerk in a me. along with all their other real and imagined face. and the next payday was still Eventually. am1d the. Dostoevsky's hero. ~h1s wlil usua~ly mean ~etting hurt (unless they are unusually enemies. part of his problem is himself. But first the poor clerk must find his voice. the street they love be~ut1ful . Now there is nothing and clerks. but in a ftash 1t 1s all over. from a theater's fourth bal- because they are afraid of physical contact with plebeian artisans cony. VIrtually everyone goes through it at least once.in~elligent enough to see some of the ways in the strollers have something to gain. . the street itself-even. this retreat people m the audience (today as much as in the 1840s) keep this won't last long: the nobility and gentry will return to the Nevsky's lo~e o? a ~lane of fantasy. hustling and ?auo?al hterat~re ~old more than one "Overcoat"?). brmg the1r fantasy lives and their real lives together. sharply distinct from their real lives. It is.

which is a very unseemly sight. Nevsky Prospect and Russian literature represent the same elusive 1862)-is rich in brains. but which lacked the will to fight for radical change. the Poor Folk gives the poor clerks a voice. the image of the Nevsky Prosp. 1856. In the Russia of is meant to inherit the earth. merged with another cloud of "some duchess or countess. clinging the Nevsky. my shoes have been patched many times. this promise is a cruel through the pretensions of the autocracy and feel for the common mockery.. Even if Devushkin wanted to. just for the sake of passing under her windows. as perhaps you runs away from at the moment of truth. will laugh at him. No wonder he gets bored. The media that seem to bring people together-street people. in a work like Poor Folk. I spent the remainder of my money on French could do: he could write. one does get ideas sometimes. it feel if everybody started saying. rested for an hour or so. Just bring himself to make the connection. instead of going home for one who isn't listening. the perfluous Man. and indeed pays for the call. by Makar Devushkin! I can tell you one rifices and takes risks-picture this poor clerk in French perfume! thing for sure. a society that combines modern mass com- ous men" tended toward an idealistic liberalism. on the other hand-and this would probably for a poor clerk to fight. As he pours his heart out. For the clerk. circles around endlessly. Then." the ruling class that dominates both liberal despondency and boredom drifting upward from below. my dear: if that book were published. I went home. but later I got over it and point. even to some- perfume and scented soap . there is simply no way in the 1840s at his tattered soul. and the soles and even his most sympathetic readers are apt to find themselves tend to break away sometimes. she wouldn't notice it at all. as they say. I'd never -but can't go through with the act in the end. but can't would happen if I just sat down and wrote something? . a representative dows. then went back to literature-fantasies of clanking swords. and I wonder what Devushkin opens the circuit. He prepares himself for an suppose for one minute that a book h'ls been published. on the fourth man? Instead of the escapist and sentimental drivel that passes for floor. what would the dear lady say about me? Maybe. sensitivity and talent. one of the primary figures in Eastern European (Russian. Yiddish) folklore and literature. because I don't suppose that Polish. but the voice is halting author. at his tattered soles. street life and cultural life. trailing along behind her. Isn't he. But it is also surprisingly countesses are all that interested in shoes. that which. You pick encounter that will be at once personal and public.ect surges up in his mind and stopped loving her-1 got bored with the whole thing. would I do about my shoes then? Because... know. Rudin. he turns himself into a shlemiel even when he other. the fathers in Fathers and Sons. however. here he comes in pers&!" What. But really. shlemiehl. for in- stance. the elaborates with imaginative power. But there is one thing that perhaps he be even worse-that his social superiors won't even notice his soles . the 1840s. The politics of the gentry "superflu. he comes to feel that he has something to dinner. especially minor offi- similar to the most prominent aristocratic voice in the Russian cials' shoes (because.. it up and it says Poems. "Here comes Devushkin. there are shoes and shoes). So bored with him." 1850. as much as anyone in Petersburg. look. he makes sac.. but author and poet. It often sounds like the voice of the classic noticed this. The crucial events dare show myself on the Nevsky Prospect again. had patched shoes? Suppose some duchess or countess and tremulous at first. galloping steeds. 1840s liberals were sunk in· a cloud of boredom and dejection The Dostoevskian clerk fears two things: on one hand. say. which could see munications with feudal social relations. These and print-only dramatize the enormity of the gulf between them.'" pushes him back into his lowly place: If the Nevsky is (as Gogol said) Petersburg's communications line." This figure- named and elaborated beautifully by Turgenev ("Diary of a Su. though. what would happen if everybody realized that Devushkin. and be recognized equally by each other. I got quite entangled in debt. literate and sensitive but common and poor. For how would in his life are things that don't happen: things he sets his heart on. but devoid of the promise: a line on which all men can communicate freely with each will to work and act. literature of the 1840s: the "superfluous man. the real inner life of a man of Petersburg like themselves? At this dows. virgins abducted in the night-why not confront the public with hiring cabs and even private carriages to drive me past her win. For a month and a half I went on like that. She lived in a house on the Nevsky Prospect.208 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 209 to the office. I spent the time walking up and down under her win.

f the plot follow directly from this In Dostoevsky's second novel.. (We see here the dual character of hrs hfe's only goal has been submission to their will. pushy. for style. the tradition of Petersburg com- "Golyadkin. He is still vehicles in city traffic: for those with personal or class confidence. ts his own self-respect: his "sense of personal dignity. desrres that have been so radically split off from the self to take on ing pages before he is finally. political or psychic. At this point. in print and in the street. But suddenly he is recognized by two young clerks from he becomes convinced that he is being punished for his evil de- his office. The wish for speed. of visible frontier into the madness that will eventually swallow him necessary egoism. This ambi- Golyadkin awakens at the story's start. into our own age. cannot look his boss in the face and affirm his own grand gesture of self-presentation on the Nevsky Prospect. he is seized with terror. acknowledge as his own. "The of the 1840s to imagine that the change will take place somehow fact is. Golyadkin is one of the first cages." So he thought. mon clerks who are driven insane by their claim to dignity in a city . and shrinks back into h~ h. As Golyadkin's torments multiply windows down. Imprisoned in his lonely madness. strikingly resembling me. and ascends into a magnificent carriage." as the double. But Golyadkin also stands in another the carriage o_f his boss pulls alongside. de. close enough to touch. caught m the act in the middle of the Nev- the hero." Golyadkin's terri- his rulers' responses. self-demal. 1845. whom Golyadkin can't face and and narrow room. that the carriage's darkest corner. that's all there is to it"-but. and that there was no Either of these things may indeed happen: the clerk cannot control place to hide. All the ~urreally cr~el twists o. Go. for those who lack the confidence. I . But Poor Folk at least defines the problem-a crucial on Andrei Filipovich as he took off his hat to him. so~ehow.. objective form as a real "someone else. no lyadkin asked himself in indescribable anguish. that's all there is to it. fied response to his superior's stare will carry him across an in- ever. "Yes. they are traps. which propels him into a maelstrom of para. his eyes fixed take place. that it turns into a long to h1m at all-"I'm not me . bizarre nightmare.. aggressive person. Then. to the point where the look of the other-or the lack of a look from the other-won't turn them to "Sho~l~ I bow or shouldn't I? Should I acknowledge him? Admit dost." Dostoevsky then arranges for the noia in which he will be thrown back and forth for 150 excruciat. mercifully engulfed.. something even worse happens: literature. real or fictional. and only then. the line of Pushkin's Evgeny. He strives to convince his superiors. blushed to the roots of his being. published a year later. to "someone else. Yes. girds himself up to make a sky Prospect. What does fall under his jurisdiction. realizing that Andrei Filipovich had recognized him. proceeds to evict him from his life. As they wave and sires. and to create out of Peters." he stammered in a whisper. problem in Russian culture and politics-and enables Russians "1. I. half his age but of equivalent rank. it's not me . He orders to use t~at life as a springboard to the success and happiness that the driver to take him to his office by way of the Nevsky.as never wanted or sought anything for himself at all. will they be able to put themselves that 1t 1s me? Or should I pretend I'm someone else someone on the line. leaves his wretched dark tious. and scribed in loving detail..owd.) 19 A moment later." The class of poor clerks must come to accept up: their shoes and their thoughts. nothing. for luxury- this gesture turns out to be so wildly disproportionate to Mr. But desire to be his peer. whose occupant becomes supervulnerable to any assassin's in a line of tormented solitary figures who will haunt modern fatal glance.. lets the Go~y~dkm has craved all along.210 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 211 ("because. denying and punishing himself at the story's end as they take him they can be armored fortresses from which to lord it over the away. Golyadkm. masses on foot.""" someday. The Double. and smiles benignly at the street's pedestrian (this IS where Dostoevsky got his reputation as "a cruel talent"). I'm Russian. line. and for r~cognition of his dignity-these guilty desires don't be- lyadkin's actual r~sources.ent?" Go- burg's vast public spaces a true public life.. as they say. that call out his name. how. which he has hired for the day. that he was now staring at him pop-eyed. and look completely indiffe. another government clerk.2 1 cr. that's it. no. sir. there are shoes and shoes") or his soul. and himself as well. can imagine concretely how this might not me and that's all there is to it.

received even less land . The most memorable portrait of the "new man" of the 1860s is Baza- in the Street rov. For the young Hegel and . h~ pro. the young medical student in Turgenev's Fathers and Sons. Evgeny has internalized Petersburg's tation and hope. negativity. But there are tmportant d'ft: 1 1erences new openness in public discussion. of course. The decisive event honor that Turgenev coins the word "nihilism. ~hose thought ment filled the air. Th.for ~euerbach.e instead. It is in his THE 1860s are a watershed in Russian history. ready to stake his claim to recognition-a moral. their contempt for everything genteel. the 1860s can b~ sai. who get that Russia would have to go through radical changes.ority. tting up an agency within [the self] to watc h over It. wtth all thetr hopes was decisive in shaping Russian culture and politics for the desires and drives.d to have tive: the "new men" tend. The hopes were unrealistic-it is easy to see this a century truly revolutionary breakthrough would occur.psychologica~ and The 1860s are notable for the emergence of a new generation political claim-in Petersburg's immense but ~ttherto unclatmed and a new style of intellectuals: the raznochintsy. This term is more or less equivalent to the French pre-revolutionary Third Estate. Then. onto "Golyadkinjunior. however. on all existing beliefs and institutions. decree produced bitter fruits." Golyadkin's delusions . if the clerk could affirm both Golyadkms. peasants remained shackled to their lords.take an op. and only then. it is a measure of Russia's backwardness that the members of this estate -which. of village i:. Bazarov's is Alexander II's edict of February 19. for instance. Alexander's ahn a slves into trouble by dramatizing their claims in the city's early years were marked by a significant liberalization of culture." In fact. "men of various public space. 1861. Nevertheless. But it will take another generation before Peters. even in a twtsted modified but basically unchanged caste society was what they got and self-destructive way. when "positive" attitude toward supposedly scientific and rational modes after the disaster of the Crimean War 1t became umversally clear of thought and of life. bl' prospects and squares. ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 213 212 d ociety that deny their dignity-and." the administrative term for all Russians who burg's clerks learn to act. as his own. of copyist clerks-they burst on the scene with aggressive stridency. of tailors. a of progress in madness: the self recognizing itself. and a great ferment of expec- pu htcir forms of madness. the plebeian intellectuals of . priests. But the bitterness that followed the failure of these dialectic. of obligations to their village communes. emancipation would usher in an age of brotherhood and social the movement from Evgeny to Golyadkin would represent a ~md regeneration and make Russia a beacon for the modern world. to adopt an uncritically begun a few years earlier. freeing the serfs." his desire to assert hts own flaws in the emancipation decree. But beyond these and other substantive _I:ts outward. a t emse . It was observed very quickly that the ~\lpr his inner life to draconic discipline-as Freud would say.. and that of the 1860s generation. which takes up rest'd ence ·m h'IS souI and suh. he would be next fifty years. They take pride in their plain-spoken vulgarity. building up to February 19. is limited and selec- Politically and culturally. incurred a whole new network 22 g:errison in a conquered city. ~ccor~mg to th~s afterward. art and morality. a pervasive sense of disappoint- authority. and in effect found them- site form: rather than introjecting external authonty. at the start ~f Alexander ~ retgn. When the razno- chintsy do appear-sons of army sergeants. JeCtS ' l'k 1e a than they had been allotted before. their The 1860s: The New Man lack of social graces. included the vast majority of Russians-did not appear as historical actors until this point. origins and classes. he spends his time and energy studying mathematics and dissecting frogs. did not belong to the nobility or gentry. as the ultimate source of auth. So many Russians had hoped fervently that was deeply influential among Russtan mtellectuals m the 18~0s. selves free in name only. moreover. But the emancipation m t emee authority. . Bazarov pours scornful invective on all poetry.

and glad to bring on themselves and their society any embarrassment.. perhaps the one thing that this fleeting moment. generally in the faculties of science and medicine. A group frontation in the city streets. thereby making higher education once again the caste privilege it The first great confrontation scene of the 1860s was imagined had been under Nicholas I. and finally the closing of the university for two clamation addressed "To the Younger Generation. Ringing leaflets around and behind him on Vasilevsky Island.214 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTs INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevek)pment 215 the 1860s make a traumatic break with the cultivated liberal hu. and its Bastille . together with a number of young razno. Many left lord. We Petersburg for the countryside. Nevertheless. lockouts and po(ice occupations. peared on the Nevsky Prospect. The demonstration was spontaneous. notably in leader receiving a salary for his services. where they sought to follow Her- want at our head a simple human being.. 23 barbers' cries-arrested dozens of students. Chemyshevsky: The Street as Frontier dents who had been pouring into the university in recent years). who were just beginning to go to time for the government to arrange this. they dropped from sight. the government-haunted. the whole city was soon discussing the horseman's message. rector's house. the French barbers came out of manism that characterized the gentry intellectuals of the 1840s. to form a sophis- We do not need either a Tsar. Others left Russia people. on September 23. The impact of this gesture was sensational. The Russian literature of the 1860s would the Neva from the university and marched up the street to the strive to imaginatively fill that space. These streets had been defined irrev- of hundreds of students (the "younger generation") moved across ocably as political space. mass expulsions. A sight like it had never been seen. a pro. Petersburgers had had a taste of political con- street had never seen before: a political demonstration. in and around the university: student and as he disappeared. their shops." The message years. and fa~ulty strikes. the group was sympathetically regarded by the and editor Nikolai Chernyshevsky was arrested on vague charges crowd on the street. In July 1862. including delegates On September 1.. Life on the Nevsky returned to normal.. This began months of turmoil up the Nevsky Prospect. the radical critic the mood was gay. it would be more than a Three weeks later. It was a wonderful September Accordingly. heart. 24 Switzerland. held for nearly two years without trial in the depths of the Peter- chintsy who knew us or merely agreed with us. 1861. no doubt. the myth of some ticated network of underground groups and cells.." 26 though this movement did understands the life of the people and who is chosen by the not pick up momentum for another decade. In fact there was later: absolutely no evidence against Chernyshevsky.who had been very careful to limit his activity to the realm of literature and ideas. shouting "Revolutio11! Ret•olutiou!"""'• Their break may be more in behavior than in beliefs: the "men of the sixties" are determined to undertake decisive action. so Chernyshevsky was university. and their faces lit up. a mysterious horseman raced full speed who had been promised immunity. to pursue their studies in Western Europe. the crowd on the Nevsky saw decade before the next demonstration there. some evidence had to be manufactured. Paul Fortress. After September 23 the young militants kept away from the was simple and shockingly fundamental: Nevsky and the center of the city. an Emperor. and they waved their arms cheerfully. When we ap. It took some day . j9ined in. but an elected altogether. Petersburg's oldest structure... St. They were protesting a series of new administrative regulations that would bar students and faculty from holding any sort of meetings and-far more devastating-would abolish schol- arships and stipends (thus shutting off the Rood of poorer stu. We do not need a consecrated Emperor. In the streets the girls. a man of the land who zen's advice and "go to the people. by those French ache and trouble that action may entail. for one something even more amazing. That night. and written from a dungeon cell. or the purple which cloaks hereditary incompetence. When they were driven out of the university quarter. Here is how a participant remembered it years of subversion and conspiracy against the state. finngs and arrests.

picked Everyone. like a dignitary. or sensibility. then picked up the individual again-this time not bodily. but by the hand-raised him. but Lopukhov turned fully toward the individual.. "Except in the case of women." Chernyshevsky believed. no unity of voice functionary passed by. comes a dignitary. the permanent shadow it cast across the city's sun. What he did instead was which appeared in serial form in 1863. survived only through a far more exciting. They recognized that this clumsy book. "If you make a move. he read and wrote feverishly. looked. not move aside first for anyone.. two miles from the school). keep the author and his ideas locked up. Yet both Tolstoy and Lenin would appropriate Carriages passed. The location of this scene crystallized all the city's promise of life and joy. of course. He Done? a failure as a novel: it had no real plot." Two peasants passed by. further. doesn't it? Don't you still hear groans and the gnashing of teeth from behind its accursed. walls?" In Petersburg. Trotsky in October 1905. stood over him and said. A able from one another-no clear environment. but smiled broadly. they all wiped the individual • The fortress is worth noting for its symbolic resonance as well as its military and political importance. Chernysh. drew him up to the with it. for Chernyshevsky to show his new men and women prison work was a novel entitled What Is to Be Done? The book. making a half turn. as well as his poetic novel of the same month. where he would serve twenty years. Has anything changed since yesterday? The Peter It is hard for readers to know how to respond to this. the stone fortress steeple marked here itself constituted an oblique but powerful challenge to the forces that hoped to the state's threat to that promise. which had promised representative government and a constJ· tution: "Look around. is revealed in the subtitle: "Tales of New People.216 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 217 until 1917. looked. ~!ldrei ~iely's bound to admire Lopukhov's audacity and courage. His most substantial ble. he portrayed a series of exemplary lives whose bizarre series of events that seem to come directly out of some personal encounters and relationships were saturated with politics. He re. an array of characters who are indistinguish. "What's the Police Gazette: it was handed to him by a young government clerk matter with you. Lopukhov Chernyshevsky's title. Toward him Next it was passed to the liberal poet Nikolai Nekrasov. While the modern world. thinking it had already been examined and cleared." They banged into each other's covered it only after placing an advertisement in the Petersburg shoulders. including Chernyshevsky. and. I'll push you in acters-or. the street on which Cher- a symbolic polarity in Petersburgers' perceptions of the two most striking verti~l nyshevsky stages his confrontation scene. the pltdess sp1re of Peter and Paul. At that time Lo- evsky's friend and co-editor on the Contemporary magazine. considered What Is to Be him up bodily. dear sir. Will you permit me to wipe you off?" Russian spiritY A peasant passed and helped to wipe him off. engaged in any sort of concrete politics. said. He was walking along the Kameny-Ostrovsky Prospect* in on it that when it arrived at the censor's office he never bothered a ragged [student's] uniform (on the way back from giving a to read it." It was only to be released only when his health was shattered and his mind through the emergence and the initiative of a class of "new peo- shaken and his death at hand. "above the white fortress walls. 28 festo of October 17. comes straight at him without moving aside. two townspeople passed and helped to wipe him off. but no one looked out of them . . marked a crucial step in the development of the modern you did not hurt yourself. It would have been impossi- case to be fixed. I will Nekrasov lost the manuscript on the Nevsky Prospect. waiting for his manual for this would-be vanguard. terminated in the Peter-Paul Fortress.. denouncing Nicholas Il's Man!· and went their ways. a day in the life of a "new man": with it. and said. and deposited him very carefully in the gutter. that Russia could be propelled into one of the saints in the annals of the Russian intelligentsia. who sent it on to the special commission of inquiry that had been What kind of a man was Lopukhov? This is the kind of man he created for this case. The individual. and the aura of moral grandeur that went stood for a while. What Is to Be Done? is at once a manifesto and a Chernyshevsky shivered in solitary confinement. lesson for a pittance. surreal Petersburg novel-only no novelist could have got away Here is a typical incident. rather. no substantial char. First. pig? Cattle!" and was about to continue in this who had picked it up in the street. for all its blatant sidewalk. His martyrdom would make him ple. reached up so coldly to the sky. what have you done? I hope flaws. tormentingly sharp. and praised him. the manuscript was given to the prison authorities. We are and Paul Fortress still dominates the city. did not praise. * A secret tribunal would eventually sentence him to ' The source of the book's immediate fame and its enduring force life imprisonment in Siberia. tone. taking a constitutional. But pukhov practiced the rule. The two agencies put so many official seals was. Cf." We see here • It is worth noting that the Kameny-Ostrovsky Prospect. citizens. "Alas. in landmarks in an overwhelmingly horizontal cityscape: the golden Admiralty sp1re which Chernyshevsky was imprisoned while he wrote.

it would be unnecessary. as literature or politics. In be utterly free of anxiety over the consequences of his act? over other words. be a':l'":!portant change. or even to behave with excessive ants and functionaries are open in expressing their delight. the counter- scenes. the Cossack warrior epic.218 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 219 beer physical strength. the whole society's-ruling class. for the first time in Russian history. would be hkely to keep a low profile. Petersburg g1ves 1t a spec1al resonance and richness. in 1979. why bother dumping the man at all? and clapped in jail? Isn't he a little worried. Alternately. But this very absence of inner conflict de. the confrontation between officer and clerk. say. Corral. to work the of the steppes. myth~cal ~merican frontier.. The dream of a pre-Civilized democracy of "natural men" is full of allusions to Chernyshevsky and to What Is to Be Done? The what makes frontier mythology powerful and attractive. But when frontier fantasies are transported into a real street in St. we even the people in carriages are troubled to see a dignitary could '!'lag. for all Chernyshevsky's incoherence and inepti- Horseman push him around: he would simply pitch him into the tude.Russian Revolution would have to have already the dignitary's power to have him expelled from the university taken . in the history of Russian literature. too easy. revolu~Jon. it aims to call forth. It shows Chernyshevsky as a true "Petersburg dreamer" in his heart of hearts. Not only does the hero not get into trouble. or a wild man challenge to his survivors. the .ut ~n order for it to be even remotely sciousness." and a lifelong was meant to dramatize for the Russian people both the demands enemy of what he called "phantasmagoria": this is surely one of and the adventure of modernization from above. the. to the heroic emotions doubts and anxieties that have enfeebled the Russian soul till now. . in literature and in politics. Chernyshevsky was aware of it resembles are at the remotest pole from realism: the American the inadequacies of his book as drama and as dream. the results are particularly bizarre. all he needs is a horse. wh1ch the state destroyed his life. in a Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground. d1gmta~1es 10 the m1ddle o~ the street. • It is not ~ard to imagine a scene like this taking place in a post-revolutionary city burg. The literary genres that dream of modernization from below. that this is precisely what's new about his strange. indeed. To have conceived and written between rulers and ruled. if this would say. It is "new people": they are free from all the endless Hamlet-like clearly 10adequate. prives Lopukhov's victory of some of the sweetness it should bring: Th~s scene IS far more subversive than the phony conspiracies for it's too fast. he left a remarkable or Taras Bulba. scene were ever possible. or Managua. individually.* Thus. is void.K. in the full light of day. But there would have to who form the background of Chernyshevsky's scene: both peas. not defere!lce t?ward his ex-subjects: assuming he wanted to survive. no doubt. now an ex-d1gmtary. ~t shows not only ~ora~ coura~e but imaginative power. Now this the1r separate ways. the d1gmtaries would have to have ceased class. B. frontier tale. do~s 1~: he po~trays the plebeians of Petersburg defying Neva. What Is to Be the most fantastic heroes. Presumably one of these new men would never let any Bronze Nevertheles~. no learned deference to conflict with his indignation? Can he to be the city's-and.place! And 10 that case. But a reader of Russian literature is bound ~ould make perfect sense in the open and atomized world of the :o wonder about this hero's total lack of inner life. which appeared in 1864. but its spirit is much closer to the O. Even 1f there were a point-to humiliate the former ruling class over whether he can actually pick the man up? Chernyshevsky -there surely wouldn't be anything heroic about it. The Underground Man in the Street One important feature of the mythological frontier world is its classlessness: one man comes up against another. Lopukhov is a Western gunslinger. Nevertheless. m Chernyshevsky's stage directions: the dignitary. The stage directions for this dream through and make it more real. Can he really feel no vestige of awe toward his ruling plausible m Petersburg. he. scene indicate a Petersburg prospect. This city prominent critical advocate of literary "realism. But then the background figures of various classes would propelthem- sel~es mto the foreground and confront each other rather than passing serenely on the whole world happily (or insouciantly) supports him. Its setting It is ironic that Chernyshevsky should be known as the most 10 St. Peters. and one of the most phantasmagoric Done? dramatizes.ne a confrontation hke Chernyshevsky's at the very beginning of a dumped in the mud. the romance of Deerslayer as he disappeared into the Siberian emptiness. Consider the spectators anyw~ere m the world: ~ehran. of self-con. horse and all. at least for an instant. is over before it becomes real.

often to the detriment of your fellow hero explains. Thus agony. to London and where they want to go.the with the radical and democratic initiatives of the 1860s. and stand en garde. Dostoevsky did not share this complacent condesce~­ we explore this scene. to take It at face value. is that it Crystal Palace tend to appropnate the Unde~ground Mans viru. it fense of his intellect. which for a that mankind is rational. Now.ay out. but it makes him feel nyshevsky and Dostoevsky share. For Chernyshevsky and h1s van. late at night. ground Man's confrontation possible. Where it make the great historical leap into modernity." which "serves scure places" far from the Nevsky. his character. to thmk street. ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 221 220 ramous of these allusions is the image of the Crystal Palace. how generation has been Petersburg's closest thing to a truly political 29 delightful that the profound Dostoevsky put him in his place.arrest. But in order to see this event seizes the Underground Man's imagination. unfolded in eight den. From the perspective of the Prospect. in 1859. of being recognized. Moreover. we will find deep affinities in where they are coming from glimpsed from afar by Chernyshevsky on a brief visit. As he passes a tavern. Commentators o~ the Notes and on the moti~ of. Although is hard to imagine such a scene-a scene that is. pect. both before and after Chernyshe~~ky's . and at cern. that soc1al relauons are perfecuble. takes place in the guard of "new people. in this case at least." 31 But suddenly something happens that takes hold of him thereby s:we others. sees a commotion going on inside. he does it on the Nevsky Prospect." Those who derided Chernyshevsky "have only The story begins in darkness. in fact. Without Chernyshevsky. his novel's heroine. But 1f we compare can recall. more realistic and more revolutionary than anything in What Is to cally wrong." Dostoevsky insisted that "these outcasts at least try to do met. In fact. and arouses his symbol of modernity in its fullness and depth. For Dostoe~sky and differs radically from Chernyshevsky is that the Underground Man's defiance of authority takes several years of gruelling an- h is anti-hero ' too I the Crystal Palace stands for modermty. he could see how his radicalism sprang from "an Be Done? abundance of life. the Underground Man finally goes through with the act. he was virtually the only figure in respectable Russ1a helped to liberate Dostoevsky's imagination. he hears and readers-"you can only grin in a melodramatic posture of uncon. be- about modern life. This We will return to the Crystal Palace. I want first to l~k desire to participate in life-even to participate in a painful and at it from the perspective of another archetypal modern settmg: degrading way. we out the window. appears as a magical vision in the dream hfe o~ Vera Dostoevsky's confrontation scene. which is hardly ever men- Pavlovna. Dostoevsky's Underground Man with Chernyshevsky's New Man." the Crystal Palace i~ a symbol ~f t~e new generally neglected Second Book. mos t 1. of cou~se. tioned in the many commentaries on the Notes. Once it happens.sely and intensely written pages. in de. • a1 as they see themselves and as they present themselves on the Pros- L ndon's Crystal Palace. Some men are fighting. does take place: after seemingly endless Hamlet-like introspective lent invective and. even h1s spmtuahty. What it shares with Chernyshevsky. our current material interests."~0 the climax of the fight a man is thrown through the window. He recognizes the perversity of this desire. maybe he can get thrown out the window himself! will be able to see the social and spiritual framework that Cher. but you" -so he admomshed h1s conservative and shakes away his solitude. There are. in "completely ob- succeeded in displaying the depth of your cynicism.. it will be obvious how much Chernyshevsky sion. instead of dreading recognition. at once he believed Chernyshevsky to be both metaphysically and politi. when "I was terribly afraid of being seen. I already had the underground in my something. everything against which modern man must fore it finally takes place. of being men. to make the Under- to speak out. This was a stage in his life. they pour endless scorn on Chernyshevsky for his lack of spirit~al stands up to his social superior and fights for his rights in the depth: how stupid and banal thi~ man r_nust have been. they delve in order to find a w. only • here it symbolizes everything that is ominous and threatenmg guish. he desperately . profound more alive-this is a crucial thing for him: "more alive"-than he metaphysical and moral conflicts between them. It follows the classical Peters- modes of freedom and happiness that Russtans can enJOY 1f they burg paradigm: aristocratic officer versus poor clerk. built in Hyde Park for the Internauon E~hibition of 1851 and reconstructed on Sydenham Hill in 1854. they err a~d soul. As space-and which in the 1860s is getting closer all the time. He feels envy for the man who has been thrown the Petersburg street.

is there.xudes an abject longing for his enemy's love. to see least into an attempt at action. Petersburg's multitude of educated and self-edu.222 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTo AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 223 hopes to be recognized. But the officer reacts to him in a officer. in the letters of the first generation of the officer class. which spans several years. transforms I was standing by the billiard-table. often lie behind our selfrighteous trouble. In fan- there-or no more "there" than a table or chair. see him lurch out of his solitude and hurl himself into action. is still ruling Russia-doesn't even know leaps from love to hate are worlds away from Lopukhov's serene that his class. he concludes. and so completely c~ste civilian (he might be drummed out of the officer corps if he failing to notice me. "It seemed that I tasy. an~ the note lies unmailed. Nevertheless.s mner bfe. nysh~~sky could fulfill it himself: he shows us the real depth and dow. because JUSt beneath the message of rage and rancor he has left a From the officer's commanding heights. Dostoevsky is fulfilling cated proletarians. and he wanted to pass. in dread of precisely such incidents. and himself into an author. remams an unpublished author. 32 It is at this point that he learns his first political lesson: it class hate and pnde. The Underground Man is far more dynamic: we Dostoevsk~ unf~lds this plebeian ambivalence with great brilliance. (or vacuous) self-confidence. Earlier Dostoevskian characters like Devushkin. well over six feet tall-and approaches the mformatlon-whde remammg. ture.rested in clerks' fantasies about officers. looks for the aggressor-it ~an's n~me. Russ1an terronsts to the Tsar. Man." is his desire for a head-on clash." Too non- plussed and humiliated to protest. under pressure of this obsession. or keepmg himself invisible. then he assures himself that the officer would never fight a 'low- but I could not forgive his having moved me. his . or at Any p~ebe1an wdl feel a shock of recognition. would pull up their happened. well-my Ideas. d1d). so he and without a word-without a warning or an explanation. an would have gotten along! He would have shielded me with his explosive encounter-even if he turns out to be the victim of that higher rank. or fel. did~'t notice him when he was a foot away: so why should way that is far more deeply shattering than physical assault: he not1ce h1m now?) He concocts inexhaustible fantasies about his oppressor and even. because their class-the nobility and gentry that. he lets h1mself snuggle up to his tormentor: was not even equal to being thrown out the window. I could have forgiven blows. This is just as well. 33 The Underground Man's wild even after February 19. even a violent one. He enters the pool hall. u~derstanding of "the sublime and the beautiful. he returns to the anonymous The letter was so composed that if the officer had had the least streets. (But ?obody 1s mte. and of shame. into the sun In the story's next phase.Nevsky Prospect plays a . he is thrilled at the prospect of the abject love an~ need ~hat so. he took me by the shoulders. It has drawn h1m out of his isolation. gets to know the broken bones. hoping to provoke trouble.home. and in my ignorance blocking some of thes~ ~antasies into stories. and goes so far as to write a provocative letter· but by as though he had not noticed me. blankets and never leave their rooms at all." he would cer- tamly have rushed to me to fling himself on my neck and offer The first thing that marks the Underground Man as a "new me his friendship. and. and all sorts of things might have low anti-heroes like Goncharov's Oblomov. a genera~ion later. But life in the light has evoked new intensities ground Man racks his brain in vain in search of ways to bring this of suffenng. while I c?uld have improved his mind with my cul- encounter. the Under. without a minimal equality: the officers must recognize the clerks T~e. wh1ch Dostoevsky analyzes with his usual virtuosity: . volauhty of the new man's inner life. He follows the officer around. Matlaw's translation puts the political Chernyshevsky's demand for Russian realism far better than Cher- point nicely: "I was not even equal to being thrown out the win. and mto ." There cannot be any sort of encounter. ~i~ habits-h~ pays off the porters for is an officer. up the way. the puny clerk is not even subtext that e. even if recognition leads to abuse and recognition about. And how fine that would have been! How we man. (The man. of course.) He decides to challenge the of- moved me from where I was standing to another spot. Th1s amb1valence will be dramatized politi- is impossible for men of the clerk class to make trouble for men of cally.the cro~d. and passed ficer to a duel." a "man of the sixties.complex role in the Underground as human beings who are there.

