Allegory and Fetish
Yet another step in the progression from the Optical Flaneur to the tactile collector. Is the Allegorist between these two, associated with commodity somehow between optical and tactile? Or is the Allegorist further down the chain?
The commodity is "broken down matter." The collector's matter becomes broken down and commodified in the process of allegorization - it becomes simply a cog in a system of interpretative associations.
Allegory and the fetish character of the commodity
Broken-down matter: the elevation of the commodity to the status of allegory. Allegory and the fetish character of the commodity.
Citing without Quoting
This work, N@aS, seems fairly effective at quoting without quotation marks.
Collecting is a primal phenomenon of study: the student collects knowledge.
Collectors and Tactile Instincts
I'm not sure what to do with the opposition of the Flaneur to the Collector (optical vs tactile).
When one navigates these fragments online, they are optical, one is a flaneur. When they are printed or written out, they are physically arranged - the collector. A turning away from the tactile...
Parables are neither.
Collectors are beings with tactile instincts
Possession and having are allied with the tactile, and stand in a certain opposition to the optical. Collectors are beings with tactile instincts. Moreover, with the recent turn away from naturalism, the primacy of the optical that was determinate for the previous century has come to an end. Flaneur. The flaneur optical, the collector tactile.
Examining the Rungs
But if "the panorama opening out to him" is never revealed - or cannot exist, we are left to examine the rungs. They do not climb up, but are scattered about. They can only be used to beat people with.
Dramatic, that. But the point: quotations are decontextualized. They can be used for whatever purposes I put them to. They are the words of others, but they cannot speak for themselves here.
Are Kafka's parables still parables when they are quoted? Are they always already being quoted - quotations in the service of another from the moment they are written down?
Fragments and Benjamin's Method
The fragments, which are mostly short and often seem to abbreviate a thought, only rarely allow us to glimpse how Benjamin planned to link them. He would often first write down ideas, pointed scribbles. It is impossible to determine whether he planned to retain them in the course of his work. Some theoretical notes contradict each other; others are hardly compatible. Moreover, many of Benjamin's texts are linked with quotations, and there mere interpretation of those citations cannot always be separated form Benjamin's own position.
Method of this project: literary montageMethod of this project: literary montage. I needn't say anything.. Merely show. I shall purloin no valuables, appropriate no ingenious formulations. But the rags, the refuse--these I will not inventory but allow, in the only way possible, to come into their own: by making use of them.
Quotation as Failure
"Kafka" can be understood as a preparatory document for what Benjamin considered his ideal book, namely one made up only of quotes.
Quotation is a gesture, a movement between texts that is nonetheless still.
The Arcades Project as a book of gestures.
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 allegorist is, as it were, the polar opposite of the collector
Perhaps the most deeply hidden motive of the person who collects can be described in this way: he takes up the struggle against dispersion. Right from the start, the great collector is struck by the confusion, by the scatter, in which the things of the world are found. It is the same spectacle that so preoccupied the men of the Baroque; in particular, the world image of the allegorist cannot be explained apart from the passionate, distraught concern with this spectacle. The allegorist is, as it were, the polar opposite of the collector. He has given up the attempt to elucidate things through research into their properties and relations. He dislodges things from their context and, from the outset, relies on his profundity to illuminate their meaning. The collector, by contrast, brings together what belongs together; by keeping in mind their affinities and the succession in time, he can eventually furnish information about his objects. Nevertheless--and this is more important than all the differences that may exist between them--in ever collector hides an allegorist, and in every allegorist a collector.
rung by rung, according as chance would offer a narrow foothold
How this work was written: rung by rung, according as chance would offer a narrow foothold, and always like someone who scales dangerous heights and never allows himself a moment to look around, for fear of becoming dizzy (but also because he would save for the end the full force of the panorama opening out to him)
the highest degree the art of citing without quotation marks
This work has to develop to the highest degree the art of citing without quotation marks. Its theory is intimately related to that of montage.
the materials used in building a house
The fragments of the Passagen-Werk can be compared to the materials used in building a house, the outside of which has just been marked in the ground or whose foundations are just being dug. ... Next to the foundations we find the neatly ;iled excerpts, which would have been used to construct the walls; Benjamin's own thoughts would have provided the mortar to hold the building together.