ArcadesPromenades

Unadjusted impressions of the past

In Arcades on April 15, 2010 at 8:24 am

An unlikely early parallel to Benjamin’s thoughts in the Arcades Project can be found in Thomas Hardy‘s preface to his 1901 collection of poems Poems of the past and present:

“Unadjusted impressions have their value, and the road to a true philosophy of life seems to lie in humbly recording diverse readings of phenomena as they are forced upon us by chance and change”

This bears striking similarities to Benjamin’s methods of collecting observations, ephemera and detritus, and of avoiding narrative histories.  There are major differences between the two mens’ work however, and the pastoralist, establishment author would no doubt have been as shocked by the revolutionary, materialist criticism of Benjamin as Benjamin would have been of Hardy’s conservative acceptance of the force of chance.

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  1. This is another example of the way in which similar understandings about society as an object of study are continuously thrown up from disparate and different thinkers. The point being that society is the same for all of us and our expressions of it thus possess deeply-rooted similarities regardless of who or when we are.

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