he torment on myself." As the Underground Man encounters his old nemesis." It is a of freedom. under any ~ircuT?stances. The contrast between what the street promises and what it deliv. Then the officer is not the semi-demonic. "mutual re- an incessant and direct sensation that I was a fly in the eyes of the ~pect": even as the Underground Man invokes these splendid whole world.. continually moving aside to make way for . The Nevsky ple of lower rank. h~ of degradation spring not from his hero's abnormalities but from notices something startling: even as this officer }Valks through peo- the normal structure and operation of Petersburg life. I don't know.. made way. his social and political humiliation takes on a written law" certifying the officer caste as owners of their fellow more personal force: Russi~ns' bodies and souls. range but also to rhapsodies of Utopian yearning: then maybe the gulf between them is not so vast after all. or even neater than I. "Why was constantly making way for everyone. there's no written law. shifted among them like an eel. semi-divine being that haunts the clerk's fantasy life." configurations of feudal Russia are more rigid and more humili. serves as the medium through which the wounds can be healed. and yet for the poor clerk on the street the caste remarkable-and revolutionary-discovery. it resentfully made way for him every time. empty space: here. why I went to the Nevsky. 1deals. the Nevsky by that mysterious horseman was trying to tell him: the he made straight for them as though there were nothmg but letter of serfdom has been repealed. for officers of the Guards and hussars. he knows how hollow they ring in the real Russian world. I felt knows th~ answer: because they live in what is still a caste society. an empty A wriggling eel. people like me. "Why precisely you and not he? After all. there's those minutes I used to feel a convulsive twinge at my heart. That is. the six-foot Actually. a modern man with freedom. of course. disgusting fly-more intelligent. but no doubt that was just what I wanted. more cul. a ~on­ tinual. "refined people". I used to wriggle like an eel among the passersby in the most there's no regulation about it. The Underground Man is discovering for h1mself what the Younger Generation manifesto scattered along . reality of caste still rules.. of the wretchedness and vulgarity of my little wriggling figure. space-It g1ves h1m the resources to transform himself into a man.1 kept asking myself in hysterical rage. a fly. a fly. as always i~ Dostoevsky. after all. "He. or for ladies. Let the making way be equal. the varieties and nuances of abasement are breathtakmg. and he. even as ~t d~hum~nizes him-reduces him to an eel. and then . intolerable humiliation at the thought.d over. being like himself. waking up at three tions and resentments. But Dos. too. "he. "After all. but a limited and vulnerable human ating than ever.. and mutual respect. wretchedness of my dress. o'clock m the morning. there's no regulation about it . as it usually is when refined generals. As the Under- toevsky is especially trenchant here in showing how the gradations ground Man observes his nemesis in action on the Prospect. If the officer is also capable of being reduced to an eel. there's no written law.. moved aside. tured and more noble than any of them. and walkmg through other people is a perennial caste privilege. dignity. he simply walke.~id footing with him. unbecoming fashion.224 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 225 Sometimes on holidays I Llsed to stroll on the sunny side of the It tormented me that even in the street I could not be on an even Nevsky between three and four in the afternoon. simply drawn there at every opportunity. but a fly that They are ~t lea~t as Utopian as anything in Chernyshevsky. a nasty. in the crowd. and I always made hot all the way down my back at the mere thought of the way. Why I inflicted this must you mvanably be the first to step aside?" Even as he asks.. "Why must you invariably be the first to step not so much stroll as experience innumerable torments." But that never happened. aside?" . while he never even noticed that I moved aside for him. I . but even on the Nevsky the empty space before him. just as subject to caste pressures and social ers drives the Underground Man not only to frenzies of impotent norms. This was a regular mar~yrdom. In people meet: he moves halfway and you move halfway. made way for generals and persons of Prospect is a modern public space that offers an alluring promise high rank. humilia. I gloated over my resentment watchmg him-and But even as the Nevsky inflicts wounds on the poor clerk. too. too. equal rights. which passed mto "Let the making way be equal". and never. it is only recently-since February 19-that there is "no officer.

now his about his clothes-he borrows money to buy a more respectable. but tnps h1mself up and falls directly at the officer's feet. and we ~an share it. until they recognize what he has come to being cha~lenged? "He did not even look round. Of course. or~mar~ly so hitter and cymcal about any sort of delight. . Maybe. the Under- gro~nd Man approaches th~ Nevsk~. then pulls back in fear. the Under- particular officer but a political testament add. the officer didn't notice that he was but the society to a stop. Then he spies him. there are endless second along the Nevsky Prospect. thinkable: Slowly. things just And lo and behold. "I s~oulder. hke Lopukhov or Matt Dillon. draws out his hero's agony an active subject. and the Underground Man takes myself publzcly on an equal social footing with him"-proclaimed it material forces far more seriously than do the materialist heroes bef<. and pretended understand as--his human dignity." I thought.ght 1s. m h1s be~t black com1c style. only to lose his courage and shrink back at the last moment.· about how he will atte~pt Cides.ole ground Man has won it.>re ~he wh<. His project is gradually modified: Sudd~nly. I am convinced of that. deh. At first he can t find h1s man." was t~at I had attamed my goal. Finally he zeroes in on his such a hold on me that it gave me no peace.. "if I meet him and-don't move aside? What don t come off. confronted the get him in just as much trouble. officer abruptly appears in the crowd. the new meanings. and passed will simply not turn aside. After m~ny rehears~ls the big day arrives." says this man who is of What Is to Be Done? He worries about his looks and grooming. is twice his size. Once he c~mes . not to notice. His assertion will not be merely a personal claim against a officer but against his own self-doubt and self-hate. continually.. A microcosm of that soc1ety wlll be ftowmg Of course. but-this is at least as important-in front of the and d1gmty m the hght of day. the officer is nowhere if I don't move aside on purpose. the most astounding idea dawned upon me! "What. and moreover-"put officer. even if I were to bump into o~ the street. it is probably even more rad1cal-and will He has really done it: risked his body and soul. The point permits. and: The Underground Man begins to plan his action. but the man disappears like a him? How would that be?" This audacious idea little by little took m1rage as soon as our hero gets close. not only agamst triumph ~s J>?litical ~s well as personal. Here: as m much great Italian opera-which coin- point of the confrontation will be lost. Dostoev- would do it when I did do it. perhaps. a theater of operations for the self. re~l. not very vio. both physically and verbally.>le world. remember. shoulder to "Of course I will not really bump him. and sang looking coat-yet his dress must not be too respecta~le or the I~ahan anas. since this is Dostoevsky. "I." Now that he conceives of himself as sky.within half a foot of the officer. and fighting not only against the crowd. he wants to bring not only the officer thoughts. into each other! I did not budge an inch.226 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 227 -for the first time-the Underground Man thinks about the un. But it is also more realistic: the ruling cast~ and insisted on his equal rights. I will bump him just as much as he bumps me. after all. the Nevsky becomes a medium for an array of endlessly-until at last. wa~ delighted. I dreamt of it target. three paces from my enemy. but he was only pretending.resse~ to the wh. I had kept up my dignity. of Russian society. when he has all but given up hope. I had not y1elded a step. and we ran full tilt. and put myself publicly on an equal social This is no retreat or evasion: the demand for equality in the street footing with him. With Italy's struggles for self-determination-the to defend himself. Everything is ready. I unexpectedly made up my mmd-1 closed my eyes. is just as radical as a demand for primacy would ~e-from t~e officer's point of view. But somehow. will bump against him. but just shouldering each other-just as much as decency of 1t-he was stro~ger-but that was not the point. "I was triumphant." I thought in my joy. By fighting for his freedom the officer. deliberately.t on a perfectly equal footing! . hnt. I got the worst lently. The Now the street takes on a new prospect: "I purposely went to the ?n~y t~ing that keeps the Underground Man from dying of humil- Nevsky more frequently in order to picture more vividly how I latlo~ 1s t~e fact that the of~cer has still noticed nothing.

228 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 229 I am convinced of that to this day!" The repetition suggests that our hero probably isn't so convinced as he would like to be.oesn t matter 1f modernism with Baudelaire's. and Dostoevskian visions of modern life. Notes from instant doubts his human rights. whether he hkes It or But there are also fundamental differences in the Baudelairean not. the~ are gomg to be forced ing what I have called primal modern scenes: everyday encounters to notice soon. emerges as a political event. both mythical and real. It shows. the dawn of a new stage ~~ active state. and its eruptive teenth century. Never. the potential for and drive them underground. ipso facto. tional city in the world" learn to assert abstractions and i~tentions Petersburg's Nevsky Prospect spatially resembles a Parisian bou- of their own. are instruments of a dynamic bourgeoisie and an his coffin when he died. vard. when he is alone in the midst of this crowd. Even all the most brilliant images and dynamic rhythms of modern ~1fe. and a magmficent street that mcarn~tes knows how to organize and mobilize to fight for its rights. allures and impasses of modern says he doesn't. 34 Both writers are original in creat- the nobility and gentry don't nouce y~t. remains under control of a caste-bound autocracy potentialities. But a. either. spiritually.t. to develop productive Petersburg's life. streets. toevsky could never turn himself into a rea~tionary writer. These anonymous multitudes may at any moment that still has the dead weight to push its modern men off the street resolve themselves into comrades and enemies. and proud to be part of. ~owever. ~s th~ Und~rgro'. politically. "that was not the point. dignity. He may feel like an alien in the Underground marks a great leap forward in spiritual mode~niza­ universe. He has taken decisive action to change h1s hfe. or if he never does anythmg hk~ this agam. world. Indeed. for the most explosive modes of modern politics. which we explored in he sometimes tried. never for an streets with their own weird but brilliant inner light. Paris: Two Modes of Modernism in the Streets theless. which dramatizes so powerfully the struggle for differences is the form and extent of modernization in the two human rights-for equality. IS forces and social relations. an arena Peter's death. One vital source of their This scene. hght-th•s. determined to modernize fast. . Bau- bolically into the midst of the modern world. as h. a mass urban population that modern desires and ideas. living in the what's new about the "new people" -and to Illummate the City midst of the most revolutionary city in the world..e mental possibilities and pitfalls." The. classes are learning to think and to walk m a n~w way. the Underground Man decla~es. Along with this drive toward economic modernization. and compare Dostoevsky's assert a new presence and powe~ in the street. Petersburg. cities from which these writers spring. it back again. ~e see t~es. Baudelaire.e fraternity-and.lnd Man his essay on Baudelaire). He has become a New Man. Baudelaire is ated a large body of "men of various ~rigins and class~s. on its active traditions. too. or if he tells himself (and us) mcessantly t?at h1s life. in the middle of the mne. "the most abstract and intentional city in the world. It d. to the point where they express funda- says he does. recognition-shows why Dos. ce?tury after delaire's Paris has been. IS street and boulevard like a gas in the air. as he says. he nourishes himself But the city's political and social life. since the storming of the Bastille. In the 1860s. for enmity-hovers over the Parisian men and women beginning to rise and step mt~ the. But economically. and why crowds of radical students wept ov~r Chapter III. For both writers. to speed up the flow of commodities. It doesn't matter. hard as The boulevards of Haussmann's Paris. the modern city works as a medium and no self-negation or failure to follow through ca~ ch~nge in which personal and political life flow together and become one. his intentions are sadly unfulfilled. 1f the poor clerk feels in the city street that are raised to first intensity (as Eliot put it in guilty and hates himself in the morning. ~nd primary source of energy. too. H1s City has cre. it is worlds away. but he is at home as a man and a citizen in the Paris tion: the moment when the citizens of "the most abstract and mten. Petersburg's spiritual street light flares up with a new levard. t~ At this point I want to turn back." The pnmary money and human beings through French society and around the intention behind it was to propel Russia both materially and sym. and the personal encounter in the street he knows it. it may be more splendid than any Parisian boule- intensity from-this point on. the sense of political urgency becomes a brains and sensibility reduce him to a mouse-they don . point is that the lower." full of part of. Petersburg vs.

" a man just As for these extras. to be moved around l. Petersburg of Nicholas I it cannot hope to last-"and headlong ern consumer economy possible. after the emancipation of the serfs. amid the abortive but real modernization of the 1860s. building invent a modern political culture on their own. 581-84.400 m France. uneasy Petersburg to the modern art and the modern politics of the whole in the streets.* should they presume. a product of the legal Historictll Sl4tistics. We saw this form make a dramatic debut at the climax of of Western consumer goods.230 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO A1R The Modernism of Underdevelopment 231 Even in the 1860s. Thus. form is born. in the midst of although they constitute the great majority of the urban popula. like him. and re- Petersburg prospects. and where can they begin? Unlike the lower The contrast of Baudelaire and Dostoevsky. up to the 1860s. reforms of the mid-1860s) to confess and turn himself in. a spectacular urban prospect. European going to his neig. which depaned himself. to even tions and social transformations-before they can come to be at begin to assert their rights in a politically coherent way. but in the Western development of productive forces that has made the mod.l00 in Germany and 1S. however. at climactic moments in their lives. that fills its people with the need and the desire to commu- knowledge. In ~uch a society. both artistic and political: the one-man demonstration in the ward.) Nevertheless. the Petersburg raznochintsy are driven to one pole we can see the modernism of advanced nations. before Empire.55 As for the gentry. that veals the desperate needs and contradictions out of which this their arrogant disdain is something of an act. passive and atomized.ike props. life in the street takes on a all four sides!' said the irritable general" in Turgenev's Smoke special weight." because in the Russia of the *The 0!1~-man st~e~t de~onstration. they are anxious to enjoy the cornucopia streets. a form that is more concerned to contain its people than to move them for. but without working toward the "The Bronze Horseman"-"you'll reckon with me yet!". And yet. nearly all Prospect. nicate while restricting communication to official celebration or self: " 'Progress? Progress would be Petersburg burning down on escapist romance.to t~e conscript Jewish soldier who serves as the tower's guard. R~skolnik~v·s problems: between being an insect and being Napoleon he can con- ceive ~othmg. throws himself down and kisses the pavement. and of Paris and classes of the West-even Baudelaire's beggars and families in Petersburg in the middle of the nineteenth century.* The nobility and gentry are still play. it imported from the West.a bullet through his brain. Great changes lie ahead of them-both self-transforma. the state is ment of a distinctive Petersburg expressive form. And they must invent it ex nihilo. selves mto the streets and confront the strangers they see. At lean on. but concealing a dangerous lack of depth is clear th?t the form. Svidrigailov stops in front of a suburban watchtower which offers a prospect of the whole city. announces and arrived at the end of the Nevsky after 1851. is a vital legacy from Dostoevsky and tion. compared with about 1S. And how world. urban society that stimulates modern patterns of consumption ing the leading roles in this imperial capital. because the street is the only medium in which free (1866). if we take 1'864. . Raskolnikov and his fellow sufferers are far too ravaged inwardly to expose themselves to the social allowed.February 19. How of the Nevsky Prospect as the Underground Man does or. on the Nevsky stage set." up from the underground. that they are increasingly aware that the people in the streets are no nourishes individual sensibilities without recognizing individual longer their property. the "men of various origins and classes. served as a vivid symbol of dynamic that he·~ go~ng to. Amenca. and It IS parucularly stnkmg m Cnme and Punishment. dazzling the population with glittering wares. we learn the ~k s cbmacuc. but since February 19 even as it represses modern modes of production and action. Simultaneously. is here to stay. and make it their own. Dostoevsky evokes brilliantly the through the crowd of extras who surge up all around them on the structure and dynamics of the one-man demonstration.moment. after . at modernity. they are still. and puts . ~lay~ a crucial role in all Dostoevsky's Peters- 1860s modern political thought and action are still not openly b~rg wnung. In this context. near the book's end.hborhood police station (recently opened. He presents • For instance. and an old ruling class. and their spleen overflows agamst the capttal ctty It. Raskoln~kov enters Haymarket Square in the midst of that there were only S600 miles of railroads running in the who~e immense Russian a teemmg central cny slum. they throw them- One of the decisive steps in this transformation is the develop. to demonstrate where they stand and who they are. the date of Notes from Undtrground. It is suited perfectly to an behind the brilliant facade. clinging to their overcoats for dear life." Two generations later. the streamlined new Moscow-Petersburg Express. It makes this caste all the more determined to crash communication can take place. I~ is a ?itt~r rights. but they know now. "underground.'l750-1870. should help rags-they have no tradition of fraternite and collective action to us to see a larger polarity in the world history of modernism. The confrontation between a "new man. Thus the Nevsky is a kind of took to flight. (This is in fact one of home in the city they love.

as in old Russia.les. and the un~earable pres. The crowd's other half are people for whom the word down.".wd. These workers are a bit hesitant as they cross the Neva or the development. Baudelaire's boulevards-even ctty. for they are strangers to the Nevsky and the city ically in St. atded by a mob hastily recruited candescence that Western modernism. see also Roger Portal. so much more at home in Or_t the Ne~sky. mcludmg many people who have nothing to do with the demonstration. Pttersburg. several hundred of the miscellaneous people on the Nevsky 1870 (Stanford. but With elaborate guarantees and subsidies from the state.232 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTs INTo AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 233 directly on the materials of economic and political modernization "underground" is much more apt: industrial workers from the and drawing vision and energy from a modernized reality. Most prominent was the giant Putilov Iron ing of radical encounters on its broad streets. rather than to Chernyshevsky's and Dostoevsky's raznochintsy heroes. whtch resulted m a mass public trial and extensive "underground. Labor and Society in Tsarist Russia: The Factory Workers of St. They are jittery. What Is to Be Done? foretgn capital. It whips itself into frenzies of self-loathing.le~ m the m~ust~tal border areas of the city. and on into extravagant attempts to take on itself the whole burden of the pomt of d~ssolvmg. At an opposite pole and Alexander-Nevsky districts on the city's southern fringe. texu.httle of ~he c~lonnade's vast space. steamship parts. ~~olauon." they have become increasingly visible in the past newspaper coverage.n 1870. En?rmous a~d ultramodern factories were built here. Fontanka Canal. at the Nevsky cotton-spmntng plant •. sures under which it moves and lives-social and political "Lan~ and Liberty. Dozens are arrested at random. This modernism first arose in Russia. of th~ facto~y workers. and respond its world. these Works. in his "Nevsky Prospect" story. have been taken by surprise. from the Vyborg side on the Neva's north bank to the Narva when it challenges that reality in radical ways. 1971). Many of * Pc:tersburg's greatest concentration of capital and labor was in metallurgy and Gogo!. unem. whose 7000 workers would play a crucial part in the revolutions of 1905 dreams will begin to materialize. they are commg to play an increasingly important role in the city's a truncated and warped modernization-it has spread throughout (and the state's) economy.. Wit? hystencal b~utaht~. m Kazan Square. make~ a ~~ort. for all practical purposes they ployed and free-floating intellectuals. VI. 831-34. to man- ufacture locomoti~es and rollin~ stock. the soctal revolutiOn! and unfurls a red flag marked Zemlya i Volya. center. when a young intellectual named Georgi history. in the nineteenth century.co~mumty. 239. f~ctory districts that have recently come to form a ring around the Marx's factories and railways. and ~irtually invisible to respectable Petersburg. mostly new arrivals from the countryside. concludes with "Long live ity from which this modernism grows. had spoken of the Peters. and they fill its inability to singlehandedly make history-or else throws itself only a . dral. But the bizarre real. and preserves Plekhanov dectdes to setze the day: he steps out from the midst of itself only through vast reserves of self-irony. they don't quite know what to do. can rarely hope to match. I 855- 1876. m secluded cellars on the Vyborg Side-but they an intimacy and a struggle with mirages and ghosts.1917. the cro.t the morning of December 4. Then-th. of mmutes-the pohce charge m. weaponry and agncultural machmery. and . direct descendants of belonged to the m~ustrtal suburbs that stood beyond the city limits. most dramat.* Groups of workers and intellectuals the Third World. advanced and Notes from Underground show Petersburg in the 1860s dream. clerks. When they come together true to the life from which it springs.Not until St: Petersburg·~ first industrial strike. now. A decade later. who sett. Or. we find a modernism that arises from backwardness and under. to nourish itself on underground. where they lived without families. . Petersburg. "The Industrialization of Russia" in will suddenly coalesce into a crowd. dtd the walls between the workers and the city begin to break decade.". fiery speech. it is forced to be shrill. on the deep the magnificent baroque colonnade in front of the Kazan Cathe. in our own era. formerly an urban . In order to be have ?ever appeared together in public. The modernism of underdevelopment is forced have met and t~lked intermittently since the early 1870s-literally to build on fantasies and dreams of modernity. See Zelnik. though with the spread of modernization-but generally. though in The Political Prospect the chaos and confusion the primary organizers escape. almost entirely on burg artist as the face the city sees in its dreams.e w~ole thing lasts barely a couple pressures as well as spiritual ones-infuse it with a desperate in. and converge collectively on ~a~ge Economic History of Europe. They. they manhandle everybody they can get thetr hands on.36 About half the crowd consists of students. They are uncouth and inchoate. textile looms. It turns in on itself and tortures itself for a far s~aller crowd than the organizers had hoped. Petersburg's industrial development is discussed incisively in Reginald Zelmk. Thetr tncorpora~ton tnt? the city was only nominal.

in the students' gar. ground. takes on a fantastic character. Nietzsche might have been thinking of conditions. since "The Bronze Horseman. never to return. All forms of modernist art and thought have a dual character: roes of Petersburg literature have undertaken such desperate ges. where it develops. Dostoevsky enters this picture big space. Fact and Symbol · history. ment I have traced aims toward a radically modern sunrise after lous and childish demonstrations. and a few go mad under torture. for the first time in Russian Afterword: The Crystal Palace. . soctal and technological modernization are dynamic and thriving. the point. Now. and no sensibil~ties or inner lives at all. have. ' city's art are taking hold of its waking life. Still." "Populism. ?n the other hand. sentenced and reviled. But obvtously one oug~t ~otto looking at revolutionary movements from below. quixotic at best. Khazov ar. torn by fear and self-doubt and ambivalence.the peo~le." The move- freedom not by the liberals but by dreamers who orgamze ndtcu.st generation.critics mi~ht betans stnvmg. where economic tures and actions on their own. to make say. political prospect the relationship of modernist art and thought to the real world is opening up in Petersburg. Thus we tion has not yet come into its own. The Modernism of Underdevelopment 235 234 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR those arrested are tortured. Ru~stan Peter's city their own."~ I 7 have shown how. In the last one of the participants. ?eiaire-:-that relationship is also complex and contradictory. where the process of moderniza- from above. the dreams of the . with few exceptions. Khazov says. Demonstrations like the one in Kazan Square are remarkably around it is clear.) without home. mold: men and women of iron discipline. 58 The more we grow accustomed to [Khazov's emphasis] in the West. and of radical conspiracies in The Possessed. even when-as we have seen in Marx and Bau- hard to find in histories of Russia's revolutionary development. For the past twenty years." It was precisely tht~ ~tberal we will see Chernyshevsky and Dostoevsky as part of the same ideal that the radical workers and intellectuals were stnvmg to cu~tural a~~ pol~tic~l mov~ment: a movement of Petersburg ple- fulfill on Kazan Square. no Petersburg when he imagined "a history of the modern eclipse: speech or action at all. the more clearly try to apply this emphasis to Russia. ever since Nich. the inspi- tators see the demonstration as a debacle: a small crowd lost m a ration of Lenm and later of Stalm. nerabilities. gu~s. "a union between the intelligentsia and . in Notes from Under- great suffering at the hands of the pohce a?d the mob. a new collective seriousness and matunty. on one hand. they are at once expressions of and protests against the process of modernization. Maybe so. this "ridiculous and childis~ demonstr~tion" signifies. however." "the Sixties. by men who dare to break the this eclipse: a great dawn in which these modern nomads will make law who are beaten.' the sohtary he. "The Russian liberals willing at crucial moments to go out into the streets and risk their were very learned. starting with the French Revolution of 1789. But This is because.tcal the state nomads (civil servants." "Westernizers. only as a severe critic of radical tendencies. as a history of revolutionary crowds: groups of anon- olas' death Russian liberals have been calling for freedom of ymous and ordinary people. They knew that libe~ty had been conquered necks to fight for their rights. from below. assembly. hardly any time to proclaim t~e revolutionary message. Chernyshevsky stands in the foreground as rets and the workers' shacks-and m the cells of the Peter-Paul the maker of what became the standard Russian revolutionary Fortres~-a new spirit of joy and promise fills the air. writes a pamphlet m Janua~y 1877. on the "~ar~i~m"-and. but selves to actually assemble and speak out." In fact. that history has been written m relatively backward countries." others will be banished to Siberia. philes. modernism. In night of December 4 and the morni~g after. Kha~ov. etc. A new. because it is forced to nourish itself . The acuon and suffermg on Kazan Square has brought about. A dubious form of conquest. from the perspectives of a series of elit~s." "the Forties. at last. historians have come to understand the his- before his arrest (he will die in Siberia in 1881). m mcreasmgly active and radical ways. "Russia is led along the road t? po. but under. mechanically pro- Why all the excitement? Many liberal and some radical com~en­ gr~mmed mi~ds.ht. In relatively advanced countries. the only alternative to quixotic speech and acuon ~s. a history of conspiracies. Khazov agrees. that tnes to explam tory of revolutions. JU. thts ehttst perspecuve. themselves a home in the city that has made them what they are. of people full of weaknesses and vul- speech and. yet they have never been able to bring them. the history of intellectual tendenctes-"Slavo.

Steam and the point where. it envelops rather than obliterates: proclaims is not merely historic culmination but cosmic totality and great old trees. see~ 9 is a glass structure supported by barely perceptible indisputable richness and brilliance. builders. Chapters ra?iance •. Dostoevsky's symbolic treatment of the Crystal Palace has an What we.236 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR The ~dernism of Underdevelopment 237 not on social reality but on fantasies.. And yet. the Crystal Palace ~ostoevsky's l~nguage are apt to imagine an immense Ozyman- was one of the most haunting and compelling of modern dreams. Readers who try to visualize the Crystal Palace on the basis of sians in the middle of the nineteenth century. For Rus. we are hkely to wonder 1f Dostoevsky ever saw the real thing at all. and the sky-blue of its some of the qualities of the Dostoevskian Crystal Palace. Its color alternates will be apt to feel that between Russian dreams and nightmares between the color of the sky through the transparent glass. 9 and 10. catching the sunlight from the sky and the water. And I am afraid of this ponderous neo-Gothic. and within the building. as tf tt could float at any mstant into the sky. taken place and ended. Visually. 8. In addition." powerless to and the Etffel Tower. We can see derground Man addresses his audience of "gentlemen"." to Turner painting. the building feels like a late "all ready-made and computed with mathematical exactitude. will match its lyrical respond in any way but to say yes and shut up. anyone who knows slender tron beams. More- final has taken place here. flowing lines and anything about the real building that stood on London's Syden. Joseph Paxton. where-as in a greenhouse. anguish of backwardness. far from being designed by arid mechanical calculation. haunting a nation that was writhing ever more convulsively in the lithographs." The building over. prided themselves on its transience: utilizing the most ad- Sticking out one's tongue becomes a demonstration of personal vanced modes of prefabrication. mirages.. an edifice at which one would not be able to stick one's tongue out.ful curves. you feel that something his reputation-they grow bigger and healthier than ever. millions of people from every corner ing of the ." dynamic ambience. simply because every possible answer will be provided. light almo. dtan slab. looking ham Hill-Chernyshevsky saw it in 1859. this lyricism vividly in Paxton's first sketch. "every possible question will Speed (1844). and then . a generation later. to force the spectator to "become silent Crystal Palace is in fact the most visionary and adventurous build- forever": thus vast audiences. the is meant to intimidate. and with which its designer. dis- radical threat: assembled in three months when the exhibition closed. perhaps a a far more important role in Russian than in English literature and shorter versiOn of the World Trade Center. far from presenting the building as final and indestruc- tible. as the narrow iron beams. dreams. even on the sly. We can appreciate it even more if we compare the Palace with the or to thumb one's nose. first made proud that it takes your breath away . when it is complete. the message it In its relationship to nature. you believe in a crystal edifice that can never be destroyed. "quietly and persistently mill around. bearmg men down with its heaviness-a heaviness both The extraordinary psychic impact it had on Russians-and it plays physical an~ metaphysical-and brutal implacability. dashed off in a couple of minutes on a sheet of blotting paper in the heat of inspiration. it particularly suggests Turner's Rain. expression of the potentialities of an industrial age.whole nineteenth century. it is mechanically conceived and realized: shtmmenng dynamically. rather than being chopped down. fusing nature and industry in a vividly chromatic and vanish. But if we turn from thought-springs from its role as a specter of modernization J?ostoevsky's wor~s to the multitude of paintings. are contained immutability: "Must not one accept this as the ultimate truth. an autonomy to which the Crystal Palace represents a Park to house the Great International Exhibition of 1851. ties that were going up all around it.st to the point of weightlessness. a structure with gentle. aquatmts a?d detailed descriptions of the real thing. neo-R~naissance and neobaroque enormi- edifice just because it is of crystal and can never be destroyed. majestic and resembles. First of all. Let us recollect covers most of the building's volume. which the Palace become silent forever? This is all so triumphant. gr~ce. Dostoevsky in 1862. which and Western realities falls a very large shadow. the Palace's and because one could not stick out one's tongue at it on the sly. "You"-the Un. Only the Brooklyn Bridge of the earth. it was built in six months in Hyde autonomy. this combination drenches us in a dazzling hero of Notes from Underground describes it in Book One. The building's tone is pompous and ponderous. photographs.

a rea expenence. an architect of the first great wave of modern buildings would be built in England for another fifty rman modermzatton and industrial growth B h .whl'ch d'1ssoI ves mto . use t e a ~ce as. easure- Chinese and Japanese. 10telhgence ~gent and in~imate of Bismarck in the 1860~ ani~~s. · asc10at10g Most of the British cultural establishment condemned it. the . a real struc:~:~ been acclaimed enthusiastically both by the English common peo. no building in modern times. network of lines. in fact. for there is no crowded at any given time with Americans. structure or budt up from a succession of ridges. Ruskin . up to that SIZe. It might be argued that the unwillingness of the British . Contemporary ~ade~ t~o the horizon. t e eye sweeps along an unending perspective that people. a emocrattc revolutionary in the 1840s f . sees the Ger- its gradual decline. The bourgeoisie enjoyed the Exhibition.walls of remote German villages. Foreign architects and builders like Gott- fried Semper and James Bogardus grasped its long-range possibil. apart from the builders themselves.. Germans.. for romantic encounters and assignations."41 tion. with a special vehemence.e~l· aroused and engaged. the Palace.he:ngmg on the. 1851 th "h · · · uc er wrote 10 years. but a courageous and lonely begin. even ments. Long after the Great for a slePnsel of what tt must have actually felt like to be fnside th~ Crysta a ace: International Exhibition was over. In any case.~~ but rejected the building. the masses embraced it as a site for family outings. without any clue by me f duced to silence. was able to do. that is-was written of course b £ Crystal Palace provoked the most explosive public controversy.fears The Crystal Palace would probably not have been built at all. In retrospect. mo ermzatton that can fulfill German romantic ideal~ of beaut summation. As for foreigners. Far from reducing its spectators to humble.or- chara t . Frenchmen. even attJce gtr ers. ~:. more than an one else' ple and by foreigners from all over the world. had it not an ~rectse ~nalysts ~f the building as a real space. no more genuinely c:ee -and. and would surely not have been rebuilt and allowed to stand for th~ Dos~oevsky's l~ck.p a . a symbol to express their own ho es and . To s~m. ~xtent Bucher's text is equivalent to Dostoevsky's· boJ. or whether the roof is a flat journalists reported that it was London's most cosmopolitan zone.d of movmg from the wall at one end to the watfat e ot. as a travesty on architecture and a fron. became the sight they wanted to see first.a ace-t e real one. seems to have had the Crystal Palace's capacity to excite ~~anceh Instc:. the world adopted the building imme. d · . We cannot tell if this structure towers a un re or a t~ousand feet above us. ~ahst. play of shadows to enable our optic nerves to gauge the m Russians (like Chernyshevsky and Dostoevsky). er. at t e tmpresston [the building) produced on those who bourgeoisie to accept and live with such a brilliant expression of its saw ~~was. 23 s ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AtR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 239 ' put together again in an enlarged version halfway across the city p rhe m~st interesting and penetrating account of the Crystal on Sydenham Hill in 1854. 10 h~s la~t years. more than anything else in London. a long decline for which the English people are ma~ pe~sa~ts yearmng en masse for modernization a form of still paying today. because they are set in the context of a .u ted by a dazzhng band of light-the transept. co~tage .o:e :~eeJo~r- tal assault on civilization. passive assent. and went back to building Arthurian vi h~o even tn~d t? recrutt Marx into the Prussian intelligence ser- railroad stations and Hellenistic banks. the building was not a grand con. . e Side walls ar~ too far apart to be embraced in a sin le point. Indians. W~ see a de~icate. At first these occur only at wide intervals· then as England's own ruling classes regarded it with a jaundiced eye. ning that lay underdeveloped for many decades. 1851 appears as its zenith and the beginning of ' perhaps pro}ecttng hts own desires outward.e ~ught judge their distance from the eye or thei~n. of such romantic beauty that reproductions of it were own modernity presaged its gradual loss of energy and imagina. But Bucher s proJecttons and expressions have a kin~ of authorit . :f~e let.o~r gaze travel downward it encounters the blue-painted diately as a symbol of England's world vision and leadership. lt_ts Bucher we turn to. etgner. Bucher continues: ities in ways that no Englishman. for children's play. as Dostoevsky said. a German named Lothar Bucher Buchert's a 'r Y. they rang~ closer and closer together until they are inter. J eight decades (it perished in a mysterious fire in 1936). they seem to have fou~d all their energies ~hlc~. c e~. a . ekmg out a living on Grub Street in the 1S. Far from milling around quietly and being re.

