FLASHES OF MODERNITY
Pagnini, Maria Paola
How can we speak about modernity? David Harvey(1970/1997) speaks of spatio-temporal experiences and social practices that bring about a break with the past. How can one represent, Harvey constantly wonders, the coexistence of the ephemeral and the fleeting with the eternal and the immutable, or better, how can these elements actually coexist? To find an answer I believe it is indispensable to re-examine the work Passagenwerk by Walter Benjamin. He proposes adopting the principle of montage in the study of history. Therefore, when he says: “the first stage in this journey will consist in adopting the principle of montage in history; in other words, in erecting great constructions out of tiny building elements, cut out with clarity and precision; in discovering, indeed, by the analysis of the single small moment the crystal (essential nature) of the whole event; in breaking, therefore, with popular historical naturalism; in understanding the construction of history as such; in the structure of the comment (515) he is reflecting on how to increase the transparency of history itself by the application of the Marxist method. His method consists in using quotations and comments on life at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. His intention is overtly declared: “This work must develop to the highest degree the art of quoting without using quotation marks. The theory behind it is closely connected with that of montage” or yet again “The method of this work is literary montage. I have nothing to say. Only something to show. I will not remove anything precious and I will not appropriate any ingenious expression. Rags and rubbish, therefore, but not in order to make an inventory of them, but to do them justice in the only way possible: by using them” (514).
Proceedings of the Conference THE CULTURAL TURN IN GEOGRAPHY, 18-20th of September 2003 - Gorizia Campus
Part I: Cultural Geography: the Theoretical Approach
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