To the perfect spectator, the impassioned observer, it is an immense joy to make his domicile amongst numbers, amidst fluctuations and movement, amidst the figurative and infinite. To be away from home, and yet to feel at home; to behold the world, to be in the midst of the world and yet to remain hidden from the world- these are some of the minor pleasures of such independent, impassioned and impartial spirits, when words can only clumsily describe... the observer is a prince who always rejoices in his incognito.
The flâneur is the observer of the marketplace. His knowledge is akin to the occult science of industrial fluctuations. He is a spy for capitalists, on assignment in the realm of consumers.
The idleness of the flâneur is a demonstration against the division of labor.
To leave without being forced in any way, and to follow your inspiration as if the mere fact of turning right or turning left already constituted an essentially poetic act.
We would like only, for once, to get to where we are already
We get to where we are going and then there is still the distance to cover
The Flâneur4 is historically an urban construct. Originating in the writings of Charles Baudelaire and his experiences of the city of Paris, flânerie as practice and theory has been central to much of the writings of Walter Benjamin, Georg Simmel, Siegried Kracauer aswell as the likes of Roland Barthes, John-Paul Sartre, James Joyce and others. Much has been said of the demise of the flâneur and the role of the mass entertainment industry and new communication networks (particularly television, photography/cinema and public transport, tele-communications) in reducing the activities of flânerie to a rare and disabled past-time within the city. There is another argument to suggest that the flâneur has been replaced by the tourist at a time when the city has become spatially regulated and mapped out for its users. The experience of the tourist is also one tied up in the activity of consumption; a consumption which structures the movement of the tourist between points of consumption. The tourist has somewhere to go and something to consume. There is a collective sense with the modern day tourist that, "certain sights must be seen"5 or "consumed". This is a rather different "sightseeing" to the apparent aimlessness of the flâneur's individual movement through the city which is unplanned, unprescribed and continually exploring the in between spaces of the city. He6 is doing nothing other than enacting the 'art of doing'7 itself.
In this essay, I wish to investigate the possibility of a flâneur that exists beyond the environs of the city. I will look at the flâneur of the suburb8 and examine a different practice of flânerie; one which is connected to the human experience of and relationship with car-driving. I will show how the suburb9 has been intrinsically linked to the parallel developments of both the auto-mobile industries and the shopping mall or supermarket. These two developments were a necessary part of the birth of the suburbs and essential to their continued expansion and popularity. The inter-dependent relationship between the average suburban dweller and the motorcar enabled a new type of flânerie to exist for a short time. This was what we will call, auto-flânerie. However the expansion in the use of the motorcar/automobile as the main method of transport to and from the shopping center was to produce a consumer-suburbanite that was concerned only with the use of the motorcar as a method of consumption and not with an aimless dispassionate journey through the sights and spaces of the suburban environment. The shopping mall/supermarket as the contemporary suburban extension of the nineteenth century department store in the city and was the place where, the flâneur was to be reduced to nothing more than a shopper. The suburban flâneur now had a destination. The flâneur's perceptual patterns of distracted observation and idle reverie had no place in the functional, "shopping zone" of the supermarket. This was also the place that Benjamin had predicted would bring about the demise of the flâneur and his dispassionate consumption of the city, when he wrote;
The crowd was the veil from behind which the familiar city as phantasmagoria beckoned to the flâneur. In it the city was now landscape, now a room. And both of these went into the construction of the department store, which made use of flânerie itself in order to sell goods. The department store was the flaneur's last haunt10 .
It was this place which represented the site of replacement (substitution) for the flâneur. The flâneur was to become nothing more than the consumer of "everyday things" and no longer of "everyday life". The experience of being an undiscoverable individual in a timeless landscape of discovery; of being what Edgar Allen Poe called, 'The man of the crowd'11 ; was to become a regulated and perpetual member of a consumer public which was configured by the activities of consumption and the priority of the object over the experience.