probably the. and you see that you are a worm .nve consciously toward a goal. just outside of Kiev.makes no such assertions. Commentators tend to some ideas. ma~es no d1fference -but by his own sense of inferiority "Th mosphere. most advanced suspension bridge in the world Russian.ate mod~l people don't have such a bridge!" m . etc~. pen 10 Fran~e. I was not agre. what ":as. th1s bhndness m1ght well have struck him on Sydenham Hill* ture and romance. 42 First he goes to see Cologne's ~rground IS c~ntempt and defiance toward the facts of modern legendary medieval monument." The guard's eyes were obviously saying to him. designed by our bridge. sian is enraged not by the "advanced" German's assertions of su. So. the dominant impulse in Notes from Un- of a disastrous sojourn in Cologne." After a mo. Bucher sees the tendency of solid material to decom. his travel journal of 1862. miserable Russian. of course. and 1~deed anywhere else he goes in the West: the nite:-and I think it is pretty convincing-the more we must be ~ore beauu~ul a?d Impressive the sights around him. and that it symbolized for him West. "that distant background where all materiality is blended into the at. that 1s. Winter Notes on Summer Impressions. the defeat of adven. Dostoevsky's assault on the Crystal Palace was not oniy un- How can we explain this disparity? Dostoevsky himself provides chan~able but significantly off the mark. And yet. ~~tther Dostoe~sky-who had been trained as an engineer and act~ally knew s~m~­ hmg about bndges-nor any ot~er Russian intellectual. Chapter 9) a fa~ more complex and interesting relationship to "Admittedly it is a magnificent bridge. Co~ogne ("t~e~~ w~s no escape from that")." he says. fetched: the man actually said nothing. made no sign... and the city is justly proud modern factuality." In other words. "But that makes ~as constitutionally mcapable of development-a belief accepted axiomatically by no difference: I was so sure then that he meant precisely that. Naturally. 10deed. we can find. the more puzzled by Dostoevsky's denunciation of the same building as the h1~ ra?cor wdl ~hod him to what is actually there. Art and tht Industrial Rroolution 159 162) B t Dostoevsky is willing to admit that this conjecture is pretty far. and before every German person." As he pays his toll.gno~es. He presents us with a hilarious account of his envy expla. dest~ned to st. as well as by those who did not-blinded everybody to t e development that was actually going on. After buying a bottle of eau de Like Marx." The second emphasis here is Dost~ev- ment of fervid fantasizing. and ~utlt between 1847 and 1853. "We invented the . t~a10 to P~ns." He next proceeds Underground Man's diatribe against the Crystal Palace (Book I.e German . although Bucher was unable to recruit Marx into we · . the offense becomes national: "He must have guessed that I am a foreigner-in fact... in the midst of the a moment: its spectacular beauty is "too easy. its cathedral. whtch he had commissioned: he exhibited blue rints drawin s before our bridge.t e Wmter Palace (Klmgender. hopmg that the French would be much more gra- The more we are convinced by Bucher's vision of the Crystal CIOU~ and mterestin~..you!" Dostoevsky thinks. "You see ~as locate~ m Russta ttse!f: the Dmeper Bridge. conservative or radical.. and to engage in engi- comes convinced that the toll taker is insulting him "with the look neenng. begins with an account world.IO fhat Dost~ev~ky wasn't really interested in the fact of the and defensiveness toward the constructive achievements of the b~dd10g but on)~ 10 Its symbolism.' . what is going to hap- Palace as a world in which everything is spectral. eternally and incessantly. This. the "backward" Rus. samo~ar ~ we ha~e J?urnals . Dostoevsky be. because you ~n\wate~colors at the G~eat International Exhibition and kept an ~labo. · H1s shame at his country's backwardness-and envious the Prussian intelligence. Something of very negation of all uncertainty and mystery. Nicholas I had a special affec- tion for thts bndge. a brand new bridge.pre- long in becoming indignant. mysterious. to build new roads no of someone fining me for some unknown offense. to the city's most impressive modern work. he gets on the next pose and melt as the basic fact of modern life. we do the kind of things officers do . It is as if the belief that Russia probability such thoughts never entered his mind.harles Vt. that I am a * One o~ the weirdest ironies of this story is the fact that at the time the Winter Notes were wntten.e. that t o~ who wanted development. devd take . the least notice of the project. We see here that. technology and material construction "I of it-but I felt that it was too proud of it.' "that man is pre-eminently a creative animal. materialism. that. infi. matter where they might lead. d eve1opment even more. helped to retard I lost my temper altogether. ." We know. the mechanical view of the where he first describes the Crystal Palace. he did manage to appropriate one of ra~e at a symbol of develop~ent-drives him not merely off the Marx's richest images and ideas: "All that is solid melts into air. and Western rau~nalism. 1f we read closely. The Modernism of Underdevelopment 241 240 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR periority-~ven if t~. no doubt. He brushes it off in hfe." bndge but out of the country 1tself. and in all seems to ~av~ taken.

no mat~er a vision of a future world that consists exclusively of crystal pal- where they might lead. and does not want to tlon. Russian fantasies of modernization rather than· Western realities-that Dostoevsky really fears. I have tried to show how the creators of the Crystal Palace were engaging in a modernist adventure of their the Underground Man does not question at . (Twen- Man loves to create and build roads.. structivism a movement that was active all over Europe m the Having come this far. but the main point here is that he affirms t~e devel. is hard . and thrive spiritually as well as materially. what we find is engineers must follow the logic of the1r own v1s~ons. are separated by acres of "fields and meadows. mdustnal workshops. and enhanced The crucial distinction here is between building a building and by aluminum furniture. and an early form of air conditioning. communal eating and recrea- at close range. In nothing had been constructed for a centu~y.al facllaues (Chernyshevsky describes the ballrooms. not only for Russia but even for the then the C~ystal Palace would become (as the Underground Man West.to th~nk fears) a ch1cken coop. This suggests detractors emphasized. as both 1t~ celebra. but engmeeru~g.. if we turn back to Chernyshevsky's What aftermath ~f World War I. say. they nation it leads to is less important than the process of makmg 1t. he is instinctively afraid of attaining his the "towers in the park" of Le Corbusier's. W~ should be abl~ t~ see. But tieth-century readers will recognize.nts a. .s . which. but as soon as the builder stops build- the Crystal Palace. but nowhere so vital and imaginative Is to Be Done? we will find the apotheosis of modernity as a routine. now. modern man such a high place in the scheme of human va~ues. Until then.. and the palace becomes a tomb. ground Man is doing in his encounter with the officer on the opment: the primacy of engineering i~ one of the fe~ thmgs th~t Nevsky Prospect. perhaps ht only lilces to build it. as an engmeer. Chernyshevsky doesn't tell us what or where. perhaps he only likes that ed1fice from a d1stance and not ~partmen~~·.long a~ Jt remains an activity. This is what the Under- There is plenty of room for argument about the meamng of thts development.. and then modernization would turn into a of anyone in Dostoevsky's century who would ass1gn engmeermg death sentence for the spirit.a~l. own. . as in Russia: the modern romance of construction was ideally And we will find. is that his primary s~mbo~ of hu~an creatlv~ty is not.: other. gardens and Now Dostoevsky makes his decisive point." 43 the scene in which Cherny- the good life. can bring man's ~reatlvlty to ats h1ghes~ patch. about the Crystal Palace woods. and entrenches h1mself an the things he has made.sentlal c~~dltlo~: human shevsky invokes and canonizes the Crystal Palace. 1f at as meant to coexist with any other mode of building or or any other structure: hvmg space. that it is Chernyshevsky's Crystal Palace far suited to a country of immense spiritual energy where virtually more than Paxton's-that is. containing know. and what brings the Underground Man spiritually close to the creator. rangements). however. in elaborate loving detail).nd. but this requires recognition that "th~ de~u. ville radieuse.) Each goal and completing the edifice he ~s constructin~? How do you building will. the first is mine.. These "huge buildings stand two or three miles from each ity. the creative relevance to the Crystal Palace. The Under. ization: modernization as adventure and modernization as routine. prefig~re twentleth-centur~ con. w1th no archi. . be wh~t our age calls a megastructure. and the live in it." Engineering should be a medmm for creatl~­ aces. The Modernism of Underdevelopment 243 242 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR op~ent ~nd as a contai~er for its confinement. What I find remarkable here.. can thriv~ quite happily. that Dostoevsky is intensely com- tects in the works at all. Thts has spec~al mg.of eng1~e~nng: so . too. as if they were numerous chessmen on a chessboard". mitted to modermzauon as an adventure. art or philosophy. this model as a precursor of . festivals to be held there. Thus engineering plays a crucial role m J?ostoevs~r s vJston of "Vera Pavlovna's Fourth Dream." !~i~ chessboard co~fig~ration stretches as far as the eye ~a~ see. however. cal in the nineteenth century. may it not be that . But he insists o!' one es. was perhaps the first ~aJOr pu~hc buddm~ a fundamental distinction between different modes of modern- to be conceived and built exclusively by engmeers. ~he •?~a of en~­ neering as the actual symbol of human creativity 1s stnkmgly radi. . 1ts energies are frozen. The activity of sky's. not computation. But if the adventure were ever transformed into a routine. that is beyond dispute. Apart from Saint-Simon and his followers. sliding walls (to facilitate household rear- living in it: between a building as a medium for the self's devel. Each megas- . it. ground Man does.

" He is wrong.ry. Again. as communications centers and vaca. Peters. how. burgs. "more alive" than cause it is more pleasant and advantageous for them. The heroine. even on the sly. as you [in the present] live in your St. tur~mlent urbanism. on all four sides.is vision should help us locate the terms of Dostoevsky's quar- traces of conflict from his vision. and underdeveloped rural life to a tranquil and abundantly devel- ~. at which thousands of gen- missing from this world. hzs ctty: th~s 1s the 1deal ~nvironment for the sticking spectacles for the tourists. Cities do continue to exist (far off about the Russtan fantasy of modernization as an end to disso- camera) on a minimal basis. and hence far fewer cities modermzat1on. "suffering. ninety-nine out of a hundred. "if someone wants to hve personal and social conflict. only an ideal-in the name of the modernity of the city. personal or political. whelming majority. evsky calls it. we can see now. after being given . abou. in his critique of the Crystal Pal- planned and organized-because created ex nihilo on virgin soil. on the book's last page). Londons. the brave new world. society of the modern West. for the acung out and working out of ing. . and hence "more the 1860s." than any modern metropolis could Another way to put it: he is affirming modernization as a human ever be. (" 'Progress would be Petersburg burning down Thus the Crystal Palace is conceived as the antithesis of the city. struggle of every kind. but a highly developed.the modern city. nance and conflict. self-contained exurban world. Here. "But what. but right about Cher- cities for people who want to live in them?" The guide answers nyshevs~y's: wrons:. museums of backwardness in even the dream of trouble is absent from this new world. and especially for ety. are precisely what make him. Vera Pavlovna's dream is adventure-a frightening and dangerous adventure. but right than there were in the old days. skipping the bourgeois and capitalist deadening routines. is a dream of modern. these ClUes will be.Petersburg's infinite pros- would stop them? Let everyone live as he likes. 1s attackmg the modermty of the suburbs and exurbs-still. the point comes through. for vari.zes . techno. in more thoroughly controlled and administered. sophtsU. The new antithesis to the city is no Unde_rground to ~e a. Lon dons.e. without ever having to go through a life of and emotionally throvgh the soc1al pohCies of a bemgn. "Everyone goes there for a few days. This point should clarify one of the primary tion resorts." the streets and squares and bndges and embankments of Petersburg are precisely where these They can live there. negatton. experiences and impulses find themselves most at home. des1re. She asks her guide: "But there must be teel and culuvated tongues were stuck out. Because Chernyshevsky has worked so hard to eliminate all Th. We should be able to see now how it is possible for Notes from ization without urbanism. in crystal-palace communities]. doubt and negation. .a out. it takes a while to understand rel w1th Chernyshevsky. pleasant and advantageous. Panses . if the Crystal Palace is a denial there constantly?" Her guide answers with amused contempt: of.244 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 245 t cture will contain a community of several thousand people. The "new Russia. of this edifice. Dostoe~sky. boh. the leap will be from a tranquil r~isfying all their material needs through a collectivized.per. ace. and sati~fied sexu~lly oped exurban life. comprehensively mod~rnist t~ought. of tour of the "new Russia" of the future." and the few remaining cities are full of entertaining Petersburg.st. as he says (and manner shown to you [i. because "one would not be able to stick one's tongue ever.gically advanced agriculture an? indu. Peters burgs.t once a scathing attack on the ideologues of longer the primitive countryside.a death ~~nten~e against "your St.l~ve for. Parises-what business is it of anyone's? Who The Under~round Man thri~es on . As a vision of hope for Russia. Thus.t Paxton's Crystal Palace. Only the over. live in the These experiences. as any real an ingenious variation on the familiar populist hope for a "leap" adventure must be-against a modernization of trouble-free but from feudalism to socialism. be- Dostoevsky underhnes.dministration. sources of Do~to~vsky's. about the Western reality of that there are very few such people. other words. su.whtch 1s full of dissonance and conflict. or to thumb one's nose. For Chernyshevsky. the genteel readers-he calls them "gentlemen"-who recoil from him and his world." Vera Pavlovna asks.) Chernyshevsky's dream. at best. but their population is constantly cha~g­ out of tongues-that 1s. finally remembers what 1s course. in. pects of suffermg. The Underground Man says he is afraid what his crystal-palace world is defined against.' said the irritable general" in Turgenev's Smoke. Russtan modermzat10n and one of the great canonical works of technological. doubt.." as Chernysh. the Crystal Palace sym- cated and ration:~ . will i:>e utterly devoid of tension. Eventually.

with introductions by F. already 1mphc1t m Chernysh~v­ work of the Soviet 1920s. the tech- more "organic" (Fishman. Urban Utopws rn tht Twmt!eth Cmtury. though typally modern environment that could bring . nology-to build dazzling crystal-palace buildings. Against the house-it had been initially modeled on the greenhouses Paxton coldness and uniformity of these newly crystallized structures. he conce~ved a~d planned a that would leave the turbulent metropolis behind. alth~ugh the Crys_tal Palace was ~ne city street. that the ties of urban life: it would be a new kmd of soc1al space. Osborn was extinguishing the "old" modernity of the spontaneous. Podsnap would surely have agreed). 1902 (MIT. and exploited them far more.246 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 247 There is one more ironic postscript to the Crystal Palace story. It should be noted. all London's they disagreed about many things. Those who believed that prospects that London conspicuously lacked. Howard repeatedly compared th~ metropolis m Dostoevsky's critical vocabulary. by a more open. The early U. Chernyshevsky had done. wheels. the future invoke a nostalgic vision of "the avenue of their 20th- cade and cultural center that would be the heart of the new century days. 1965. the labor skills. revised . effecu~ely than space. in a brilliantly realized visionary the twentieth century to the stagecoach m the mneteenth. 44 Second. Zamyatin reincarnates Chernyshevsky's Crystal Palace. wdd ~1ty parks tha~ prefigured and m production of "more pleasant and advantageous" environments spired Olmsted's work in Amenca. trees.R. was notably responsive to this emerging land- was not merely spiritually degraded but economically and tec~n?· scape. We. and had to go. confused crush of suburban complex. ing the first Garden City at Letchworth excluded it fro!~~ the plan as bemg un.ave modern cities contained anything worth preser~·ing were stigma- resisted vehemently any attempt to use his great bmldmg agamst tized as anti-Marxist. who made several trips to Moscow and was extremely influential Garden Cities of To-Morrow (1898. ization into solid. (Their arguments were similar to those of Le Corbusier. a deafeningly jangling motley. and that it must go.'ern.S. and ~xces­ sively expensive. His Crystal Palace. forty years before anyone dare~ ~o build a s~~~ay morphosis of the Underground Man and the Crystal Palace in anywhere. mcludmg a network It would take us too far afield to explore in any detail the meta- of subways. 67-8). 146. Ironically. As it turned out. right-wing and reactionary. planners and developers of the first half Joseph Paxton was one of t?e g~eat urbanists of the ninetee~t~ of the twentieth century. It m1ght be seen as belief that the modern metropolis was a wholly degenerate effu- a brilliant equivalent for the Pans1an boulevards or Petersburg sion of capitalism. were nearly unanimous in their fragmented and opposed social str~t. on the Crystal Palace as a suburban model. first of all. though their spirit was only too well realized. J.S. greener and presumably more harmonious public ace-type structure. an arche. exploration might proceed. 96-8. Evgeny Zamyatin's futuristic and anti- sky and in the French Utopians he had read. too-especially m Its. a~d landscape of steel-and-glass skyscrapers and glassed-in arcades. 53-4. to be replaced Howard grasped the anti-urban potenuahues of the C~ystal Pal. but it was suf- . animals.* Garden Cities of To-Morrow had tremendous people. too darmgly moc. Howard which symbolizes for him the freezing of modernism and modern- grasped the Crystal Palace's formal potenuahues as a human hot. 45 of the most popular features of Howard's ideal desagn. and had built in his youth-a supercontrolled environment.) The most trenchantly critical ii~erary powerfully and cogently the idea. implacable. brilliant first generation of Soviet architects and planners. Paxto~ ~auld h. those who favored some sort of urban environments agreed that At the very end of the nineteenth ce~t~~Y· however. prosperity and spiritual harmony for ~o~~rn man. argued that suburban development was the key to both mater1al The dominant motif in Zamyatin's crystalline new world is ice. post-Exh1b~u?~ Soviet culture and society. birds. the men an charge of build. posters. Zamyatin's hero and heroine of priated its name and form for a vast glass-enclosed shoppmg ar. Howard's e~ormously mfluenual work.190~): ~eveloped very in the early Soviet period. They substituted a neo-medieval m~rket street whach they saad was simply lacked the resources-the capital. he ~ppro­ their newly rigidified ruling class. on the metropolis as stagecoach. they directed all their energies to the century: he designed vast. colors.a together. impact on the architects. Ebenezer the city street was entirely pernicious. vibrant and Lewis Mumford). But I can at least suggest how such an incarnation on Sydenham Hill-was ~eant to ~nnch the possibili. comprehensive mass transit plan for London. English (Mr. life-devouring forms. Zamyatin's fears were not fulfilled to the letter. and logically obsolete." Zamyatin feared that the "new" modernity of cold steel and regimentation •Garden Citits of To-Morrow. th~t the modern c1ty Utopian novel. even the city.

The only po~nt relevant here is that one of its fundamentaltmpulses was a destre to flee the modern metropolis. it seemed for a whtle-toward migrated from the countryside since 1890. a lover of the modern city. endlessly and me- chanically reproduced in a legion of steel and glass corporate The City Rises. There. Dostoevsky became urgently the city's industrial districts have begun to have a nervous ring: relevant. January 9. a state-approved chaplain at the Putilov Iron Works. Paxton's lyrical and gently flowmg bmldmg would The Twentieth Century: emerge. be worked out. Paxton.000 factory workers. His critical vision of the Crystal Palace suggest!! how even the most 1905: More Light. "The factories surrounded the city as if they were a ring. Now descriptions of the creation of a crystal-palace world. posters. in the U. about this pervasive style of buil~ing. But Chernyshevsky would almost certainly feel at home in which Petersburg's nineteenth-century themes and impulses will here: this is precisely the "more pleasant and advantageous" envi. colors. wheels. Now. on Sunday. the headquarters and suburban shopJ:>in~ ~ails t~at covere~ the land. squeezing ern life.A. in travestied but recognizable form. upheavals over the following half century would throw the struc- birds. an immense crowd of these workers. "a deafeningly jangling motley.000 men. to construct. To EVEN attempt to do justice to Petersburg's political and cultural confused crush of people." 47 Since 1896. Petersburg's workers have held an important point on the European political map. ronment that his dream of modernization was all about. maintain and_ extend the solid structures of a totalitarian state. orderly ture of this book into hopeless disarray. to show some of the weird and tragic ways our day. trees. deter- mined to reach the palace where all Petersburg prospects end. women and children. would be appalled to while to give at least flashes of the city's life and literature in the find himself in one of the crystalline suburban IBM "campuses" of early twentieth century. animals. More Shadows heroic expression of modernity as an adventure may be trans- formed into a dismal emblem of modernity as a routine. controlled. more than half of whom have anese capital drove-irresistibly. with postwar dynamism of American and Western Europe~n and Jap. the date of a remarkably disciplined and coordinated city- wide textile strike. close to 200. As the Petersburg in 1905 has become a major industrial center. alas. moves en masse from every direction toward the center of the city. They are led by the handsome and charismatic Father George Gapon. But it should be worth- world. in the gen~ration_ a~ter World War Two. The Modernism of U nderdevelopmem 249 248 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR ficiently modernized. The real twenueth·century 3. Petersburg Factory Workers. and organizer of the Assembly of St. the administrative-commercial center in their embrace." and to create a far more enclosed. All this suggests how good a prophet Dostoevsky really was. reincarnation of the Crystal Palace turned out to take place half a world away. to everyday mod. 46 Much has recently been satd.S. as many as 200. 1905. in ways he was never relevant before. The . m mcreasmgly angmshed City Fades retrospect.

to seek justice and Father Gapon never got to read his petition to the Tsar: Nicholas protection. but treated as slaves . fully armed. We are seeking here the last salvation. our wives. sur- further and further into the depths of poverty. in his participant account our painful wounds"). Give their destiny into their own ~eepest needs and ambivalences of the common people that this hands. we have no more strength! Our endur. our children. a system of free education fo~ ~ll. and crowds sing "God Save If Thou wilt not order and will not answer our prayer we shall the Tsar" along the way.' press and of the 1905 Revolution. but respectable estimates ranged ance is at an end. :'the attempted dialogue between the proletariat and the monarchy finally. come to lay their troubles at the feet of their Dear Father Tsar. have come to Thee. Many carry Icons and wilt make Russia happy and famous. ~t is an idea that ex~resses both a people's modernity and its These. Do not that sprmgs from Petersburg's distinctive soil. and it is generally right. We have reached that awful moment when up to a.. concerning which we have matunty: The demonstration of January 9 is a form of modernity come to Thee. We have nowhere else appear before the people at the Winter Palace. Sire. We have only two roads: one their needs. then fired at close range directly into the crowd. rounded them. It expresses the refuse assistance to Thy people. They planned a confrontation very different from the one human beings.who must endure. Father Gapon has entreated the Tsar to die here on this Square before Thy Palace. Cast away from them the intolerable oppression of the officials. describes the Gapon demonstration as assembly. Destroy the wall between Thyself and Thy people. are our chief needs. But it is a democratically elected constituent assembly ("This is our chief wrong m underestlmatmg the evolution of the Petersburg crowd request.. We are being so stifled by justice and arbitrary rule that No one ever found o~t how many people were killed that day- we cannot breathe. But these first demands are The bullets and the shared blood swept away all the vestiges of addressed primarily to the workers' employers. and his family had left the capital hastily. an end to the disastrous Russo-Japanese War. Therefore we have stopped work and told our employers that of Russian h1story had come to an abrupt end and that a revolution we would not resume until they complied with our demands. and Thy name. Now they knew themselves fatherless and knew to the Tsar himself. we are not recog~ize~ as charge. we are oppressed and bur. due process of law. and we are bemg pushed palace.thou.. Petersburg of not grudgingly. it is . had begun.theJr b1tter for which the workers had hoped. the government admitted 130.. The petitiOn ~n the city stre~ts. IS a they would have to solve their problems themselves. As the people approached the fate in silence. in it and on it all else is based..•• various ranks and stations. guarantees of freedom of speech.. SIRE-We.. the abolition of compulsory unpa1d overtime.. With the events of "Bloody Sunday. Sire. and our help- less old parents. "millions of primitive minds took the leap from the Middle The petition then demands an eight-hour day. workers and residents of the city of St." This is the series of radical political demands that only the Tsar could fulfill: general_judgment ~n J~nuary 9. We offer this sacrifice. and City has made: their volatile mixture of deference and defiance of let them rule' the country together with Thyself. and only indire~tly love and credulity. injustice and ig. 20. which he carries inscribed on a scroll: leadi~g to freedo~ and happiness. Immediately following them. We have endured 1t. and to respond to to go and no purpose in going." 49 A people's demand for dialogue with its ruler then concludes: m the streets IS not the work of "primitive minds" or of childlike souls. but with joy. Sire.250 ALL THAT Is Souo'MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 251 people esre explicitly unarmed (Gapo~'s ushers have sea~ched the Order and take an oath to carry out these measures and Thou crowd and disarmed some) and nonviOlent. Let our hves be a sacnfice for suffering Russia. however. the other to the grave . and left his officials in dened by labor beyond our strength. mounted pictures of Tsar Nicholas II. and the workers' freedom to organize.sand-but everyone knew at once that a whole epoch death is preferable to the continuation of intolerable suffering. Trotsky. norance. We have become beggars.will be en- graved in our hearts and in the hearts of our posterity forever. ardent devotion to their superiors and equally ardent determi~a- . the only plaster for before the bullets and the blood. In love and reverence they had of one ruble per day. a min~mum ~age Ages to the Twentieth Century. detachments of troops.000 strong." according to Bertram Wolfe.

252 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR
The Modernism of Underdevelopment 253
tion to be themselves; their willingness to risk everything, even demonstrations" of the raz.nochintsy Underground Men, are re-
their lives for the sake of a direct encounter in the streets, an deemed here, for a little while.
encounter' at once personal and political, through which they will But if 1905 in Petersburg is a year for confrontations in the
at last be-as the Underground Man said in the 1860s, and as stre~t a?? epiphanies ~ace to face, it is also a year of deepening
Gapon's petition repeats on a mass scale in 1905-"recognized as ~m~tgllltles and mystenes, of wheels within wheels, of doors turn-
human beings." mg m on th~mselves and slamming shut. No figure is more pro-
Petersburg's most original and enduring ~ontribution to. mode~n foun~l~ ambtguous than Father Gapon himself. Gapon, a son of
politics was born nine months later: ,the sov1~t, or workers counctl. Ukramt~n ~easa~ts, an intermittent wanderer and T olstoyan, ac-
The Petersburg Soviet of Workers Deputtes .burst on the. scene tua~ly dtd h1s umon organizing under the auspices of the secret
virtually overnight in early October 1905. It dted young, with the pohce. Zubat~v: ch~ef of i~s Moscow section, had developed the
1905 Revolution, but sprang up again, first in Petersburg and then tdea of orgamzmg mdustnal workers into moderate unions that
all over Russia, in the revolutionary year of 1917. It has been an would deflect the worke~s· ange~ onto their employers and away
inspiration to radicals and to oppressed peoples all over the world ~ro~ the government; h1s expenment was baptized "police social-
throughout the twentieth century. It is hallowed by the U.S.S.R.'s Ism. G~p9~ .was an ea~e.r and brilliant recruit. However, just as
name, even as it is profaned by that state's reality. Man~ of th?se Zubatov s cnucs had anticipated, the police agent was carried away
who have opposed the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, mcl.udmg by the needs and energies of his workers, and worked to carry the
those who revolted against it in Hungary and Czechoslovakia and movement far beyond the bounds of decorum that the police had
Poland, have been inspired by a vision of what a true "soviet soci- set. Gapon's o~n naive ~aith in the Tsar-not shared by his
ety" might be. . wo~ldly and cymcal. supenors-helped to propel the city and the
Trotsky, one of the moving spirits of that first Petersburg Soviet, nauon toward the disastrous collision of January 9.
described it as "an organization which was authoritative, and yet No one was more deeply shocked than Gapon at the events of
had no traditions; which could immediately involve a scattered B.Ioody ~unday, and no one, it seemed, was more inflamed over-
mass of thousands of people, while having virtually no organiza- mght w~th rev?lutionary zeal. From the underground, and then
tional machinery; which united the revolutionaJ y currents within from exde, he Issued a series of explosive manifestos. "There is no
the proletariat; which was capable of spontaneous initiative and
T~ar anymore!".he.p.roclaimed. He called for "bombs and dyna-
self-control-and, most important of all, which could be brought mite,. terror by md~v1duals and by masses-everything that may
out from underground in twenty-four hours.'' The soviet "para- contnbute to a natiOnal uprising." Lenin met Gapon in Geneva
lyzed the autocratic state by means of [an] insurrecti~nary stri~e," (~fter .Plekhan~>V had refu~e~ to see .him), and was fascinated by
and proceeded to "introduce its own free democratic order mto hts na1v~ and Intensely ~ehg1~us radicalism-far more typical of
the life of the laboring urban population.'' 50 It was perhaps the the Russian masses, Lenm sa1d later, than his own Marxism. But
most radically participatory form of democracy sine~ an~ient he ~~ged t~e _Priest to read and study, to clarify and solidify his
Greece. Trotsky's characterization, although somewhat 1deahzed, pobucal thmkmg, and, above all, to avoid being carried away by
is generally apt-except for one thing. Trotsky says that the flattery and instant fame.
Petersburg Soviet "had no traditions." But this chapter should . Gapon, in coming to Geneva, had initially hoped to use his pres-
make it clear how the soviet comes directly out of the rich and tige to unite all revolutionary forces, but was soon overwhelmed
vibrant Petersburg tradition of personal politics, of politics by their sectarian quarrels and intrigues. At this point, he sailed
through direct personal encounters in the city's streets and for L?~do~, where he was taken up as a celebrity, wined and dined
squares. All the courageous, futile gestures of ~etersburg's gener- by milhona1res and adored by society ladies. He managed to raise
ations of common clerks-"You'll reckon with me yet!-and a great deal of money for the revolutionary cause, but didn't know
headlong took to flight" --all the "ridiculous and childish what to do with the money, because he had no coherent ideas of

The Modernism of Underdevelopment 255
254 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR

what was to be done. After a failed attempt at gunrunning, he periors. What makes the story especially bizarre is that the group's
found himself isolated and helpless, and, as the Revolution grad- most spectacuJar assassination, and the one that won widest public
ually ran aground, increasin~ly .beset by depression and despair. acclaim, was directed against its own employer, the dreaded Vy-
He returned secretly to Russia m early 1906-and sought to re- acheslav von Plehve, the Tsar's Minister of the Interior, the official
enter the police! He offered to betray anyone and everyone for in charge of the secret police, and the man under whose auspices
lavish sums of money; but Pincus Rutenberg, one of hts close~t the group had been formed! In between assassination attempts,
comrades during and after January 1905 (and co-~uthor of hts Azef turned over many terrorists to the police; at the same time,
manifesto), discovered his duplicity and handed htm over to. a he delivered other police agents into the terrorists' hands. Azev's
secret workers' tribunal, which killed him in a lonely house m activities were finally unmasked in 1908, and the whole policy (and
Finland in April 1906. The masses still revered Gapon, and per- mystique) of terrorism was decisivelydiscredited on the left. But
sisted for years in the belief that he had been murdered by the t?is did n~t prevent another police agent, again acting in revolu-
police.~• A story worthy of Dostoevsky in his darkest moments: a~ uonary gutse, from assassinating another Minister of the Interior
Underground Man who comes out into the sunlight for one .hermc Peter Stolypin, in the summer of 1911. '
moment, only to sink back in, to sink himself deeper by hts own Azev, another character out of Dostoevsky, has been a source of
flailing about, till he is buried in the end. . . endless fascination to everyone who has ever studied the 1905
One of the enduring mysteries in Gapon's story IS thts: ~f t~e period. But no one has ever unraveled his remarkable machina-
police and the Ministry of the Interior knew what he was domg m tions, or penetrated to the center-if there was a center-of his
the weeks and days before January 9, why didn't they stop the being. 52 But the fact that his murderous initiatives, intended to
demonstration before it could get started-for instance, by arrest- paralyze the government and plunge the country into chaos, ema-
ing all the organizers-or else press the government to make a nated from within the government itself, confirms an argument I
conciliatory gesture that would keep the workers within bound~? made earlier in this book: that the nihilism of modern revolution-
Some historians believe that the police had come to relax thetr aries is a pale shadow of the nihilism of the forces of Order. The
vigilance in late 1904, ~rusting Ga~~ to kee~ the workers in line, one thing that is clear about Azev and his fellow double agents,
foolishly underestimating the volauhty of thetr own agent, as well and their official sponsors, is that together they created a political
as that of the workers in his charge. Others argue, on the contrary, atmosphere hopelessly shrouded in mystery, an atmosphere in
not only that the police knew what was going to happen on Janu- wh~ch anything might turn out to be its radical opposite, in which
ary 9, but that they wanted it to happen, and indeed encouraged acuon was desperately necessary, yet the meaning of every action
both Gapon and the government to make it happen-because, by ~as fatally obscure. At this point, Petersburg's traditional reputa-
helping to plunge the country into revolutionary chaos, t~ey could uon as a spectral and surreal city took on a new immediacy and
create a pretext and a suitable atmosphere for the dracomc repres- urgency.
sion and reaction that they were hoping to unleash.
This image of the Tsarist police might seem absurd and para-
noid had it not been proven beyond a doubt that between 1902 Biely's Petersburg: The Shadow Passport
and '1908 the police had been subsidizing a wave of political ter-
rorism. A secret offshoot of the populist Social Revolutionary This surreal reality is the inspiration for Andrei Biely's novel
Party, which carried out a series of dramatic assassinations of hig? Petersburg, set at the climax of the Revolution of 1905, written and
officials-its most prominent victim was the Grand Duke ~erget, published between 1913 and 1916, revised in 1922. This novel has
the Tsar's uncle, military governor of Moscow-was workmg .all ?ever b~en. allowed to find its public in the U.S.S.R., and is only
along, unkno~n to its members, under the dire~tion of a ~hce JUSt begmmng to find one in the U.S.A. 5s Its reputation rested for
agent, Evny Azef, with the knowledge and collusion of Azef s su- years on adulation from the emigre avant-garde: Nabokov, for in-

