Baudelaire's Media Aesthetics: The Gaze of the Flâneur and 19th-Century Media
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Baudelaire's Media Aesthetics situates Charles Baudelaire in the midst of 19th-century media culture. It offers a thorough study of the role of newspapers, photography, and precinematic devices in Baudelaire's writings, while also discussing the cultural history of these media generally. The book reveals that Baudelaire was not merely inspired by the new media, but that he played with them, using them as frames of perception and ways of experiencing the world. His writings demonstrate how different media respond to one another and how the conventions of one medium can be paraphrased in another medium. Accordingly, Baudelaire's Media Aesthetics argues that Baudelaire should be seen merely as an advocate of “pure poetry,” but as a poet in a media saturated environment. It shows that mediation, montage, and movement are features that are central to Baudelaire's aesthetics and that his modernist aesthetics can be conceived of, to a large degree, as a media aesthetics.
Highlighting Baudelaire's interaction with the media of his age, Baudelaire's Media Aesthetics discusses the ways in which we respond to new media technology, drawing on perspectives from Walter Benjamin and Giorgio Agamben. Combining detailed research with contemporary theory, the book opens up new perspectives on Baudelaire's writings, the figure of the flâneur, and modernist aesthetics.
Arcades Project, 14. Benjamin, The Arcades Project, 25. Benjamin, The Arcades Project, 26. Walter Benjamin, Gesammelte Schriften 5, ed. Rolf Tiedemann (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1991), 26. Cohen, Profane Illumination, 235. Cohen, Profane Illumination, 229–30. Cohen, Profane Illumination, 251; 259. Jennings, “On the Banks of a New Lethe,” 103–4. Gunning, “Illusions Past and Future,” 12. Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, trans. James Strachey (New York: Basic Books, 2010), 504. Freud,
thought is accompanied by a more or less vigorous nervous impulse that reverberates in the cerebral cortex.37 L’enfant voit tout en nouveauté; il est toujours ivre. Rien ne ressemble plus à ce qu’on appelle l’inspiration, que la joie avec laquelle l’enfant absorbe la forme et la couleur. J’oserai pousser plus loin; j’affirme que l’inspiration a quelque rapport avec la congestion, et que toute pensée sublime est accompagnée d’une secousse nerveuse, plus ou moins forte, qui retentit jusque dans le
medium. The following paragraphs may serve to recapitulate key issues of the previous chapters and to outline the main attributes of Baudelaire’s media aesthetics: Mediation. Baudelaire’s media aesthetics brings attention to the processes of mediation; it reveals that modern life must be mediated in order to be noticed and recognizes that both visibility and readability are produced. Where visibility is produced through framing and captioning (photographs), readability is produced through layout
the term phantasmagoria in detail would be a catalog-like exercise, so instead I will focus merely on a few key passages in which the term appears. Generally, the term is most frequently used in his writing related to The Arcades Project, and notably in the two exposés for the project that Benjamin sent to the Frankfurt School: the early version “Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century” (1935) and the revised version written in French, “Paris, Capitale du XIXème siècle” (1939). Benjamin
psyche is layered and hides away images that can only be accessed after a process of development. Benjamin described the way time and experience are captured as negative images that can only be “read” after a process of development. In both cases, photographic structures and imagery serve to describe a complex mediation process. Benjamin: The stereoscope and the dialectical image As a supplement to the discussion of photographic imagery, I would like to bring attention to a few key passages in