Welcome to Narrativity @ a Standstill
This project is the work of Dieter Bohn. The quotations and excerpts herein come from a variety of sources surrounding Walter Benjamin's commentaries on Kafka's parables as well as his Arcades Project.
You may navigate this site in any number of ways, using the links on the right to begin. Some fragments are included on this homepage, as well.
This project was created in May of 2004 and now exists as an archive.
Some notes on reading N@aS
Generally speaking, a reader will want to "read" this site by beginning with the "Exposes" - which are narrative (or more narrative than the rest) essays describing my arguments regarding Benjamin and Kafka. Otherwise, you might consider starting with one of the various Sources, leading you to a quotation, which should lead you to some commentary, and then either back to another quote, or to a "Convolute" containing similarly themed quotations and commentaries. Ultimately, these fragments may lead the reader to the "Exposes," though perhaps not necessarily.
Similarity between N@aS and The Arcades Project
The titles "Exposes" and "Convolutes" are obviously a nod to The Arcades Project. In creating this website, I followed Benjamin's method rather closely - compiling scraps of paper with quotations on them and arranging them into categories. It seemed natural to put these fragments online in this format because it allowed for linking and multiple categorizations. In this sense, then, I believe that the "Convolutes" are aptly named. The "Exposes" are more traditional academic narratives - and perhaps bear less resemblance to Benjamin's "Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century" than they might.
The Limits of N@aS
Theorizing this similarity is an exercise I leave to the reader or at least to a future time. Theories of the Archive, of Montage, of Mechanization, and of Hyptertextuality all would seem to apply -- and all threaten to overtake the fragmentary discourse of Benjamin and Kafka I am trying to engage in. For now, it is simply a matter of scope.
Foci of a Dialectic
The "modern big-city dweller" experiences phantasmagoria, a phantasmagoria Kafka creates by writing tradition ("mystical experience") into the modern experience. Kafka turns a weightless, ephemeral, arbitrary city experience into one that is heavy, deep, and teleological.
But the weight, depth, and telos are false, or rather: they are directed by nothing, not by God.
Method of This Website: Not Quite Literary Montage
Method of this [website]: [not quite] literary montage. I [have to say something - academic discourse requires it].. Merely show. I shall purloin no valuables, appropriate no ingenious formulations.[except, of course, that it is unavoidable - that is the nature of quotation, Benjamin is fooling himself if he really thinks otherwise] But the rags, the refuse--these I will [have inventoried, yet] allow, in the only way possible, to come into their own: by making use of them.