256 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTs INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 257
stance, considered it, along with Joyce's Ulysses, Kafka's Metamor- Its triu~ph shows h~w realism in literature and thought must
phosis and Proust's Recherche, "one of the four great masterpieces devel~p mto mode~msm, i~ order. to grasp the unfolding, frag-
of 20th-century prose." A reader without Russian cannot seriously men~mg, decomposmg and mcreasmgly shadowy realities of mod-
evaluate Biely's prose; but it is perfectly clear in translation that ern hfe. 54
the book is a masterpiece, wortl;ly of the finest traditions of modern If Petersb~r.g is a modernist work, and a realist one, it is also a
literature. ~ovel of tradition, of Petersburg tradition. Every page is drenched
A random glance at any couple of pages of Biely's Petersburg will m the accumulated traditions of the city's history, literature and
reveal that it is, in all the most obvious senses, a modernist work. It folklore. Real and imaginary figures-Peter the Great and various
contains no unified narrative voice, as nearly all nineteenth-cen- successors, Pushkin, his clerk and his Bronze Horseman, Gogolian
tury literature does, but moves instead by continuous rapid jump- overcoats and noses, superfluous men and Russian Hamlets dou-
cutting, cross-cutting and montage. (In Russian terms, it is contem- bles and devils, tsars who were murderers and murderers of tsars
poraneous with, and related to, Mayakovsky and the futurists in t~e Decembrist~, the Underground Man, Anna Karenina, Raskol~
poetry, Kandinsky and Malevitch, Chagall and Tatlin in painting mkov, along With assorted Persians, Mongols, the Flying Dutch-
and visual arts. It anticipates Eisenstein, Rodchenko and construc- man, and many more-not only haunt the minds of Biely's
tivism by a few years.) It consists almost entirely of broken and characters, but actually materialize on his city streets. At times it
jagged fragments: fragments of social and political life in the city's appears that the book is about to sink under the accumulated
streets, fragments of the inner lives of the people on those streets, weight ~f Petersburg tradition; at other moments, it seems that the
dazzling leaps back and forth between them-as Baudelaire said, ' book will blow apart from that tradition's increasing pressures. But
soubresauts de conscience. Its planes of vision, like those in cubist and the proble~s. ~hat pervade the book perplex the city as well:
futurist painting, are shattered and askew. Even Biely's punctua- Petersburg s clt~zens the~selv~s are being blown up and dragged
tion goes wild; sentences break off in midair, while periods, com- ?ow_n by th·e· weight and mtenslty of their city's traditions-includ-
mas, question marks and exclamation points float alone, in the mg Its traditions of rebellion.
middle of the page, lost in empty space. We, the readers, are kept Biely's princ~pal. char~cters are these: Apollon Apollonovich
constantly off balance; we must work from line to line and moment ~b!eukhov, a h1g~ 1mpenal official modeled loosely on the icy and
to moment to grasp where we are and what is going on. But the sm1ster arc~reactlonary Konstantin Pobedonostsev, ideologue of
bizarre and chaotic quality of Biely's style is not an end in itself: the fin-de-su~cle extreme right, patron of pogroms; his son Nikolai
Biely is forcing us to experience the dazzling but mystifying at- a handso~e, languid, imaginative, weak youth in the superfluou~
mosphere in which the people of Petersburg in 1905 were forced ~an tradition, who alternates between moping and meditating in
to live: h1s roo~, ~ppearing in weird costumes that startle high society,
and d.ehvermg papers on the destruction of all values; Alexander
Petersburg is the fourth dimension that is not indicated on maps. Dudkm, a poor ascetic raznochinets intellectual and ·member of the
... It's not customary to mention that our capital city belongs to revolutionary underground; and the mysterious Lippanchenko, a
the land of spirits when reference books are compiled. Karl Bae- double agent loosel~ m~deled on Azev (who used the name Lip-
deker keeps mum about it. A man from the provinces who hasn't c~enko. as .one of ~1s abases), who contrives the vicious plot that
been informed of this takes only the visible administrative appa- ?1ves B1ely ~ ~arratlve much of its motive force; and finally, seeth-
ratus into account; he has no shadow passport. [5, 205-07]
mg and sw1rhng around them all, pushing them on and pulling
them back, the city of Petersburg itself.
These images serve to define the novel itself as a kind of four- . T~e Nevsky Prospect is still, in 1905, mysterious and lovely, and
dimensional IJlap or Baedeker, as a shadow passport. But this It Still ev~kes lyrical resp~nse: "Of an evening the Prospect is
means that Petersburg is a work of realism as well as of modernism. flooded With fiery obfuscation. Down the middle, at regular inter-

hang the apples of electric lights. from there. All the factones were then [Oc. Only now. then streets by four perpendicular walls. On Nevsky Prospect people and from the red covers of the damp trashy ra·gs on sale circulated a human myriapod. Petersburg working class. "his tastes were distinguished by their harmonious simplicity. And his and the government (1. While along the sides plays burg primal scene: the encounter between officer and clerk. 10-14) lights. Petersburg is surrounded by a ring of many-chimneyed facto. he drifts off into daydreams. "the same importunate note. loves the Nevsky: li~e. trying to stained Manchuria [demobilized soldiers from the Russo-Japa. so as to be able to develop the nese War]. and hum~in~. from far. the senator begins to think about "the islands.. in planes of squares and cubes. 31) And the Nevsky 1s sull." And "it had a rare strength and clarity" in the of rectilinear prospects "expanding into the abysses of the universe fall of 1905. there the Hare of emeralds. Contemplating the flowing silhouettes. Petersburg's communicat~on ground Man. They are coming pnmanly from the c1ty s self-consc1ous lacquered cube [of his coach] cut along the line of the Nevsky. He loves the prospect's abstract geometric forms- and the suburbs are all aswarm. in his coach. n~w ~inds of mes~a~es are co~mg "Inspiration took possession of the senator's soul whenever the through. first dramatic scene is a version of what I have called the Peters. this prospect reminded him into prating shady types. The workers had turned of all he loved the rectilineal prospect. 7. And the circula- tion went on. Amidst them circulated Browning re. peculiar way.. However. the composition of the myriapod kept changing. Now were heard the disturbing ant~-govern~ent cries nalism is unfortunately suspended in a void: it stops short of any of street urchins running full tilt from the ra1lway stauon to the attempt to deal rationally with the myriad of people who occupy Admiralty waving gutter rags. Senator Ableukhov. 51-2. But this ratio- top hats. real people on it. There was a sharp drop in the percentage of passing country according to rational methods and ideas.. we are told." he is relieved to be "cut off from the scum of the to the very centers of Petersburg. Apollon Apollonovich . (1. Insulated from "the scum of the streets" on the Nevsky. as much how much Petersburg life has changed since the era of the Under- as in' Gogol's or Dostoevsky's time. are determined to assert themselves in "this world. in its last phase." (1." appearance of a shaggy black fur hat from the fields of blood. 13). far away. Most tober 1905] in a state of terrible unrest. Here the sudden Hare of ruby tween gentry and raznochintsy. the clouds." site Now too one can hear the strangest sound on the Nevsky." But we find that he loves it in a ries. 224) This is a rich and complex image. in 1905. while his top hat struck the wall and fell on his Let us see h9w Biely situates h1s figures m th1s landscape. and an observer could now note the right there at the intersection. Thus. in 1905. the crimson ray of the sunset. a faint of Petersburg's factories and its most concentrated proletariat. concludes that "the islands must be crushed!" Comfortable with 'Oooo-oooo-ooo! .258 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 259 vals. "Don't let the cro~d of -his face grimaced and began to twitch. His hands flew up to his chest. A moment late~ th~ rubies are Biely's rendering of this archetypal scene makes it shockingly clear there the emeralds here. But was it a sound? It was the sound of this thought. impossible to pin down. . into cosmic rhapsodies some other world. on the Nevsky Prospect." the world of prospect and palace Suddenly- at the center of the city and the state. Thus he was isolated from crossed the Liteny and Nikolaevsky bridges. came the blinding blaze of the gold [Admiralty) needle... on clear days. There." but one of its crucial meanings points to the "other world" of the As the senator floats dreamily on.t's cry is in vain: torso reeled back. We see here the Tsarist bureaucracy.hear. be- the changeable glitter of shop signs.. A many-thousand swarm plods toward the~ in the mormng. of the How of time between two points"-but he can't stand the volvers. (2. . It first seized the islands. his blue-rimmed eyes shadows in from the islands!" Senator Ableukhov urges h1mself rolled back convulsively. leave behind its past obscurantism. and intensely active working class: There the enumeration of the houses was visible. And something else. H1s lap . "gently rocking on the satin The agitation that ringed Petersburg then began penetratmg seat cushions. its vast rectilineal space. but i~ 1905. who now. his.

He is visited in his hovel not We are shocked almost as badly as the senator himself: What has only by revolutionari~s and p~l~ce agents-and double and triple happened here? Has he been shot? Has his coa~h ~en struc~ by a agents-but by hallucmatory V1s1ons of the devil. who introduces Nikolai its orbit and hurtled at him with dizzying speed. As the lives of a from an obscure raznochinets' eyes.e Nev. But and experiences that his father most dreads. lit up. he insists. Hence the between the . One of these dots broke loose from able hovel on Vasilevsky Island. at last. and is just as marble mansion and wandered through Petersburg's streets.us. sor.hats] ~e N1kola1 d1scovers a genui~e revolutionary. the senator's son. gether. Th1s bomb. weird but real. nothmg of Peter the Great. m m. but. m~mber. underground cellars. goes beyond rational fear: he seems to feel that any a prec1se and dreadful unity of time and action. he is discovered by a caught sight of a pair of eyes.ls ~odest success opens the way to disaster. as he was stuck in traffic.and ~ikolai become friends. and ~ashed. "hemmed in Dud~in . havmg recogmzed him. There he has encoun.termma?le accounts of their extrabodily experiences A stream of raznochintsy had pressed agamst the senators carnage. of soon remembers. At this B~t th. to explore its rich interplay precariousness of their hold on power and authonty. as if the other could kill him dozen ~esperate characters unfold simultaneously. (The bomb is ticking.~ky. because the parricide plot shows either that known as "the Uncatchable One"-who lives in hiding in a miser. espec1ally 1f we murder h~s father wuh a bomb that he will plant in the house they contrast it with the street encounters of Petersburg's past. a metaphysical mh1hst. the Party 1s bemg used and betrayed. he has an kolai has inwardly recoiled from the deal he has made yet lacks obscure feeling that he has seen those eyes somewhere. Hying billions of miles away from the human mynapod. Now it is true that in the ambience of 1905 imperial ~evoluuon that embraces them all (and embraces its enemies most officials have every right to fear attempts on their lives. would be lethal. even eye contact. prey to any malicious upheaval and plummeting into the unknown. they lose themselves to- by a stream of vehicles. he the courage to call it off ?n his ?wn. contact with his subjects. and mum1dates h1m into agreeing to The most striking thing about th1s encounter. And the eyes expressed th~ madn. 1t turns out. false and ~onstrous one. ~1ppanchenko. knows nothing of the plot. It is impossible here to do more than dip into the text of Peters- though the Ableukhovs are still Russia's rulers.s secretly workmg fo~ t~e. 1.' 1 • • guilt and . in search of an "other world" traught: fir~t. 171-84). Al. we find to our comic rehef. s~cond. and of the bronze bomb? Is he dying? In fact. in concrete human life he tered Dudkin. But Ableukhov.~uy s people and its landscape. not least ught~y) •. they grew rabid. has embraced precisely the people hyste~ical!y at him for forcing a man into so foul a deed. constructed inside a sardine tin. Golyadkin.a political prisoner many times escaped-he is draws a li?e. at a point when Ni- Even as the senator recoils from that raznochinets' eyes. Mr. who blesses him as a son. in Hying along th. along with the with a look. Dudkin may be even more profoundly dis- did taverns. This high official recoils in fright signed to go off twenty-four hours after it is set. and ex1stenual angmsh. a half century before. he has seen them in his own house.. about halfway through the book (5. like many of his real-life and 1t~ mexorable movement gives this immensely complex novel counterparts. between a Petersburg officer and clerk. They recognized the senator and.) He heads for the 1slands m search of Dudkin to shriek For Nikolai. Indeed. from their own police. the sort has happened. for even as point. we know that the bomb in the senator's study is ticking.ity. course. All that has happened is that. police-:-exploits his anger. hornfied as he is. Lippanchenko-who. is a precarious and highly ex- plosive fus1on of all Petersburg's revolutionary traditions and all 1ts "Underground Man" traditions. taking the form of an immense crimson sphere. has been de- defensiveness of the ruling class. is the s~are. "among the bowler [.a~~e the crime is monstrous in itself-he may be more vibrant and authentic than his own. He has left his cold Dud~m. at a moment when senator in his coach on the Nevsky feels as vulnerable as that poor people and cityscape together are going through a state of radical clerk. Let us take a scene pedestrian's fatal glance. the carriage has ~topped at an i~tersec~ion. Here. we see a sort of intimacy and destroying the illusion that he. t~ey know the burg at a few a~b!trarily chosen points. to t~e rev~lutionary underground. Dudkin. bec. w~s mutual. re- sible. mner we~kness. to his horror. dilated. in ways that might wreck it .260 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 261 likened them to shining dots.

and they stand together here. oh swirl.. and one let his drop in senselessly. Rolling toward them Each fixed goggling eyes on the other. tearir. How the street had changed. the drift is Unknown One. since Gogol's "The Nose" and "Nevsky Prospect.g off the last leaves. there will be. these two men are." Noses sprang out from everywhere. last days! of Petersburg metamorphosing into animals and birds. without his not~cing it. Nikolai Apollonovich does not believe him. "An impermissible mockery"-Dudkin interrupted him- gest meanings of its own. "Well." -so on and on-greenish. They head in different directions. united in their sense of doomed passiv- devoted his whole life. you suppose that error has crept into every- other. the dynamism of the street hits them with a hallucinatory "The Unknown One." a baffled Nikolai Apollonovich insisted." Rolling toward them down the street were many-thousand "What? There is no Unknown One in the Party?" swarms of bowlers. "From whom?" Beaklike noses: eagles' and roosters'. however.. and froth "Not so loud . No. ducks' and chickens'. then. floundering to find them. and "From him." a vital part of "Well. and how these grim menacing meanings: bullets or projectiles flying at Dudkin and days had changed it! Nikolai.. helpless as leaves in a gale.262 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 263 as a political force. human ." underscores this-it suggests that Dudkin really toward death. on my word of honor. But now. in the highly charged And [Nikolai] looked with unseeing eyes off into the recesses atmosphere of October 1905. while a shadow of faint hope flickered in the eyes of the "Consequently.. profusely. this world is running down. For both. whirl. "the tling toward an apocalyptic crash. sinking into entropy. oh yes. or else that. " At this point.. "is your Party comrade. For Dudkin. and physically. to meet the crisis that ously across the Nikolaevsky Bridge. bombs.. Oh. "Not error. but charlatanism of the vilest kind is at work here." carry them off. hur- the title of the agent who gave Nikolai his dreadful order. I had no part in this . Yet they must hang on. For both. the lands~ape begin~ to sug. but both ways are bleak. bloody days full of horror. horror. traditional images take on new and of the street. finally-and brancy. thing?" "I assure you. as they cross the Neva. Now. The Prospect hurtles more meanings at them: the people And then-all will crash into ruins. both emotionally. green. intimations of people coming apart. however. year brought to life. then. losing its color and vi- has become hideously cynical and corrupt overmght. ity. the Party For Nikolai." plation of noses. what does this all mean?" This absurdity has been maintained in order to stifle the Party's public action.. as they pass the Winter Palace and enter the Nevsky Prospect. Alexander lvanovich tore himself away from the contem- business. "For three months I've been receiving notes.. it is blowing up." "Then help me . Why are you so surprised? What sur.. hastily. and apart from which he has no life at all." of ostrich feathers. and red. like people blown apart by and Alexander lvanovich knew it all by heart: There wi)l be. what does this all mean?" Petersburg comic folklore. confronts them both more starkly than ever-as the bomb ticks on selves in the ruins of a world they had thought they shared: -to save what life and honor can still be saved. The two men stagger together deliri. The floating hats and noses are a marvelous Gogolian touch-and. force: prises you?" "But I assure you there is no Unknown Om in the Party. the poor raznochinets doesn't know what is going on in a movement to which he has and the high official's son. the two men take up tts suggestions and "made up of gossip and phantoms. as A wind from the seashore swept in. Rolling toward them were top hats. the waning of the year Nikolai's revelation not only outrages his sense of decency but 1905 presages the death of all the hopes that this revolutionary shatters his sense of reality.

and red"-as is happemng been ticking in a strange manner. "I became the bomb. Biely makes us feel how. But Biely primal ooze: has learned from Dostoevsky the art of constructing scenes with a seemingly endless series of climaxes and endings.. about the bomb as a human sub- eac m lVI leon the Nevsky but there was a crawhng. h Neva roared and and forces us to worry seriously about Nikolai's sanity. how shall I put it? dead.in~ . .~n~~:~~de art of the 191 Os.~=Dudkin to drown: Nikolai purs~es him serves as a combination metaphysical sage and psychoanalytic ther- and drags him out of the flow in which he wasdnear. merged in the Nevsky's swamp. The mechanism has 1 . human forms dissolving l?to . • f ' "What have you done? Throw it in the river at once!" h~sn t elvden d rgoes a still more radical devolution. but a zero minus something. Nikolai's monologue has a fatal allure: it is another imaginative swamp in which he can sink.." At first Dudkin. this street ~an g~nerahte a ne": shurdremal~~~.:d ~~nd promises to resolve a mystery that he l Nikolai is talking about. has not the slightest idea of what even aNs . Lfti apist.. phantasmata.. crowds d evo vmg 1 . ~~ ' D ou understand me. be Nikolai's or merely Biely's-"in the tin. Alexan er vanovtc . however. a zero. I assure you. it even began sobbing. . has been stirring"-lt IS not c1ear 1 t IS . just All the shoulders formed a viscous and slowly flowing sed~. ject: "It was. 'nto insect swarms. and the sidewalks of the Nevsky are the surfa~e of an But neither Petersburg nor Petersburg is willing to let its people go o cav~ar. It made a face at me .i~ki~t~~~:~~td:. transformation that Nikolai suddenly goes through. All the words you know.n indi: account of his sensations of nothingness: "In place of the sense · 1 p m whtch t e angms e of itself as a pnma swdam b himself forget his personalit~. and shouts. . like a body being awakened . I turned the little key-and ~ow:. begun to un ers a . . in an almost caressing way.! bomb in motion. equally important. 'f h' black humor is meant t~ ties are happily lost. . when the characters and the reader seem ready to come to a reso- Th houlder of Alexander I vanovich stuck to the sedi.. both par- understan d · o Y . still half sub- blobs of p~re col?r.~~d~s~:~ti! of ~ords.:·grt~een~." Dudkin an:. force all parties to work themselves up to a frenzied pitch ment. There wer~ no peop s' ace oured a myria-dis. w~~c. ~ent . . If the encounter between Nikolai and Dudkin ended here. s~ t~~~:sa of the body. kin. After several pages of this." Finally..Bkt~l~. e s k sucked in In keeping with the laws ment. a black haze of thing at me. say five for example. d sandwich Individual thought was sucked mto the without a fight. organs there was a zero. t e thrashed between its massive gramte banks. open. into a sort o ].. directing Nikolai both to various mystical theories and to the specificities of his childhood. he flings up his hands in horror. resolve themselves at the points where it appears logical that they What is a grain of caviar? th should. is a new cerebration of the mynap d f · d' 'd al segments· and The sticky sediment was compose o m lVI u . lution.pe: ~~d ject-and ultimate common ground-the feeling of existential de- lives. The Modernism of Underdevelopment 265 264 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR '1. an mdividual gram it would lead not only to a dramatic resolution but to a human one. he followed the shoulder again and again.. ·. scenes that. with a ticking in my belly. in a year o ra tea . hts wor un e ' The encounter and the scene could easily end here. It dared to chatter some- ~me~~ d and again wove into a sentence. Th the body of each individual that stream~ o~t? e pav~- e~:comes the organ of a general body. to wash himself clean of the terror that is clinging to him. I It hung above the Nevsky. and the sentence JUm e . The two men push off into a We have been hearing since Gogol about the Nevsky as a l~taly~ stream of consciousness and free association on their favorite sub- and communications line for fantasies of alfter~~te 1who. Moreover. He begins to h · d' 'dual segment was a torso. seemed meamng ess. even as the bomb ticks. visio~ spair. he confesses raptly.ace . For Dud- And swelled by those phanta~mata.. Nikolai gives an interminable (and inadvertently hilarious) frightful realities. and w~s. Dud kin •.~:~~~~n~~e:~.. Biely is determined of the orgamc w 0 ' to show us that the actual scenes of Petersburg in 1905 do not and thus was cast out onto the Nevsky. But when he hears that Nikolai has set the takes 1 o at s d t nd and as he stands and shakes. What keeps this scene going." This bizarre lyricism startles the reader. I was aware of something that wasn't even vidual can merge an su merge ' . talk. as they apparently want to be.y lost . od that moved along the Nevsky .

Dudkin will discover Lippan- ernism seeks a. You've been hit by a squall.a chenko's treachery and kill him. For example. We w1ll ~~ve to live through many more actions and pelling interpretation of moder~ism. Be- "But that is allegory. Keep takmg brom1des. you've been sitting over your Kant in a nght. to discover "the Unknown bolic sensation. revelations and preoccupied with the dangerous Impulses th~t ~o by. over the 1t s ume to dash." One" who has entrapped Nikolai. You your states of mind have been described. et~1cal and polit- house.' A symbol is ~. Thus mod- father and son both will be shattered. and stop him in his tracks. concrete. Allegory is a symbol that d~spamng sel~ could sink. or ra~her . He was rapidly pyrotechnics. matter involving you. modermsm IS reactions. where?" watched). Well. of the sc~ne just above is a long way from the book's Dudkin. immediate. and they re the subject need to go home and .. mcapable of domg anything. the delirium of the Petersburg influenza"- particular.'' Pete:sburg's great richness and depth.. Dudkm tells h1m.yourself. The Modernism of Underdevelopment 267 266 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR "what you experienced there. stant digressions . but that illuminate~ the ove~all str~t~gy and meanmg borne off by the headless myriapod. the usual under- standing of your [sense of being] 'beside . i~ r~search i~to the occult." The way out of the some sort of perspective: laby~mth mto wh1ch h1~ mmd has locked itself-the only way out -:-will be to do what 1s morally. No. The depth of Nikolai's abyss.concerned ~o before ~he. ~h~ Nevsky was a symbol of oblivion.the. and has come through it. however. na~e. a swamp into which the "Don't confuse allegory with symbol. one and shouted out of the flow: that can easily get lost amid all the rhetoncal and mtellect~al "And throw the tin into the river!" His shoulder was sucked into the shoulders.us1on. complex1t1es and contradictions. he will be found next morning." Second. Dudkm says: This i~ ~ man who . in psychiatry. and he continued. story ends. the senator will not be killed. of Petersburg." Alexander lvanovich darted into the flow of bowlers. way through. now it is a source of energy.l ret~rn t~ its proper place. bromides. 1t w1ll explode. "But why are we standing here? We've gone on and on. the m?der~1st 1magmauve v." fore. co~­ cond. politically and psychologically "Nikolai Apollonovich. IS . throw the tin into the river. And the relatively happy endmg. First of all. and share. and tries to put Nikolai's lyrical effusions of despair mto eve~thm~ . it i~ vitally . Any~ay. Nikolai will fail to get the bomb out of the explore the human contexts-the psychological. Before. he will find deliver- Finally. turned. internal and external "sensation of the abyss. but the lives of ical contexts-from which sensations of the abyss anse. Dudkin lifts himself out of the swamp ~hey ance fr?m the a~yss if he can "throw the tin into the Neva.•re.Islon erupuons-what Mandelstam called ••the feverish babble of con- is rooted in images rather than abstractions. of mysti~cations..way into the abyss. consciousness. an electric has become common currency. and what you've heard in it is you~self. in poetry. Sit tight of observations. People who abuse bromides become Alexander Ivanovich smiled at how 1ll1terate this mentally de. he sought to drown his and he would search for the image that corresponds to the sym. a modernist would call it the sensation of the abyss..has been in the abyss. labyrinths within labyrinths. now he wants to use it. 1ts symbols are d1rect..." and don't set foo~ inside ~he house (you're probably bein~ "Where. You've listened to it carefully. along wh1ch the renewed and newly active self can move when your act of appealing to what you expenenced there. rad1c~lly d1fferent from his first. and that suggests B1ely's ulum~te vision of what mod- ern literature and thought should be. shut-up airless room. it's time for me to dash-on a veloped scholastic was. Du~km s s~cond disappearance into the Nevsky Prospect crowd is "Of course. but also a way ~ut. surely speaking here for Biely. Finally. The few scenes on which I have focused give only a hint of tin. over the tin". "In fiction." ~tter not take. At this point Dudkin offers an extremely im~rtant co~ment. You're horribly worn out. offers a brilliant and. wd.

But he would have pointed out how soon after the October few points of divergence in Biely's novel. Meanwhile. In fact. so intensely committed to that reality •. many units of soldiers and sailors mutinied. and how. n~uce ~he~-1 when open human realities seized and held the streets. and due process of Thus Biely's modernism turns out to be a form of humamsm. the c1ty ' burg prospects once again. and enabled the autocracy to save . wtll go through more : By October. Biely's workers do tend to most memorably on the battleship Potemkin. when t~e novel's net ministers. but his generals and between Nikolai and Dudkin. while professors opened their universi- in the pose of Peter the Great astride . But one point seems ~o . if we compare Petersburg with its only serious competition . ties to the workers and their cause. There is one more realistic objection to Petersburg that is worth racy-~ften with the support of their bosses. whe~ we end of October revealed the structures and contradictions of encounter a work that is so deeply saturated 10 h1stoncal reahty as Petersburg's life with remarkable clarity. but it would take the people time to find that out. bringing its shadows into light. and modernism turns out to be the key. streets and village squares to confront the autocracy in the clearest when Petersburg was written. and its human mynapod. Tsar Nicholas wanted runs down." N~ver~hel~ss. it was impossible to crush a and human triumph. as I have argued. first in. professionals joined the action. the Peters- soon all over Russia. Mean- It is not customary in the 1980s to judge modernist works of art . however. how the government be- and mysterious in the revolutionary year of 1905 as Petersburg came more elusive and enigmatic than ever-even to its own cabi- suggests? It could be argued that October 1905.· ministers warned him that there was no guarantee that the soldiers teria and terror. hys. who often found themselves as much in the dark as action unfolds. frozen ." it was called. as Senator Ableukhov puts it. as Biely portrays it here. knowledge and courage to throw his parricidal bomb away. students poured out of the1r And yet. It 1s law. itself for another decade. the dazzling clarity of 1905 could possible way. schools in joyous support. The encounter to call out his armies to crush the uprising. shadows in from the islands. and that even if they did. we must take spec1al.his bron~e horse. ~f 1913-16. Pet~rsburg b. There is something to this critique. this was one of the few Petersburg." and who are the driving force of the 1905 Revolution. deceptive Petersburg position only too clear to the people who fac~d 1t.268 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR ·r· The Modernism of Underdevelopment 269 quite mad. 55 ever the work seems to diverge sharply from the reahty 10 w~~ch 1t 1 Biely might well have accepted this account of Petersburg in moves and lives. shows modern men how they the wall. in the end. years in Petersburg's history when the shadows were not in charge. 1905. The Nevsky . hundred million people in revolt. From the perspective. Prospect itself. of course. it never while they demonstrated and fought.l "days of freedom" the workers and intellectuals alike were thrown me to require special discussion: Was Petersburg really so chaotic : into confusion and devouring self-doubt. the whole empire was caught up in a general strike spectacular upheavals and metamorphoses before the Revolution -"the great all-Russian strike. which began with mystification. there are surpnsmgly . All through 1905. mounted on the agent's naked. At that point. middle classes an~ remain. and ~ntent on . with his back to Modernism. while. which proclaimed can hold themselves together in the midst of a sea of futility and freedom of speech and assembly. modern man into disarray. The October Manifesto threw the revolutionary movement even a kind of optimism: it insists that. I~ the next few dream.ut' all this. But there is a point in stopping here. the Azevs came into their own and took over. frage. gave the government time and space to quell the can salvage himself and his world if he summons up the self. On Bloody Sunday the governm~nt made its own plausibly appear as just one more seductive. the sequence of events from Bloody Sunday to the by their fidelity to any sort of "real life. really gets close to the workers who compose so much of the city's ants seized the lands they had worked. has evolved dialectically toward a real epiphany would obey. Nicholas issued his October Manifesto. millions of people were gomg mto. houses of their lords.: the man in the street on matters of national policy. and promised universal suf- absurdity that threatens to engulf their cities and thei~ mind~. is one of the relatively few clear moments m Peters. government by representative assembly. ~ho p~i~ their wages mentioning here. and burned the manor "myriapod. flash points of insurrection. mdbons of peas-. For all the book's panoramic scope. amid burg's whole history. bloody corpse. months millions of workers went out on stnke agamst the autoc. The Tsar's promises were false.

too. and utter indif- and alive than Gorky's proletarian "positive heroes." James Billington argues. they were south. t em and call them to account. that Dudkin's hero. The cultur~ of the ~talin era. P~wer-a cuy and a people that might have been able to confront How much of Petersburg survived under the new Moscow re. W1thm a Sov1et ~ag10graphy. autocracy slamming shut the window to. ~1ely developed this theme when he had Falconet's (and Push- him and inside him. Pet~r was glonfied endle~sly for his ability to get Russia cutouts and cartoons. . it is clear that Pet~me ~tress on heavy mdustry and military hardware. Lenin and the Bolsheviks did not create or year." Even bohzed. It only appears to exist. . sign. Petersburg-based radicalism . ~ystencally xenophobic and anti-Western regime that came modernism that is more relevant and powerful than ever today. s~eking ~o wipe out the restless reformism and criticai "But if Petersburg is not the capital. before he can pull himself together to do what km s) Bronze Horseman pay Dudkin a midnight call (Petersburg 6 must be done. It might at any rate have been gime? There was a stronger emphasis than ever on the Petrine . ' ' Far more can be said about Biely's Petersburg. On the other hand. Russia's Petersburg Per1od ar from t~e cuy and the population that had brought them to was over. ~o domm~te ~osco~ within a decade struck many people. The Modernism of Underdevelopment 27 I 70 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR 2 driv~ for economic and. It was an ommous consc10u~ an~ mdependently active urban population in the world. Gorky's Mother (1'907).ntaneous popular initiative after 1921. to push and press 1t to catch up with the West. Of ism is not only more authentic than that of Gorky's models but course. wort~ notmg t?at Petersburg in 1917 contained the most intensely gust 1914. seems more closely hnked w1th ancient Muscovy than with even t~e ~a west stages ~f St. part of the Bolshevik force that charged forward to storm the creativity and enduring success.56 We could argue. the. the We~t. and I have no The most memorable apotheosis of Peter as a revolutionary oc- doubt that far more will be said about it in the generation to come. great nine. and rode to power on man armies surrounding the city on three sides." who m fact fe~enc5~ to any sort of h. With Sta- Mandelstam: The Blessed Word With No Meaning lm m the Kremlm. When the Bolsheviks consolidated their power and sup- government departed for Moscow. Moscow at last wreaked its revenge on St Petersbur. promise and mystery of personal and mg ~erge~. he said-amid the cha~vini. For those with a sense of symbolism. Biely's prophecy would be fulfilled m a far deeper way: eve~ d1rect Petersb~rg's mass revolutionary movement.uman happiness that modernization might are not flesh-and-blood people at all. 'Yl. ruthless Biely's shadowy figures and spectral cityscapes are far mo~e real subjugation of the masses." Biely wrote in the Prologue cos~opohtamsm wh1ch this 'window on the West' has always sym- to his novel. 214). extravagant brutality. ~ent. movmg agam. Petersburg develops a. closing the do?r on Itself. curred in P~~ovkin's film The End of St. "there is no Petersburg. at!. perhaps unconsciously.ched themselves tenaciously to it. as a throwback to the Moscow of Ivan the political life in our century's streets.ernble. Petersburg ( 1927).. Abruptly. in 1916.nter Palac~..g. five hundred miles to ~he ressed all spo.. the despotic. In M<trch 1918. E1senstem. industrial development-along with the in the literature of 1905. hist~ry have turned out any differently if Peters- exist: Nicholas II had transformed it overnight into Petrograd-a burg had. both around 1. the Bronze Horseman appeared the failure of the first Russian Revolution and an express10n of Its as. I have tried to suggest how this book is at once an explo~ation ?f through bnlhant use of montage. they rec- Petersburg would reach its apotheosis-as the scene ~nd the ogmzed the dynam1sm and potentiality of this spontaneous move- source of two revolutions-and its end. remamed 1ts focal point? Probably not much.. includ- amid the continued chaos. its Second Moscow Age had begun. frat- teenth-century cultural tradition into a mode of t~entieth-century nCldal. But it is pure Russian name."58 as Biely wrote. almost incidentally. in which.st hysteria o~ Au. ~eter had alre~dy had a long career as a revolutionary more "positive" as well: decisive action means so much more for her~. w1th Ger. gomg back to Belmsky and the radical opposition to Nicholas him because he has so much more to fight against. and bless him as his son.but Rec~nt h1s~onans have made it clear that. but neo-Chernyshevskian brm~. the new Bolshevik ts crest. Petersburg had in some sense ceased to Would Soviet. inquisitorial. contrary to the claims of also.

