By Siegfried Kracauer
Siegfried Kracauer was once one of many 20th century's so much impressive cultural critics, a bold and prolific pupil, and an incisive theorist of movie. during this quantity his best writings on smooth society make their long-awaited visual appeal in English.
This publication is a party of the masses--their tastes, amusements, and daily lives. taking over subject matters of modernity, resembling isolation and alienation, city tradition, and the relation among the gang and the person, Kracauer explores a kaleidoscope of subject matters: procuring arcades, the cinema, bestsellers and their readers, images, dance, lodge lobbies, Kafka, the Bible, and tedium. For Kracauer, the main revelatory aspects of recent existence within the West lie at the floor, within the ephemeral and the marginal. Of certain fascination to him is the us, the place he ultimately settled after fleeing Germany and whose tradition he sees as outlined nearly completely by means of "the ostentatious show of surface."
With those essays, written within the Twenties and early Nineteen Thirties and edited through the writer in 1963, Kracauer was once the 1st to illustrate that learning the standard international of the hundreds can carry nice rewards. The Mass Ornament this present day is still a clean tribute to pop culture, and its impressively interdisciplinary essays proceed to shed mild not just on Kracauer's later paintings but in addition at the principles of the Frankfurt college, the family tree of movie idea and cultural experiences, Weimar cultural politics, and, no longer least, the exigencies of highbrow exile.
In his creation, Thomas Levin situates Kracauer in a turbulent age, illuminates the forces that motivated him--including his friendships with Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and different Weimar intellectuals--and presents the context worthy for knowing his principles. earlier, Kracauer has been recognized essentially for his writings at the cinema. This quantity brings us the whole scope of his presents as essentially the most wide-ranging and penetrating interpreters of recent existence.
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Extra info for The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays
Being, personality, and so on has hardly begun to be questioned. The principle of Goethe philology is that of historicist thinking, which emerged at about the same time as modern photographic technology. On the whole. advocates of such historicist thinking4 believe they can explain any phenomenon purely in terms of its genesis. That is, they believe in any case that they can grasp historical reality by reconstructing the course or events in their temporal succession without any gaps. Photography presents a spatial continuum; historicism seeks to provide the temporal continuum.
Were the Mediterranean lapping at the avenue's edges, the shops • 41 • N A T URA L G E O M E TRY ••• could hardly expose themselves in a more windowless fashion. They disgorge a stream of commodities that serves to satisfy creaturely needs; it climbs up the fa�ades, is interrupted at street level, and then shoots with redoubled force up into the heights on the far side of the cross current of passersby. Above the uncleared undergrowth of natural prod ucts which will later enliven the menu as hors d'oeuvres, the primeval forests of meat shanks are swaying their treetops.
5 3 Memory encompasses neither the entire spatial appearance of a state of affairs nor its entire temporal course. Compared to photography, mem ory's records are full of gaps. The fact that the grandmother was at one time involved in a nasty story that is recounted time and again because people really do not like to talk about her-this does not mean much from the photographer's perspective. He knows every little wrinkle on her face and has noted every date. Memory does not pay much attention to dates-it skips years or stretches temporal distance.