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Circulation and the City: Essays on Urban Culture
 9780773536647, 9780773536654

Table of contents :
Contents
Introduction
PART ONE: THE MOBILE CITY
1 Language in the City, Language of the City
2 Telepathically Urban
3 The Imaginary of Self-Satisfaction: Reflections on the Platitude of the “Creative City”
PART TWO: CITY TRAFFIC
4 Absence, “Removal,” and Everyday Life in the Diasporic City: Anti-Detention/Deportation Activism in Montreal
5 The Spirit of Traffic: Navigating Faith in the City
6 The Ephemeral Stage at Lionel Groulx Station
7 Cities of Rhythm and Revolution
PART THREE: CITY CIRCUITS
8 Spectacles of Waste
9 Places of Global Shape: The World of Consumption in Divided Berlin
10 Modern Heroics: The Flâneur in Adolfo Bioy Casares’s El sueño de los héroes
11 Temple Bar, Density and Circulation: The City as a Terrain of Many Voices
Bibliography
Contributors

Citation preview

CIRCULATION AND THE CITY

th e c u l t u r e o f c i t i e s s e r i e s e d i t o rs : k i e r a n b o n n e r a n d wi l l s t r aw Cities have long been a key focus of innovative work in the humanities and social sciences. In recent years, the city has assumed new importance for scholars working on cultural issues across a wide range of disciplines. Sociologists, anthropologists, media specialists, and scholars of literature, art, and cinema have come to emphasize the distinctly urban character of many of their objects of study. Those who study processes of globalization are drawn to analyzing cities as the places in which these processes are most deeply felt or where they are most strongly resisted. The Culture of Cities series has its roots in an international research project of the same name, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada during the period 2000–05. The series includes books based in the work of that project as well as other volumes that reflect the project’s spirit of interdisciplinary inquiry. Case studies, comparative analyses, and theoretical accounts of city life offer tools and insights for understanding urban cultures as they confront the forces acting upon them in the contemporary world. The Culture of Cities series is aimed at scholars and interested readers from a wide variety of backgrounds.

The Imaginative Structure of the City Alan Blum Urban Enigmas Montreal, Toronto, and the Problem of Comparing Cities Edited by Johanne Sloan Circulation and the City Essays on Urban Culture Edited by Alexandra Boutros and Will Straw

Circulation and the City Essays on Urban Culture Edited by ALEXANDRA BOUTROS AND WILL STRAW

McGill–Queen’s University Press Montreal & Kingston • London • Ithaca

© McGill-Queen’s University Press 2010 isbn 978-0-7735-3664-7 (cloth) isbn 978-0-7735-3665-4 (paper) Legal deposit first quarter 2010 Bibliothèque nationale du Québec Printed in Canada on acid-free paper that is 100% ancient forest free (100% post-consumer recycled), processed chlorine free This book has been published with the help of a grant from the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, through the Aid to Scholarly Publications Programme, using funds provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. McGill-Queen’s University Press acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. We also acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (bpidp) for our publishing activities.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Circulation and the city: essays on urban culture / edited by Alexandra Boutros and Will Straw. Includes bibliographical references and index. isbn 978-0-7735-3664-7 (bnd) isbn 978-0-7735-3665-4 (pbk) 1. Sociology, Urban. I. Boutros, Alexandra, 1971– II. Straw, Will, 1954– ht155.c47 2010

307.76

c2009-905384-5

This book was typeset by Interscript in 10.5/13 Sabon.

Contents

Introduction 3 Alexandra Boutros and Will Straw PART ONE

THE MOBILE CITY

1 Language in the City, Language of the City Michael Darroch 2 Telepathically Urban Jennifer Gabrys

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3 The Imaginary of Self-Satisfaction: Reflections on the Platitude of the “Creative City” 64 Alan Blum PART TWO

CITY TRAFFIC

4 Absence, “Removal,” and Everyday Life in the Diasporic City: Anti-Detention/Deportation Activism in Montreal 99 Jenny Burman 5 The Spirit of Traffic: Navigating Faith in the City Alexandra Boutros

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6 The Ephemeral Stage at Lionel Groulx Station 138 Amanda Boetzkes 7 Cities of Rhythm and Revolution 155 tobias c. van Veen

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Contents PART THREE

CITY CIRCUITS

8 Spectacles of Waste 193 Will Straw 9 Places of Global Shape: The World of Consumption in Divided Berlin 214 Alexander Sedlmaier and Barthold Pelzer 10 Modern Heroics: The Flâneur in Adolfo Bioy Casares’s El sueño de los héroes 240 Amanda Holmes 11 Temple Bar, Density and Circulation: The City as a Terrain of Many Voices 258 Kieran Bonner Bibliography

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Contributors

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CIRCULATION AND THE CITY

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Introduction ALEXANDRA BOUTROS AND WILL STRAW

For the theme of its April 2005 issue, the fashionable European art magazine Frieze chose the concept of “circulation.” In his programmatic contribution to that issue, Frieze’s editor, Jorg Heiser, offered “circulation” as one way out of the impasses of contemporary cultural analysis. Too many artists and cultural observers, he suggested, remain fixated on end points in the lives of cultural artifacts, on those moments in which artworks and consumer goods are produced or consumed (Heiser 2005). More insight might be gained through a new attention to the intermediary phases of an artifact’s life, to those phases marked by its circulation in the world. As it circulates, Heiser noted, a cultural artifact interacts with others in ways that constantly reposition artists and audiences in relationship to each other. Contemporary culture, he claimed, has come to be defined by the “fluctuating relations between forms” as they move through social space (79). A concern with circulation, Heiser suggested, runs through many of the most vital and interesting artistic practices of the last few years. Freize’s savvy enshrining of circulation as central to a new sociocultural aesthetics was one more sign of the term’s recent rise (or return) to prominence within cultural analysis. In Cityscapes (2005), Ben Highmore offered it as a key concept within the broader analysis of cities or urban culture. “Rhythmic terms such as ‘circulation,’” Highmore wrote, “overcome the sort of fixity that comes from studying production and consumption in isolation from each other: circulation is the articulation of their relationship” (2005, 9). Three years earlier, on the anthropological edges of academic cultural studies, Benjamin Lee and Edward LePuma had laid out an