in to Athens a~d. and t~at will best enable us to bring this chapter to an end. more determined to remember and redeem what was lost. surreal way. born in 189 ~. civil war. it has the richness of Baude- dying slowly yet living forever. cade as one of the great modern poets. can it be a star shining like that? ~ogol. What makes him A giant ship at a terrible height even stranger and more subversive in Mandelstam's work is his is rushing on. d~e~ a. ::::tive and audacious masses into the helpless passivity of old Tsar. In his youthful pre-World War One poems like "The Admi. -a tradition that. Petropolis. appea~ance in a Soviet context. Mandelstam identified himself and his · the Soviet mght. Dickens' with Lo d and universal humanistic values. Petropolis. 0 if you are a star. has been recogn1zed m. is dying. procla1mmg eternal artistic forms laire s Identification of himself with Paris. spreading its wings. as I have tried to show. in the velvet dark in the black velvet Void. written in 1918. Petropolis. a modernity that was supposed Th~ "blessed word with no meaning" is surely "Petersburg" itself to make all the traditions of Petersburg obsolete. as though we had buried the sun there. but modern in a twisted. Stalin's labor camps in 1938. Dos~o~vsky and Biely. however. In the course of the a green star is burning. wandering fire. the loved ey~s from the start. nm~teent~ century. The Modernism of Underdevelopment 273 272 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Above the black Neva transparent sprin~ ore difficult for a Petersburg government to force Petersburg's ha~ broken. Ma~~el­ and then we shall pronounce for the first time stam is a profoundly traditional writer. This little man is always both a strange and a subversive figure. But somewhere in nonexistent Petersburg.'mpl~x as D~stoevsky's. . your brother. 0 1f you are a star. which ~as ~en emptied of meaning by "the black velvet Void" of Throughout his life. than Osip Mandelstam. it might be possible to recover the fate. acuve. of blessed women are still singing. in Poem 118. The The dreams of earth blaze at a terrible height. Wh" . ~~e~nyshevsky. Petropolis. ralty" (48. P~tersburg "little man" is always a victim. is dying. Petropolis. It is impossible here to do more than burg is swept by war. in splendid poverty and h1s fellows have supposedly won. your city. per- sense of his destiny with Petersburg and the city's own changing hap. in the Petersburg tradltlon the blessed word with no meaning. buned sun. focus on a couple of points of identity. is distinctively modern In the Soviet night. as your brother. as Peters. gnarled." We A wandering fire at a terrible height. after a revolution that he Green star. but also in politics. No writer was more obsessed with Petersburg's passing away. mtransigent victim. have traced this figure's metamorphoses in literature. Mandelstam. Itman s Wit New York. is dying. Transparent star. Man. Mandelstam cherished and proclaimed the modernism of Peters. .ere.. in Pushkin. the wax of immortality is melting.s through memory and art. this brother of water and sky. the past de. mg h. or Two years later. that is. Before long. IS the poe~ s representation of the Petersburg "little man. ist times. revolution. flowers are blooming that will never die. burg. 1913).60 Petersburg appears remarkably like a Medi~er­ Mandelstam's identification of himself with Petersburg is as ranean city. In Poem 101. .h n on. terror. at a historical moment when Moscow was dictating and im. is dying. he must. he goes down fighting for his rights. an mcreasmgly bold. m the nd1cu~ous and childish demonstrations" that begin in your brother. Vemce. how~ver: he becomes. when he falls. as I have tried to show. sometimes a Hellenic one. posing its own mode of modernity.ak. The Mandelstamian theme delstam's picture of his city and himself grows darker and more ~hat develops most cl~arly from the themes we have been explor- anguished.nd c<. ki~led in one of We shall meet again in Petersburg. in a new order where he your brother. At the same ume. starvation. Kazan Square m 1876 and reach the Winter Palace in 1905.

like ravens before the eclipse." tailors and dress- ernment that the Bolsheviks overthrew. At one What gives Mandelstam's river of memory a special pathos and point it appeared as if the citizens would remain this way forever.n smells. legends and folklore. There are several posstble rea. "Midnight in Moscow. vaguely ominous and desperately intense: they sip their tea in their little shops or in ghetto cafes ("memory is a sick Jewish girl who steals away in the night to the Nicholas It was the Kerensky summer. out of the feverish babble of constant digressions. Petersburg nostalgia serves as a powerful digressive force. Now they had only begun to recover from the shock. thinking that perhaps someone will turn up to carry her was in session. away or burnt for firewood during the disastrous winters of the were already becoming alarmed. had itself born for frenzies of the sonata and for boiled water. threw the dignitary in the mud half a century before). he takes political and social order-are still intact. and dentists began to run out of Civil War. His name was Parnok. Everything had been prepared for the grand cotillion. At the same time. [6. gone: the shops emptied and boarded up. where Man- while I seem to see in everything the advance deposit of my dear delstam's hero lived in 1917 (and where Chernyshevsky's hero prosaic delirium. even in the midst of Soviet Moscow's drive "made up . as on today's-the Street of the Red Dawn." 1932) 61 Mandelstam's radicalism lies "Our life is a tale without a plot or a hero. so that a tian Stamp is especially evocative of the city's rich musical life. Mandelstam's tale does have a hero: "There lived in Petersburg Perhaps a stupid censor hadn't the slightest idea what Mandelstam a little man with patent leather shoes. "1 January 1924") "Did those raznochintsy wear out great demands that Mandelstam made on his readers would be the dried leather of their boots. gone with the wind: the Kameny-Ostrovsky Prospect. and generous censor might have construed the work's critical force as -what is more original in the Petersburg tradition-of the life of directed not against the Bolsheviks. sounds. in his insistence that. and the lemonade government Station. I that I should now betray them?" unlikely to make their demands in the streets. overwhelmingly "little men. its 100. the basic structures and opposi." Mandelstam writes. "Could I ever betray. tions of Tsarist Petersburg-the little man versus a gigantic.000 Jews. had become. the furniture carted But the Assyrian bootblacks. [3. because sons why. the people scattered or dead-Petersburg lost two false teeth. that those few readers likely to comply with the tears?" (140. care to saturate them.274 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 275 allegedly enjoys all the rights and dignity a man could possibly censor.. poignancy is that in the late 1920s so much of what he evoked was like tomcats in turbans. This stream of through Soviet censorship intact. out of the delirium of the Petersburg influenza. burg detail: history. (260. Petersburg. Are you familiar with this condition? When it's just as if every object were running a fever. off"). for revolutionary modernization. and figures from his childhood. con- need. pianos thronging at the depot like an intelligent. rooms. Or perhaps a kindly men and women. tionary little man most vividly in his 1928 novella. when they are all joyously excited as he wrote in 1928-he does not mention it. and luckily didn't care." (6. geography. posters shedding their skin. In early spring he would . providing the city with so much of its warmth and vibrancy. Mean. grand on the period's maps. dreaming as alternately whimsical. streets. Even the streets were lie scattered about like nestlings with empty. and nearly drown them. makers and leather dealers (like Mandelstam's father) and watch- delstam's style. houses. people-Mandelstam's own family Stamp. The Egyptiq. gaping beaks. in the it is fascinating and beautifully realized in its own right. makers and music teachers and insurance salesmen. leaderless herd. the book is set in the summer of 1917. 186) In fact. First of all. 62 Reading this work today. 161] thirds of its population during the Civil War. but it can be found and ill: barriers in the street. Second." Mandelstam asks himself repeatedly. in a flood of Peters- Mandelstam captures the drama and agony of the post-revolu. brutal his tale does have a plot and a hero. it is amazing to find that ~t passed and friends. The Egyp- interval between the February and October revolutions. recognizing the insignia of Petersburg modernism. full of weird ironic juxtapositions and disjunctions. who was despised by door- was talking about. 186-87] become a dream. but against the Kerensky gov. cluded that the book's very elusiveness was insurance against its "the great vow to the Fourth Estate I and vows solemn enough for explosiveness. home to so many generations of dreamers. there was Man.. and a decade later Rosy-fingered Dawn has broken her colored pencils.

a plunges into the midst of the crowd. Faces and persons . you have spat at the bad Tartar butcher-shops. the magnificent city has devolved into an insect horde. where he can serve as a translator shoes. it seems. stand what it is." Here. . 163-69) It appears that somebody has been ca~ght ste~l­ bit on the hand-rails of a streetcar. declared an outlaw and dragged into the empty himself by speaking to them in a wild. and hence of tale. at the same time. and was as loath- wadding. m h1s 1magmauon. would Mandelstam-only Petersburg will not and himself: let him. "Parnok ran. birdy la~guage. And Petersburg's archetypal common man has be- by cubist and futurist painters. kin~~om ~f c~ntra­ dumfounded dentist before the sleeping cobra of his drill"-and basses and drones" (5." where they have come to see a Thus advanced the shoulders. You have had your stroll. they rush to re-enact the darkest chapters in the history twentieth century by Alexander Blok and Biely and Mayakovsky." Parnok's stor.he ~ulpnt along m Serezhka in Gatchina. would about this. It IS dehumamzmg to have taken command. of sovereignty. hung for a street.. what looks hke a lynch mob m the Lane. frequented the public baths and the Cini- selli Circus. for wh1ch he avenged be suspect.t "From childhood he had been devoted to whatever was useless. Parnok doesn't under- Could one say that this figure [the prisoner] was faceles~? ~o." trying frantically to attract attention and stop the move- and interpreter between two worlds. 1 square. little man-enough! a solemn procession: they are gomg to drown h1m m the Fontanka Canal. Once again. "The innumerable swarm of there was a face." (2. tripping along Hellene. as in Biely's the irritable napes and dog ears. The Modernism of Underdevelopment 277 276 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR run out onto the street and patter along the ~till wet side~alks w~th the people in it. ened the banks of the Fontanka. But he fails to make the slightest impact on the prospects. you have done a bit of living. to his horror. the secondhand jacket richly bestrewn with dandruff. bombastic. human locusts (God knows where they were coming from) black- cance. (4. ._but gives it a moral dimension t~~t has been ~~ss­ the historical moment when the city's common men are supposed ing until now. he springs from his perch above the street and exclusively about the loftiest matters. along Shcherbakov he discovers.y begms almo~t hke a fairy manize themselves. Parnok would be happy to be left to enjoy his Petersburg d~eams feels very vividly the resemblance between the condemned man -and so. but it terrifies him. to strip themselves of their faces. and by Eisenstein in October. Mandelstam adapts this modernist vi. Petersburg. "Petersburg has declared itself Nero. it is renewed in the sovereign. crowd-who knows if he is even noticed?-and. although faces in the crowd have no slgmfi. but they didn't understand him. having just become the first time in Gogol's "Nevsky Prospect". gether. only napes of necks and ears have an independent life . this mob or help this man "would himself land in the soup. leaving the concert-going soul belonging to the raspberry. if not a fugitive ("There are people who for some 1927 Petersburg romance. Mandelstam's biological The fragmentation of people through the ~ynamism o~ the 1magery takes on a political force: it is as if the people's revolution- street is a familiar theme of Petersburg modermsm. my dear fellow. his come a stranger. As Parnok sees the moving street." Nevertheless. 173) is a jew. Something has come over Petersburg. taken a trip to see your friend ing a watch from somebody. in his own home city at precisely sual experience. their personal responsibility for their actions. ~urderers and victims alike. As he sits in the dentist's chair one fine summer morning and gazes through the window that overlo?ks Gorokhovaya ~treet. Th~ crowd bears t. but also. his fondest dream is to obtain a minor diplomatic post at the paving blocks with the little sharp hooves of his patent leather the Russian Embassy in Greece. 156-58) This "shy. or rather offering them an opportunity to dehu- his little sheep hooves. some as if it were eating a soup of crushed flies. are submerged in "that terrible order which welded the mob to- I Y· . We saw It for ary ascent has precipitated its moral decline. -"Parnok spun like a top down the gap-toothed stair. for he knows he lacks the proper family tree. and this little hero is endowed with an appropnate ethereal. but he is pessimistic about his ment of the mob. and when he began to fall in love he trie~ to tell women . reason or other displease mobs")." Parnok feels certain that anyone who tried to confront metamorphosing the streetcar rattle of hfe mto events of conse- quence. like a coat hanger stuffed with man killed.

Finally he finds a Soviet commun~st could seriously object. h~ ~s intent on protecting their memory from now they carry him above their heads. February Revolution has not got rid of Russia's traditional desperately to find a telephone. (This may have been the thou ht of the government. Now there is nothing here to which an mediate between the individual and the state. to let its subjects. electronic mass media derr. (8. and was out a wrmkle.. . and us.tocrauc legJ~Jmacy. the answers are almost embarrassingly simple Who is Captain Krzyzanowski? He is the most surreal feature 1~1Ce H~l8. but IS up to m?re than thJs. his overcoat. yet. the key to its real political ehte (the ~otel Select). back into the depths of the a~d the ~oscow express. As Parnok is informed by a laundress. we will see. What do these G~golian goings-on mean in 1928? Why should the ther approves nor disapproves of the murder going on around officer want the httl~ man's clothes.Mandelstam cares so deeply about Petersburg's pathetic soldiers themselves elected him to the regimental committee. and th~ ~ble httle men. havin appeared Captain Krzyzanowski himself with his pomaded mus.only entrenched it further and endowed it with a ment. "At the corner of Voznesensky Prospect there nok s m." (3. after all. Moreover.the captam has designs on Parnok's clothes: he now possible for the state to simply not answer. indeed." But all in vain: "I respect the moment. the bowlegged captain coldly replied. and the story ends With him- pine or Persephone. to be more elusive ~ants hJs shirts. "And skillfully seizing his com.lt t~rns out. but exudes all the crude and com place t ities more boldly than ever. In the e?:. 189] · · him as though he were his best friend and implored him to draw his weapon. fit mto the suitcase especially well almost with~ tache. eve one than ever. telephoned the police. Parnok tries the. tua s <. This ne~ ruling class in the 1920s claims descent Revolution of February 1917 ought to have finished him off. bu~ . but pardonme." Electronic media may at times facilitate communication. oscow apparatchzkz who would appropriate it to legitimize . Mandelstam's brief description identifies him at once as a ~~cret pohce that ?perates out of the Lubianka Prison (Malaia Lu- symbol of all the archetypal stupidity and brutality of the old offi. . Parnok has a weird encoun- boAt 9:30 P. the state. He was wearing a military topcoat. If we place this episode in the context of Soviet panion. Bolsheviks woulJ phone-only to find himself more lost than he was before: "he s~J t~a~ the pomt of the October Revolution was precisely to get telephoned from a pharmacy.or~mg coat ~nd his best shirts." This pompous figure has stepped directly out of on t e Malaia Lubianka-where he was given a room that h d the world of Nicholas I and Gogol and Dostoevsky. He had packed in his suitcase Par- Petersburg past. "Parnok raced up to a ashiOnable shop wmdow. Moscow has become headquarters for a new Sovi~ of The Egyptian Stamp." ~?htJcs and culture. who had not yet had a telephone installed. Yet he flaunts his traditional qual.278 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 279 There are two more brief phases in this scene. in place of a regular window it h:d in 1917 at first appears bizarre.d- response. I am with a lady. ' nonchalantly whispering to his lady the sweet nothings of the I~ Mosco~ he st?pped at the Hotel Select-an excellent hotel Horse Guard.tahty of Petersburg's old ruling caste of Tsarist officers an~ "That gentleman hid for only three days. nevertheless. The ogated and hel~. to ~?scow? In fact. His appearance fo~me~ly been used a~ a store. the former Captain Krzyzanowski was planning to ter that abruptly plunges him. and why should he take them him. telephoned n o t ese types for good. heated by the sun ·to an improbable d egree. or at fro~ Petersb~rg s fratermty of little men and raznochintsy intellec- least driven him underground. in what at first seems another they can also block communication with a new effectiveness: it is surreal ~WISt: that . ruhng cla~s. and then the soldiers po 1ce.M. hJs underwear. to alert someone in the govern." He nei. it appears. feel that he is entitled to them. brul. themselves"-in the new revolutionary democratic army-"the b Because . "He might with equal success have telephoned Proser. ring forever without m the story seems to. and as the Petersburg little man's archetypal enemy." In the midst of his search for help.) But Mand!Jstam carp. r Janka)-where SIX y~ars later Mandelstam himself will be inter- cer class. he is called to higher duties. 162) Thus. protected and sometimes led by a dreaded point. The morning coat. . which had vanished. tucked '? Its fins. sleeping like a ~hatever censor pass~d Mandelstam's story on. like Kafka's K. but with a saber. he jingled his spurs and disappeared into a cafe. In the twentieth century.Parnok s clothes).

184) A moment before the novella ends. f ' WI create Its own passion- that job in Greece. feeling. These are my own old tears.not wanted 10 Leningrad. f y anguage and faded to appreciate the Theater. and then its hidden I live on the back stairs. to his~: er ':"ay. windbags in capes. . jangles in my temples. in an arti- your fantasy will not be lost in the world." (8. These secondary and involuntary creations of de entitled "Shades of Old p b Mos~ow. 10 Pr~vda. Ma. but also of dread: "But the pen that removes this film is like a doctor's And I wait till morning for guests that I love And rattle the door in its chains. Do you know this December day It is so urgent for Mandelstam to clarify Parnok's lineage because the egg-yolk with the deadly tar beaten into it? • the men who are walking around in his clothes are precisely the men who pushed all Petersburg's little men off the Nevsky Pros. . in a dream. Captain Golyadkin? and the Collegiate Assessor [Evgeny in "The .beginnings-out of the Christian) "pedigree.:t. Mandel. with gloves that have LENINGRAD been laundered to shreds. ancestry is: 10 Moscow and terror d rm Y10 power wife. Swallow sity education?" the fish-oil from the river lamps of Leningrad.ndelstam returned with his But-wait a moment-how is that not a pedigree? What about While he waited~ r me City •. Leningrad.g space. meaning will be laid bare . ance wdl take on a life of its own that it ·n e. all those mutterers. ho. and me with a univer. all those who do not "live" but "reside" on the Sadovaya and the Podyacheskaya in houses made of stale ~ve com~ back ~o my city. and grumble to themselves: "How is that possible? Not a penny to my name. but save whatever you have inscribed ha n ." At this point. pect in the nineteenth century. as it ps 10 Moscow.as a typical Petersburg behind shadowy music stands.lstam asserts his faith that the dream of p t b • . the swollen ~lands of my childhood. December 1930 starn warns himself.s most heartrending poems (221) on the cha . Ievements o the new socialist order 68 ture to Leonore or the Egmont of Beethoven. disgraced. or po Ice authonzauon to live and work he wrot Bronze Horseman"] to whom "the Lord God might have given one o~ h•. completely unexpected. s~ying tha~ Destroy your manuscript.e stam was .:~t~~~s'to~~ ~. insulted in the forties and fifties of the last cen- tury. This work Petersburg! I've still got the addresses: of unmasking is a crucial force in Mandelstam's life: "One has only I can look up dead voices. [187-88] "Lord!" Mandelstam wrote in The E~ptian Stamp. the narrator breaks into Par- nok's stream of consciousness to remind him and us how noble his ." But he cannot bring himself to end on this note: But the Party ha~k who ran the Leningrad writers' union and wh ~:t~ol:ed both Jobs and livin. sections of petrified chocolate. ers urg s r~dl­ It begins with Parnok lamenting that he will probably never get ate music-a m .280 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 281 their power.p10g to settle there for good. Two years after The Egyptian Stamp. . Consider this passage. Petersburg! I don't want to die yet! You know my telephone numbers. out of helplessness. because of his lack of a noble (or at least a shadows of the c~t~~ ~a. 10 any case somewhere else Th" d"d p Mandelstam from bein attacked in . contaminated with a touch of diphtheria. Open wide. but will take their place snob who used fane 1 eters urg. It is better not to touch it. ' teaspoon. that he belonged er- in the margin out of boredom. and who are ready to drown them in the Fontanka or torture them in the Lubianka today. h he more brains and more money"? All the people shown down the and his City had gone through: nges t at e stairs. like third violins at the Maryinsky ach. drove them out. prophetically: "Destroy your manuscript. to remove the film from the Petersburg air. Is 1 not prevent were. y own httle vems. Open your eyes. in which Mandelstam describes Parnok's Petersburg roots. "Do not make . there will be revealed something torn out nerves and all. So you're back. with Stalin fi 1 . and out of gratitude to their author strike up the over. remarkable for its intensity of Mande. .." This vocation is a source of pride. and the bell. and. Nadezhda.

his action consisted simply I? spea mg Leningrad and Kiev. a literature that springs from under- ground sources. bed" . on Consti- . after being stifled by the Soviet state for forty ~ruth about them all. In the neo-Muscovite totalitarian state. We live. ~h:uGreat Purge that would kill even more. burst from the Petersburg underground in Nicholas' era have once And the words. who ap- closed Moscow iooms. to give the old modernism a new life and been forced out of Lenmgra an . . . he died in a transit camp near Vladivostok. Logically. temple. ("Destroy your manuscnpt • u d · d ed the tution Day in December 1965. guish. The Modernism of Underdevelopment 283 A LL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR 282 poet to the secret police. r 1 clear abo~t it when he wrote this in 1928. . 65 it One whistles.and more real than the official culture propagated by party and state. One of those who hear It enounc . and ever closer to a All we hear is the Kremlin's mountaineer. but its a poem (286) on Stalin: resonance proved deep enough to survive many murders and. They came for him one night in May . a third snivels. drove us out. and on the verge~ promise that the Soviet order had left behind. h t force. was ignored by passersby. p nok' Give me the strength to distinguish myself fr~m 1934. again come into their own. ("It was on this basis that the sociologist Iba- nov produced his original but far from new hypothesis on the He forges decrees in a line like horseshoes.") 66 Mandelstam differed from Parn~k ~ere in th~~n~e. patient line whtch h•m· or . weird. to outlive its murderers as well. In Brezhnev's Russia. But guJs . this tra- am s h der how the Petersburg author ts to Jstm- ate_lyh:a. dldn t ~ry to~ . In the Stalin era. He pokes out his finger and he alone goes boom. with Andrei Sinyavsky's On Socialist Realism. a culture that is at once more shadowy . (5 171) It will not be immedi- ustained by Peters urg a on . Mandelstam compos that promise was scattered to the Gulag and left for dead. even the vestiges of international Marxism.~t~~ Another form of samiz. and stayed behind in our place forever. have approved. blustering.. the very opposite happened: they de- He wishes he could hug them like big friends from home. fall from his hps. ~~ ~i. the surreal visions and desperate energies that His fingers are fat as grubs. in His cockroach whiskers leer And his boot tops gleam.dat literature and. bigoted "official nationality" of which Nicholas I would The murderer and peasant-slayer. p k" the strations that began to take place in the mid-1960s in Moscow. The Yawning Heights. One of the first large demonstrations in Moscow..dat has emerged in the political demon- Captain Krzyzanowski for help. But one been enure y ars later after the Mandelstams had the increasingly sordid betrayal of that Revolution by that govern- distinction emerged fiv~ ye d d b~ck to Moscow. In November ment served.~~~n·~l~~. And I. too. These visions and energies have been renewed in the great effusion of samiz. One for the groin. deaf to the land beneath us..dat. lives on in Alexander Zinoviev's enormous.the state". luminous work. ") b t spoke It aloud m severa ug . indeed. Mandelstam never. overthrow of the Tartar-Mongol yoke. . after excruciating physical and mental an- ~e h~ ~r als~ have stood in that terrifying. final as lead weights. the very idea of samiz. The Ringed with a scum of chicken-necked bosses neo-Petersburg literature of surreal radicalism made a brilliant he toys with the tributes of half-men. another meows. paradoxes of the Petersburg modern tradition. 64 them from our territory. Petersburg became 1933 in the midst of the Stalinist collectivization campaign t af "the blessed word with no meaning. . indeed. stroyed us. eye. far from our destroying the Tartar-Mongol hordes and driving He rolls the executions on his tongue like berries.. Mandelstam's life and death illuminate some of the depths and creeps toward t e y b 1 e ." a symbol of all the human ld claim up to four million peasant lives. h ellow window of the box office . wrote t~ls poeml d_o~~ years.e~ero· and Mandelstam himself may not have dition should have died a natural death after the October Revolu- tion and the departure of the new government for Moscow. as the Soviet state edges ever further from Ten steps away no one hears our speeches. overnment. Four years later. According to this theory. one the forehead. debut in 1959-60. ironically.

These experiments expression and action and communica~ion that _their countrymen are both literary and political. "the delirium of the Peters- Prospect burg influenza." These men live in and through a series of radical contradictions and paradoxes. It is the lonely but persistent voice of the little man in make Peter's city their own. confront the state. banished to labor camps. yet. Never~he. they emerge from their various undergrounds to assert modernism. they can step into the streets and prospects to take action in a public world. and need to learn agam. after the noble failure of old Execution Platform in Moscow's Red Square to protest the December 14. bizarre way. throw the bomb in the river. On one hand. sponse to more than a century of brutal but abortive moderniza- these actions.284 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR The Modernism of Underdevelopment 285 parently took it for an outdoor filming of some movie about the centuries. a city Vladimir Dremlyuga. up to the officer. solitary rooms.drives and relations saturate everyday life. they are. and to see with luminous clarity what is real. fight for the right to the city. returning from their offices and factories to I am glad that there proved to be others to express their protest cramped. etc. hand. In this climate. what is right: stand I HAVE tried to trace in this essay some of the sources and transfor. save the man from mations of Petersburg tradition in the nineteenth and twentieth the mob.it'." On the other I was a citizen. They are exquisitely and painfully sensitive to the shifting strangeness of this city's air. through Kazan Square a century before.) without home. in which "all that is solid melts. The . followed by savage repnsals agamst paructpan~s.ess. I would have entered Red thing that the nineteenth century will say about alienation from Square alone. in a city whose very existence is a political statement. at crucial "For ten minutes I was a citizen": this is the true note of Petersburg moments. a marvelous array and messages that Russia badly needs to hear but also modes of of experiments in modernization from below. 1825. always self-ironical. cold. in an unbalanced. and instantly ~rushed ?Y the K?_B and midst of a backward society. have proclaimed not merely tdeas the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. will spring from the common life of its legion Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968: of "little men." ening routines. Had there not been. to counts most. such a distinction makes little sense once knew well. they seek solidarity with other solitaries. was arrested along with six other people for demonstraung on the Petersburg's originality and dynamism. Petersburg will engender and nourish. They are endlessly tormented and the immense public square: "You'll reckon with me yet!" paralyzed by the richness and complexity of their inner lives. most of all to their own.ltions run by ~h~ police. And yet. a railway electrician from Lenin_grad who where political . their imaginative power is bound to plunge them into abysses of nihilism and delusion. springing from the imbalance and who have been tortured. In re- "special" psychiatric inst. dark. Revolution of 1917! 67 Most of these actions have been undertaken growing out of the city's existence as a symbol of modernity in the by pitifully small groups." both ultimate mo- Conclusion: The Petersburg rality and everyday reality come apart. My vmce wdl."" nature. sealed up m unreality of the Petrine scheme of modernization itself. The traditions of this city are distinctively modern. ~or t~n minutes "state nomads (civil servants.l." a class of person who proudly and calmly speaks_ his mind. during the demonstration." But somehow they find the strength to pull them- selves up from the fatal depths of their inner Neva. from other men and from oneself. a says in his projected "history of the modern eclipse. they seem to incarnate every- together with me. to everyone's surprise. as Nietzsche All my conscious life I have wanted to be a citizen-that is. but Petersburg traditions are modern vigilante mobs. like the "ndtculous and chtldtsh demonstrauo~ on tion from above. but clear and strong when it their right to the city. they are deeply rooted in the city that has uprooted them sound a false note in the universal silence which goes by the name from all else. Trapped in servitude to tyrannical superiors or dead- of"unanimous support for the policy of Party and Government. I know. Here IS the final plea of here. what is healthy.

. ... ... of Milan. of Tel Aviv. whose program [is] to exist in a world toZu fabricated by man. It is this prospect . New Delhi. Mexico City-today..became a fa~ttory exas • of manmade experience. to be. Delirious New York 287 . In a moment it is gone. .. a -Rem Koolhaas. . It can provide them with shadow pass- ports into the unreal reality of the modern city. . and if blows on and on.. swallowed up by dark and murky history." find themselves at home everywhere in the contemporary In the Forest of world. a metropolis of rigid chaos me . where the real and natural ceased to .• Manhattan as the product of an unformulated theo above all that Petersburg has opened up in modern life. a ne~ c apter in the survival of the fittest. d 'I e • e scaence. to live inside fantasy .. ' d orms 0J ma ness compete under ideal conditions to anvent. is the capital ol' E•o wher. as The City of the Captive Globe . can be uniquely valuable to them. estroy an~ restore the world of phenomenal reality. like the Admiralty's golden needle piercing through the Petersburg fog. •. as I have presented it. . and its attendant architecture "!o~~ be pursued as a collective experiment . The entire ci. shifting light and shadow of the city streets. This trip through the mysteries of St. a mythical island where the invention and te~ti metropolitan life-style. Petersburg's little men. a Galalln. The Grid's tw_o-dimensional discipline creates undreamt-o freedom for three-damensional anarchv the 'ty L h if' t' der J ·" ca canoe at t e sa ame or ed and fluid. Man. . through its clash and interplay of experiments in modernization from above and below. technol · h r-.. its "state nomads without home. But the clash and fusion of modernities goes on even in the most fully modernized sectors of today's world. s swn oJ new ba ogaes.286 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR moral imagination and courage of these little men surge up sud- denly. Petersburg. 69 The Petersburg tradition.ao I'. And it can inspire Symbols: Some Notes them with visions of symbolic action and interaction that can help them to act as men and citizens there: modes of passionately in- on Modernism in tense encounter and conflict and dialogue through which they can at once assert themselves and confront each other and challenge New York the powers that control them all. of Stockholm. the Petersburg influenza infuses the air of New York.. It can help them to become. but its vividness and radiance remain to haunt the bleak air. may provide clues to some of the mysteries of political and spiritual life in the cities of the Third World-in Lagos. this time ttle among specaes of machines. both personally and politically "more alive" in the elusively . Dostoevsky's Underground Man claimed (and desperately hoped) art poetry and fi .._ d .hattanism. of Tokyo. Bra- silia.