The fundamental experience of the flâneur is what Benjamin calls the "colpotage phenomenon of space" itself. He is the anti- consumer, a wanderer, an urban gypsy, a spectator, an unwilling participant in the structuring of space, time, money and consumption. The flâneur is at one and the same time performing many roles. The flâneur is the observing subject of Modernism and also the product of Modernity itself. As Benjamin put it;
the Flaneur's object of inquiry is modernity itself. Unlike the academic who reflects in his room, he walks the streets and "studies" the crowd.12
He is the "reader" and the writer of "the spectacle" that is the Modern city. He is the mobile observer of the public life of the modern world. He is interested only in the immediate process of seeing itself. He is a stroller through public space, performing what Michel de Certeau called, 'pedestrian speech acts'13 . These "acts" upon the city, see him emerge as what Hessel describes as a historian, a reflective critic of the city, a close analyst of it's architecture, a collector of scenes and images and an interpreter who translates his impressions and experiences into a way of being/ existing in the world and often into texts that represent these experiences. Everything that surrounds the flâneur is his stimuli for consumption. This is a consumption that is disconnected from the consumer object. Instead it is what Nietzsche (in his description of the modernist subject) calls a 'reactive talent'; an ability to 'look do not touch'.14 This is amobile gaze that does not fix either the observer or the observed, in a particular place (static position in space). It is opposed to the panoptic gaze15 which Michel Foucault relates to both the power and control over the individual subject through a central positioning of a "fixed" gaze. This is where "the spectacle" is structured in such a way as to produce a system of scopic domination and an enforced surveillance/discipline of the viewed subject. The visual practice of the flâneur emphasizes the movement of the body and a fluid subjectivity of the viewer/ viewed as opposed to the restraint and reform of the observer/ observed. His is a wandering and "unfixed" gaze.
The flâneur consumes nothing but time. He consumes time whilst spending it on "the appropriation of space". He is against the ordering and structuring of an ordinant public life of the city; where time is measured and marked out by work and leisure periods. This is time as defined through divisions and levels of labor and productivity. The flâneur spends his time "spending time". He collects the moment and moves on. He continues to drift through his streets of "continued discovery". This drifting is what Guy Debord and the situationists called 'dérive'16 ; a following of one's "psychogeographical" impulses through a navigation or random wandering of the city streets. The city was the raw material of an artistic and creative exploration that defied any geographic structuring of space. As Benjamin wrote;
streets are the dwelling place of the collective. The collective is an eternally restless, eternally moving essence that, among the facades of buildings endures(erlebt), experiences (erfaht), learns and senses as much as individuals in the protection of their four walls. for this collective the shiny enameled store signs are as good and even better a wall decoration as a salon oil painting is to the bourgeoisie. walls with the "defense d'afficer" are it's writing desk, newspapers are it's libraries, letterboxes it's bronzes, benches it's bedroom furniture- and cafe terraces the balcony from which it looks down on it's domestic concerns after work is done.17
The non-consumerist attitude of the flâneur was most evident in his relationship to the nineteenth century' Arcades of Paris. The arcades displayed their merchandise in a way that one did not need to go inside to view their goods. The flâneur passed by the windows of the arcades where he was to "taste" the delights of the contents inside, without ever "consuming" them. He was a passionate "window shopper". This is indicative of his relationship to the more general consumer culture that surrounded him. As Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson points out, ' the flâneur in the arcade entertains a singular relationship to the city, one that is emblematic of his relationship to society at large: he is neither full outside, ...nor altogether inside...'18 . This dispassionate consumer gaze; one that was removed from the actual consumption of commodity was to change with the advent of the department store (an early predecessor to the shopping mall/ supermarket). The space of commodification formed by the department store is one of invitation. The "passer-by" was invited into the store to experience the consumer product. The objects were no longer clearly visible through the window from outside. This radically changed the individual's relationship to the city and society as a whole. There were now distinct divisions formed between public and private, inside and outside space, consumption and display. The demarcations between observer and observed and more significantly between the individual and the commodity were now abolished and the flâneur was now taken "into" the space of consumption. The flâneur must embrace all that the city has to offer, but by entering the department store he became an active consumer; his relationship to the commodified object was no longer as an observer from a distance. The department store was later to become the shopping mall/ supermarket; a development which was also to bring a swift end to the twentieth century ancestor of the flâneur; the auto-flâneur of the suburbs.