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agenda for cultural research that had as its foundation the notion of “cultures of circulation.” In a move repeated and extended by many others since, Lee and LePuma put forward circulation as an alternative to cultural scholarship’s longstanding preoccupation with “meaning and interpretation.” Here too the crucial moment in cultural analysis was no longer the encounter between producer/ author and receiver/citizen through the mediating form of the cultural artifact. Rather, scholars were asked to study the “interactions between … circulating forms” as these forms moved through the complex structures of urban life (Lee and LePuma 2002, 191; see also Gumbrecht 2004). Circulation, it seems, is very much on the agenda. We will turn in a moment to its longer history as a concept within cultural scholarship. For the authors gathered in this volume, circulation has served to bring conceptual unity to varied studies of the cultural life of cities. This book is one outcome of the Culture of Cities project (2000–06), an interdisciplinary research program funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada under its Major Collaborative Research Initiatives (mcri) program. Bringing together scholars working in sociology, communications studies, English, art history, film studies, and several other disciplines and fields, the project has produced substantive studies of urban culture through its focus on the cities of Montreal, Dublin, Toronto, and Berlin. From the beginning, we have worked to forge and refine conceptual resources for the interdisciplinary analysis of urban culture. This ongoing, collective attention to the project’s conceptual foundations has helped to counter the dispersion into innumerable case studies that so often marks the study of cities. In the original outline of the project, circulation was one among a number of terms, including “fluctuation,” “collision,” and “mobility,” that were invoked to capture the flux of urban life. The circulation of artifacts was one of the project’s core research axes; the movement of things and impulses through the spaces of urban life remained one of our key ongoing concerns. With time, “circulation” came to assume even greater prominence within a shared theoretical vocabulary. In particular, it named a point at which many of the key intellectual influences on our work seemed to converge and address each other. While the concept looks backwards to classic works on cities and urbanization, it has been reinvigorated within recent, forward-looking work on the material forms that

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give substance and texture to urban cultural life. For those of us who, like the co-editors of this volume, work within the discipline of communications studies, circulation offered an important point of contact between that discipline and the broader enterprise of urban cultural studies. In his book The Imaginative Structure of the City (2003), the project’s director, Alan Blum, noted the importance of circulation within Harold Innis’s account of cities and their relationships to time and space. Cities extend themselves in space through the ways in which they set in motion a variety of influences that travel elsewhere. “Capital, people [and] information” are Blum’s examples of such influences, which cities both repel and attract (91). At the same time, the broader forces of modernization or urbanization act upon cities to transform them into “points in a circulatory process.” Cities become marked and differentiated by their capacity to receive and absorb influences, by the manner in which they act as nodes, or clusters, within the circulation of modernizing forces. The collective reflection of city dwellers upon these circulating forces, and anxieties over their impact, help to shape the sense of temporality and change that is so prominent within urban life. Over several centuries a concern with circulation has marked periods of ferment and renewal within intellectual life. The communications scholar Armand Mattelart suggests that western ideas about communications and the network society were born with the influential work of the seventeenth-century English scientist William Harvey on the circulation of blood (cited in Mons 2002, 185). Circulation would serve thereafter as a powerful metaphor in the description of other processes, from the distribution of newspapers to the movement of water and sewage through urban infrastructures. As Erik Swyngedouw has noted (2004), ideas about circulation moved across the natural and social sciences and onto the broader terrain of moral judgment in the century that followed the French Revolution. Then as now, the term serves to describe everything from the movement of money to the promiscuous meanderings of gossip and rumour. Models of circulation vary in the extent to which they emphasize the controlling character of circulatory processes or work to convey their open-ended flux. Clive Barnett has pointed to the divergent, even contradictory meanings that circulation has assumed within cultural analysis. On the one hand, the word may designate

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a “circular, tightly bound process,” the setting in place of control systems through repeated patterns of movement and the building of stable structures to channel this movement. This sense of the term is powerfully conveyed by Kaika and Erik (2000) in their account of the development of urban infrastructures for transporting water, electricity, and gas. In this historical analysis, the development of cities has involved the ongoing integration of natural forces within technologically based circulatory systems. On the other hand, circulation can suggest a “scattering and dispersal,” the dissolution of structure within randomness and uncontrolled flux (Barnett 2005). James Donald has pointed to the efforts of nineteenth-century urban novelists to capture the city’s “frenetic activity and social illegibility.” In such efforts, literature works both to capture and give aesthetic form to this scattering and dispersal, to the city’s circulatory character (1997, 186). Over time, then, circulation has come to name both the integration of all urban activity within ordered and purposeful systems of interconnection and the unmooring of meaning and identity from the stable structures of tradition or community. Circulation may name both the reining in of behaviours (their integration within tightly controlled circuits) and their loosening (their capacity to break free from authority). The difference between these uses embodies a longstanding tension in writing on cities, which inevitably strains to capture both the regulatory order and the fleeting ephemerality of modern urban life. The most sustained recent engagement with circulation has come, unsurprisingly, in the study of media forms. Media institutions such as newspapers have long used the term to describe both the manner and extent of their public reach. The term “distribution” is used more commonly within the audiovisual industries to describe the dissemination of films or musical recordings, but circulation goes beyond the practical activity of delivery to capture the cultural resonances of media artifacts and their movement. The work of literary scholar Michael Warner (e.g., 2002) on the emergence of publics for print culture in eighteenth-century America has been an important intervention in the attempt to think through the circulatory character of media. Publics are mobilized, Warner argues, within the temporal rhythms that bring regularity to the appearance of artifacts (of newsletters or books, for example), and by the relationships of response and reference that such regularity enables. Circulation is

Introduction

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not simply the movement of cultural forms but is als the manner in which such forms establish rhythms of discourse over time. The intervals of periodical publication organize the temporality of public life through the particular sense of ongoing obsolescence and novelty that they convey, and in the self-consciousness with which they organize public life as an ongoing succession of ideas and sensations. At the same time, the more-or-less stable relationships of mutual reference between different cultural forms, within what Warner calls a cross-citational field, help determine the “thickness” of particular publics, the extent of their interconnectedness and solidarity (Warner 2002, 66). Among Montreal’s daily newspapers, for example, Le Devoir offers a particular temporal rhythm of eventfulness, a distinctive sense of the sorts of change that its coverage will register. Political developments such as the decline of the federal Liberal party in the 2006 elections are treated in Le Devoir as relatively abstract occurrences, taking shape over several weeks within a collective deliberation on the political identity of Quebec. The circulation of each new edition thus adds incrementally to the deliberations of days previous, as continuities of argument are built up gradually, and as the reader’s steady attention to a slowly unfolding process is presumed. Le Devoir circulates, nevertheless, within a complex field that includes a wide variety of other news sources (from television through to the free commuter newspaper 24 Heures). For many of these other media forms, the election campaign might be organized as a steady series of punctual shifts and dramatic events, with coverage that presumes a lower level of loyalty from one day to another. Within this broader “cross-citational field,” Le Devoir will self-consciously distinguish its own rhythms of eventfulness from those of these other sources, even as it knows that others’ reporting offers the informational background that makes its own coverage intelligible. The circulation of news in Montreal is thus marked by both the “circular, tightly bound process” and “scattering and dispersal” that Barnett sees as definitive of circulation more generally (2005). In his influential theorization of social discourse, Marc Angenot examines the ways in which cultural forms serve to “absorb, transform and rediffuse bits of textuality or information” as these bits circulate through cultural forms and social spaces (Angenot 2004, 12). Elsewhere, in a key text marking the recent “circulatory turn”

