Category Archives: Commonplace Book

Anxiety in the Arcades 1927

Description of German arcades, 1927. in Buck, Dialectic of Seeing

I cannot enter it without a damp chill coming over me, without the fear that I might never find an exit. I am hardly past the shoeshine and news paper stands under the lofty arches of the entrance, and I feel a mild confusion. A window promises me dancing daily and that Meyer without whom no party would be complete. But where is the entrance? Next to the ladies’ hairdresser there is another display: stamps and those curiously named tools of the collector: adhesive pockets with guaranteed acid-free rubber, a perforation gauge made of celluloid. “Be sensible! Wear wool!” demands the next window of me [. .. ] . I [ . . . ] almost stumbled over the peep shows, where one poor schoolboy stands, his school bag under his arm, wretched, immersed in the “scene in the Bedroom.” [. . .] I linger over [. . . ] Knipp-Knapp cufflinks, which are certainly the best, and over the Diana air rifles, truly an honor to the goddess of the hunt. I shrink back before grinning skulls, the fierce liqueur glasses of a white bone cocktail set. The clowning face of a jockey, a handmade wooden nutcracker graces the end of the musical toilet paper holder [. . . ]. The whole center of the arcade is empty. I rush quickly to the exit; I feel ghostly, hidden crowds of people from days gone by, who hug the walls with lustful glances at the tawdry jewelry, the clothing, the pictures [. . .]. At the exit, at the windows of the great travel agency, I breathe more easily; the street, freedom, the present!

The position of facts in the simulacrum

Is any given bombing in Italy the work of leftist extremists, or extreme-right provocation, or a centrist mise-en-scène to discredit all extreme terrorists and to shore up its own failing power, or again, is it a police-inspired scenario and a form of blackmail to public security? All of this is simultaneously true, and the search for proof, indeed the objectivity of the facts does not put an end to this vertigo of interpretation. That is, we are in a logic of simulation, which no longer has anything to do with a logic of facts and an order of reason. Simulation is characterized by a precession of the model, of all the models based on the merest fact – the models come first, their circulation, orbital like that of the bomb, constitutes the genuine magnetic field of the event. The facts no longer have a specific trajectory, they are born at the intersection of models, a single fact can be engendered by all the models at once. This anticipation, this precession, this short circuit, this confusion of the fact with its model (no more divergence of meaning, no more dialectical polarity, no more negative electricity, implosion of antagonistic poles), is what allows each time for all possible interpretations, even the most contradictory – all true, in the sense that their truth is to be exchanged, in the image of the models from which they derive, in a generalized cycle. 
Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulations, 13. 


Most of what we think of as culture is little more than the unquestioning acceptance of standardized values.

Irvins, Prints and Visual Communication

Less Passion from Less Protein

In the middle years of the seventeenth century Roger Crab of Bethnal Green subsisted on “dock-leaves, mallows or grasse” and plain water, while in the late twentieth century Stanley Green, wearing cap and blazer, paraded in Oxford Street with a banner proclaiming “Less Passion from Less Protein.” For twenty-five years, crowds swirled about him, almost oblivious of his presence, engaged only in their usual uproar.

from “London: A Biography” by Peter Ackroyd

Act, Statement, Not Motive

In argument, while motive and disposition might be interesting to study, they are of less interest than the stated positions.

Of course, a person may have all kinds of motives for adopting, questioning, rejecting, defending, or attacking a particular standpoint in a particular manner, but the only thing that person can really be held to is what he or she has, whether directly or indirectly, said or written. That is why it is not the internal reasoning processes and inner convictions of those involved in resolving a difference of opinion that are of primary importance to argumentation theory, but the positions these people express or project in their speech acts. Instead of concentrating on the psychological dispositions of the language users involved in the resolution process, we concentrate primarily on their commitments, as they are externalized in, or can be externalized from, the discourse or text. 54

from Eemeren and Grootendorst, Systematic Theory of Argumentation.