What the performance of the flâneur lacks is a destination. An attachment to somewhere or something in the material world, that positions the individual in a concrete place which is 'spatially fixed'19 in time. The flâneur's journey is not one that marks the stages of a journey; he moves between places and not to places. As I have already pointed out the flâneur's most common attributes are that of observation and movement. These are intrinsically linked to produce a "mobilized gaze". This isa vision that sees the relationship between sight and bodily movement in space and time as being inseparable. This is also fundamental to the experience of driving or being driven. Like the flâneur, the auto-flâneur is observing whilst the body moves through space. The act of driving could be said to be auto-flânerie, but only when there is no destination, no definite location, no sense of arrival. When there is nothing to limit the possibilities of both duration and direction; when there are no beginning or end-places and both, A and B20 are inconsequential to the participant. These heterogeneous places of A and B, are the most conspicuous parts of any journey - 'they delimit the diurnal aspect, the daily duration, the dies, of the journey'21 , but, to the flâneur It is movement and the notably unstationery virtues of the in-between places that are just as interesting, and sometimes more so22 . An early example of the impact of moving through the imagined landscape as auto-flânerie can be seen in a description by Benjamin from a childhood memory in The Passagen-Werk:
Many years ago in a city tram I saw an advertising placard which, if it had entered into the world with proper things, would have found its admirers, historians, exegeticians, and copyists, as much as any great literature or great painting. And in fact it was both at the same time. But as can occur sometimes with very deep, unexpected impressions, the shock was so strong, the impression, if I may say it thus, hit me so powerfully that it broke through the bottom of consciousness and for years lay irretrievable somewhere in the darkness.23
or again in Siegried Kracauer's "Theory of Film":
And I remember, as it were today, the marvels themselves. What thrilled me so deeply was the ordinary suburban street, filled with lights and shadows which transfigured it. Several trees stood about, and there was in the foreground a puddle reflecting invisible house façades and a piece of the sky. Then a breeze moved the shadows, and the façades with the sky below began to waver. The trembling upper world of the dirty puddle - this image has never left me.24
As can be seen in these two passages, the experience of the auto-mobilized gaze has often been likened to that of the experience of being at the cinema. These are of course very different experiences of time and movement. One which sees the static spectator seated in the cinema, whilst viewing the moving images, and the other has the spectator moving through the landscape of images, which are in themselves also moving. The auto-flâneur also has a choice in the speed and direction of these images (although limited by road laws). His spectation is not only limited to the spectacle in front of him (as with cinema), he must also "take in" the passing images to both the left and right-hand side of the moving car. In many ways the automobile changed the way in which we viewed the outside25 world. In the words of Kathleen Hulser;
in the eye of the auto-flâneur, the familiar road-side is a movie like montage of discrete elements sequenced in a familiar way, even as billboards changed their ads and roadside chains and strip malls multiplied.26
Looking from the inside (interior of the automobile) to the outside (exterior to the automobile) created a perceptional distance between physical body space inside the car and the landscape space occupied by objects by the roadside. Through the frame of the windscreen, a new mode of spectatorship and seeing was at play; one which allowed a certain visual command over objects and images without actually having a physical relationship with them. Structures of perception work with the colour and contrast of the roadside images and the distance of objects from the body as it is in motion.
Viewing the passing scene from behind a wheel integrated roadside elements into a fleeting but satisfying glance that had more to do with submerging oneself in an experience than surveying a lovely prospect.27
This is not unlike the mobile-gaze of the flâneur in the nineteenth century arcades of Paris. Viewing was again more about the experience of the moving spectacle, than an aesthetic survey of a specific landscape/location or a "fixed place". Indeed the dominant method of viewing the landscape from the 1960s onwards was from a moving automobile. The Kantian notion of passionate contemplation of the aesthetic was substituted by a more dispassionate contemplation. This was the auto-flaneur's wheeled mobility that referred mostly to arbitrary known environs,...The auto-flaneur operating in a timeless present of being en route, rather than hastening to a destination.28
The development of an auto-flânerie can be seen in particular in the United States when by the 1950s, where car culture had so grafted itself onto everyday life that many suburbanites had become 'auto-centaurs'.29 , joined to their vehicles at the waist, while their torsos were draped over the steering wheels, their eyes surveyed the world through that scrim. A world of billboard advertisements, neon signs, body and chrome shops, roadside fast-food restaurants, and shopping malls.30 To own a car in the North American suburbs was as essential as owning a house. The car provided a personal space outside the family space of the home; it was a mobile unit of autonomy. The car was a metaphor for freedom, but unfortunately for the ideal development of the auto-flaneur, it was also the main mode of transportation to the consumer world; the shopping mall/the supermarket. It was the connectivity between the auto-mobile and the shopping center in the suburb that restricted a continued activity of auto-flânerie. Even the tendency in the suburbs to have the garage out front connected to the road was not unlike the supermarket, drive-in stop; a temporary destination in a society conceptualized by the car. This was to be the end of what Jonathan Rabat called,
the fashion, the role, the lie, the daring fantasy, were assertions of the human--living proofs that in a world of machines and city streets, the machine could be man's toy not his master, and that the street, far from being a jungle of anonymity, could be the stage for a uniquely personal performance31 .
