"In order that the mind may not be taxed, moreover, by the manifold and confused reading of so many such things, and in order to prevent the escape of something valuable that we have read, heard, or discovered through the process of thinking itself, it will be found very useful to entrust to notebooks ... those things which seem noteworthy and striking."

[Commonplace books: Thomas Farnaby, 17th-century]

For the perfect flaneur, 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, and yet remain hidden from the world -- such are a few of the slightest pleasures of those independent, passionate, impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define. The spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito... Be very aware that this man, such as I have depicted him -- this solitary, gifted with an active imagination, ceaselessly journeying across the great human desert -- has an aim loftier than that of the mere flaneur -- an aim more general, something other than the fugitive pleasures of circumstance. He is looking for that quality that you must allow me to call 'modernity'.

[flaneur: Baudelaire, The Painter of Life, 1859]

Posted by rp on 04.28.2009

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