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in cultural theory, Gaonkar and Povinelli ask, “why is it that some forms move or are moved along? What limits are imposed on cultural forms as the condition of their circulation across various types of social space?” (2003, 387). To answer these questions, the authors call for scholarly work that focuses on “the edges of forms as they circulate” (392). Circulation (of ideas, influences, or impulses) is no longer the setting free of such things from the constraints of material form. Rather, material forms – the iPod on which family photos are displayed, or the tattooed bodies upon which words are inscribed – have become central to a cultural analysis concerned, in Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht’s words, with the “effect of tangibility” that accompanies cultural expression as it circulates (2004, 17). To study the “edges of forms” is to be attentive to the ways in which such forms occupy space, and to the way in which the interconnection of these forms produces the complex textures of urban life. This new interest in forms and their circulation has been nourished by the renewal of media theory within the humanities over the past decade or so. Best characterized as a turn toward ideas of “materiality” and infrastructure, this renewal is dispersed across several currents within cultural analysis. In current humanities scholarship, for example, concepts like “transmission,” long dormant (or discredited) within advanced media scholarship, have been the focus of renewed interest and elaboration (Guillory 2004). This renewal has been most influential and provocative in the recent work of the so-called “German school” of media theory, in the work of Friedrich Kittler, Siegert, Norbert Bolz, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Georg Christop Tholen, and others.1 The work is heterogeneous in its claims and points of departure but united in its interest in the socalled “externalities” of cultural forms. “Externalities” does not simply designate those features of cultural life we might consider hardware or packaging. The term invites us to consider the materially embedded character of cultural expression, its inscription (as with writing) or iteration (as with performances) within arrangements of technologies, bodies, and physical structures. Cultural forms, this work argues, provide the contours in which cultural expression is contained and shaped; media forms store or transmit this expression in culturally pertinent ways. David Wellbery has usefully traced the theoretical genealogy of this interest, from Michel Foucault’s imperative to “think the outside” (Foucault and Blanchot

Introduction

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1987, 1–5) to the tendency of Kittler and others to think within a “presupposition of exteriority” (Wellbery 1990, xii). Our engagement with circulation is influenced by these authors who offer resources for analyzing the conditions under which phenomena move within (and through) urban life. At the same time, we must acknowledge that the emphasis of recent work on “externalities” risks fetishizing technological surfaces or renewing longdiscredited distinctions between form and substance. We believe that analyses that locate circulation within the concrete spaces of cities and include an account of a cultural artifact’s embeddedness in specific spaces and times can most forcefully confront these risks. The articles in this volume invite us to come to know the city through its materiality and, more specifically, through the circulation of its materiality. However, circulation is not simply something that happens to the city, nor is it even something that happens exclusively in the city. Rather, the city is itself constituted by circulation. Reflected in this volume are the multiple ways that mobilities shape the city. Mobile technologies, mass transportation, mass media, and human migration (in its various forms) are perhaps the more visible structures of a city culture that is increasingly defined by vectors of travel, transit, migration, and other forms of mobility. The movement of people in and through the city – via the rapid transit of the daily commute, the rhythms of tourism, the push and pull of a diasporic community, or the more gradual shifts in population as processes of decay, gentrification, and cultural renewal transform some urbanites into nomadic subjects – means that cities often function as nodes on a global circulatory system through which capital, signifiers, commodities, and human bodies move in a seemingly unending stream. This is not to suggest, however, that cities are the stable endpoints of global mobility. In “Cultures of Circulation and the Urban Imaginary” (2005) Edward LiPuma and Thomas Koelble paint a vivid picture of Miami as a nucleus for the circulation of objects and subjects, rendering the city itself a global and amorphous space only sometimes stabilized by what LiPuma and Koelble call the urban imaginary. This urban imaginary is articulated through the multiple ways of being urban that coexist within the city. These ontologies of urbanness are structured by “separable but inseparable habituses” constructed by the circulation of stories, symbols, and experiences

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(156). For LiPuma and Koelble, the cultures of circulation in the city illuminate a tension between temporariness and permanence. They wonder how the postmodern city can imagine and represent itself as a totality, as an enframed, territorialized space of events, ethnicities, landmarks, and representations, when it must internalize persons, histories, and economic realities originating elsewhere as a condition of its reproduction. How is the social imaginary of a city engendered when the circulations that define that city and give it a recognized identity depend on necessarily fluid and transversal spaces and a temporality that is intrinsically connected to temporalities elsewhere? (154) Focusing on the cultures of circulation that define the urban condition, the essays in Circulation and the City seek to understand how the contemporary city can be constituted (and seek to constitute itself) as a singularity when it is shaped by processes of territorialization and deterritorialization. How can the contemporary city be defined and understood in the face of a fluidity and mobility that always links it to places, both literal and conceptual, outside of itself? While movement and mobility are still concepts du jour in the discourses of the social sciences, circulation can provide both a model and a conceptual vocabulary for understanding the continual movement-in-tandem of human and machine, object and subject, not as rigidly defined dichotomies but as continually “unpacked” (or sometimes packaged up) categories that shape the character of the city. The challenge faced by the authors of this volume, who seek to illuminate the character of the city, is to describe the vectors of circulation that make up the urban environment. Immigration and deportation, tourism, cultural practices like raves, the movement of commodities through the city, the transmission of wireless signals, the cacophony of language in the city streets are all aspects of urban-ness explored here. This continual movement of bodies and things in the city is contingent on a complex set of social codes and practices. As Lee and LiPuma explain, If circulation is to serve as a useful analytic construct for cultural analysis, it must be conceived as more than simply the movement of people, ideas, and commodities from one culture to another.

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Instead … circulation is a cultural process with its own forms of abstraction, evaluation, and constraint, which are created by the interactions between specific types of circulating forms and the interpretive communities built around them. (2002, 191) The authors in this volume delineate the interpretive communities, institutional structures, and social codes and practices that govern vectors of mobility, where circulation is fundamental rather than extraneous to the structure of the contemporary city. Circulation – as an analytic concept – inevitably evokes both space and time. Things do not just move through (or around) the city but are accumulated and sedimented over time. People do not simply move through the city in predictable ways but sometimes coalesce into momentary and temporary collectives. Circulation charts not only movement but also the intensity of movement that shapes urban mobilities. This intensity of movement is structured both by the pace of city life and by the ways in which the city is connected to points around the globe. The essays collected in this volume speak to the ways in which understanding the city requires understanding the complex interplay of space and time. Authors use concepts such as chronotope, cronopolis, and rythmanalysis to explore how the city operates according to distinct temporal logics and rhythms, and how those rhythms are contingent on the ways in which city dwellers occupy (or do not occupy) space in the city. This interplay of space and time is, as Anthony Giddens explains, characteristic of a globalized modern society: “The concept of globalization is best understood as expressing fundamental aspects of time-space distanciation. Globalization concerns the intersection of presence and absence, the interlacing of social events and social relations ‘at distance’ with local contextualities” (21). Although acutely attuned to the complexities of “time-space distanciation,” theories of circulation call into question the often assumed tension between the local and the global, allowing for an understanding of the space of the city as being at once locally specific and globally interconnected. Circulation and the City seeks to deepen our understanding of the city as both place and event, home and destination (or point of departure). The essays, looking at cities such as Berlin, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Montreal, and Toronto, take an interdisciplinary approach to the contemporary city. The subject matter explored is varied, spanning religion, media and technology, policy, literature, flows of