The ulJmedia presentation whose four decades. I want to put myself haunts my city today...e Corbusier. at least equally important. and the result is nihilism!" (Fro~ ~n a~s ~ plans for authority who was presiding on a Commtsston to r~ro on finds himself in the midst of a Baudelairean forest of symbols. springing up with.) . join the dozen nomic and political needs but.k has served as a center for environments that have sprung up in the cities of the 1970s. and dept t~ muc h h of what IS one an · . to explore an ~ ar :nvironment. Finally.nT~i~has given a special resonance myself. The City of Tomorrow each other for sun and light. Greenwich Village. the -James erra .. it is a forest where axes and bulldozers are always at work. ison Avenue-have taken on symbolic weight and force as time "You trace out stratght 1. speak tng." place. pastoral dropouts encounter phantom armies. But they also make it a dangerous work should be.OF t l'd" · modern 1'11ec to "melt l'nto air ·" The mnate dyna. and Love's Labour's Lost interplays with Macbeth. . Other areas Threatened our cities like mystenousM re~l·l "An Urban Convalescence" of the city-the harbor. social mstttuttons. ch1'lled throuah An . Next. ° odern economy. re to go on endlessly creating career in public life stretched from the early 1910s to the late moral values-in order ~o create ml~ ~dern men and women into 1960s.hll~tes . . if New York is a forest of symbols. ew cit has become not merely a develop a perspective on the urban metamorphoses of the past international commumcatto~s. The presence and profusion of these giant forms make New York a extension. and falling down from. and fo~ces us ~11 t~ rap: t is real in the maelstrom in tive and disastrous impact on my early life. the Bowery. Lower East Side. working to kill each other off. whose vironments. but that. trying to grasp the modernizations and modernisms that audience IS the whole wor : d d made here A great deal have made me and many of the people around me what we are. the constructed trees. the Statue of Liberty. As I For more than a ce~tu~y. I will be painting a picture in which I can locate the~ter b~t itself a produc~.288 A LL TH AT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR -'L a~'~er a week in bed. I will begin this section with a discussion of Robert Moses. .. modern life can be imagined and lived. where he central themes of this book has been th~ fate of "all ONE . Coney Island. the 1960s. down Many of the city's most impressive structures were planned spe- Before you have had time to care for tt . where new meanings are forever that · IS so 1 f h mlsm o t e m m .every~.. what IS m~am~g ~is ~n:l chapter. I will delineate some of the symbolic forms and and given f~rm and energy t~ my ~:. This dnve draws a l. artistic visions..J · is just what our rich and strange place to live in. 'J• them tearing up part of my bloc been conceived and executed not merely to serve immediate eco- I findd.with the question of what is twentieth-century New York. d development over the past century needs toYorksconstructtobon~? ofNew be seen as sym IC a ction and communication: it has . Times Square. Moses. fill up the holes and level p echupof the a great went by. Manhattan's Y ou would think the simple fact of . h. and great works constantly crashing down. Thus. I will explore the work of Jane Jacobs which we move and hve. an d f the culture that grows from that it creates-phystca1 en- . Wall Street. whose constructions had a destruc- its orbit. locked in combat with in the picture. having fi lasted many skyscrapers. The cumulative impact of all this is that the New Yorker ground. watchtng the huge crane onstrate to the whole world what modern men can build and how Fumble luxuriously in the filth of years . and whose specter still ess~ntial. New York City. Rockefeller Center and much else. I replied: "E%cuse me. . k Modernism in New York 289 Out for a Wuw. created a radically different order of urban symbolism in flowed through my own mo ern . who is probably the greatest creator of symbolic forms in the world anew. ' dazed • and lonely. because its symbols and symbolisms are endlessly fighting -I. to dem- In meek attitudes. melting each other along with themselves into air. Mad- ..~~ hysical ideas. the Brooklyn Bridge. this economy' a~m. proper. Broadway. New york• everything is torn As usual tn . n d h t orne of the currents that have and some of her contemporaries. Harlem..tnes. cifically as symbolic expressions of modernity: Central Park. who.

even at the dangerously curved and graded entrance and exit ramps. "The Flower" Robert Moses is the man who made all this possible. by hundreds of thousands of motorists every day. it Ten minutes on this road. Modernism in New York 291 290 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR The Bronx's dreadful fate is experienced. That's what you all through our childhood world. as they negotiate the Cross-Bronx Expressway." I felt sure at once that. deadly fast. a network of enormous dams and power plants murder.· or around New York seemed somehow to be his work: the Tribor- uted to modern culture.. uncontrollable urge to get out of the Bronx as fast as wheels can take him. you have to haclc your a desperate. is especially malces me ill to see them run up dreadful for people who remember the Bronx as it used to be: a new bridge lilce that in a few months who remember these neighborhoods as they once lived and and I can't find time even . about the city when I said. relieved to see want. this road bears a load of special irony: as we race that's all. in a vague subliminal way. He had gen- hoods transformed into garbage. acknowledge the end in sight. even if and ate up their braans and amagtnataonP · . a place to get out of.and bnck-strewn wilderness. dozens of . -William Carlos Williams. "Howl" works had come into my life just before my Bar Mitzvah. an ordeal for anyone. For children of the Bronx like myself. "Who was that What sphins of cement a~d alumi. constant convoys of huge trucks. has even become an international code word for innumerable parks. the West Side Highway. terror. Moses was his man. and helped bring my childhood to an end. speed limits are routinely Robert Moses: The transgressed. the poet didn't know it. cars weave wildly in and out among the trucks: it is as if everyone on this road is seized with When you operate in an overbuilt metropolis. When I heard Allen Ginsberg ask at the end of the 1950s.to get thrived. we are not merely spectators but active partici- at leall what it is. dominate the sight lines.hac~ed open their slculls sphinx of cement and aluminum. He had been present all along. because much of llop it.num . ~etghbor· near Niagara Falls. Idlewild (now Ken- our epoch's accumulated urban nightmares: drugs.. Jones and· Orchard beaches. the road is below ground level and bounded by brick walls ten feet -Maxims of Robert Moses high-will suggest why: hundreds of boarded-up abandoned buildings and charred and burnt-out hulks of buildings. with grimly ag- Expressway World gressive drivers. is fast. thousands of buildings ~bandoned. She it was put me straight blocks covered with nothing at all but shattered bricks and waste. Everything big that got built in AMONG THE many images and symbols that New York has contrib. back the tears. slae replied. Like Ginsberg's "Mo- Moloch whose buildings are judgment! loch. Bronx. rushing to get out. arson. They have the power. This road." Robert Moses and his public -Allen Ginsberg.. . I'm just going to lceep right on building. Westchester and Long Island. although jammed with heavy traffic day and night. where I grew up. above all. You do tlae best you can to south-it is hard to get more than quick glances. though probably not understood. one of the most strikin~ in recent years ough Bridge. A glance at the cityscape to the north and way with a meat a. housing developments. and step on the gas. And they're not pants in the process of destruction that tears our hearts. The Bronx. If you can't get it. who entered my soul early. the borough's center. gangs •. We fight going to give it to you. the list seemed to go on forever. dozens of parkways in has been an image of modern ruin and devastation. until this road itself cut through their heart and made the a boolc written. which cuts through I. nedy) Airport.

west as far as the eye could see-and marvel to see our ordi- ment in many forms-programs. defined the flow ~f our hves.. ~auen~ly that "there's very little hardship in the thing. but w1th fleemg even worse slums. large and 1mpovenshed black and Hispanic families. what was left went up in knew it. and survey the work's progress-the Im- mense steam shovels and bulldozers and timber and steel beams. Modernism in New York 293 292 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR erated an event that had special magic for me: the 1939-40 namite bla~ts and tremors.) And even if he did want to do 1t. postcards.. when I discovered Piranesi. all the heroic ideals of the age mto wh1ch I was born. mostly jews. would be thrown out of the auspices of the Welfare Department. F1rst Indeed. in their enforced isolation. ~ewer~ su~e 1t couldn t only close to bankruptcy but. cut oth- kind of jew he was. the only difference here was the hundreds of workers in their variously colored hard hats. sullflounshmg m the late 1950s. when the construction was done. Moses was coming through. the roar of trucks of a size and power that the Bronx had need~d the road? (in Moses' operations. which I had attended in my mother's womb. would come through to protect us in the end. more people in the giant cranes reaching far above the Bronx's tallest roofs. In college.0?0 working. Miles of streets alongside the road were ~hoked with dust and fumes and deafening noise-most strik- the subways leading downtown. often virtually be blasted directly through a dozen solid. at each other. earher. through our neighborhood's heart. the c~nter . it seemed to come from another w?rld. At ~rst there was no humamsuc tnumph here to offset the destruction. adorned our apart.) Only ficulty of construction. ~he_bo~ough's great open market. and torn. the that "There are more houses in the way . at the disappearing streets. he replied im- of the Bronx was pounded and blasted and smashed. expense and dif. through the late 1950s and early 1960s. we couldn't believe it. For ten years. and people were smoke. or of how much we _were all an obst~ucuon 1? ers off from most of their customers and left the storekeepers not his path. the dy. wh~re. We were sull baskmg m the afte~­ ingly vulnerable to c:ime. not in America. the real ruin of the of all. often under many Italians. the trylon and perisphere. (You had to hand it. economically depleted. They looked shattered-as bad as the physical damage had been the inner numbly at the wreckers. steam shovels and bulldozers were there.· short!~ afte~ th~ C~oss-Bronx ~oad's co~pletion. the wild. fellow-jew really want to do this to us? (We had httle 1dea o~ wh~t the construction had destroyed many commercial blocks. p~ogress. increas- happen here. couldn't mean what the stories seemed to say: that the road would all through the day and night. Moses began to loom Or I would return from the Columbia library to the construction over my life in a new way: he proclaimed_that he was about to ra~ site and feel myself in the midst of the last act of Goethe's Faust. the VIstas of devastation stretching for miles to the east and whose elegant logo. wounds were worse-the Bronx was ripe for all the dreaded spi- and they went. hauling heavy cargoes through the city. if urban express~ wa~s hke th1s d1dn t pose speCial human problems. emotionally getting notice that they had better clear out fast. bound for authority was never clear. But then. except for Moses himself)-they surely Long Island or New England. and Bronx had just begun. And yet. twenty _years emptied out. before we a year after the road came through. lated neighborhoods like our own. faith in the future. na:y nice neighborhood transformed into sublime. t~ M~ses: his works gave you ideas. Be- sides even if the city needed the road-or was 1t the state that mgly. jagged crags of rock newly World's Fair. settled: den~ely popu- ove~mght.and lower-middle-class people. When he was asked spiritual power could block his way. At the same time. were moved in wholesale. in the spring and fall of 1953." Compared with his 174th Street had been. and It Bathgate Avenue. was decimated. My fnends and 1 would stand on the parapet of the Grand Concourse. spectacular and symbolized human adven_ture. I felt instantly at home. and no temporal or rals of urban blight. Moses seemed to glory in the devastation. that somethmg hke 60. The jews of the Bronx were nonplus~ed: could a rents. hardly any of us owned cars: the neighborhood 1t~elf. way-that's all. ashtrays." He boasted that "When you operate in an over- . unprecedented m scale. rural and suburban highways. Apartment houses that had been settle~ and stable for. banners. the location of power and never seen. rums. for New Jersey and all points south. spread~ng panic and accelerating flight. which even paid inflated their homes. along glow of the New Deal: the government was our government. an immense expressway. Irish and Blacks thrown in. There's a Inti~ discomfort and even that is exaggerated. Thus depopulated.

1 too much. The Grand lette without breakmg eggs ). an building. large areas of glass. This is a urban boulevard was being condemned as obsolete. an G' b ut such metaphors into IS breath away. Modernism in New York 295 Au. L . Ahab Mr Kurtz. ll . which houses: simple and clear in their architectural forms. G the's Faust. N w York were prepare few people. Sic transit! To great big state. nabled him to build. open to light and air. over yet he seemed to be working in the name of values that we our- lomamac am ltlOn. was called "mod- enemies. and there are ot er s . sented a pinnacle of modernity.they are.t~ obscure ~ a mass public that he was while the ocean liners themselves are all but extinct. creator of Las Vegas). ou have to hack your way with a meat ax. far down the hill-but they could be admired for free. obsessive sanctity of "things as they are"? Moses was destroying our world. was-or destruction not merely of "traditional" and "pre-modern" institu- ing developments. ~ rs the legend he culti. The vated helped to do him m. hous- of the modern. as if to proclaim a good In the end. thanks to Robert Moses." 2 Moses struck a chord that for more than a century has . I can't hold out any Here in the Bronx. Hhadh Allen ld ~~:v:r~e~er been allowed to get away "the tradition of the New. some eve~tual~y as re~o u 1 dedicated to bringing the ern" in their prime. but also wrestling with some of the troubling ambi- Moses loved to quo~e the S~lm. a qua~l-my~ t~t~!. pass10n~te ~he late 1960s they finally proudly as a "modern" family. by the modernity of the interstate highway. splendid 1930s apartment Tambur1ame. weeping for my neighborhood (whose and in cultural myth~l~fn· (al~~~:gh f~natically anti-communist. Moses d I IS . Joseph ta . brightly colored in con- even c. was our mob. h 1 . whether geo- 'oy h1s mcreasmg r P . I can see now. F r forty years. and blown to hope to them. especla y ~~k ~· s . To oppo d' cultural centers. in history I can remember standing above the construction site for the latest m a long hne o . C g. o se his bridges. striking features were rows of large. aptam . h e-animals' corpses to be chopped up been vital to the sensibility of New Yorkers: our identification with subconscious equation e~ h "-l·s enough to take ones progress. e was life. t'm'ldate the public and keep potential oppo- he behev wou m 1 trasting brick. were willing to fight for the with it: it would have teeme ·~hs~~~ ~~ionary brilliance. offset with chrome. and ~e was stopped an d ~s spirit continues to haunt -though we did live in a small. with the perpetual transfor- d "people m t e way h' mation of our world and ourselves-Harold Rosenberg called it and eaten." How many of the Jews of the Bronx. like the rows of glamorous ocean liners in port downtown. known as Art Deco today. and .autho~ty: his ab~hty t~d~~:. It lg te and resourceful as Moses style of these buildings. "K~/ fish~ Huey Long. Among its most . I felt a grief that. howev_er-:-~f~e~r. . a o~g WI b' . But this emphasis t~nds .al forces. metrically sharp or biomorphically curved. but still proudly "modern" But his works still surroun us. fate I foresaw with nightmarish precision). ne of the primary sources o buildings look like shell-shocked battleships in drydock today. He appeared as the selves embraced. everything most vital and beautiful in the modern world itself.:~~. T!'tey have to eep h tates Let them go to the pieces. ouir ~ublic a~dd':!~t~:~~:s:ly on Moses' personal power and style£. modest. with renewal and reform. the moving spirit As I saw one of the loveliest of these buildings being wrecked the vehicle of 1m persona wor h able to pre-empt the vision for the road. (The t IS easy . is endemic to modern . We couldn't afford to live in them succeeded. power ~ams. tunnels. Moloch's mout ' e wou d .ars. the Concourse buildings repre- man and his machines to a ~topd d: rived of his power to build. THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR 294 " I Th Rockies. e energy an d mega. beautifully interplayed with nents out of the way. Citizen borough's closest thing to a Parisian boulevard. And tions and environments but-and here is the real tragedy-of so it seemed-to oppose history' prog ' d to do that. obsessed With him. Moses' flair for hotbed of every form of radicalism. extravagant cruelty.) his vast .d h' best to ra1se 1mse . expressways. XIV Peter the Great. from whose heights I watched and thought. oe . the modernity of the "There are people who I e t ~ngs ~oving further away. So often the price of ongoing and expanding modernity is the of mod ermty. who described our family himself. vowing remembrance Haussmann. Kane. ·m "You can't make an orne.~abuilders and destroyers. the ye.amedeto enJld . Baron Cross-Bronx Expressway. h' lf to g1·gantic stature. Marlowe's Concourse. sta la~ess modernity itself. . . e utatl'on as a monster.~ ~ax~ie el (master builder of the guities and contradictions that Moses' work expressed. e built met~opohs. and revenge. . . y . For my parents. .~tyhZ~~m dtousands of personal life that was open not just to the elite residents but to us all. 1 reputation.

Its most striking feature as a landscape is its Beach transports us into the great romance of the Mediterranean. cosmic ge- expanses of sand.erp. only a few miles to the west. endless blue of the sea. for Manhat- tan's mtensely vertical "city of towers". just beyond the bounds of New York City along the Atlan. pure. or roller discos and sex (as Caro explains vividly) how much of this space had been swamp dubs. loudspeakers. the one vertical structure here: no hotels. rising up like a If we compare New York with Istanbul. stands. t Moses' first great achievement. Its most and on the other by the boardwalk's sharp unbroken line of brown. and celebrated symbolically in Lawrence Fer- to the surface in the Bronx-and their lasting meaning and value linghetti's "A Coney Island of the Mind.* Hence. from Pous- hold a half million people on a hot Sunday in July without any sin to the young Matisse to Milton Avery. This beach. no dirt. Jones Beach New York is exciting and upsetting. while its color tonalities be- celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. On weekends a continuous procession of sm~ll planes c~u1se JUSt . ~he anarchic noise and motion. neon signs. visible from everywhere. There is another kind of purity that is crucial to Jones 21-6~. t Coney Island epitomizes what the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas calls "the culture and what a spectacular metamorphosis he brought about in barely of congestion. ferris wheels. at the end of the 1920s. it wounds our sense of happiness . evoking the grandeur of the twentieth-century urban one is a cataclysm. water. . It contrasts radi- The public works that Moses organized from the 1920s onward cally with Coney Island. skywriting or bearing banners to We can appreciate Moses' creation even more when we realize proclaim the glones of vanous brands of soda or vodka. we may say that the skyscraper.... Koolhaas sees Coney Island as a prototype. stretching forth to the horizon in a straight wide ometry. inaccessible and unmapped. Here. their ominous undercurrents-which burst Marsh's etchings. so is a offers a spectacular display of the primary forms of nature. and recently later in the minimalism of the 1960s.above the shoreline. especially two years. I want to articulate the distinctive forms t~e ~ensity a. and more jumps. unbroken perspectives stretching onward toward an infi- band. whose mid- expressed a vision-or rather a series of visions-of what modern dle-class constituency it immediately captured on its opening.296 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTo AIR Modernism in New York 297 be modern turned out to be far more problematical. honky-tonks. pinbal~ machine~. and half. compare the radically horizontal sweep of Beach. until Moses got there. What were the roads that led to the Cross-Bronx Expressway? Its ambience manages to be remarkably serene. of perfect light without shadows. tempest. a kind of rehearsal. roller coasters. sky-but nature here appears with an abstract lates our practical activities. so is a battle. New York is not beautiful. the visionary landscape of Jones Beach. than I had been taught. This romance is at least as old as Plato." D~lirious New York: A Retrospective Manifesto for Manhattan. random nmse or disarray. of local politicians and propositions. Jones sense of congestion. brick and stone. or in any sort of symbolic language that de- had existed anywhere before: Jones Beach State Park on Long pended on dramatic movement and contrast for its impact. just before the Great elegant Art Deco bathhouses of wood. parachute allowed. On a sunny day. and the other a terrestrial paradise. and if it stimu- earth. amazing clarity of space and form: absolutely fiat. and wasteland. the seedy of modernism that Moses defined and realized. forms that this park at once complements and denies. blindingly white of Apollonian clarity." is wiped off the map in for modern mankind. he delineates his classic modern dream: way between them at the park's dead center by a monumental columnar water tower. to suggest their Vltahty that 1s expressed m Weegee's photographs and Reginald inner contradictions. sun. passionate and influential modern devotee is Le Corbusier. is so immense that it can easily long in the great tradition of neoclassical landscape. and tic.. can see its forms in the diagrammatic paintings of Mondrian. * But American ent. But we Island. ~ven w~en Jones Beach is filled with a crowd the size of Pittsburgh. horizontal purity and a luminous clarity that only culture can cre- ate.nd intensity. Not even Moses has devised ways to zone business and politics out of the sky. All life could and should be. casinos. Crash. cut on one side by the clear. nite horizon.rise never gives up. was the What would a Jones Beach of the mind be like? It would be hard creation of a public space radically different from anything that to convey in poetry. So are the Alps. There is no intrusion of modern business or commerce Jones Beach. which is only accentuated by the water tower. hot-dog perilous. The great horizontal sweep of the whole is punctuated by two in the same year that Jones Beach opened. which opened in the summer of 1929.

the age of the Model There are certain shapes that cast shadows. just beyond the horizon of New York's maJonty of New Yorkers. was becoming Detroit's man in New York. although Moses thrived on perpetual conflict. opened up another di. springs from the artificially created environment of the roads co?strucuo? was tra~sformed from a private into a public enter- themselves.. It was almost like a war. leading from Long Island .Pro~ec~s were meant to open up a pastoral world just Queens out to Jones Beach and beyond.. Even if these parkways adjoined nothing and led no. hell and to clear them. and the one of which he seems to be Jo~es Beach and Moses' first Long Island parkways should be proudest half a century later. however. the sky is torn able only through the mediation of that other symbol so dear to by its ragged outline. they would put milli~ns of unemployed people back to work.. It is ironic that. 10 the1r use of exciting new technologies. which ran road~. . everyth10g senous that was built in the 1930s-bridges. Sturm und Drang. beyond the c1ty hm1ts. The scaped roads. pnse. his green new world offered skyscrapers. seen 10 the context of the spectacular growth of leisure activities Jones Beach is the giant Rosebud of this Citizen Cohen. they were meant to create busi- Fitzgerald's narrator. open space and the they were built. Jones Beach. say. that of. the crocketed spires of the cathedrals reftect m cars: the1r underpasses were purposely built too low for buses the agony of the flesh.. as private business and industry emanate from the natural environment around the roads: it collapsed: and mass unemployment and desperation increased. "He made you feel you were a part of something big. the CWA. Where shall we find repose? . virtually all the land Moses appropriated consisted of small homes and family nally. This is especially true of the Northern State Parkway. a~d 10to. so that . Moses. and industries ~uring the economic boom of the 1920s. These. tunnels. These Moses' Northern and Soutbern State parkways. and forests of pines seen through pale light and cold people out from the c1ty to the beach. This was a distinctively mist." one of his engineers remi- nisced half a century later.~ T -~nd a u~1quely pnvauzed form of public space. great transformation in the meaning of construction itself. remember. California's Coast Highway or the Appalachian Trail) Dur10g the Great Depression. they freedom to move. just immortalized in The Great Gatsby * (1925 ). Ftrst. Modernism in New York 299 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR 298 A city can overwhelm us with its broken lines. ~atsby: the. parks. Fourth. a wor~d made for holidays and play and fun mension of modern pastoral. green light. techno-pastoral garden. open only to those who possessed the lat- Our bodies demand sunshine. "It was exciting working for Moses. dams-was built with federal money.clal peace. on the novel's last page. 228. artfully land. as Caro." and give symbolic was you fighting for the people against these rich estate owners and reactionary der_nonstrauons of how American life could be enriched both ma- legislators . under the through the country of palatial estates that Scott Fitzgerald had ausp1ces of the great New Deal agencies. th~se Without wheels of their own. the great New Deal farms. But their beauty does not (like of a. 10crease consumption and stimulate the private sector. 273) In fact. Sec- island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes-a fresh. For the great the North. green breast of the new world. was a triumph of luxe. they would still constitute an adventure in their own right. however. although a little frayed after half a century. described as "the old ness. CCC. tenall~ and. who never learned to rene. PWA. are still metamorphoses of Moses in the 1930s need to be seen in the light among the world's most beautiful. screening out all Le Corbusier wants structures that will bring the fantasy of a se. projects ~ere planned around complex and Island roadscapes represent a modern attempt to recreate what well-a~t1culated soc1al goals. Virtually where. His parkways could be experienced only As you go North.. a senous and urgent public imperative. only a red light. is an ideal realization of this romance. Third.public transit could not bring masses of purgatory. horizontal South against the shadowed. the poignant dreams of the spirit. • This generated bitter conflict with the estate owners. turbulent realities of dn~e •. -for those who had the ume and the means to step out." (Caro. from Long Island to Oklahoma. Fi- shows. Moses' first Long FSA. calme et vnlupte. T_Y A. they would speed up." But Moses made this breast avail. des1gn as a means of social screening. ond. his first triumph. It would enla~ge the meaning of "the public. and help to purchase so. Moses used phys1cal. and enabled Moses to win a concentrate and modermze the economies of the regions in which reputation as a champion of the people's right to fresh air. These gently flowing. struggle. spiritually through the medium of public works. est modern ~achines~thi~ was.

15. They created a series of spectacular creating a new showplace that kept the public enthralled. Koolhaas. displaying the grandeur of Man- The workers themselves seem to have been caught up in the hattan from many new angles-from the Belt Parkway." and to give this enormously complex region a unity and ated all through the night. parkways and bridges that would weave the whole metropolitan ton from this point on. Delirious Jl!ew York. and-here was the heart of the great crash program to regenerate the city's 1700 parks (even system-the Triborough Project. strands and frayed edges of the New York metropolitan arterial seven days a week: floodlights shined and jackhammers reverber. . twenty-four hours a day. mto and through the Bronx.* The uptown Hudson riverfront. the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel (Moses would have preferred a he mobilized a labor army of 80.. Moses was perhaps the first person in America to grasp the The tremendous public acclaim that Moses received for his work immense possibilities of the Roosevelt administration's commit. and several zoos. Not These projects were incredibly expensive. hiring a staff of first-rate the East River to the Atlantic. the extent to which the meant far more to him than parks. were a part.. tapestry. He carried on the overhauling of Central Park. You cross account of the progress the workers had made on their own. What gave the romance a special Gnd define~ a new ba!ance b~tween c. and the today. and across Moses' new Henry Hudson with the most energetic and innovative planners of the New Deal Bndge. Moses got the job done by the end of 1934. and into Westchester. This was a system of highways. sweeping around the periphery of Brooklyn. With its imposition. connected to Manhattan through planners and engineers (mostly from off the unemployment lines). the upper Wes. he established close and lasting ties le~gth ~f Manhattan. too. He learned how to free millions of dollars in federal Belt Parkway. . on the city's parks se. he also understood the value of ongoing public work as public cally brilliant: the Triborough engineering is still a classic text spectacle. reality and authenticity here is the fact that it inspired the men Manhattan IS forever 1mmumzed agamst any [further] totalitarian intervention. not only speeding up the work but coherence it had never had. to "weave together the loose construction of its reservoir and zoo. 4 This the George Washington Bridge and dip down and around and is the modern romance of construction at its best-the romance celebrated by Goethe's Faust. new visual approaches to the city. by the Soviet construction films of the ~ions into Manha~tan's grid.t Side-and nourishing a whole new gen- Moses and his straw bosses imposed but actually outpaced the eration of urban fantasies. and of Moses' finest urban landscapes." It is precisely these urban ego- find meaning'and excitement in work that was physically gruelling boundaries that Moses' own ego sought to sweep away. talk Washington into paying for most of them. an enormously complex network more rundown at the nadir of the Depression than they at:e today) of bridges and approaches and parkways that would link Manhat- and create hundreds of new ones. and took initiative. the bureaucracy. by Carlyle and Marx. and to the Southern State. They helped. and the TV A and FSA documentaries and sio~al discipline creates undreamt-of freedom for three-dimensional anarchy. as Moses said. a new day not merely for a privileged few but whole. he grasped. so that the engineers were repeatedly realize that (as Caro shows. destiny of American cities was going to be worked out in Washing. explains incisively the Importance of th1s system to the New York environment: "The Grid's two-dimen- Five-Year Plan period.ontrol and decontrol. because they had some vision of the work as a over the horizon. Now holding a joint appointment as City area together: the elevated West Side Highway.rved him as a springboard for something that ment to public works. They seem to have been able to -it develops a maximum unit of urbanistic Ego. yet Moses managed to only did he display a gift for brilliant administration and execu.000 men and went to work with a bridge). by the con. in pictures) it was a wasteland of ho- forced to run back to their desks and redesign the plans to take boes' shacks and garbage dumps before he got there. .300 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in New York 301 projects dramatized the promise of a glorious future just emerging and ill-paying. * On the other hand. plus hundreds of playgrounds tan. extending the and State Parks Commissioner. and believed in its value to the community of which they for the people as a whole. these projects made a series of drastic and near-fatal incur- structivists of the 1920s. They were techni- tion. Then. and came up with new ideas. the Bronx and Westchester with Queens and Long Island. from funds in a remarkably short time. the Grand enthusiasm: they not only kept up with the relentless pace that Cen~ral. The WPA murals of the later 1930s. one bosses. is especially striking when we worked ahead of plans. In the single block-the largest possible area that can fall under architectural control who were actually doing the work.

it will have to rebuild its Haussmann himself had been equal. Chap- ernization of urban space but a new breakthrough m mod. mor~ than .cannot be g~asped from a s~ngle into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens. as was poss1ble from a wmdow of th~ chateau forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and. size of downtown Manhattan. and the "pret. and to the mov1es. which includes as "the Weltseele'on horse".d "~. nsmg a o~e World's Fair. and feeling of our period can seldom be felt so keenly as when dnv- comes to rest. ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in New York 303 302 'd ·nto the gentle curve of the West Side Highway. Ttme and Ar. 25. is the best book on the Weltgeist on wheels. Moses looked hke interesting essays by several hands. . vated urban expressways and arterial parkways connecting city At the very end of the 1930s. "General Motors has spent a small thusiasm of a Haussmann. Giedion's work. As w1th many of the creations born out of the spirit of this age. ~hese wor. something of this visionary future. and you can thank Moses for that. of men who move dimly and already crum- in a steady flow. up the nucleus of the fairgrounds. with his typical fusion of menace and fi- climax. industry: "Building the World of Tomorrow. With lightning modern design and planning-and presented Moses' work as Its speed. Spec- his creativity. the ~ean­ a valley of ashes-a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat ing and beauty of the parkway . in ~ddit~on. their obscure operations from your sight. and for the . first delivered m lecture f~Jr~ at Moses.he .ermst ter 2] vision and thought. . for that matter. This volume. [The Great Gatsby. where ashes take the point of observation. of. unfolded the history of three centunes ?f the parcel of land on which the fair was being held. he was canonized in the book that. His proudest accomplishment in this zel" interchange of the Grand Central Parkway. of the great modern symbols of industrial and human waste: to abstract sculptures and mobiles.whole generation of the 1930s-Corbusierian or Bauhaus formahsts and technocrats." This apt prophecy is quoted by Warren needs of the period. he ha.ks. by gomg along a transcendent effort. which screens Thus Moses' projects marked not only a new phas~ m the mo. established the canon of the modern movement~~ architec. and even the most embit. implications and hidden costs of this future.* chitecture. finally. 1980). had put together Harvard in 1938-39. a kind of romantic bower in wh1ch modermsm Park. Hegel in 1806 had conce1ved ofNapole. and the Futurama and the utopian Democracity-both envisioned ele- city is there for you. For Giedion." he wrote. the Randall's Island cloverleaf." and uniquely qualified to ?uild "the city of Susman in his fine essay "The People's Fair: Cultural Contradictions of a Consumer the future" in our time. could directly experience ture. to the opportunities and cities and its highways by public enterprise.any tators on their way to and from the fair. when Moses was at the he1ght of and country. at minimal cost. and the lights Moses received a further apotheosis at the 1939-40 New York sI1 e 1 c · · b and towers of Manhattan flash and glow be1ore you. Th1s made h1m umquely equal. with at Versailles. and immediately the ash-gray men swarm up with • "5 mg.energy and en. gives out a ghastly creak. "proved that possibilities of a great scale are m~eren~ m. as the rules of traffic prescribe. planning and design: Siegfried ?iedion'~ Space.on Society. Moses' roads and across his bridges. Moses seemed to be the one public figure in the world who understood "the space-time con. "that if it wishes to enjoy the full benefit of private enterprise in motor manufacturing. and see that it seemed to work. and splendid photographs. d leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud. Dawn of a New Day: The New Yorh World's Fair. in precisely the forms that Moses had just built. an immense celebration of modern technology and the lush greenness of Riverside Park. and later of Flushing Meadow a magical realm. in his capacity as Parks Commissioner. *Walter Lippmann seems to have been one of the few who saw the long-range ception of our period"." included in the Queens Museum's catalogue volume." Two of the fair's tered enemy of Robert Moses-or. The space-ti~e bling through the powdery air. 1939140 (NYU. as fortune to convince the American public. New York most popular exhibits-the commercially oriented General Motors -will be touched: you know you have come home agam. It can be revealed only by movement. he affair was to have destroyed the notorious Flushing ash heaps and said. . he had seized from hundreds of owners a piece of land the West Side Highway. Occasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible track. even agrarian neopopulists-these park~ays opened. Moses obliterated this dreadful scene and transformed the site into Marxists. Giedion presented large photos of the recently completed nesse. . the fair." Giedion compared Moses' parkways to cub~st ~~mtm~s. as they flowed along other. for Giedion in 1939. This action moved him to a rare effusion of Biblical lyricism: and pastoralism could intertwine. our mounds of garbage that Scott Fitzgerald had immortalized as one period.