The obsessive consumer usage of the car as a means of traveling to and from the shopping mall halted the possibility of the act of driving, becoming another form of flânerie: an aimless and mobile expression of individual performance. Indeed it was the modern day shopping mall that adapted the mobility of flânerie to structure its own mechanisms for mobilizing the shopper through what Emile Zola called, its "wonderful commercial machine". The shopping mall became a selling machine designed to process shoppers through its cogs and pinions. 'Shopping mall planners employ a mechanist rhetoric to describe the circulation of consumers: magnet stores, generators, flow, pull',32 as elevators and escalators provide an illusion of travel and movement, a mechanized mobility to the shopper's gaze in 'a serene glide through an entirely consumer space.'33 This is a mobility which is in the guise of experience and sometimes entertainment (this can be seen in the evolution of Cine-multiplexes and their similarity to the shopping mall aesthetic). In a commodified and controlled space where the individual is sign-posted and transported to the site of consumption; the shopper is shuttled through a structured activity of consumerism within an environment measured by time (business opening hours). The flâneur on the other hand does not wish to relate time with space. These are relative only to the capitalist consumer; where space is equated to time and time means money. In any capitalist economy,
The buying and selling of commodities...entails the (possible) loss of time and money in overcoming spatial separation. This means that commodity markets become articulated into distinctive geographical trading patterns in which the efficiency of co-ordinations in space and time is a vital consideration.34
As we shall see the auto-mobile was the main means in which to support this efficiency in the suburbs. It was the inseparability of the auto-mobile and the shopping mall that supplied the means to which the suburbs were to become a viable investment within a capitalist system of consumption. This inseparability was encouraged also by the inaccessibility of many shopping malls and the need for a motorcar to get there.
For any commodity market to succeed there needs to be a regulation of the level/degree of the geographical separations between the consumer and the commodity. It is of paramount importance in producing an increase in the amount of capital circulation and commodity consumption. In order to achieve this both time and space need to be considered and ordered.
Firstly, what oftime?. As movement across space takes time and money there is a need for geographical concentration to minimize spatial separation i.e. what Harvey calls 'the annihilation of space by time'; the less time involved in getting from A to B and the less time involved in exchanging the results of production to levels of consumption, the greater the ratio-value of capital/investment to consumption/money exchange. The relatively recent success of both, e. commerce and computerized banking systems are clear examples that have been achieved by the removal of space by time.
Secondly, what of space? Space is an abstract entity, but within any capitalist model it is measured. In any capitalist economy, It is understood to be occupied by people/ potential consumer value and objects/ potential commodity value. In fact, the ability to define people to object relations and the knowledge and control of this economic exchange within capitalist space, allows for the possibility to create purpose-made new spaces within which this exchange can be both monitored and controlled. Major examples can be found in the construction of completely new cities that where based on a capitalist ideology; like Las Vegas, or the edge cities36 of Detroit or Chicago or suburban developments like Celebration or Seaside in The United States, aswell as British examples like Welwyn Garden City or Milton Keynes. These places are creatures of the marketplace and they are often built to accommodate a particular niche in the commercial world.
The suburb as a geographically, economically and demographically ordered "ideological state apparatus" (to appropriate Althusser) or (slightly less severe), as "a capitalist structure", was and is a necessary capital investment (not the only one) for the purpose of both resolving and increasing commodity exchange value. By constructing the suburb, the ordering and control of the levels of people/consumers to space and time relationships is made possible. This is what David Harvey called, 'a built environment'; that was potentially supportive of capitalist production, consumption, and exchange (that) had to be created before capitalism won direct control over immediate production and consumption.37
As I have already mentioned the ability to control the level of space/ time relations, the greater the potential for higher consumption levels within a capitalist system of 'product to money exchange'. Structuring, the ways in which people travel to and from home, work, shops, centers of production, leisure and consumption can also enable methods of evaluation and control over what is consumed and how much. The more accessible something is the greater it's potential for consumption. The more something is consumed, the higher its levels of it's production and the greater the economic exchange value, that is produced. For this to occur, there is an need for what Harvey identifies as the necessary 'Investments in new systems of transport and communications that reduce spatial barriers and roll back the possible geographical boundaries of exchange relations'38 .