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capital, and music. What is elucidated in this varied approach is the way in which different aspects of cities coexist and overlap within the urban imaginary. Moving from the city of sound (the sonicity) to the wireless city, from the diasporic city to the spoken city, these essays illustrate the complexity of the city as a defining feature of contemporary life. To bring to the foreground the multiple dimensions of circulation and the city explored here, we have organized the volume into three sections. Each of these sections – “the mobile city,” “city circuits,” and “city traffic” – explores what it means to posit circulation as an organizing force in the constitution of urban life. THE MOBILE CITY

The essays in this section explore the expansive forces acting upon the city that threaten to dissolve its borders both conceptually and literally. From the proliferation of mobile and wireless technologies within the city, to the circulation of language in and of the city, to the dissemination of sometimes prescriptive ways of knowing the city (as places of voyeuristic entertainment, for example), these essays explore the epistemologies of urban space. Michael Darroch’s analysis of language as more than a constitutive element of urban culture in “Language in the City, Language of the City” reveals how the city comes to be known through an urban language that is transformed in tandem with the continually changing conditions of the contemporary urban centre. Reaching beyond the specificity of vernacular, dialect, or even “city slang,” Darroch suggests that “the city itself is a language spoken by its users in everyday practices.” As such, the city is both mediated and disseminated through a city language that serves multiple functions and takes on multiple forms. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital, Darroch delineates a “linguistic capital” that individuals must amass in order to be able to navigate social space. City dwellers learn to adapt to the temporal trajectories along which language accumulates and disperses as words fashioned to make sense of a local specificity come into and fall out of use. In the space of the city, linguistic capital takes on a particular tenor as urbanites interact in routine and repetitive ways, “ordering and purchasing, asking and thanking, storytelling and listening.” In addition to developing a city-specific language of their own, Darroch suggests, urban centres such as Montreal are

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shaped by a soundscape of language. As city dwellers move about, their own voices form a rhythmic language of the city even as they themselves glean snippets of conversations and interactions. For Darroch, this fragmented discourse is part of a circulation of language and sound that marks the city as a distinct and specific space. This circulation of language establishes a rhythmic discourse that, over time, comes to signify the social relations of a city such as Montreal, circumscribing affinities, solidarities, and conflicts. Jennifer Gabrys takes her analysis of the city past an examination of minutiae or ephemera, so often the focus of material culture studies, into the realm of the microscopic. “Telepathically Urban” explores the epistemological implications of “smart dust” – microscopic wireless sensors that drift through the city coordinating and radioing the details of an electronic urban ecology. Gabrys argues that, like the fragmented discourse Darroch explores in his analysis, an unending stream of fragmented and often imperceptible data – the circulation of messages and information that occurs beyond the level of human perception – forms the backdrop of a city increasingly circumscribed by wireless technology. A form of “telepathic” communication between machines that remotely sense and interact with each other renders the city an “extended phenomenon,” circulating well beyond its physical parameters. Borrowing from McLuhan, Gabrys argues that the ether of the wireless city operates like a nervous system, transmitting signals that allow the city itself to circulate. Drawing a parallel between the ether of the futuristic wireless city and that from which nineteenth-century spiritualists drew mystical messages, Gabrys suggests that wireless technology transforms the pathways of interaction from one-way channels (or even conduits) of communication to an atmosphere charged with the ubiquitous presence of instantaneous communication. City dwellers living in this charged atmosphere are no longer living in a space characterized by distances and durations but inhabit “a space of etheric density that gives rise to emanation.” For Gabrys, the city is no longer a concrete entity that can be mapped and plotted, but one that may even migrate as its data circulates. While circulation always, in some sense, charts the movement of material culture, it also, as Alan Blum explains in “The Imaginary of Self-Satisfaction: Reflections on the Platitude of the ‘Creative City,’” signifies the intensities by which city dwellers encounter not only material objects but the material conditions of their everyday

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lives as well. In this sense Blum suggests that circulation or movement is part and parcel of the character of the city and of its aesthetic value. Certainly, the hectic flows of the city have often been romanticized and sentimentalized, producing a particular image of the city that does not always align with its concrete conditions. While Blum acknowledges the complex interplay of circulation with constitutive and contingent elements of city life, he eschews the assumptions embedded in popular notions of the “creative city” that have achieved currency among certain scholars of the city. He suggests that such scholarship is prescriptive rather than descriptive and runs the risk of generating a self-fulfilling typology of cities, such as the “creative” city, the “world” city, and the “first tier or second tier” city. Such scholarship wields a homogenizing force, failing to acknowledge the ways in which urbanites are not simply spectators or detached observers of the diversity of the city but are implicated in its very makeup. Like Gabrys and Darroch, Blum argues for a way of knowing the city that can encompass its heterogeneity as well as its flows and fluxes. CITY TRAFFIC

The essays in this section explore how vectors of mobility constitute the city, where forces of territorialization and deterritorialization carve out pathways to and from city spaces, delineating belonging and longing. In “Absence, ‘Removal,’ and Everyday Life in the Diasporic City,” Jenny Burman explores the city through the “tangible remains and the ghostly traces of absent people detained or removed by the government.” Through this lens of tangible absence that affects the everyday life of those who do inhabit the city, Burman examines how the spectre of deportation (or what is now referred to as “removal” by the Canadian government) that hangs over Canadian urban immigrant communities shapes the political status of these communities and their claims to space in the city. Canadian cities such as Toronto and Montreal house a spectrum of residents subjected to state determination of their right to belong to the places in which they live – “from citizen to permanent resident to temporary worker to refugee to underground and undocumented worker.” Such cities are also sites of activist movements that attempt to disrupt the tyranny of these definitions. The removal practices of

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the Canadian federal government are acutely felt in urban centres as the material, social, and economic effects of deportations alter not only the shape of diasporic communities but also the city itself. Examining the conditions of what she calls the post-multicultural or diasporic city, Burman looks at the circuitry of social relations that shape the city. Invisibility, or absence, as characteristic of a certain social relation in the city, circulates in the public remembering of those who have been removed, as well as in the everyday conditions in which absence is noted and felt by those who remain. Like Zygmut Bauman, who examines the apparently growing divide between those who are inherently mobile (tourists, the upwardly mobile) and those who are not (or those who are moved, or “removed,” against their will), Burman questions the very notion of mobility that structures discussions of circulation and the city. Not only literal detention but also conditions of poverty and racism function as blocks or stoppages for those who seek to circulate freely in the city. Vulnerable residents, if not detained or removed, are haunted by their own “deportability.” Yet these same residents form relationships and political alliances in the face of such insecurity, reterritorializing urban space by generating a sense of productivity and solidarity. Alexandra Boutros’s examination of unofficial or vernacular religiosity in “The Spirit of Traffic: Navigating Faith in the City” explores how local religious and spiritual experiences in the city are intrinsically connected to global affinities. Urban religiosities, like the experiences of diasporic citizens (and non-citizens) explored in Burman’s work, are constituted by the practices of making and maintaining social connections both locally and globally. This social interrelatedness can lead to a “doubling of place” as transnational signifiers are mapped onto the local specificity of the city. The circulation of people, things, and ideas within cosmopolitan centres – increasingly mediated by transnational movements and global mobilities – turns the city into the local crossroads of a global marketplace. This interplay of the local and global is visible in the structures of urban religiosity as the city is constantly reconfigured, or transfigured, into pilgrimage sites, sacred spaces, places of religious commerce and spiritual enterprise, and destinations for tourists who sample religions as part of “local colour.” Urban religious and spiritual practices layer multiple meanings onto the

