Arcades Project blogathon


Galeries St. Hubert (1846), Brussels

Arcades Project (1927 – 1940) – Walter Bejamin

3. One book you would want on a desert island? Something large, omnivorous, digressive, its curiosity knowing no boundaries, a sort of uber-Merzbau that might serve as a microcosm of the world I left behind, “the theater of all my struggles and all my ideas,” Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project. –girish
The Arcades Project site was created and is maintained by Heather Marcelle Crickenberger.

“It is part of a doctoral dissertation that is scheduled to be completed May 2006 at the University of South Carolina. Much of the bibliographic infomation required of such a project is yet to be included.” [Oct 2006]

Here is the list of convolutes she features.

Convolute is a multifaceted word that connotes “To make something unnecessarily complex; to fold or coil into numerous overlapping layers; to twist someone’s words to fit a desired meaning that was not intended by the speaker.”

If I understand correctly (without direct access to a paper copy (mine is on the way from Germany)), Walter Benjamin used the concept in his Arcades Project ; konvolutes were sections in a collection of thousands of index cards on which he transcribed quotations and notations. It was a cross-referenced system not shying away from ambiguity and ambivalence; seeking its power in opposition and confusion, an early version of fragmented modernity and harbinger of postmodernity.

I would like to call for an Arcades Project blogathon. There is no deadline. By way of inspiration I offer you the following concepts

in praise of convolution

in praise of variety

in praise of flânerie

in praise of juxtaposition

in praise of multifacetedness

and …

“Method of this work:
literary montage.
I have nothing to say only to show.”
(Passagenwerk (1927 – 1940) – Walter Benjamin)

The “rhizome” allows for multiple,
non-hierarchical entry and exit points
in data representation and interpretation.
Mille Plateaux – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari,
volume 2 of Capitalisme et Schizofrénie (1980)

4 thoughts on “Arcades Project blogathon

  1. Pingback: The Arcades Project arrived in the mail today « Jahsonic

  2. davidbdale

    Now that your book has arrived, you can begin, I hope, to share your assessment of the value of the project to contemporary readers.

    As many accolades as the EFFORT has earned, I was intrigued to find one hint among the reviews you pointed us toward that the book we make in our own heads while reading Benjamin may be a better book than his.

    “Because his ideas never cohered into a doctrine, The Arcades remained a treatise about everything that never amounted to anything. But, like the vanished bohemia it documented in such obsessive detail, this ruin of a book has its own sublime grandeur.”
    –Daniel Johnson, Daily Telegraph

  3. jahsonic

    Thanks for your comment (and your previous one on Volksgeist).
    I am very glad I have the EFFORT in my possession now, I’ve read about it for more than 5 years.

    My first impression of the book, and I risk sounding presumptuous here (which I don’t intend to), is that it reminded me very much of my own work. And sadly, the negative aspects of it came to the fore first: ideas that never cohere into a doctrine, a treatise about everything that never amounted to anything, obsessive detail, a ruin of a work. I must add to this my inability to write linearly (so don’t get your hopes up to high for my entry) and to delineate and define my subject matter.

    I will definitely be mining “the most famous books never written” for its quotations.
    If I look at it from the bright side: may become an Arcades Project of the internet-era. And may there be many more

  4. jahsonic

    Oh yes,

    Another first impression: the quixoticness of it all. As in

    “Caught up in the romance of noble deeds and the pursuit of unreachable goals; idealistic without regard to practicality.”


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