There are two possible transport solutions to the problem of trading efficiency and an increase in the access of the consumer to the commodity. Looking at these briefly;
1. The transport of commodity to the consumer.
The problem with this method is that in order for the commodity to be accessible to all consumers, the commodity needs to be near to all consumers or less the price of the commodity needs to be greater than the obvious high costs in transporting small units of commodity to even smaller units of consumer.
2. The transport of consumer to commodity.
The advantage of this system is that the consumer can have access to commodity at all time. This method also requires the consumer to invest in their own form of transport. The most cost efficient variation, here, is when this transport is in itself cost effective. Therefore, by removing the obvious costs involved in public transport and encouraging the consumer to purchase their own form of travel, the consumer is investing in a product/commodity which enables even greater levels of commodity consumption, i.e. by buying an auto-mobile he/she is consuming in order to have a wider and easier access to a greater number of sites of consumption; and at the same time being led to believe that they are investing in their own individuality and mobility (I am here fundamentally referring to the origin in the consumer popularity of the auto-mobile in the 1950s and 60s and the advertising campaigns that helped create this new suburban necessity).
The creation of the suburb, beyond urban/traditional commercial centers created a need for a mode of transport that enabled a greater level of consumer activity. I would argue that the suburb without the automobile would have been an economic disaster and this can be highlighted by the inter-dependent relationship that was encouraged between car and car-owners, particularly in suburban culture in America by the 1950s. This was an inter-dependence which was to see the performance of the auto-flâneur, as a rare perceptional practice and an ultimately under-developed experience of the automobile; the dominant use of which had become the quickening of the speed and mobility of the suburban consumer to the space of consumption (the shopping center) without having to travel to the city. As the activities of the nineteenth century flâneur died out with the eventual dominance of new urban commodification and a capitalist ideology within the city, which began with the advent of the department store and a new relationship between the subject and the commodity; the auto-flâneur was to be out done by an increasing dependency upon the suburban shopping mall and a need for a mode of transport to get there.
As Walter Benjamin had already predicted; the department store would make use of flânerie itself in order to sell goods39 and the flâneur would eventually become commodified by his overt attachment to the arcades' windows. He 'goes to the marketplace as a flâneur, supposedly to take a look at it, but in reality to find a buyer'40 .
Empathy with the commodity is fundamentally an empathy with exchange value itself. The flâneur is the virtuoso of empathy. He takes the concept of market-ability itself for a stroll. Just as his final ambit is the department store, his last incarnation is the sandwich man.41
By becoming an active participant in the process of commodity exchange, he has become swallowed up by the goods in the stores. He has become commodified. He has become little more than the sandwich man whose identity is hidden by the large advertising sign carried on his front and back.
Augé,Marc, Non-Places; Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernism
(Verso; London, New York, 1995), pp.80-87.
Bachelard, Gaston, The Poetics of Space (Beacon Press; Boston, 1994).
Baudelaire, Charles, 'The Painter of Modern Life', My heart laid bare and other prose writings (Soho Books; London, 1986).
Baudrillard, Jean, Simulacra and Simulations (The University of Michigan; Michigan, 1994).
Benjamin, Walter, The Arcades Project (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England, 1999).
Blanchot, Maurice, The Space of Literature (University of Nebraska Press; Lincoln, London, 1982).
Buck-Morss, Susan, The Dialectics of Seeing; Walter Benjamin and The Arcades Project (MIT Press; Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, 1991).
Casey, Edward S., Getting Back into Place; Towards a Renewed Understanding of the Place-World (Indiana University Press; Bloomington, Indianapolis, 1993).
Certeau, Michel de, The Practice of Everyday Life (University of California Press; Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1984).
Debord, Guy, Society of The Spectacle (Black and Red; Detroit, 1983).
Ellard, Graham and Johnstone, Stephan, Wall of Death (exhibition catalogue; Cornerhouse; Manchester and The Paperbag Factory; London, 1999-00).