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city, requiring urbanites to negotiate the concurrence of multiple belief systems. For Boutros, the city is a node on the circulatory system of diasporic and transnational religious movements, generating a specifically urban religiosity that patterns the spaces and times of the city. Amanda Boetzkes’s examination of the rhythmic movement of people associated with one of the defining characteristics of cities – public mass transportation – reveals not simply the hustle and bustle of moving people but the processual spaces of the performances of buskers in Montreal’s subway system. In particular, Boetzkes explores an ephemeral stage that forms at the transitory point between two subway lines in the city of Montreal. This ephemeral stage becomes a temporary and transitory resting place for travelling urbanites as well as for a host of sounds, memories, and ephemeral performances, all dependent on the fleeting audience that forms and reforms around the cities’ underground buskers. As a study, “The Ephemeral Stage at Lionel Groulx Station” shows how the space of the city can be transformed from utilitarian to performative, from entropic to lively, by the very movement and circulation generated by its infrastructure. Rythmanalysis is a theoretical concept, first introduced by Gaston Bachelard and developed most notably by Henri Lefebvre, that posits rhythm as characteristic of the city, and the speed or pace of movement within the city as constitutive of its particular character. Tobias van Veen in “Cities of Rhythm and Revolution” takes up the question of whether the city is merely a material aggregate of things and structures or rather, assumes coherence in the relationship between different kinds of rhythm. The sounds and rhythms generated are agents of change, a means by which the repetitive sounds of the city are broken open, allowing for new sounds, rhythms, and constitutive elements to emerge. In its “isorhythms,” the seeming coordination of different rhythms, we appear to hear and feel a city’s stable coherence, though van Veen is drawn to ask, “What a disruption of the isorhythmic would appear and sound like.” CITY CIRCUITS

This section’s essays speak to how the circulation of people and objects in and through the city constitutes the ethos of the place. The circuitry of the city, or its circulatory system of traffic ways and

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marketplaces, can both encourage or stem movement and in turn be shaped by that movement. While what some call the spatialized turn in the humanities has often meant that mobility in general, and urban mobility in particular, is understood in terms of the circulation of people and objects through the city’s spaces, “Spectacles of Waste” by Will Straw explores the city’s relationship to time, or more specifically how space organizes time in the city. Straw suggests that the rapid movement and hectic speed often associated with contemporary city life have parallels in the “slowness” of the city as “a space in which artifacts and other historical residues are stored, and in which movement is blocked.” Through accumulation and sedimentation, the city becomes a receptacle for the tangible remains of its own history. Utilizing concepts based in mobility studies and Lefebvre’s definition of rythmanalysis as a way of apprehending the rhythms and cycles of urban life, Straw’s examination of second-hand or used commodities reveals how a commodity’s life stages as it travels trace “lines of passage through the city.” These lines of passage, Straw argues, are dependent on the rhythmic cycles of the city as a place of mobility and stasis, construction and decay. Straw’s examination of the commercial geography of the city and of nodes such as Montreal’s Palais du Commerce, charity shops, and the summer cycles of the ubiquitous ventes du garage confirms that while the spaces through which cultural commodities cycle or come to rest may themselves undergo stages of generation and decay, they also reverse the “commercial dispersal” of cultural commodities, both by collecting them and by allowing them a new lease on mobility. Like Straw, Alexander Sedlmaier and Barthold Pelzer examine how the circulation of goods and the movement of people around these goods can shape the city’s character. Focusing on the shopping mall as a transmission point for consumer culture in Cold War era Berlin, “Places of Global Shape: The World of Consumption in Divided Berlin” examines the circulation of material objects under two competing political systems. For Sedlmaier and Pelzer the circulation of mass-produced consumer objects, like the hectic mobility that Amanda Holmes later describes in her analysis of Peronist Buenos Aires, challenges individual autonomy and agency. Along with modernity and social change seems to come an increased pace or speed of circulation. The authors suggest that it is the temporal structure of the urban centre that controls the speed of circulation.

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For them, “pacemakers” such as the flow of traffic, the opening and closing hours of stores, public holidays, and the life cycles of commodities themselves regulate the ways in which individuals experience consumer culture. The pace at which objects and consumers circulate is for Sedlmaier and Pelzer what differentiated East and West Berlin during the Cold War: “In the East people were queuing for the goods, while the goods were lined up for the people in the West.” Thus, the East/West divide in Berlin was marked by scarcity and profusion, respectively. Despite the ideological and literal divide of the city, objects did circulate across the border, and television and radio signals also traversed the Wall, subverting efforts to keep the two social systems distinct. Yet Sedlmaier and Pelzer suggest that the developments in consumer culture in East Berlin after the fall of the Wall are not simply part of a movement toward “catching up” with the commodity culture of the West but are also part of an internal logic and rhythm of production and consumption. The ideologies attached to the movement of things and people, not simply the circulation of goods, mark Berlin in division and in unification. One of the central figures to emerge from the theorizing of mobility and circulation in the city is the flâneur. In “Modern Heroics: The Flâneur in Adolfo Bioy Casares’s El sueño de los heroes,” Amanda Holmes re-examines the quintessential flâneur of Baudelaire and Benjamin, recasting the idle urban walker so often associated with the cityscape of Paris as an urbanite from Peronist Buenos Aires, whose figure questions the properties associated with the urban sophistication of the flâneur. Holmes explains that while the Parisian flâneur was transposed onto the cityscape of 1930s Buenos Aires, his existence, signalling as it does a certain class of urbanism, became fraught during the first two terms of Juan Domingo Perón’s leadership (1946–55). During this time, new social policies such as women’s suffrage and a minimum wage were introduced in Argentina, and these “new social orders reconstructed the spatial codes that had previously defined Buenos Aires. From a downtown clearly dominated by middle and upper class traffic, the city now became a regular site for mass gatherings and worker demonstrations.” Using the narratives of writer Adolfo Bioy Casares, which both recall the Buenos Aires of an earlier time (1930s) and critique the Peronist government, Holmes’s work develops a powerful typology of urban figures under the fraught period of Peronism, where