create a world without ashes-that the modernism of the 1930s Kurtz s Afncan 1vory trade. "and at the end of this with special pride: I am the man w~o destr~yed the V~lley of ~very idealistic se~uim~nt it." Conrad's narrator says. to give unto them beauty for ashes ..to te~l. Once the initial bonds were paid off. "public authority" had been grafted under FDR. was for the most part of a Valley of Ashes in 1939 to the development of far more tnVISlble: 1t wa~ o~ly m the late 1950s that investigative reporters dreadful and intractable modern wastelands a generation later began to perce1ve It. Moses proved in court . to proclaim liberty . however. hm1ted sums of money to build with." capable of raising virtually un~ luminous visions of the 1930s themselves. as.g. and the opening of the prison to those that are ' not only to "the public" he loved but also to the people he loathed. h~wever. an them!" He loves the public. they were lousy. luminous and terrifying. to raise more great amorphous mass to him. When its project was com- playgrounds in Harlem and on the Lower East Side. and accountable to no exec- The dark side was always there in Moses himself. who worked closely with Moses for many years and onto Amencan pubhc admtmstration early in the twentieth cen- admired him all her life.. [so that] they But no one could keep up this balancing act forever. harbors. dirty people. It ~ou. what historical chances and institu- came to an end. meat ax" and the darkness that cleft the Bronx? than I have here and now. . to build more works. This was Moses-and New York and America-move from the destruction ~ t~i':lmp~ that.. Ashes and put beauty in its place. but not for personal reasons-JUSt to make it a better public. or to the people. It was em~owered to sell b~nds to construct particular public Moses in the early years of the New Deal.. unlik~ Moses' public works. _During the New Deal period. The public is . "I'll get them! shall repair the ruined cities. Kurtz: tions. Moses managed to maintain he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted. so long as money (all of it tax-ex- be aired. when he was building works-:-e.. tio.. the banks and institutional investors would be only too gla~ t? underwrite new bond issues." empt) kept coming in.. from tolls on the Triborough throwing bottles all over Jones Beach. it needs to be bathed. the devastations of many genera. but not as people": Dostoevsky warned us there would be no need to go to the city. bound. 7 testimony of Frances Perkins. Here is the utive. money was commg m-say. and the authority could go on butldmg forever." Forty years later.304 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in New York 305 he invoked the beautiful passage from Isaiah (61: 1-4) in which hatred for actual people was one of the fatal hazards of modern "the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to tne afflicted. ' I'll teach them!" The voice here is unmistakably that of Mr..ty to limit itself in time or space: so long welfare of the people . "he doesn't love the people" m return: at that pomt It would ordinarily go out of existence and turn its public work over to the state. She recalls the people's heartfelt love for tury. legislative or judicial power. It IS on this note-w1th the hke a flash of hghtmng m a serene sky: 'Exterminate all the fervent faith that modern technology and social organization could brute~!'" w_e ne~d to know what was Moses' equivalent for Mr. it need~ to money. and far more space . ratlroads. state or federal govern- repeatedly that the combination of love for "humanity" with · ments. but not as people. as.ld charge tolls for use until its bonds were paid off. To him.nal forces opened up the floodgates of his most dangerous Where did it all go wrong? How did the modern visions of the dnves: What was the road that led him from the radiance of "give 1930s turn sour in the process of their realization? The whole story unto them beauty for ashes" to "you have to hack your way with a would require far more time to unravel. a authonty could trade m Its old bonds for new ones. Moses. for money to build. blazed at you. ' politics.. But we can rephrase these questions m Part of Moses' tragedy is that he was not only corrupted but in a more limited way that will fit into the orbit of this book: How ~id the end undermined by one of his greatest achievements.. in his last interviews. America's first Secretary of Labor The Eng~ish instit~tion o~ a. it needs recreation. the bond market was encouraging. he still pointed to "It was very simple. a precanous balance between the poles and to bring real happiness to the captives. "He loves th~ public. "I'll get them! I'll teach Brtdge:-and so long. It was the creation of a network of enormous only a few miles away? We need to seek out the shadows within the i~t~rlocking "public authorities. she pleted. brtdges. was disturbed to discover. saw that there was It used to shock me because he was doing all these things for the no reason for an au~hori.

mt'11'tons o f New gestmg something like this since the turn of the century (see above. ~ ~ogs into millionaires.'bsolescence clear. highways. however. forms of twentieth-century art: to create a system in perpetual Moses nev~r meant to do this: unlike the "Garden City" think- motion. it cannot hfebloo~ was the automobile.r ) ' S06 ACC THAT h Souo M•m INTO A. incorporating thousands of businessmen Ebe?ezer Howard and his "Garden City" disciples had been sug- ItS politicians into its production line. we see here how would serve to draw millions of people and jobs. government had any legal right even to look into an au- 0 M Modernism in New York modern~sm makes a dramatic new departure: the development of 307 thority's books. Thousands of urban ways "look ahead to the time when." This form demanded "a diffe~~nt s~~l~ fro~ that of greater reconstruction of the whole fabric of America after World the existing city. were meant to add something to city life. tunnels. Between the late 1930s and thhe l~~e 19~ s. urban renewa1 ~n t?e h1ghway. shares in some of that art's deepest amb1gutt1es." Giedion took on an imperial voice h~re obstructions to the flow of traffic. that n0 .. oskes modermty has made the modern city itself old-fashioned." one that leaves the be rated as triumphs of modern art. Moses' historical mission. Yorkers inexorably into its widening gyre.. transformmg cause the city and the highway don't go together. True: the peo~!e. and as junkyards of substandard that was strongly reminiscent of Moses' own . Moses' great construction in and around New Parkway. Moses has shown that it is authorities clearly belongs in this company. tion of the parkway. It conceived of cities principally as be permitted to persist. Cl_ty s <. obsolete. Steel.apte~ IV). from the standpoint of this Kenneth Burke suggested in the 1930s that whatever we mtght v~s1?n. Rockefel. only a begmnmg: Moses high. what happened been performed." ?rnething that was happening all over. with its rues corridors and ng1d d1vls10ns mto small War Two. ~h. as expressions of "the new form York in the 1920s ~nd 30s served as a rehearsal for the infinitely of the city. Three decades of mas- Leaving aside_ the quirks in Giedion's own vision (What make~ stvely capitalized highway construction and FHA suburbanization any urban size more "natural" than any other?). even as it constitutes a t~iu~ph of ers. he _genumely love~ New _York-in his blind way-and never modern art. It meant It any harm. . IS to have created a new superurban reality that makes the think of the social value of Standard Oil and U. for Gie- ler's and Carnegie's work in creating these giant complexes had ~o dlon." we will see some of the deeper would spell the city's ruin.the system and 1939 Worlds Fatr. "It is the actual housing initiatives of the Federal Housing Administration. But when have world-historical figure~ meanings of Moses' work which Moses himself never really ever understood the long-range meaning of their acts and works? grasped. whatever we may think of carries the contradiction between "the public" and the people so t~e~. It fulfills on_e of the unnecessary to wait for some distant future: we have the technol- earliest dreams of modern science. these aut onues-. To cross the Triborough Bridge." The first imperative ~ew order integrated the whole nation into a unified flow whose was this: "There is no longer any place for the city street. This structure of the city that must be changed. a dream renewed m many ogy and the organizational tools to bury the city here and now.S. But Moses' system. sh~uld be given every chance to escape. one of the great moments in New York's his- control its ever-expanding moves. for Giedion. not to subtract the far that in the end not even the people at the system's center-not ctty Itself. the city mus~ go. electn~ power. visions and institutions of the city have created bridges. the artificially swollen city w1ll be reduced to ItS to my Bronx was only the largest and most dramatic instance of 5 natural size. and billions of . H1s pubhc works... would be the vehicle of a vision which. by a fateful dialectic be- achine with innumerable wheels wtthm wheels. drawmg and . the Grand Central In fact.or p ar sd. created or took over a dozen of. tory. however. Bu_t the destr~c~10n housing and decaying neighborhoods from which Americans of the city streets was. Giedion saw the Triborough Bridge. the West Side Highway.To New York . The motive forces in this reconstruction were the mul- blocks." The new urban forms could not function freely within the tibiJJion-dollar Federal Highway Program and the vast suburban framework of the nineteenth-century city: hence.. IS to enter a new "space-time continuum. ~e w~uld surely have recoiled at the thought that his even Moses himself-had the authority to shape . after the n~cessary surgery h~s netghborhoods were obliterated by this new order. Moses' network of pubhc modern metropolis forever behind. must go the credit for the crea- more-and integrated them mto an tm~e?sely powerful macht~e."" Now. taken at face value If we go back to Giedion's "bible.

Nearly all he built after the war was butlt m an m~hffer­ ~odermst art and thoug~t. as it was in so many pre- not his own. we came to these cities into the chronic crisis and chaos that plague their in. sealed off and 1930s: it is central in Joyce's Ulysses and Eliot's Waste Land and from the surrounding city by great moats of stark empty space. The environment is not attacked. This wasn't what Moses meant at all. which assumes that cJtJes can be hacked to ~~eces . remamed vital to the modernism of the 1920s steel and cement. inexorable necessities and crushing ble Man ( 1952) and Gunter Grass's The Tin Drum ( 1959): both these routines. He had gained power and glory by opening up new vious modernisms: it is simply not there. plenty of brilliant artists and writers around. and Mandelstam's Egyptian Stamp. Throughout this book I have tried to show a dialectical inter- way (1920s). Beckett's Waiting for Godot. in the fiction of Henry Roth tons of cement. Drive twenty miles or so on the Northern State Park.ecessary su~gery h~ ent. Ironically. ~oblin's Berlin.tr will be reduced to Its. in the wake of drove him now. he became a focus for mass personal obsession books contained brilliant realizations of spiritual and political life and hatred.nder particul~rly the urban environment-and the development of and weep. This absence itself may be the most striking proof of the or wounds or shrieks of pain. made and could not have substantially changed. he would become not so much a destroyer-though he this era is marked by radical distance from any shared environ- destroyed plenty-as an executioner of directives and imperatives ment. points the way forward to the surg1cal preciSion spmtual poverty of the new postwar environment.wnhout ~1. Stuart Davis and Edward Hopper. At Magic Barrel. k~ow him as New York's Captain Ahab at a point when. for whom. neither one was able to imagine or engage the pres- planning is a sensibility like Giedion's. Ironically. "after the n. to recognize ~anzig in the 1930s-but although both writers moved chronolog- the violence and devastation at the heart of his works. and plunge vision and initiative and become an Organization Man. the hfe of the postwar cities and societies in which their books been performed. out of America's cities. then turn around and cover those same twenty miles play between unfolding modernization of the environment- on the parallel Long Island Expressway (1950s/6?s~. he was fitting enormous blocks into a pre-existing pattern ronment around them. the artificially swollen ci. and." Th~t genial self-delusion. devoid of vision or nuance or play. By the 1950s. The cruel works that cracked open the Bronx ("more people in It is not that culture itself stagnated or regressed: there were the way-that's all") were part of a social process whose dimen. stamped on the landscape with a ferocious contempt for all natural m Leger and Tatlin and Eisenstein. Now Moses seemed scornfully indifferent to the and Hart Crane. what he inadvertently helped to bring about.* The evolution of Moses and his works in the 1950s underscores Moses' projects of the 1950s and 60s had virtually none of the another important fact about the postwar evolution of culture and beauty of design and human sensitivity that had distinguished his society: the radical splitting-off of modernism from moderniza- early works. but it was sun at the wheel. This dialectic. Japan. working at or near sions dwarfed even Moses' own megalomaniac will to power. natur~l s1ze. although habitants today. the most exciting work of his worst. There are sad ironies in this.~ ca~. Laing's The Divided Self. he had lost control of the ship. By the peak of their powers. Malamud's The had been a true creator of new material and social possibilities. just when he had lost personal as it had been lived in the cities of the recent past-Harlem and • Moses at least was honest enough to call a meat ax by its real name. the 1950s drew no energy or inspiration from the modern envi- rather. From the triumphs of the abstract expres- of national reconstruction and social integration that he had not sionists to the radical initiatives of Davis. that bombing of Germany. including my own.e out. and. wo. however. Auschwitz and Hiroshima. dead. dollars received and spent-seemed to be all that and Nathanael West. in William Carlos Williams and human life. forms and media in which modernity could be experienced as an Th~s absence is dramatized obliquely in what are probably the adventure. Moses at his best to Camus' The Fall. Far more typical of postwar Ically for~ard. he used that power and glory to institutionalize mo. Mingus and Monk in jazz. poverty may have actually nourished the development of modern- . this process of dialogue had stopped phase. Vietnam. two nchest and deepest novels of the 1950s. worst . made to overawe and overwhelm: monohths of mneteenth century. later. crucial all through· the ently brutal style.308 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTo AIR Modernism in New York 309 dollars in investment capital. Moses' last. in the art of John Marin and Joseph Stella and human quality of what he did: sheer quantity-of moving vehicles. The difference is that the modernists of the 1950s he was no longer building in accord with his own visions. Ralph Ellison's Invisi- dernity into a system of grim. tion. Alexanderplatz.

to the point where we will dare to take on the giants. very different in sensibility but They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pavements. 9 of my natural ecstasy! Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in The split between the modern spirit and the modernized envi." published in 1964. Ironi- at once more personal and more political than the language of the cally. the dreadful grandeur.. we were also giving our enemy the world-histor- and ate up their brains and imagination? . treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible madhouses! granite cocks! * For a slightly later version of this confrontation. factories and expressways he hates. in which modern men and women could confront the new death of brains and imagination.. but never received from those who loved him most. As the decade dragged on. Ginsberg is increasingly determined not only to understand this great gulf but urging us to experience modern life not as a hollow wasteland but also. signed and repetitive. berg's "Howl": When my friends and I discovered Ginsberg's Moloch. to make our- shared by two of the most vivid protagonists in the fiction of the selves equally great. however. not bear to look into the nihilistic abyss that his steam shovels and ings are judgment! . although the poet portrays the expressway world as the 1950s. This as an epic and tragic battle of giants. new modes of modernist language gradually emerged. In lying intelligence and imaginative force to life-indeed. brings it this new modernism. whose medium "Moloch who entered my soul early. They could less jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose build. Moseses of this world would claim for themselves. it subtly ate away at the roots of modernism by sealing off its Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom I am a imaginative life from the everyday modern world in which actual consciousness without a body! Moloch who frightened me out men and women had to move and live. imaginative people became There are many remarkable things happening here. in Allen Gins. ical stature. equal in intellectual and visionary power. world-historical stature that probably exceed even what the Robert Norman 0. Norman Mailer's Advertisements for Myself. the vision is meant to arouse us. and Saul Bellow's Moses Herzog. This vision endows the mod- was the desire that animated books as diverse as Hannah Arendt's ern environment and its makers with a demonic energy and a The Human Condition. hence they missed his depths. At the same ing Up Absurd. compare Robert Lowell's "For the Union Dead. Brown's Life Against Death. pile drivers opened up. that he had always deserved Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soul.. Thus it was Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovahs! only when modernists began to confront the shapes and shadows Moloch whose factories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch of the expressway world that it became possible to see that world whose smokestacks and antennae crown the cities! for all it was. and thought at once of Moses. incantatory piling up of line upon line-that recall and delivered. whose notebooks over. unmailed letters to all the great powers of this structures and processes of poetic language-an interplay between world.. to enlarge our desire and moral imagination late 1950s: Doris Lessing's Anna Wolf. the letters did get finished. Thus." Hence Ginsberg develops was unfinished. own. and Paul Goodman's Grow. Eventually. radios. through art and thought and action. everywhere about us! . the readers. rival the skyscrapers. . Moloch! Light streaming out of the sky! ronment was a primary source of anguish and reflection in the later 1950s. It was a consuming but unconsummated obsession time.* Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton Did Moses understand any of this symbolism? It is hard to know.. the gigantic engines and systems of postwar more fully to life than the builders were ever able to do on their construction played a central symbolic role. his poetic vision brings its under- physical and social structures that had grown up around them.. But we cannot flowed with unfinished confessions and unpublished manifestos do this until we recognize their desires and powers in ourselves- for liberation. to leap across it.310 ALL THAT Is Soun MELTS INTO A1R Modernism in New York 311 ism by forcing artists and thinkers to fall back on their own re- trees. we were not only crystallizing and mo- What sphinx of cement and aluminum hacked open their skulls bilizing our hate. luminous flashes and bursts of desperate imagery and a solemn. At the same time. tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is sources and open up new depths of inner space.

Kurtz. were doing a Street century ago. Moses as the New York agent and incarnation of that world.312 ALL THAT Is Soun MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in New York 313 -What7 Mr. far beyond the Hudson. "). . he did not really equal energy and ruthlessness. is a nightmare from which I am trying to our century. the modern environment that emerged the Sound.. Buechner. I'll show you what can be done. Mr.. And yet. Zamyatin. but Moses appealed plaintively to us all: Am I not the man who blotted Secretary of Defense McNamara.. However. tremendous schemes. nite capacity for redevelopment and self-transformation. because the modern economy has an infi- awalce. the mod- From the playfteld the boys raised a shout. the manifestation of God. I am for an art that helps old ladies across the street . Before the Molochs of the modern world could be effectively fought. it would be necessary to develop a modernist vocabulary The 1960s: A Shout in the of opposition. the vast majority of modern men and women do not want to resist modernity: they feel its excitement and believe in its promise. to be counted ouf I am for an art that teUs you the time of day. Replying to The Power Broker. no matter how fast we drive-or are driven to oppose them and their works was to oppose modernity itself. would reach a pinnacle of power and self- This old man possessed an undeniable tragic grandeur. to be a Luddite.. overflow with wit and energy and... must reorient and renew itself again and What if that nightmare gave you a baclc lciclc7 again. were doing earlier in -History. . Stephen answered. One of the crucial tasks for modernists in the 1960s was to -The ways of the Creator are not our ways. way. ernist imagination. too. or where such and ("I'll carry out my ideas yet . Dostoevsky. refuse. - directions in which the modern spirit could move. Ulysses plode with fury at his detractors. I . Marx and Engels. even when they find themselves in its 3. another was to show that this was history moves toward one goal. saying: not the only possible modern world.. Stephen jerlced his thumb toward the window. the not so clear that he ever achieved the self-awareness that is sup. in the America of the New Frontier. an escapist. . Deasy aslced. Driven restlessly up and down his -Ciaes Oldenburg Long Island roads in his limousine (one of the few perquisite~ he has kept from his years of power). like Mr. it is what joyce and Eliot. and many others. fight history and progress. after World War Two. Great Society. he dreamt of a glonous hundred-mile ocean drive to whip the waves. For the ashes deed beyond the planet Earth. The developers and devotees of the are part of us. NASA Direc- out the Valley of Ashes and gave mankind beauty in its place? It is tor Gilruth. Nietzsche. forced retirement 10 and his death at ninety-two. in fact. Baudelaire. were fighting similar battles with true. Kierkegaard. only moved them to another site. Admiral Rickover. better -That is God. In the rare interviews he gave during the years between his en- -A shout in the street. Apollo on the moon. Hooray! Ay! Whrrwhee! I invoked Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" at the end of the last chapter . or of the world's longest bridge connecting Long Island with Rhode Island across THE EXPRESSWAY world. such a street is. to -no matter how far out on Long Island we go. Babel and Mandelstam. th~ dadaists and surrealists. This strategy was ef- fective because. I will return . Stephen said. but it is confidence in the 1960s. and in- wipe out the ashes. Kafka. that there were other. he could still ex- -James joyce. and we owe him homage for it. afraid of life and adventure and change and growth. no matter how straight and smooth we make our expressway world presented it as the only possible modern world: beaches and freeways. I have been focusing on Robert posed to go with that grandeur. A whirring whistle: goal. Deasy said. AU confront the expressway world. This is what Stendhal.

almost artless. it is Jane Jacobs' remarkable book The Death Interwoven with these known and friendly faces. This is the life that Joyce's Stephen street to put out her garbage and to sweep up the candy wrappers Dedalus points to with his thumb. a vision of "angelheaded hipsters . the barber bringing out his sidewalk folding chair. community planning. up to our own. and admirable. and invokes against the official that are being dropped by junior high school students on their way history taught by Mr." Joyce's Ulysses. They would find it in a place where very few of the mod. but sweeps. From Dickens' and Gogol's and hardware store is open.314 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in New York 315 to show how.. Haven't we been through this some- the world of Moloch and Moses around. this is what modernist human. modernists were begin. the wife of the tenement's superintendent Dostoevsky's time. etc. young sec- . Stephen implies. with it.. only a small part of what the book contains. the best minds doing is talking about her everyday life." But this was exactly Joyce's point: to sound the untapped Mr. The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy! I within an important genre in modern art: the urban montage. In fact. depositing her chunky three-year-old with a toy mandolin on the ism has been all about." the street in the 1960s. of course. teenagers gossiping and comparing their hair. stoop. she is working is holy! . Joe from the streets. Walter Ruttmann's Ber- Before long they would find something more. hundreds of strangers passing through: housewives with baby car- ciated for its role. I believe that her book played a crucial role in the devel- circle were in no position to do this. I dragging through the negro streets at dawn lookmg for ballet. She feels a ritual satisfaction from this." She goes on to trace twenty-four hours in the life of her an angry fix. there are and Life of Great American Cities. "I watch the other rituals of morning: Mr. for which modern men and women were desperately searching in ety. As Everything is holy! everybody's holy! everywhere is holy!" etc. Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood. a source of life lin. delicatessen. "The stretch of Hudson of my generation destroyed by madness. 11 to Heaven was a nihilism of his own. "Howl" was brilliant in un. the more we will appreciate what Jacobs does world. if we could only learn to But all Ginsberg could suggest as an alternative to lifting Moloch dig. starving hy~terical Street where I live is each day the scene of an intricate sidewalk naked. the vantage point from which he is learning the English his If there is one work that perfectly expresses the modernism of mother cannot speak. Halpert unlock- present in the apparently inchoate random shouts that drift in ing the laundry's handcart from its mooring to a cellar door.. By quoting Jacobs at ect could not go very far unless the new modernists could generate length in the next few pages. close to the surface and imme- disorder that is in actuality the highest degree of bourgeois order. manism. we are likely to But if the emerging modernists of the 1960s were going to turn experience a sense of deja vu." It ended with a sentimental and sappy nihilism. I want to convey the richness of her affirmative visions of alternate modern lives. opment of modernism: its message was that much of the meaning masking the demonic nihilism at the heart of our established soci. Camera." diacy of their lives: it was all right there. the better we way world. "Howl" began with a desper. Her prose all-embracing mindless affirmation: "The world is holy! The soul often sounds plain. Gogol's "Nevsky Prospect.. representative of Church and State: to school. toward the end of the 1950s. an street and. they would have to offer where before? Yes. of her own life on that street. Indeed. Wyndham Lewis was scandalized by this concep. ernists of the 1950s would have dreamt of looking for it: in the Jacobs begins her montage in the early morning: she enters the everyday life of the street. but it suggests ning to confront and combat the expressway world. This is true. Jacobs' work has often been appre. But this proj. and. we go through her twenty-four-hour life cycle. but radically opposed to the forms and motions of that know this tradition. Ginsberg and his thought. we have. Deasy. Goldstein arranging the coils of wire that proclaim that the depths of the cities of the plain.in changing the whole orientation of city and riages. as she God is absent from that nightmarish history. Symphony of a Great City. however. and revealing what Dostoevsky a century ago called "the fact lay surprisingly close to home. if we have read or heard or seen something more. Jacobs develops her vision with a deceptive modesty: all she is ate nihilism. Dziga Vertov's Man with the Movie and energy and affirmation that was just as modern as the express.. which he disparagingly called "plain. Cornacchia's son-in-law stacking out the empty crates from the tion of truth and meaning.

"Under the seeming disorder of the old city. multitude. this irony had a special twist. Lofaro. This was what Joyce's Stephen Dedalus had image. Probably no American politician well into the twentieth century." the street was experienced as the Moses. For twenty years.* drink or play or sex or love. his arms folded. which had always served to express dynamic and progres- bringing the children home from school and the adults back from sive modernity." "We must kill the street. obsolete-everything that the men. worn-out.. The medium in which the totality of modern material and spiritual 1928 election returns showed that Americans were not ready or willing to accept the sidewalks of New York. From the small-town "Main Street" to the metropolitan "Great New York. within the space of a generation. Throughout the age of Haussmann and Baudelaire. stagnant. it is time for her to rush off to work. and we both know what it means: All is well. and where is he going? She'll never know. not but this very knowledge. sluggish. We nod. This order is all be coming from. disor- work. scattered solitar. the figure who did more than anyone else to destroy those sidewalks." It was their modern vision that By and by. the makers of the post-World War One "modern evokes what Baudelaire called the "universal communion" avail. the So it goes as Jacobs takes us through the day and into the night. looking solid as earth Bronx) actively destroyed. we may fancifully call it the art form of the city. Under the seeming disorder of the old city is a marvelous o'rder or sad. now came to symbolize everything dingy. and although it is life." Jacobs contemplates and enjoys them all: she experiences and However. who around the street. which emerged as a primary symbol of modern used as the anthem for his 1928 presidential campaign the popular song "East Side. the radicalism and originality of Jacobs' work Gradually the life of the street subdues.. shop- to each other and smile. It is a complex order. singing. composed of movement and change. this urban romance crystallized incarnated the romance and the hopes of the modern city as well as AI Smith. clash. streets every- aproned fruit man who stands outside his door a little up the where were at best passively abandoned and often (as in the street. that began after World War Two. derly. thick-bodied. then look back the new highways and to the vast system of industrial parks.316 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTs INTO AIR Modernism in New York 317 retaries and elegant middle-aged couples on their way to work. "Sometimes there is sharpness and anger. In this context. the re- after midnight to tend a baby. good singing." Is that a bagpipe out there? Where can the piper bringing with it a constant succession of eyes.. young and old bohemians. about three in the morning. dynamism and progress of modernity were supposed to leave be- ies-as they come to and pass along the street in search of food or hind. "I should be clear. . very for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city. helps her sleep to the dance. his feet planted. that her street's life is inexhaustibly art. West Side. because in fact.. interfuse and work out their ultimate too glad to embrace "the highways of New York'" and to pave itself over in their meanings and fates. All around the town . who appointed and ardently supported Robert White Way" and "Dream Street." she know the deep night ballet and its seasons best from waking long says-and "old" here means nineteenth-century modern. seeing the mains of the city of the Haussmann age- shadows and hearing the sounds of the sidewalk. street. and • In New York. as it turned out. movement" in architecture and urbanism turned radically against able to the man or woman who knows how to "take a bath of this modern romance: they marched to Le Corbusier's battle cry. we. and sitting in the dark." It was Smith. diversity and fullness of life is Thus we must strive to keep this "old" environment alive. "shout in the street. America was only forces could !Deet. We'll trip the light fantastic on the sidewalks of life. however. in the workers coming off the night shift and stopping by the corner bar. and liken it rich. one of the oldest themes in modern it is uniquely capable of nourishing modern experiences and val- culture. Ironically.each glance quickly up the street. On the other hand. Money and energy were rechanneled to itself." ing up. sad weeping . as I have tried to show. then. but it never stops. the short. Its essence is intricacy of sidewalk use. in mind in his cryptic suggestion that God was out there." She attunes herself to these sounds. longshoremen. bringing forth an abundance of new characters-business. We have done this many a morning for ping centers and dormitory suburbs that the highways were open- more than ten years. This celebration of urban vitality. "and I exchange triumphed in the great wave of reconstruction and redevelopment my ritual farewell with Mr. well. white. beyond her (or anyone's) power to grasp.

Baudelaire and Courbet. not have noticed them herself. the evils of advertising. dance: "we may . for book." specifically "to an intricate ballet in which the individual ments that combined painting. rooms. "The city is a and the members of the Grand Union built their work around landscape well worth enjoying-damn necessary if you live in the non-dance (or. in- complex face-to-face communication and communion. however. long since disassembled but preserved on film. Jacobs' point is that the so. I love soot and scorching. debris. imaginative and adventurous artists were working to create the sake of the modern we must preserve the old and resist the an art that would be. was to "look for beauty found objects played a central role in the scene-and sometimes where it is not supposed to be found. "happenings" that reached out of the studios and plined training required for this sort of dance. its intricate choreography. In a note to The Street." 12 Kaprow. "preoccupied new." His quest for urban enjoyment took him in peculiar direc- patterns. to be success. street to the dance. they are there. Oldenburg said. as when Twyla Tharp brought in a street has been an abiding modernist imperative since the days of Marx brotherhood of graffitists to fill up the walls in counterpoint to her and Engels. we can Second Street. With this dialectic. This new intimacy between the life of the dance and the life of called modern movement has inspired billions of dollars' worth of the street was only one aspect of a great upheaval that was going "urban renewal" whose paradoxical result has been to destroy the on through the 1960s in nearly every genre of American art. our bodies. even as Jacobs assimilated the life of the 1970s) and Oldenburg's The Street: A Metamorphic Mural of 1960. Jacobs may sionism but from the flatness and confinement of painting as such. They experimented with a fascinating array of art forms: forms as a symbol for the vibrant fluidity of street life. music was sometimes dropped. The essential thing. either depth." replaced by silence.. indeed. Baudelaire called the family of eyes. and. Jacobs chose. Claes Oldenburg and others were moving would be going in the years to come. as it was later called. junk. galleries directly into the streets. tions of real life. and liken it to and objects picked up in the street. Olden- Cunningham and then younger choreographers like Twyla Tharp burg said with a bittersweet irony typical of this art. randomness and chance were often incorporated into tions: "Dirt has depth and beauty. the evanescent but intense and rectly into New York's streets. popular culture. still. These themes were not gen. clothes. It . of what teracting spontaneously with whoever and whatever was there.318 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in New York 319 ues: the freedom of the city. this image was seriously misleading: the years of elite disci. the disease of their dance was going to end. Robert Whitman. just as she was finishing her first. but in fact makes perfect sense-is that in our city life. the vastness of Forty- Reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities today. openness and democratic own spontaneous and open life. architecture and sculpture-and dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miracu. (which prefigures his spectacular Ruckus Manhattan of the mid- Ironically. Merce exciting works of those heady days. Red find many apt prophecies and intimations of where modernism Grooms. three-dimensional environ- dance. its precise struc. The practical corollary of all this-which sounds paradoxical at though apparently unknown to her. are among the most ilate the street. George Segal. Down only kind of environment in which modern values can be realized. static from the radio or random street noise." He choreography. or. so that the dancers would not know at the start how embraced "the city filth. Dickens and Dostoevsky." u Now this last injunction found subjects _as well. on the Lower East Side. Jim Dine. as Allen Kaprow said in 1958. across town from Jacobs' neighborhood. "anti-dance") movements and city. sometimes theater and dance as well-and that created distorted lously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole." In (usually in an expressionistic way) but vividly recognizable evoca- fact. if need be. the life of modern dance was striving to assim. away not only from the pervasive 1950s idiom of abstract expres- erally noticed when the book came out. call it the art form of the city. the activity of that incorporated and transformed non-art materials. and onto its bridges and roofs. modernism takes on a new complexity and and even dazzled by the space and objects of everyday life. Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s. dertake actions that would both incorporate and enrich the streets' were worlds away from the spontaneity. sometimes dancers would move di- perpetual motion and change. Grooms's Burning Building of 1959 feeling of the Jacobean street. to assert their presence and un- tures and techniques of movement.. an order that exists in a state of dancers filling up the floors.

we knew that the experiments of our gen- at a crucial moment. I have already mentioned Oldenburg." 14 A remarkable prophecy of the elsewhere. I am for an art that tells you the time anonymous people took part. for moving twen- Robert Crumb would emerge in this company toward the end of tieth-century hearts and minds. John Hollander. and murals. just before they would erupt into our politics. it can be said that the streets erupted into American poetry liant or stupid things. unacknowledged legislators of the world. was written in the '30s: East 6th Street. embroiling themselves with "the everyday that had inspired earlier generations of modernists. (Note.) The second-best street scene in American fiction was written in the '50s-though it was written about the '30s: !25th Street before and during the Cohen ("Stories of the Street"). I am for an art that embroils itself with the everyday of kinetic and environmental art. in Henry Sly Stone and many more. saturating the streets with "politiE. in poems Meanwhile. as helps old ladies across the street. This modernism gave a special the decade.* the emerging makers of modern art. Lou Reed. or where such and such a street is." Oldenburg wrote in 1961. dancing. Paul Blackburn. sometimes. Thus modernism returned to its century-old . Ad. rials in the midst of rush hour traffic. Laura Nyro. So many of the great demon- erotical-mystical. Leonard William Klein. that about the street and. richness and vibrancy to a public life that was growing increasingly Meanwhile. to the transitional year 1959. made the Paris street an active and central Later. when an enormous tives showed that obscure and decaying old places could turn out amount of interesting art in a great many genres would be both to be-or could be turned into-remarkable public spaces. Segal. in Bob Dylan (42nd Street after a nuclear war in "Talkin' World as it had done since its inception. when the radicals of my generation sat down in front of character. directly in the street. Exceptions like these should be noted. in Breathless. with the world that modernization had Sunbelt competitors. the debuts of Robert Frank and War Three Blues. performed solemn war memo- rienne Rich. Jean-Luc Godard. and captured its fluctuating light and jagged or fluid troop trains. The best scene. eventually contributed much to it. The emerging New Left learned much from this dialogue. But this very mystifying themselves and everyone else as to which way was up. but it of day. Une abrasive and dangerous as the decade went on. Paul Simon. Exchange.320 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in New York 321 took on a special resonance in the New York of the 1960s because. creating happenings and environments think they negate my argument that a big change went on. photography continued to nourish itself on the life of the streets. becomes an active ingredient in the modernism of the '60s. Streets also played crucial dramatic and symbolic roles in the * The claim that the street. stopped business at hundreds of city halls and draft rhythms in ways that astounded everyone and opened up a whole boards. "that is political. in whose creation millions of crap and comes out on top." "Desolation Row"). In the visual urban America's nineteenth-century streets. that does something other than sit on its ass in a strations and confrontations of the 1960s were remarkable works museum. heading toward the river. dropped thousands of card- way Kinnell. Gal. Their initia- metamorphoses of modernism in the 1960s. Femme Est Une Femme. gave it a special poignancy and radiance for made.dialogue with the especially when compared with its more "modern" suburban and modern environment. Such diverse poets as Robert Lowell. perform. and did innumerable other bril- indeed. were ideal media. This has often been noticed. Ray Davies. transformation that made the city appear rundown and archaic. Grooms.. thbugh sometimes York whose whole fabric was beginning to decay.al-erotical-mystical" unlike the physically and metaphysically expansive "Empire City" images and sounds. ing twentieth-century traffic. I am for an art that must also be noticed that the artists were there first-here. . Jim Harlem riot of 1935. so inefficient for mov- arts. The street becomes a vital presence in the very different sensi- bilities of Frank O'Hara and Allen Ginsberg at the very end of the decade. scenes. Roth's Call It Sleep. Vivre sa Vie. placed the city streets (especially but not exclusively board cluster bombs on the Park Avenue headquarters of the those of New York) at the center of their imaginative landscapes: company that made the real ones. in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. levitated the Pentagon. too. a multitude of performing artists surged into the like Ginsberg's "Kaddish" and O'Hara's "The Day Lady Died. et al." which both belong streets playing and singing music of every kind. this was a New crap" and at least sometimes coming out on top. Peter Townshend. or series of Morrison. and "I am for an art. missing from the modernism of the 1950s. scattered and burned money on the floor of the Stock new dimension in film. many of the Motown writers. but I don't ing or improvising plays. James Merrill. Even increasingly serious and sophisticated popular music of the 1960s: in the forlorn '50s. does not hold up in all media.