Fishman, Robert, Bourgeois Utopias: The Rise and Fall of Suburbia (Basic Books, Inc., Publishers; New York, 1987).
Foucault, Michel, The Archeology of Knowledge (Harper and Row; New York, 1972).
'Of Other Spaces', in diacritics (Spring, 1986).
Discipline and Punish (Peregrine Books, 1979).
The Order of Things; An Archeology of the Human Sciences (Routledge; London, 1970), pp.125-166.
Friedberg, Anne, Window Shopping; Cinema and The Postmodern (University of California, 1994).
Garreau, Joel, Edge City; Life on the New Frontier (Double Day; New York, 1991).
Gleber, Anke, The Art of Taking a Walk; Flanerie, Literature, and Film in Weimar Culture (Princeton University Press; Princeton, New Jersey,1999), pp. 3-63.
Harvey, David, The Urban Experience (Basil Blackwell; Oxford, 1989).
Heidegger, Martin, 'Building, Dwelling, Thinking' in Poetry, Language, Thought (Harper & Row; New York, 1971), pp. 145-162.
Hulser, Kathleen, 'Visual Browsing; Auto-Flâneurs and roadside ads in the 1950s' in Suburban Discipline, Lang and Miller (ed.), (Princeton Architectural Press; New York, 1997).
Jay, Martin,_Downcast Eyes; The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought _(University of California Press; Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1994).
Lefebvre, Henri, The Production of Space (Blackwell; Oxford, Cambridge, 1991).
MacCannell, Dean, The Tourist; A New Theory of the Leisure Class (University of California Press; Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1999).
Perec, Georges, Species of Space and Other Pieces (Penguin Books; London, New York, 1997).
Pollock, Griselda, 'Modernity and Spaces of Femininity, in Vision and Difference; Femininity, Feminism and Histories of Art (Routledge; London, 1988).
Shields, Rob, Places on The Margin; Alternative geographies of Modernity ( Routledge; London, New York, 1991).
Simmel, Georg, On Individuality and Social Forms; Selected Writings, Levine, Donald N. (ed.), (The University of Chicago Press Chicago, London, 1971).
Stallybrass, Peter & White, Alison, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (Cornell University Press; Ithaca, New York, 1986).
Steiner, George, 'Work in Progress; Shops, sewers, boredom, barricades: Walter Benjamin's mappings of Paris above and below the ground', Times Literary Supplement (Dec. 3, 1999), pp.3-4.
Stewart, Susan, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (Duke University Press; Durham and London, 1993), pp.70-103.
Tester, Keith (ed.), The Flâneur (Routledge; London, New York, 1994).
Raban, Jonathan, Soft City (The Harvill Press; London,1998, ( first published 1974)).
Zukin, Sharon, Landscapes of Power (University of California Press; Berkeley, 1991).
From 'The Painter of Modern Life', in My heart laid bare and other prose writings (Soho Books; London, 1986).
In Walter Benjamin's The Arcades Project (1999), p.427. It is worth noting that this is the first complete English translation of the compiled Arcades Project or Passagen-Werk by Benjamin as written between 1927-1940.
Benjamin, W.The Arcades Project (English Translation; 1999), p.427.
The term Flâneur originates from the French verb flâner; to saunter of to lounge. Flanri (flanerie) also being aimless idle behavior.
See MacCannell, The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class, p42.
From Baudelaire and thereafter, the flâneur has been represented as a predominantly male construct. I am here interested only in this construct and am therefore using the masculine (He) in this context which is in keeping with the nineteenth century literary and historical tradition of 'the flâneur'. I am aware that their have existed numerous female examples of flânerie including Collette, Anais Nin, Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot, Gwen John and numerous characters and representations in their work(s) etc.. A discussion here on the flâneuse would be a detour from my main argument and would only serve as a distraction. The female subject and flânerie is dealt with in detail by Janet Wolff in her essay, 'The artist and the flâneur: Rodin, Rilke and Gwen John in Paris', from The Flâneur, edited by Keith Tester (1994). In the same book, Priscilla Pankhurst Ferguson and Zygmunt Bauman raise the question about whether women could or can partake in flânerie. There is also an in depth look at the invisibility of the female flâneur in 'Female Flânerie'; section four of The Art of Walking: Flanerie, Literature and Film in Weimar Culture (1999) by Anke Gleber. This looks particularly at 'spatial practice' as a gendered practice within the city and gives a critical reading of the origin of 'the flâneuse'. See also Griselda Pollock's essay; 'Modernity and Spaces of Femininity', in Vision and Difference; Femininity, Feminism and Histories of Art (1988).