Introduction

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the problematized flâneur finds its counterparts in the mythical figure of the gaucho and the flitting image of the shadow, an urban identity created by the forms onto which it is cast. What emerges from Holmes’s analysis is an understanding of urban identity as composed by movement through the city. Holmes suggests that for this mobile city dweller, the environment is itself a dominating force that constitutes urban identity. Unlike the agentic movements of the Parisian flâneur, for the characters of Bioy’s Buenos Aries, the city insists on a mobility beyond its inhabitants’ control. In “Temple Bar, Density and Circulation: The City as a Terrain of Many Voices,” Kieran Bonner examines recent transformations that have taken place in downtown Dublin, specifically in the Temple Bar district. This area has been a site of urban renewal and gentrification as attempts (starting in the 1990s) have been made to transform it into a tourist attraction and “cultural centre.” Bonner unpacks the history of the Temple Bar area and shows how layers of meaning or signification become imbedded in the discourses that circumscribe the changing character of this portion of the city. More particularly, Bonner explores how a positive conception of density – the idea that a “good” city is one where there exists not only a dense population of city dwellers but a dense group of consumers – becomes imbedded in the assumptions and discourses that structure the very processes of urban renewal and planning. The desire to develop a “bustling” city core enmeshes cultural production, cultural heritage, and commerce (or more specifically, the desire to attract consumers) in a complex interaction. Bonner points out that the ideal of the bustling city centre is dependent not simply on the density of a place but on the circulation of people within it and specifically on the quality of that circulation: “A densely populated area interrupts the circular movement of people and slows the functional navigation of the streets.” While the drive toward commercial success has, perhaps, robbed the Temple Bar area of its historical bohemian quality and rendered it a tourist enclave, Bonner suggests that it is problematic to dismiss such processes of gentrification and urban renewal as cultural failures. Instead, these processes show how public debate over gentrification, urban planning, and urban renewal is embedded within a complex ideology that structures the identity of the city. Of course, as these essays illustrate, the identity of the city is amorphous and impermanent, contingent on a complex matrix of

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ideologies. The city never is but is always becoming through the circulation of images, things, languages, ideas, and perhaps, above all, people. The essays in this volume provide glimpses of this ontological process. As the authors here explore, the city is most knowable not as a finite entity but through the “routes and routines” of its becoming.

NOTE

1 For translations of this work and theoretical overviews, see recent special issues of New German Critique (fall 1999); Configurations 10, no. 1 (2002); Critical Inquiry (autumn 2004); New Literary History (autumn 1996); Yale Journal of Criticism (fall 2003).

PART ONE

The Mobile City

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1 Language in the City, Language of the City MICHAEL DARROCH

LANGUAGE AND THE CITY

That linguistic variation stands in relation to the city, to its very foundation, and in essence to all its forms, is an ancient idea. Genesis 11 takes up the failed project of building a great city and offers the story of the Tower of Babel, the biblical version of the origins of linguistic variability. This story reflects a vivid awareness of the multiplicity of meanings contained within language and the movement of these meanings about the world. The story of the aborted tower is inextricably linked to the varieties of human speech and the dispersion of idioms. “Nimrud’s tower was built of words,” observes George Steiner in Language and Silence (37). For many, Babel has come to represent an ancient city type anticipating the modern, linguistically diverse metropolis.1 For philosophers as diverse as Walter Benjamin and Ludwig Wittgenstein, the form of the city bears an inherent relation to the diverse forms of language. The story of Babel as the site of linguistic dissemination presumes that there once existed a “pure language” of truth, an Adamic Ur-Sprache of Eden that was lost in the confusion of the city. In his 1923 essay on translation, Walter Benjamin draws on such notions, relating the act of translating to the notion of pure language in a clear allusion to his future Arcades Project. Translating, for Benjamin, is the intersection of languages, akin in function to the ambiguous space of arcade architecture in the city: “A real translation is transparent; it does not cover the original, does not block its light, but allows the pure language, as though reinforced by its own medium, to shine upon the original all the more fully. This may be achieved,

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above all, by a literal rendering of syntax which proves words rather than sentences to be the primary element of the translator. For if the sentence is the wall before the language of the original, literalness is the arcade” (79; my emphasis).2 Benjamin compares a literal translation to an arcade “because it allows the light of the original to shine through onto the translated text” (Simon 2001, 328), permitting (perhaps only momentarily) a glimpse of pure language, or of universal meaning. For Benjamin, the arcade is a medium of intersecting paths, acts, objects, and meanings, a city space neither interior nor exterior. The literal translation occupies a similar space between languages. A reader who is aware of a translation’s distance from its original text is similar to a flâneur in the arcade: each is a collector of meanings while passing through these intermediary zones. The translator casts his gaze on linguistic Urgeschichte or prehistory, captured in original texts, and “actualizes” these meanings in the translated version, what Benjamin denotes as the “afterlives in works of art” (71).3 Benjamin’s Arcades Project embodied such an act. It is a vast corpus of citations in various languages that gradually outline the form and nature of city arcades. Benjamin’s comparison of translation to an arcade conveys the relationship of language to movement about the city; we meander through linguistic forms in ways similar to strolling about city structures. If meanings are related through words (the primary material of the literal translator), then sentences and syntax are the conduits for these meanings. It is interesting to contrast Benjamin’s assertions with Wittgenstein’s metaphorizing claim that new ways of speaking are suburbs of language. Whereas Benjamin discovers the shifting nature of meanings in the material traces of languages and translations, Wittgenstein developed a philosophy built upon the ordinariness of language usages: that is, upon the diversity of pragmatic usages of language rather than language’s basic semantic elements. In his Philosophical Investigations (1953), he famously relates the form of “incomplete languages” to the form of an ancient city: Do not be troubled by the fact that [specific] languages … consist only of orders. If you want to say that this shows them to be incomplete, ask yourself whether our language is complete; – whether it was so before the symbolism of chemistry and the notation of the infinitesimal calculus were incorporated in it; for

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these are, so to speak, suburbs of our language. (And how many houses or streets does it take before a town begins to be a town?) Our language can be seen as an ancient city: a maze of little streets and squares, of old and new houses, and of houses with additions from various periods; and this surrounded by a multitude of new boroughs with straight regular streets and uniform houses. (1953, 8e, §18; my emphasis)4 Wittgenstein’s reflection that language is akin to physical urban structures suggests that, as our knowledge grows, so too must language change. Emerging descriptions of new forms of knowledge are like suburbs to a city. In a later aphorism, Wittgenstein further suggests that navigating a language is similar to learning one’s way about the city, orienting oneself to diverse perspectives in city streets: “Language is a labyrinth of paths. You approach from one side and know your way about; you approach the same place from another side and no longer know your way about” (82e, §203).5 These philosophical undertakings each relate language to the city in its flux. In Benjamin, “pure language” emerges only in the interstices of different languages, breaking up historical time like the myriad of social ephemera found in the arcades of nineteenthcentury Paris. Wittgenstein proposes that changing linguistic structures can be seen to mirror those urban structures through which the city continually reformulates itself. While these metaphorical reflections relate linguistic forms to elements of the city, it will be our job in the following to consider how the use of language contributes to our ever-changing sense of the “urban.” In this, linguists and semioticians have followed similar lines of enquiry. At the centre of contemporary urban sociolinguistics is the question of the city as a site of unification or conflict, integrating or excluding new citizens through means of speech, which acts as the locus of linguistic coexistence and métissage. Semiotic theory has sought to see the city as readable through its signifying forms. It has set the grammar of space against the actualizing expression of place and shown how city dwellers are compelled to “read” the city through their movements and to “speak” the city through their actions. The perception that the city itself is discourse – written, translated, and deciphered by its inhabitants – is put forward by Barthes in his early outline of a “semiology of the urban”:

