To German philosopher Benjamin (1892-1940), the glass-covered shopping arcades of 19th-century Paris were the first dream-worlds of mass culture. He spent 13 years taking notes for the "Arcades project," but the manuscript was a morass of fragments at the time he committed suicide. By decoding all sorts of urban phenomena--casinos, street signs, prostitution, apartment interiors, boredom, railway stations, Baudelaire's poetry, etc.--the Marxist cultural critic hoped to pierce the myths of progress, consumerist bliss and faith in technology.
Book: 1 Jul 1991
The Dialectics of Seeing
Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project
In a major act of biographical-literary excavationBuck-Morss reconstructs Benjamin's thought processes as he penetrated the collective cultural fantasies spawned by mass production and the mass media.
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