Archived entries for multitude

no confundamos al flâneur con el mirón y a la multitud con la muchedumbre, cuestiones de individualidad…

“No confundamos al flâneur con el mirón: [...] el flâneur… está siempre en [...] posesión de su individualidad, mientras la del mirón desaparece, al contrario, al quedar absorbida por el mundo exterior [...] que lo hace exaltarse, embriagado, hasta el éxtasis. Bajo la presión del espectáculo el mirón se hace un ser impersonal; ya no es un hombre: es público, es decir, muchedumbre.”

Obra de los pasajes
Victor Fournel. Ce qu’on voit dans les rues de Paris, París 1858, p. 263. Cit. en Obra de los pasajes, M 6, 5

via Atlas Walter Benjamin – flâneur.

nos apropiamos de la ciudad sólo en el instante de la revuelta, puesto que sólo esta última, por un instante, la hace cognoscible

“7. El archivo puede destruirse sin que la estructura de la sociedad sea tocada: la ciudad, lugar de lo social por excelencia, no es en efecto una entrega inerte de noticias, sino el mapa viviente, móvil e ilimitado de los crímenes. Desde las calles hasta la cárcel y los diarios, procede así sin obstáculos la actividad única y febril: su tarea consiste en reconducir el crimen hacia dentro del juego de la normalidad social. Esta tarea no atañe sólo a los individuos, sino más bien a bandas enteras de opositores al orden o, mejor, a muchedumbres o masas delincuentes.

La experiencia del mouton se manifiesta mejor y se hace más fructífera allí donde acontece algo inesperado. Con el estallido imprevisto de la revuelta, que interrumpe la continuidad del archivo, aparecen los delatores, útiles y enrolables. Pero así, imprevista, se anima también la muchedumbre, peligrosa por definición. El policía y el agente provocador saben mejor que cualquier otro que “la masa incitada se forma en vista de una meta velozmente alcanzable” (Elias Canetti, Masse une Macht, 1960). En el juego antagonista de la muchedumbre, de su formación y de su igualmente veloz disolución, la policía recompone sin cesar la normalidad social, instaurando el dominio indiscutido de los “hechos”. París es la capital de Haussmann y del comisario Bertillon, es la sociedad que avanza ahí donde la multitud sediciosa emprende la retirada.

Nos apropiamos en verdad de la ciudad sólo en el instante de la revuelta, puesto que sólo esta última, por un instante, la hace de veras cognoscible. Entonces y por vez primera, ya no estamos solos. Pero cuando la muchedumbre se dispersa, la sociedad vuelve a adherirse perfectamente a cada calle y a cada pared. Entonces el “no estar ya solos” se convierte en el “estar de nuevo en sociedad”. La ciudad regresa inapreciable, mientras que el urbanismo aflora entre el polvo de la masa dispersa.”

Clase. El despertar de la multitud.
Andrea Cavalletti.

mysteries which will not suffer themselves to be revealed

It was well said of a certain German book that 'er lasst sich nicht lesen' – it does not permit itself to be read. There are some secrets which do not permit themselves to be told. Men die nightly in their beds, wringing the hands of ghostly confessors, and looking them piteously in the eyes – die with despair of heart and convulsion of throat, on account of the hideousness of mysteries which will not suffer themselves to be revealed. Now and then, alas, the conscience of man takes up a burden so heavy in horror that it can be thrown down only into the grave. And thus the essence of all crime is undivulged.”

Edgar Allan Poe, The Man of the Crowd

Antonio Gramsci – The Modern Prince: Brief Notes on Machiavelli’s Politics

The basic thing about The Prince is that it is not a systematic treatment, but a “live” work, in which political ideology and political science are fused in the dramatic form of a “myth”. Before Machiavelli, political science had taken the form either of the Utopia or of the scholarly treatise. Machiavelli, combining the two, gave imaginative and artistic form to his conception by embodying the doctrinal, rational element in the person of a condottiere, who represents plastically and “anthropomorphically” the symbol of the “collective will”. In order to represent the process whereby a given collective will, directed towards a given political objective, is formed, Machiavelli did not have recourse to long-winded arguments, or pedantic classifications of principles and criteria for a method of action. Instead he represented this process in terms of the qualities, characteristics, duties and requirements of a concrete individual. Such a procedure stimulates the artistic imagination of those who have to be convinced, and gives political passions a more concrete form.

City Square, Alberto Giacometti (1948)

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PS: Let’s first talk about Negri and Hardt’s success: They have managed to give the current desire for radicality a novum organum, an accomplishment that deserves admiration. At the same time, I suspect that the secret behind the book’s great success can be ascribed to its thinly veiled religious tones. At first one doesn’t easily recognize the good old-left radicalism when Saint Francis takes the stage next to Marx and Deleuze. But this new alliance with the saints is instructive for the position of left radicalism in the post-Marxist situation. Whoever wants to practice fundamental opposition today needs allies who are not entirely of this world. In order to grasp the awkward situation of left radicalism, one should recall Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance. According to Festinger, ideologies that no longer match circumstances are reinterpreted by their believers until they appear to match them again�with the unavoidable result that theories become increasingly bizarre. Gershom Scholem clarified something similar in relation to the fate of Jewish prophetism. The gist of what he says is this: When prophetism fails, apocalypticism emerges; when apocalypticism fails, gnosis emerges. An analogous escalation can be observed in the political opposition movements since 1789: When the bourgeois revolution fails or is insufficient, left radicalism emerges; when left radicalism fails or is insufficient, the mystique of protest emerges. It seems to me that Negri has arrived at exactly this point. His “multitude” calls forth a community of angry saints in which the fire of pure opposition burns�yet it no longer offers a revolutionary project, instead testifying by its mere existence to a world counter to universal capitalism. Thus one cannot simply say that Negri’s framework failed�it has already incorporated his failure. Perhaps it would be more accurate to claim that the political revolutionary has become transformed into a spiritual teacher. This is the price to be paid by anyone who seriously tries to develop a language of the left beyond resentment.



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