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The city is a discourse and this discourse is truly a language: the city speaks to its inhabitants, we speak our city, the city where we are, simply by living in it, by wandering through it, by looking at it. Still the problem is to bring an expression like “the language of the city” out of the purely metaphorical stage. It is very easy metaphorically to speak of the language of the city as we speak of the language of the cinema or the language of flowers. The real scientific leap will be realized when we speak of a language of the city without metaphor … The best model for the semantic study of the city will be provided, I believe, at least at the beginning, by the phrase of discourse. And here we rediscover Victor Hugo’s old intuition: the city is writing. He who moves about the city, e.g., the user of the city (what we all are), is a kind of reader who, following his obligations and his movements, appropriates fragments of the utterance in order to actualize them in secret. (1986, 92–5; my emphasis)6 Benjamin, Wittgenstein, and Barthes all regard the city as an expressive form bearing strong connections to human language. In each of these perspectives, language is viewed as more than a constituent element of the city: the city itself is a language spoken by its users in everyday practices. Bearing in mind the philosophic perspectives outlined in this introduction, especially Barthes’s search for a “language of the city without metaphor,” I wish next to review how sociolinguistics contends with the changing conditions of language use in the city. DIVERSES CITÉS OF SOCIOLINGUISTIC STUDY

The analysis of linguistic change has been undertaken primarilwithin studies that examine language in its social contexts. Key currents within this work are the sociology of language (for example, the work of Basil Bernstein), ethnomethodology (Harold Garfinkel and others), conversation analysis and the ethnology of speaking (John Gumperz and Dell Hymes, among others), and sociolinguistics itself, as in the work of William Labov. Diachronic change and synchronic variability are at the core of contemporary sociolinguistics. Variability is taken as the principle governing language use in social contexts; research is concerned with the variable character of communication in “actual speech communities,” despite controversies

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over how to define the latter (Dittmar, Norbert, et al. 1988, 35–43). Henri Gobard (1976) put forward a “tetralinguistic model” that distinguishes among four functional social forms of language: vernacular language (maternal), usually rural and territorial, designating an idiomatic capacity to delineate identities and to engender inclusion or exclusion among social networks; vehicular language (urban), referring to forms of commercial exchange, and governmental and bureaucratic transmission; referential language (national), having to do with cultural spheres and formations; and mythic sacred language, which expresses spiritual, religious, or magical meanings and convictions.7 For urban studies, Gobard’s category of vehicular language is especially important in its spatial and circulating capacities, in the way it enables speakers to navigate circuits of social space. One must know the codes to move about the structural circuits of the city, and, as well, to ascend social strata, gaining access to social groupings and cultural contexts. Thus, the sociolinguistic study of language challenges the Saussurian and Chomskian predilection for studying language as an autonomous system of underlying syntactic structures – examining langue over parole, or competence over performance – and understanding the locus of language to be the mind. In studying linguistic variability, sociolinguistics has developed a vast corpus of case studies, most deriving from research in large urban contexts. It is important to situate the development of these forms of study in relation to the city. These studies have been pivotal in understanding linguistic variation, the relation of language norms to social values and social practices, and to educational patterns. William Labov’s seminal work on New York City involved demonstrating how the variable pronunciation of “r” in downtown department stores indicates formality and class stratification (1966). His work on inner city Black English Vernacular (1972) demonstrated unequivocally the fundamental flaws in previous studies, which had all but concluded that nonstandard speech such as slang was proof of learning deficiencies. Nevertheless, Labov’s work brings us no closer to theorizing language uses within a more textured analysis of city life. From early linguistic studies at the close of the nineteenth century to Labov’s undertakings, urban settings appear as little more than the background against which speakers perform their linguistic capacities (Erfurt in Bulot and Tsekos 1999,

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11). Key thinkers in the ethnology of speaking and in conversation and discourse analysis, such as Dell Hymes and John Gumperz,8 note that studies of many linguistic phenomena take place by default in urban environments.9 From the 1970s onward, increasing numbers of studies have focused on distinctive forms of urban speech.10 Studies claiming city culture as their centre of interest worked to identify types such as vernaculars and slangs (Dittmar and Schlobinski 1988) and specific events such as codeswitching (the act of shifting between languages or discursive registers of a single language) (Eastman 1992; Heller 1988) that take place in plurilinguistic environments of heightened linguistic contact. These studies draw on earlier linguistic fields such as dialectology and studies in “special parlances,” in linguistic acculturation and in language shifts, which frequently focused on social centres or nodes that influence surrounding regions.11 Nevertheless, identifying linguistic events like codeswitching as phenomena that contribute explicitly to our understanding of urbanity is problematic.12 In many of these sociolinguistic orientations, a spatial paradigm persists, in that analysts tend to focus on the situational, the synchronic contexts of variability in which speaking occurs. Dittmar and Schlobinski’s compilation of case studies in the Sociolinguistics of Urban Vernaculars (1988) emphasizes that “at the centre of all the contributions is the question whether variation of urban spaces is the same as or different than linguistic styles.” Similarly, the current stream of contemporary French urban sociolinguistics, under the purview of Louis-Jean Calvet, Thierry Bulot, and others, attempts to tease out the complex relationships between urban language and identities, frequently through studying the relationship of language use to spatial paradigms such as neighbourhood, ghetto, suburb, or banlieue. In his collection of articles, Langue et identité urbaine, Bulot writes: “[Les villes] sont une mise en mots du rapport entre langue et espace, du rapport entre l’usage social de la langue et l’espace social qui lui est attribué” (17). Criticism levelled at the idea of such a specifically urban sociolinguistics points out that, to a certain extent, previous philological domains such as dialectology have simply been brought to focus on the city through an urbanization of sociolinguistics rather than an urban sociolinguistics.13 Leslie Milroy’s study of social networks in Belfast (1980) draws out several useful concepts for exploring how switching between

