Benjamin & Discontinuity: Semblances of Continuity

“It may be that the continuity of tradition is mere semblance. But then precisely the persistence of this semblance of persistence provides it with continuity” Benjamin The AP [N19,1]


private profit public cost: space and capital


nothing illuminates the force of capital in society than its ability to co-opt space at will. this enclosure may be temporary but it is still an enclosure.  the reverse of this – when the wider society intrudes on the enclosed spaces of ‘private property’ – has several names all of them pejorative.

Terror Quotidien

my emphasis throughout;

All such systems have in common a general law of functionalism. The everyday can therefore be defined as a set of functions which connect and join together systems that might appear to be distinct. Thus defined, the everyday is a product, the most general of products in an era where production engenders consumption, and where consumption is manipu- lated by producers: not by “workers,” but by the managers and owners of the means of production (intellectual, instrumental, scientific). The everyday is therefore the most universal and the most unique condition, the most social and the most individuated, the most obvious and the best hidden. A condition stipulated for the legibility of forms, ordained by means of functions, inscribed within structures, the everydayconstitutes the platform upon which the bureaucratic society of controlled con- sumerism is erected. (p9)

In modern life, the repetitive gestures tend to mask and to crush the cycles. The everyday imposes its monotony. It is the invariable constant of the variations it envelops. The days follow one after another and resemble one another, and yet-here lies the contradiction at the heart of everydayness – everything changes. But the change is programmed: obsolescence is planned. Production anticipates reproduction; production produces change in such a way as to superimpose the impression of speed onto that of monotony. Some people cry out against the acceleration of time, others cry out against stagnation. They’re both right. (p10)

Common denominator of activities, locus and milieu of human func- tions, the everyday can also be analysed as the uniform aspect of the major sectors of social life: work, family, private life, leisure. These sectors, though distinct as forms, are imposed upon in their practice by a structure allowing us to discover what they share: organized passivity. This means, in leisure activities, the passivity of the spectator faced with images and landscapes; in the workplace, it means passivity when faced with decisions in which the worker takes no part; in private life, it means the imposition of consumption, since the available choices are directed and the needs of the consumer created by advertising and market studies. This generalized passivity is moreover distributed unequally. It weighs more heavily on women, who are sentenced to everyday life, on the working class, on employees who are not technocrats, on youth-in shortonthemajorityofpeople-yet neverinthesameway,atthesame time, never all at once. (p10)

Henri Lefebvre, ‘The Everyday and Everydayness’, trans’ Christine Levich,  Yale French Studies, No. 73, Everyday Life. (1987), pp. 7-11.

Neitzche: the perfomativity of the self

it is very difficult to tell from my brief engagement with neitzsche (just the Genealogy of Morals) quite what to make of his work. it is shot through with the racism and the semiotic mechanisms of the symbolic violence of the dominant classes of his time but it is also clearly a set of over-lapping ironic (or perhaps meta-ironic) games.

consider this:

…there is no ‘being’ behind doing, acting, becoming; ‘the doer’ is merely a fiction imposed on the doing – the doing itself is everything.”

[Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, trans’ Douglas Smith, Oxford University Press 2008, p29] 

it radically prefigure the work of Goffman, Discursive Psychology, & Butler but it is woven into a skein of invective against the masses/ the weak based on a metaphor of predator and prey.


Now & Then: the ‘laminated’ synchronic

in the lamination of the many synchronicities of human existence lies the effect of the diachronic.  we collapse the jetztziets of the past-other into a ‘change-over-time’, a ‘development’, and a ‘passage-of-time’.  we glue them together into a ‘history’ that annihilates the connotational aspect of the past when it is that very connotation that we so desperately seek. 


Benjamin & Discontinuity

 “Benjamin placed great value on discontinuity and decontextualization in his method, both to denaturalize the particular features in view and to prevent their being reinserted into conventional, uncritical pictures of the world.”

George L. Dillon, Montage/Critique: Another Way of Writing Social History, PostModernCulture, 14.2, 2004