But social networks they maintain.322 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in New York 323 eration's modern artists had shown us the way: shown how to patterns. sexual and political freedom must be crushed-she would argue. because she has spent years piloting children (first in car. Life of Great American Cities will realize that Jacobs is celebrating the riages and strollers. that many of women's traditional decorative must be kept in her place on the block literally twenty-four hours a day. are to be kept out. Any careful reader of The Death and tivity. trenchant and compelling. Thus modern art. day by ageable units close to home." which women had and dress. of people of many dif- neighbors and trying to keep hold of her life. in ways that most women are nor. because it is her responsibility to some of their activities suggest that a shared language and emo- take care of her household affairs. even as it renewed itself. She knows Jacobs' thought and action heralded a great new wave of com- her neighborhood in such precise twenty-four-hour detail because munity activism. in all dimensions of political life. and they have assimilated the language-celebration of the hardly any men ever are. Much of her intel. and their defense against outside forces unemployed. The Death and Life of Great widespread male realization that. talking to street is full of strangers passing through. so that children can discover and grow day.* into a world where there are two sexes and where work plays a Jacobs never uses expressions like "feminism" or "women's central role in everyday life. except when they become chronically family and neighborhood. She portrays. too. fullness of the modern world as a whole. modernism in the 1960s was helping to renew the embattled and the author of The Death and Life. The feminists of the 1970s would do much to rehabilitate deviants. family and locality turn out to and complex. Doris Lessing. especially when they become mothers. and activists. These activists have very often been wives and mothers. "hidden from history. and the vast informai that would shatter their life-that she did so much to create. Thus she There is another crucial prophetic theme in Jacobs' book that no nourished not only a renewal of feminism but also an increasingly one seems to have noticed at the time. and in making that perspective rich seem at first to speak her language. then on roller skates and bikes) through these family and the block in distinctively modernist terms: her ideal troubled waters. ethnic groups. she opened the way for be symbols of radical anti-modernism: for the sake of the neigh- the great wave of feminist energy that burst at the end ~f. like Ja- mally around all day. at once lovingly domestic and abandoned modern city. Nevertheless. In one sense Jacobs' perspective is impoverished our own lives as well as theirs by not listening to even more fully feminine: she writes out of an intensely lived them till now. has been the city's most authentic reason for being. and that we had the city since Jane Addams. the ecology and tional tone may conceal radically opposed visions of what modern phenomenology of the sidewalks with uncanny fidelity and sensi. rights" -in 1960 there were few words that were remoter from Jacobs' street and family are microcosms of all the diversity and current concerns. life is and what it should be. both parents work in small and easily man- women know what it is like to live in cities. controversial books and films. But for some people who tive on a central public issue. in unfolding a woman's perspec. an ocean away. her ideal lectual authority springs from her perfect grasp of the structures family is one in which women go out to work. since ancient Athens and Je. They economic. For anyone who had encountered the Jacobs persona. while balancing heavy shopping bags. textiles. quilts and rooms possessed not only aesthetic recreate that public dialogue which. far better than the men who plan and build them. value in their own right but also the power to enrich and deepen rusalem. dynamically modern. street by street. She knows all the shopkeepers. in the name of the family. beliefs and life-styles. she has been around it all day. and. ferent classes. and similar in texture and richness. ages. minority modes of music the domestic worlds. yes. sexual and ideological decade. is the dictory but enormously powerful movement as old as modernity urban fiction of Grace Paley (whose stories are set in the same neighborhood). She makes her readers feel that deal of time at home. itself. the borhood's integrity. but cobs. woman's created and sustained for themselves through the ages. domesticity that Addams knew only at second hand. a movement that utilizes every modern technique of public- . an inwardly contra- • Contemporaneous with Jacobs' work. all racial minorities. men spend a great and processes of everyday life. this possibility made instant sense. women had something to American Cities gives us the first fully articulated woman's view of tell us about the city and the life we shared. This is the ideology of the New Right.

and feeling ourselves in harmony with them- creed and color working together to keep America free for you even if we knew. Is the theory right? eyes. a times her vision seems positively pastoral: she insists. that there was and me. she lance of the streets from within houses and stores. ~ng Jacobs' own West Village. it is no wonder that beneath her modernist text there is an anti-modernist subtext. moves in a twilight zone where the and rac1al polanues that skewered American city life. Washington .. Jacobs' faith in the benignness of the sounds she heard from There is another order of difficulty in Jacobs' perspective. Levy . clearly implies sional middle-class whites at the top. Many neighborhoods. and the opportumues that it forever unknown whether they would have collapsed or re- . many streets of people in her neighborhood has the aura of a WPA mural or a our own. if indeed there is a line at all. like so many modernists from Rousseau and Wordsworth to D. chronically unemployed. there will be no is marvelous at capturing its radiance.ad found. with easy surveil. includ- refuge against all the dangerous currents of freedom and ambi. no urban line between the richest and most complex modernism and the neighborhood anywhere. is gone today. amid the class disparities Lawrence and Simone Weil.' . Le . is that there is nothing Bronx should be able to find the inner resources to sustain and and no one below-there are no stepchildren in Jacobs' family of perpetuate themselves. bomber. plenty of dissonance out there as well. that rage.. Here is where Robert Moses and his Expressway come in: he In the course of the 1960s. We can remember attuning ourselves to their sights and Hollywood version of a World War Two bomber crew: every race. we may see the trouble. Even if she misses some of the shadows of neighborhood life. In these conditions.~Y the late 1960s that. " But wait-here is the our Bronx. Jacobs. an enormous lumpenproletariat thing in Jacobs that leaves her open to this misuse? It seems to me without prospects or hopes. at saints. and mourn for.. If we look back a little skeptically at her not destroy. As we read this. This is what makes her neighborhood v1s1on there anything we could have done to keep it alive? Jacobs' few seem pastoral: it is the city before the blacks got there. we wonder what planet Jacobs can possibly radiance that class and ethnic conflict might complicate but could have been thinking of. There is nothing and no one that shabby but vibrant neighborhoods like those of the central above. ein'feste Burg. Her world fragmentary references to the Bronx display a Greenwich Vil- ranges from solid working-class whites at the bottom to profes.. and even guity in which all modern men and women are caught up. Any child of the Bronx who goes through Hudson vision of her block. H. fear. however.. Her inventory of the Street with Jacobs will recognize. But It ":as clear . lager's snobbish ignorance: her theory. however. We can hear the roll call: "Holmstrom . dream. that in a vibrant neighborhood with a mixture of shops and resi. remained relatively intact. once the city's largest employer. with constant activity on the sidewalks. an inner as well as outer crime. But so much of this Bronx. and we know we will never feel so much problem: there is no "Washington" in Jacobs'. liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all. perhaps better than Jacobs knew. were departing or disappear- of life. rankest bad faith of modernist anti-modernism is very thin and could be free from crime. O'Leary . not even the liveliest and healthiest. What light does Jacobs' vision shed on the life of the Bronx? dences. pervasive rage and elusive.. mg. however. sounds and smells. mco~porated some blacks and Hispanics into their families of eyes. a solid ~merica disintegrated completely.) Many of them New Right have more than once cited Jacobs as one ?f their patron found themselves desperately poor... he left moment when the jobs they sought. at best. random violence.no at home anywhere again. destroying scores of neighborhoods from without. what matters more here. Is this connection entirely fraudulent? Or 1s there some. the street in the middle of the night was bound to be..324 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in New York 325 ity and mass mobilization to turn people against the modern ideals ~arlier ~r immigra~ts h. for instance. millions of black and His. Scagliano . once racial and economic outcasts. Some... turned potential long-range entropy into sudden inexorable catas- panic people-would converge on America's cities-at pre~i~ely the trophe. despair and violence spread like plagues-and that a sort of undertow of nostalgia for a family and a neighborhood in hundreds of formerly stable urban neighborhoods all over which the self could be securely embedded. (Th1s was symbohzed m New York by the closing of the Brook- What is relevant and disturbing here is that ideologues of the lyn Navy Yard. Why did it go? Did it have to go? Was blacks on her block.

Even hell out of their neighborhoods. "the inexorably ahead. believed this just as devoutly as we did-even Moses but also because of all of us. no doubt. It was the brutal truth: I had move out physically. while to move on: it was planted within us as well as outside. There are more questions we need to ask our. ~ff the e~rth. but did he have to though their ht':arts might break when we went. so I asked about his American neighborhoods would acquire in the 1960s? What if. (After Philip Loeb. and I was active in the anti-war flair for publicity and mass mobilization. had it only been left to itself. get out!'" For once To live well meant to move up socially. neighborhood or environment can be anything more than a stage sqibes the destruction of a neighborhood about a mile from my along life's way. to live one's life close to home was not to be left the Bronx. descent. I was the whole truth. and now the Bronx was collapsing not just because of Robert Lower East Side. the widespread public sympathy. because it was driving would not have it: he deployed every form of force and fraud. caring for it and fighting for it understand that the destruction of the Bronx would fulfill the as our own? Some of us. the desperate en- mined to grind this little world into dust. it is not ~uman toll. In two or. One night in 1967. we had man. I was stunned into silence.") 15 Caro's prose becomes incan. got the could have been slightly curved around this neighborhood. than your own. inspired. didn't I would still be in the Bronx today. And yet. till I told Jacobs' lower Manhattan neighbors a few years later. intrigue and mystification. had to move. It was true.) Ours was. and Bronx's own basic moral imperative? What moral imperative? I in any case-it hurts to say it-not me. like years in the Bronx in~tead. We talked pleasantly enough. a launching pad for higher flights and wider orbits own. obsessively deter. He laughed as he bellowed in my face: "You want w know was possessed. who had moved up and out from the to. what directions to move in. that people weren't able to move fast strength of the central Bronx. he said. soon for shock and horror when we see Moses on the horizon moving after. at his command. blazed a path of terror from Harlem to the Sound. who played Molly's hus- Street with Fiddler on the Roof Caro's evocative power sets us up band. (When Caro asked him ergy of this vision. mtroduced to an older child of the Bronx who had grown up to be selves. He begins by painting a lovely panorama of this neighbor. For the Bronx of my youth asked. just as he had. But when you see life this way. But Robert Caro. us ourselves-even though we knew the wheels might break us. the morality of the Bronx? 'Get out. as he shows the blight spreading Thus there was no way a Bronx boy or girl could avoid the drive outward from the Expressway. him that Moses' road was going to blow every trace of both our aged to keep the dread road from being built? How many of us childhoods away. Even Molly Goldberg. even where there was no Moses to lead the exodus was hit over the head with an ax. as Leonard Michaels put it. no chapters of The Power Broker. But it was at least possible to think about of the North. He ceptual tools. makes a powerful case for the inner dream wasn't being fulfilled. the sooner the better. Fine.326 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in New York 327 newed themselves from within. It appears that the Cross-Bronx Expressway mentahty of neighborhood types who. and at what speed. the vocabulary. freely or equally enough. schmuck. but I suspect not so many. the frenzied economic and psychic pressure to twenty years later how come a leader of the people's protest had move up and out. that residents of many movement. and no Expressway to make it fast. and this in turn meant to in my life. had been moved-by the Blacklist-off the air and. But the great man the wheels that drove the American dream. laugh? I pulled back and went home as he began to explain Viet- icals of my youth disputed this dream-and the Bronx of my nam. working from a childhood was full of radicals-their only complaint was that the Jacobean perspective. like a reincarnated General Sherman run wild in the streets entered our soul early. Our parents. a famous futurologist and creator of scenarios for nuclear war. and with what All Caro says here seems to be true. the had just come back from Vietnam. earth goddess of the Jewish hood. year by year. All through the decades of the postwar boom. both entitled "One Mile." Caro de. by the great modern dream of mobility. and utterly devastating. was breaking down hundreds of neighborhoods suddenly caved in. a sentimental but recognizable blend of Jacobs' Hudson Bronx. block by block. Moses Moses. quick as possible. Not even the rad." Thus we had no way to resist Moses' engineers found it feasible to reroute. and just as we were all brought up alive at all. . Moses' reply was cryptic but gloating: "After he like the Bronx. but I didn't want trouble just then. at an academic reception. What if the Bronxites of the 1950s had possessed the con. and yet.

~. • • • our own way. So long as we grasped our self-divisions. and where we were racing to. · plunging forward on a thrilling but disastrous course. sealed but never healed. . are we goingP Always to our home. Blacll Spri"' to pull up roots. ream wes homes. . . The relt of the United States doesn't existfi. poor whites.11. So the 1960s passed. • r me eJtcept as just learning to live in that lane. were e. like me- were just as real and just as deep as the drives and dreams that made us go. as laughing off what struck me as one of the starkest facts of least radically slowing them gd gtgantic engtnes to a stop. . bringin the .. all Americans. Philosophy is re. Brooltl whet1 lives of the people in the way. all moderns. hearts of the men and women on the move-like him. 3. eent Ward. or hiltory. We knew. tncn. because we ourselves were ~aased. but finding itself at- tacked by a multitude of passionate shouts from the street. that unless they were faced fast they Back Home would get worse. We.. "Shooting Script" the audience to see that they. We were working to help other people. But this meant that our project was shot through with paradox from the In my dreams I come back to the Fourt h returns to his obsessions. haunted all our spectacular productions of political comedy and melodrama and surreal farce. . Our political theater aimed to force -Adrienne Rich. we were blocking ne&f orttfiCHI. Vietnamese-to fight for their The plasm of the dream is the pain of s. and to love the pace. an urge to be at home everywhere ing American tragedy: all of us. But there was no way to think any of this through under pressure of the traffic that was driving us all on: hence the traffic had to be brought to a halt. the expressway world gearing itself up for ever more gigantic expansion and growth. it made me see more clearly what my friends and I were up to when we blocked traffic throughout the decade. or at ~odern life: that the split in the minds and the wound in the own. lueps its dir::::oO: your palm. individ- ual shouts that could become a collective call.u. Fragmmts and collectively. were throwing ourselves against a state and a To p~~ou:~~~ up by your own roots. We were trying to open up our society's inner wounds. Individually -Novalis. even as we fled our own.. . or blowing up.'' e I was idea.J omesu ss. who knew so well how it felt -Henry Miller. We knew that the glittering lives of the people in the fast lane were just as deeply maimed as the battered and buried ~am a Patriot-of the Fourteenth Ward. erupting into the . . or literature. too. As I thought this over. His laughter carried all the easy confidence of our official culture.aration The d: l' on after the body is buried. a tragic irony that broAen. h · 1me Whet1 IL __ . the roots of the whole world.S i\LL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTO AIR 28 Modernism in New York 329 WhY did the futurologist's laughter make me want to cry? He heart of the traffic. we needed to ask who we were and what we wanted to be. to find there how the lifeline. were participants in a develop. as a paranoiac start. and other peoples- blacks. to eat the last meal in your old social system that seemed to be pulling up. In blocking the way. the civic faith that America could overcome its inner contradictions simply by driving away from them. to show that they were still there. and at what human cost. that they The 1970s: Bringing It All were spreading and festering. Hispanics. . they infused To reread the instructi the New Left with a deep sense of irony.

could tell in the early 1970s how high that toll would be. It is out of this process lenged the expressway world took for granted its inexhaustible of thought and searching-a process that has only just begun. The Man use~ as a touchstone of modernity the Nietzschean idea (de- trouble went deeper than that: it soon became clear that the ex. Ro~rt McNa~ara. the blindness with boom that had gone on beyond all expectations. the reigning symbol of we must not forget the apocalyptic wing of the New Left in its modernity was the green light. and radically new departure. tions as antitheses. identical modern societies would now have to learn fast how to use their eve. Horizons for expansion and growth abruptly shrank: vd~~gers mto the ~o~er. equally diminishing energies to protect the shrinking resources they had ?bllVIou~ to every env~r~~ment. was entitled "Literary History and Literary and that we should have to put all such hopes on "Hold. and perhaps a ended. They saw their works and ac- that the modernisms of the 1970s have come. was itself beginning to break down." coast without encountering any traffic lights at all." visions of worlds and values that the trium- modern men and women everywhere had to think deeply about pha~t march of modernization was trampling down or leaving how far and in what directions they wanted to go." by the literary critic Paul De Man. "modernity and history are diametrically opposed to one another. locked in a dialectical duel with a thesis that was To show hoW" things have changed. was bound to take its toll-though no one 1960s m a great vanety of media and genres. on whose initiative and dynamism we had always Willfully forg~. in which the driver could go from coast to walls. present. hacking his expressway The end of the boom did not endanger everyone-the very rich world through the cities. I want briefly to go back to striving to silence all the shouts and wipe all the streets off the . inexorable momentum. That hope was one of the vital the extensive debate over the meaning of modernity in the 1960s. whose modular glass boxes. For De Man writ- hold. hordes destroying Rome. v~loped m The Use and Abuse of History. the central symbol was the fed. m the midst of the pnmitiVe world m Stanley Kubrick's 2001. In these years of reduced mobility. . ~nergy and. signs of the '60s. But the modern Of course. for a quarter of a whi~h he throws himself into action lightened of all previous ex- century after the Second World War.330 ALL THAT Is SoLID MELTS INTo AIR Modernism in New York 331 which we all could feel at home." De ~an gave no contemporary examples. it was clear that no dialectical synthesis was in the works." De so. obliterating every trace of the life that were pretty well insulated. broke down. paving over the jungles of vision of the modern world and its pos~ibilities has come to be ~Ietnam ~or mstant cmes and airports.t t~e past. "shouts in the street. of course. this was not the whole story. writing "Tear Down the Walls" on all the eral highway system.r~where." a long Modernity. The great economic the. glorying in visions of barbarian followed the Second World War. It did not last long.ng !n 1969. But perous decade after the First World War. and to search behmd. like all the brave modernisms of the 1960s. ~. thinkers and activists who chal- for new media in which they could move. Even before the decade ~ne of the las~ inte~esting entries in this debate.~ world (~amuel Huntington's strategy after decades of being flooded with energy cheap enough and of forced modermzation ) by bombmg their traditional world into abundant enough to create and recreate the world endlessly anew. and bringing millions of reshaped. and going to the people with the slogan "Fight the People. "the full power of the idea of modernity" la~ in a It was not just that the New Left fell apart: that we lost our de~Ire to wipe out whatever came earlier. lik~ the giant slab that springs up and keep their whole world from running down. Nevertheless." In this per- combination of inflation and technological stagnation (for which spective. if we were going to get through the years ahead. During the pros.embrace all sorts of modernists working in the spectacular success). during the spectacular boom that terminal delirium circa 1969-70. The penence. but his 16 the still-unending Vietnam war was largely to blame). plus a devel- oping world energy crisis (which we could ascribe in part to our schem~ could easily . 1873) that one needs to pressway world. I argued above that societies of the 1970s were forced to live in the shadow of the some of the most creative modernism of the 1960s consisted of speed limit and the stop sign. those artists. Mies van der Robe.in order to achieve or create anything in counted. rubble. as they usually are-but everyone's w~s there be~ore. were coming to dominate every metropolis." so as to achieve "a knack for being simultaneously on the road and in the way. Nietzsche s ruthless forgetting. kmd of memonal to It.. a point that could be a true present. captures the authentic spirit of modernity. There was Robert Moses. was coming to a close.

in the 1970s. This means that our past. This awareness brought Hence I have entitled this·section "Bringing It All Back Home. and technology seemed to collapse. but it lay in attempts to recover past modes of life that were buried but is baseless and elusive. I will try to characterize several of these of yesterday so often did. whatever it turns out to be. or anything. This project in itself was not new. is full of the surreal radicalism of the late '60s. modernism's Many modernisms of the past have found themselves by forget."* to Alex Haley's Roots and. Columbia Records. and work from there. to "bring it all back" into the past. its. If whole societies I will organize my discussion around symbols: the symbol of home. The modernists of the 1970s tended to seemed to have learned that ethnic identity-not only one's own be obsessed with the homes. a new departure. we look back for something solid to lean not dead. Earlier modernists have wiped away the past in Solid Melts into Air. parents. the modernists of the 1970s were forced to find themselves My second symbol is implicit in the title of this book: All That Is by remembering. whatever it was. our capacity for empathy was great. far more personal and private spaces than the expressway or the What happened in the 1970s was that. At the same time. ting. the answer was that childhood. back into our society's historical past. At a moment when modern One of the central themes in the culture of the 1970s was the society seemed to lose the capacity to create a brave new future. the modern societies of the 1970s and the symbol of ghosts. title and the titles of some of its songs-"Subterranean Homesick Blues. 1965. will not be easy. The It All Back Home. not only in America but around best. perhaps Dylan's responses to Roots and Holocaust." "It's Alnght. from their homes in the first place." backward economic growth and expansion stalled. This album may be re-experienced today as a dialogue between the '60s and the '70s. the families and neighborhoods they but everyone's-was essential to the depth and fullness of self that left in order to be modern in the modes of the 1950s and '60s. was order to reach a new departure. or black. or Italian. rehabilitation of ethnic memory and history as a vital part of per- modernism was under intense pressure to discover new sources of sonal identity. the world. in which . to "wipe away whatever came earlier in the hope of reach. as the modernists In this final section. Bob Dylan's album Bringing of television-but actively involved and genuinely moved. to bring into those the 1970s couldn't afford to annihilate the past and present in old homes visions and values that may clash radically with them- order to create a new world ex nihilo. Moreover. Once again. In other words. but centrally present a presentations like Roots and Holocaust lack the depth to transform decade later.332 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in New York 333 modern map. Gerald Green's Holocaust audiences that were not only immense-the largest in the history • I have borrowed this title from a work of the 1960s. that we must cease to be Jewish. to bring to bear on their ing at last a true present . can be said to learn anything. Those of us who grew up on Dylan's songs can only hope that he empathy into real understanding. and the traffic came close in time-once again radically different from the forward move- to a stop. that kind may lack. This has been a striking development in the history life through imaginative encounters with the past. as the gigantic motors of street. that is. but it took on a new on. All through the 1960s. modern life opens up and promises to all. in various media and genres. The modernism of urgency in a decade when the dynamism of the modern economy the 1970s was a modernism with ghosts. This struggle of radically opposed modernisms gave The homes toward which today's modernists orient themselves are the life of the 1960s much of its coherence and excitement. At the same time. a year later. they had to learn to come to and maybe to re-enact the very tragic struggles that drove them terms with the world they had. of modernity. whatever qualities contemporary man- I'm Only Bleeding"-express an intense bond with the past. they simply couldn't. in order to be modern. rapport with the past. we yearn to grasp it. modern societies abruptly lost their power to blow away ment of the modernists of the highway. or the free movement in their past.. was almost entirely missing in the culture of the 1960s. the question had been whether all directions of the modernists of the street-back into our own they should or shouldn't. suggested that." The moderns of past the selves they have become in the present. gantly idealized versions of the familial and ethnic past. home. Modernity could no longer afford to throw modernists do not try to blend or merge themselves with their past itself into "action lightened of all previous experience" (as De Man -this distinguishes modernism from sentimentalism-but rather put it). Ma. This brilliant album. only to find ourselves embracing ghosts. Modernists today no longer insist. the look toward home is a look "back.. Both works present extrava- might Jearn as much from his 1960s work as we have learned from it. Unfortunately. now. imaginative encounters. the new departures of the 1970s a past in the process of disintegration.

shuffling her vast cast of ghosts show depicting the family and its life over the years (Gray is both around in the hope of finding some meaningful order in which a character in the pictures and a sort of Our Town narrator and she can stand firmly at last. some of the music that meant most to Elizabeth tities remain elusive to the end-in just the way that modernists Gray. the play enacts of her pregnant aunt. she transforms tributes less to a modern ethnic awareness than to the traditional disintegration into a new form of order that is integral to modern genre of family romance.334 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in New York 335 all ancestors are beautiful. dens she takes on herself by writing of that past. The action consists of direct addresses by Gray to the actual or mythical. past or present. sure that she knows these immigrants' real names. The second and sense of the beauty and wholeness of Chinese village life-her most powerful play. they dramatize his development as a person. The stage is but she shows great courage and imagination in looking her ghosts divided into three equal compartments. casso's Girl Before a Mirror. slide projection. For King. we feel that the work of life and art is still in process. to live with what he knows and with ders. and hence re. videotaped sights and even better than ghosts can"-to write books like this. his family. Allen parents' myth of America as a country of ghosts. sexual and ethnic iden. She conveys a vivid Temps Perdu in the tradition of Proust and Freud. She remains tion will be going on simultaneously in two. what he will never know. These three plays ston. noble and heroic. to evoke different but intersecting modes of consciousness Kingston has the ability to create individual scenes-whether and being. as a child and as an adult. She feels haunted by the ghosts of victims past. photography. as we lurch from one plane to neighbors from Rhode Island. was Maxine Hong Kingston's Woman Warrior. Rhode Island." This con. and all pain and hate split or diffused in a dozen directions. "to do ghost things complex lighting (including strobes). with old friends and never integrated or worked out. his grandmothers. The single An equally powerful confrontation with home. 18 first performed in 1977. . audience. the essential image of the familial and ethnic past is not roots are organized around the life of one member of the company. she makes cuses on the malaise and gradual disintegration of Gray's mother. commentator). dance. Her personal. and sometimes in all. abstract movement. mythology and superstition. but ghosts: her book is subtitled "Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Spalding Gray. she sees herself space. in their tradition. But sometimes plays one of the phantoms that haunt him). or Pi- and trouble spring from groups of oppressors "outside. as she learns to walk tall in the ghost world. a Ghosts. taped in- the relationship between the different dimensions of her being is terviews with his father. us feel the horrors of that life: the book begins with the lynching Elizabeth. Rumstick Road incorporates and integrates live and recorded metamorphosing into a ghost. and with ghosts. I took place in the Performance Group's trilogy. Rumstick Road. most impressive exploration of ethnic memory in this period. What makes Rumstick Road her parents themselves as ghosts-after thirty years. betrayals and mur. developed between 1975 and 1978. art." 17 Kingston's imagination is saturated with Chinese history character. The trilogy is a kind of Recherche du and folklore. with his mother's psychiatrist (in another. sounds. a slide she is still working it through. she shares her This anguished quest has two outstanding precursors. accompanied by dance and narration. and proceeds through a nightmarish series Gray's attempts to understand his mother. All this goes on in an extraordinary environment. But the real thing could also be found in the 1970s. At the same time. abandonments. and gives it the distinctive stamp of the 1970s. is the way it uses the ensemble acting techniques and multimedia mains uncertain of her own-haunted by ancestral nightmares art forms of the 1960s to open up new depths of personal inner that it will take her whole life to wake up from. like a cubist mask. and himself of socially enforced cruelties. she is still not especially striking. at any given moment ac- in the face and 'fighting to find their proper names. Three Places in believe. an artist. have always shown that modern identity is bound to be elusive. that which he mimes his words as they come over the tape). multitudes of Ginsberg's long poem "Kaddish" (1959) and Peter Handke's no- white shadows at once unreal and magically powerful. whose bur. she fears vella A Sorrow Beyond Dreams ( 1972). losing her embodied actuality even music. but. culminating in her suicide in 1967. fo- parents' life-before the Revolution. imagined or directly experi. dramatizations of his reveries and dreams (in which he enced-with a remarkable directness and luminous clarity. an actor.

After World War Two. which turned out Theater and the San Francisco Mime Troupe were among the to be ideal for New York's rapidly growing artist population. turned this anonymous space into the world's bourgeois individuality. and the Lower the liberation is never total. in the early and mid-1960s. Much of the neighborhood's aura arises from its interplay be- . they evolved from com. Works like Rumstick inhabited by a shadowy technical director. many merely looked into the abyss but gone into it and brought its industrial tenants left the area. In the relatively apolitical 1970s. its aura lingers on. and the room appear's to be an inner chamber of Gray's 1960s. and torn down or sealed off large parts of Gray. WASPs. are absolutely vital in his labor of discov. booth is a bench that sometimes functions as a psychiatrist's couch.it this tent. Little Italy. For River to the Hudson. Late in the play. weirdly luminous. Chinatown. brought forward. cherished projects. On the audience's left. perhaps our most dramatic urban recycling has gone on precisely representing Gray's own room in the old house. But depths up into the light for us all. where many scenes take place. radical and work as a close ensemble. is an audiovisual control booth brace the depths of his or her individual life. Our largest and dience's right is another deep room with a large picture window. but it is at a distance now. thousands of artists moved in and. the Open prime loft space available at unusually low rents. and earned: he has not East Side. the South and West Village. and for us insofar as we can identify ourselves with him. lit lower Manhattan neighborhood now known as SoHo. As plans for the expressway gathered momentum. all over America. much action goes on. like the moon. which looms forth as a spectral character in its own right. On the au. and it for destruction. This district from inside. developed through years of and generally antagonistic groups-young and old. their collective works the late 1960s and early 1970s. This road Rumstick Road suggests that this is the kind of liberation and would have slashed clean across Manhattan Island. had no name until about a decade ago. Dominating this where Spalding Gray's life cycle was first publicly performed: the room for most of the play is a huge red-domed inflatable tent. come to be felt as a desperate imperative today. warehouses and small factories a mother's womb? a brain?). . in or around between Houston and Canal streets was literally anonymous. recessed in depth to form a tialities in old things and forms of life. the ecological idea of recycling: finding new meanings and poten- ious patients. One of the central themes in the modernism of the 1970s was where Gray alternately plays a therapist (or "examiner") and var. but it is real. directly beneath the Road show the creative directions in which this evolution can go. over the past decade. to their amazement. and the planners of the 1950s slated through the window and out of the room: it is still visible. and in It was scheduled to be razed for one of Robert Moses' most perspective. this district was his mother and her suicide. Some of the most creative room. won and dramatizes the ways in which theatrical collectives have evolved wiped Moses' project off the map. is an enlargement of the Gray family house on Rumstick recycling of the 1970s. the two of them together lift the tent widely written off as obsolete. Jews. sometimes the wall becomes dilapidated neighborhoods that Jane Jacobs celebrated in the early blank. The difference a decade makes is that the initiatives that mind in which various ominous scenes are played out. Italians. a remarkable coalition of diverse him: their intimacy and mutuality. from the East reconciliation that is possible for human beings in the world. after Gray and his father have finally talked about with the development of the expressway world. when ensemble groups like the Living Theater. Gray's fellow actors have helped then. and lives were presented as ways out of the trap of privacy and within a few years. anticipating its destruction. the Lower Manhattan Expressway. Their collective production fought fervidly for years and finally. magically and menacingly suggestive (a whale's belly? of nineteenth-century workshops. Puerto Ricans and Chinese- ering and facing and being himself. reactionary. went on in the sort of Road. to grasp and em. This amazing transfor- future. In most exciting things in American theater. as models of the communist society of the leading center for the production of art. In the intensely political ambience of the This epic triumph over Moloch left a sudden abundance of 1960s. collective strength could enable each membe~.336 ALL THAT Is Souo MELTS INTO AIR Modernism in New York 337 At the center. but even seemed like a delightful alternative in the boom times of 1960 have when the house's image is absent. mation infused SoHo's dreary and crumbling streets with a unique munist sects into something like therapeutic communities whose vitality and intensity.

It is a large vertical three-dimensional mass. darker and denser than the vast field above. the lower facades have turned into something of a kiosk. alas. touch. its H-form and feel ourselves inside a city vidual and collective presence is at the heart of SoHo's aura. clearly returning from "Uptown" (a show? a by the piece's mass and strength. heading north or south. has added to TWU has brought out its special depths. while on the other. nes- frantic speculations in the 1970s have made many fortunes in tle. that collect and process used paper and rags and moment or movement away. lean. the ~orners ~f. Once there. only. city. and fought to establish their identity in they were complete. whose magnetically into its orbit. At one layers of signs. or by solicito!ls spectators. Its metamorphoses of color. People are constantly reaching higher. depending on our point of neighborhood's old and new modes of production: factories that view. who have burst on the scene with unprecedented numbers. modern architecture and engineering made possibl