Simmel, Kracauer And Benjamin

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Simmel, Kracauer And Benjamin

  1. 1. Simmel, Kracauer and Benjamin Georg Simmel Sigfried Kracauer Walter Benjamin 1858-1918 1889-1966 1892-1940 Modernity, Mentality and Overstimulation
  2. 2. “The Metropolis and Mental Life” 1903 “Modernity involved an ‘intensification of the nervous stimulation.’ Modernity transformed both the physiological an psychological foundation of subjective experience” (Singer, 73)
  3. 3. “The Metropolis and Mental Life” 1903 Simmel looks at the social- physiological features of modern urban culture. He notes that in cities, many anonymous people come into contact with one another, yet are removed from the emotional ties and social bonds that they had in smaller communities. Urban dwellers tend to be: •Calculative: daily life is filled with “weighing, calculating, enumerating,” reducing qualitative values to quantitative terms •Blasé: urban dwellers possess an outlook of indifference towards the values that distinguish things.
  4. 4. “The Metropolis and Mental Life” 1903 The “brevity and scarcity of inter-human contacts granted to the metropolitan man, as compared to the social intercourse of the small town” makes the “objective spirit” dominate over the “subjective spirit”
  5. 5. “The Mass Ornament” and “The Cult of Distraction” Kracauer views the city through the notion of ornament, thinking about the subjective experience of city life by viewing fragments of the city (amusement park, movie theater, employment exchange, homeless shelter) as urban microcosms. For Kracauer, the city is a stifling place filled with a milieu of distractions. His most famous of his Weimar Essays look at the role movie theaters and film have for the masses. Looks at the process of rationalization of capital.
  6. 6. “The Mass Ornament” 1927 Kracauer offers a layout of analyzing modern city life by examining circuses, photography, films, advertising, tourism, city layout and dance. Offers an analysis of the Tiller Girls
  7. 7. the aesthetic pleasure gained from the ornamental mass movements is legitimate. . . .The masses which are arranged in them are taken from offices and factories. The structural principle upon which they are modeled determines in reality as well. . . .No matter how low one rates the value of the mass ornament, its level of reality is still above that of artistic productions which cultivate obsolete noble sentiments in withered forms. . . . [26]
  8. 8. “On Some Motifs of Baudelaire” (1939) Looks at modern life through the works of Baudelaire, Proust and Poe. Baudelaire “indicated the price for which sensation of the modern age may be had: the disintegration of the aura and the experience of shock. (196)
  9. 9. Shock Medical definition: a sudden debilitating effect produced by over-stimulation of the nerves. When a body is in shock it is literally over- stimulated: it is taking in too much information.
  10. 10. “On Some Motifs of Baudelaire”: shock For Benjamin, shock is inherent to a crowded modern city. Because of all the stuff going on (visual images, moving images, sights and sounds) there is a huge amount of external stimulation. Modern city dwellers however have trained themselves to always be alert but also have their shields of mediation raised to cope with the environment.

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