See Michel de Certeau in The Practice of Everyday life (1984).
I am fully aware of the somewhat inseparable historical relationship between the flâneur and the modern city (particularly in both Baudelaire's and Benjamin's relationships with Paris). I would argue that their are fundamental aspects to both the character and nature of the flâneur that can be transported onto any landscape or environment, including the country and the suburb. These attributes, which I will develop later, are those of movement/mobility, individuality/subjectivity, alienation/displacement, observation/spectation, walking/traveling. These are essential aspects to any understanding of the way in which spatial practices operate.
In this essay, I am here referring predominantly to the American Suburb although in most cases the British suburb could be said to behave in a similar manner.
Quoted from Walter Benjamin's Passagen-Werk in Anne Friedberg's, Window Shopping; Cinema and The Postmodern (1994), p 35. This is also quoted in Susan Buck-Morss' Dialectics of Seeing; Walter Benjamin and The Arcades Project (1991), p.345. Susan Buck-Morss translates the final sentence of this paragraph by Benjamin as follows; ' the department store is [the Flâneur's] last haunt', instead of final coup. I prefer to use the expression last haunt although it is translated asfinal ambit in the English translation (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999). Both Friedberg and Buck-Morss have independently translated from the German edition;Das Passagen-Werk, edited by Rolf Tiedemann (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1982).
See Walter Benjamin's, The Arcades Project (1999), 'Convolute M The Flâneur', pp.416-455.
Buck-Morss, The Dialectics of Seeing; Walter Benjamin and The Arcades Project (1991), p.305.
Michel de Certeau in The Practice of Everyday Life (1984).
Anke Gleber in The Art of Walking: Flanerie, Literature and Film in Weimar Culture (1999), p.130.
See both Michel Foucault's, The Archeology of Knowledge (1972) and his Discipline and Punish (1979), and his writings on Jeremy Bentham's invention of The Panopticon Device (1791) and his analysis of power and control through observation/ discipline of the individual and the role of surveillance in what he called; 'un régime panoptique'. This was a method of observation which had as it's goal the restriction and control of the observed subject through the centrally positioned gaze of the controller. The aim of which was to punish and discipline the subject of surveillance e.g. The prisoner, the psychiatic patient.
See Martin Jay (1994), p.55.
As quoted in Buck-Morss (1991),from Benjamin's Das Passegen-Werk (ed. Tiedemann 1982).
Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, 'The flâneur on and off the streets of Paris' in The Flâneur; Keith Tester (ed.), (1994), p.35.
See David Harvey on 'the spatial fix' and the relationship between Money, Time and Space in The Urban Experience (1989), pp.18-58.
When A and B are places marked out in the journey of the driver. When A is a fixed place and B is a fixed destination on the car journey. This is when A to B is the configuration of a linear narrative in time. It could also be A to Z etc.
Casey (1993), p. 275.
Anke Gleber (1999), p.139.
By outside , I mean everything that can be observed and visually recorded through and beyond both; physical body space and the interior space of a building constructed for human body interaction and secondly, the inside of a moving vehicle.
Kathleen Hulser in 'Visual Browsing; Auto-Flâneurs and roadside ads in the 1950s', from Suburban Discipline, (ed.)Lang and Miller (1997), P.10.
Hulser (1997), p.11.
Hulser (1997), p.10.
Hulser (1997), p.9.
See Raban in Soft City (1974), p.75.
Anne Friedberg in,Window Shopping; Cinema and The Postmodern (1994), p.112.
Harvey (1989), P.18.
This text was used by American artist Barbara Krueger on one of her anti-capitalist posters throughout New York City in the 1980's. It is an obvious appropriation of the Cartesian, "I think therefore I am."
See Joel Garreau's writings on the development of American edge cities: New Jersey, Detroit etc., in Edge City; Life on the New Frontier (1991).
Harvey (1989), P.24.
Harvey (1989), P.18.
Quoted in Friedberg (1994), p.35.
Benjamin on Baudelaire as quoted in Tester (1994).
Benjamin (1999), p.448.