Posted by: Rajesh Shukla | December 17, 2013

A house in the heart of the multitude..


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Gustave Caillebotte – Paris Street; Rainy Day

The poet parallels the prostitute parallels the flâneur parallels the bohemian, all engaged in universal prostitution created by Consumerism. 

“The crowd is his element, as the air is that of birds and water of fishes. His passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd. For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world—impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define. The spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito. The lover of life makes the whole world his family, just like the lover of the fair sex who builds up his family from all the beautiful women that he has ever found, or that are or are not—to be found; or the lover of pictures who lives in a magical society of dreams painted on canvas. Thus the lover of universal life enters into the crowd as though it were an immense reservoir of electrical energy. Or we might liken him to a mirror as vast as the crowd itself; or to a kaleidoscope gifted with consciousness, responding to each one of its movements and reproducing the multiplicity of life and the flickering grace of all the elements of life”

The crowd was the veil from behind which the familiar city as phantasmagoria beckoned to the flâneur. In it, the city was now landscape, now a room. And both of these went into the construction of the department store, which made use of flânerie itself in order to sell goods. The department store was the flâneur’s final coup. As flâneurs, the intelligensia came into the market place. As they thought, to observe it—but in reality it was already to find a buyer. In this intermediary stage […] they took the form of the bohème. To the uncertainty of their economic position corresponded the uncertainty of their political function.
—Walter Benjamin (1935), “Paris: the capital of the nineteenth century”, in Charles Baudelaire: a lyric poet in the era of high capitalism)

How much of it has  influenced fashion industry!

a The city is a castrating labyrinth that feminizes all who enter it–ibid

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