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languages or vernaculars signals social and physical movement among speakers in urban spheres. Although Milroy’s analysis poses “questions not of linguistic change, but of linguistic stability,” the study hinges upon the ideas of linguistic focusing and diffusion (terminology first proposed by Le Page in 1978), arguing that “the influence of a focused set of norms, at whatever stratum of society they appear, should be taken into account in describing the relatively diffuse language patterns characteristic of large numbers of socially and geographically mobile speakers” (190). Milroy thus distinguishes between focused networks of localized vernacular norms (dense, multiplex, or close-knit) and diffuse networks (looseknit and hence mobile, especially upwardly). Unlike Labov’s socalled status-based model whereby “adaptation to norms of the standard language takes place through the orientation to prestige,” Milroy proposed a solidarity-based model that presumes “language comes before solidarity in the social network and that solidarity, in turn, comes before integration or separation” (Dittmar and Schlobinksi 1988, 34). Milroy attempts to extend the implications of Labov’s conclusion that peer groups act as linguistic “norm enforcement mechanisms,” particularly in inner-city vernacular speech. She suggests that, in addition, peripheral members of urban peer groups who make less use of focused vernacular norms may be “involved in the upwardly mobile society on which the peer groups have turned their backs,” whereby their “upward mobility is marked in their speech” (1980, 180). Their weak connection to the influence of a peer group allows them to drift away from the pressures of a focused set of vernacular norms, so that their linguistic tendencies become more diffuse. The concept of diffusion is pertinent in terms of circulation and the city. Diffusion can account for the dispersion of localized ways of speaking as members of a group begin to circulate among various communities or to scale social hierarchies. Studies about the contexts of codeswitching further highlight forms of linguistic movement about the city. As Heller notes, codeswitching is a “means of drawing on symbolic resources and deploying them in order to gain or deny access to other resources, symbolic or material” (1992, 124). Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s notions of language and symbolic power, Heller interprets codeswitching as evidence of the linguistic and cultural knowledge required to gain access to the marketplaces of exchanged resources and to the set of social

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relations that govern exchange and distribution. She links Bourdieu’s perspective to that of Gumperz in his studies of discourse strategies, noting that “forms of language are distributed unequally across a speech community” and that “any individual member will have a verbal repertoire which draws on part, but rarely all, of the forms in circulation” (125). The unequal distribution of language capabilities and the varying degrees of linguistic capital that any one speaker will bring to a situation substantially determine the relations of power in the marketplace, where “an inability to bring to bear appropriate conventions of behaviour on key situations in daily life where crucial decisions about one’s access to resources are decided (a job interview, an exam, a courtroom trial, etc.) can result in the systematic exclusion of segments of the population from the resources distributed there” (125). Bourdieu’s notion of a linguistic market is related to his more extensive theory of the exchange value of cultural capital. As a particular form of cultural capital, linguistic capital partly determines this value. The accumulation of linguistic capital is a temporal prerequisite for a speaker to move in social space. The notion of linguistic capital recognizes the time required to amass linguistic experience and knowledge in order to possess sufficient linguistic competence to manoeuvre within the marketplace. Linguistic capital thus not only implies group affiliation, in that “a certain manner of speech indicates the way in which that manner was assimilated and thus points to the affiliation with a social group or a social class,” but is also “convertible into economic capital, with ‘legitimate language’ dictating the prices and functioning as the ‘leading currency’” (Dittmar and Schlobinksi 1988, 23–5). Language habitus is the cognitive faculty by which linguistic capital and the linguistic marketplace are linked as structured social practices. The extent of the valorization of a particular urban vernacular is well exemplified by the case of Berlin. Whereas the Berliner dialect had become increasingly stigmatized in West Berlin as low class and unrefined, especially given the emphasis on speaking High German, it was widely accepted in East Berlin as a normal and even prestigious parlance, encouraged in universities as well as government institutions (Dittmar and Schlobinski 1988, 402). Bulot, Terskos, et al. found that five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and despite the continued presence of the city’s fracture, Berliners from both the former West and East increasingly stigmatized the Berlin dialect.

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This was especially evident in so-called professions of prestige such as banking and academia (Grosse 1999, 127–52). In his investigation of Montreal’s anglophone music-making scene, Geoff Stahl (2003) connects the concepts of language habitus and symbolic power to social trajectories and movement. He draws on the notion of social pathways to describe how “language … heavily inflects not only the visible and audible aspects of musicmaking and its relation to the cultural spaces of Montreal, but at a fundamental level also shapes the networks, or more specifically, the systems and patterns of cooperation structuring musical culture” (112). Pathways can be “both real and/or symbolic: the former are streets, subways, routes to and from venues, studios and meeting places; the latter include the manner in which certain individuals become musicians (career trajectories, or, for instance, the path taken from university student to community radio volunteer to musicmaker) or the role the broadcast, recorded and print media play in disseminating musical knowledges … More importantly, they serve as communicative channels that link routes to routines, channels in which the degree and kind of movement can be heavily determined by language” (112–13). In linking routes to routines, we move well beyond a spatial paradigm of language use toward incorporating the temporal trajectories of linguistic habits and accumulating linguistic knowledges.14 Following Michel de Certeau (1984), then, I propose that the circulation of languages cannot be sufficiently accounted for by a statistical analysis of linguistic patterns but rather requires an examination of social usages from other angles by looking at the strategies and tactics of speaking (34–5) and their representations. In the following, I pursue the notion that, in understanding the ways of using language in the city, we must attend not only to variations in locale but also to temporal rhythms, routines, and repetitions. ECHOES AND ITERATIONS

A theoretical conception of the circulation of language in city life needs to be developed through temporal paradigms as well as spatial ones. In terms of sociological study, Bourdieu perhaps brings us the closest to this endeavour in pointing to the need to accumulate linguistic capital over time in order to navigate social space. However, Bourdieu is not interested in pinpointing the city specifically as

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a locus of linguistic experience. In my view, notions such as social networks and codeswitching can be employed in more significant ways in the analysis of city life if we interpret them through the examination of cultural forms. This requires a chronotopic (Bakhtin 1981) consideration of ways and rituals of speaking in the city, attending to the spatiotemporal ambit of city life where linguistic routes and routines become aligned and collide, as well as to the forms through which these trajectories are represented. As Lefebvre has argued, “Space is nothing but the inscription of time in the world, spaces are the realizations, inscriptions in the simultaneity of the external world of a series of times, the rhythms of the city, the rhythms of the urban population … The idea of the city will only be rethought and reconstructed on its current ruins when we have properly understood that the city is the deployment of time” (translated in Kofman and Lebas 1995, 16).15 From such a perspective, the primary project of urban sociolinguistics, in its enumerating and juxtaposing instances of linguistic variation, constantly risks becoming a “practice of mapping activities.” According to Mike Crang, such a mapping “tends to produce a cadaverous geography. A geography of traces of actions, rather than the beat of living footfalls” (194). The routines and repetitions of everyday city language – ordering and purchasing, asking and thanking, storytelling and listening – are not only linguistic practices in urban space but, as de Certeau might argue, “spatialisation as practiced place, or the inscription of time onto place, the appropriation of urban places through temporary use” (quoted in Crang, 190). In a passage that recalls Barthes’s appeal for a “language of the city without metaphor,” de Certeau posits that the city is written in the everyday practices of city dwellers in the streets, by the “walkers, Wandersmänner, whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban ‘text’ they write without being able to read it” (93).16 He further invokes the notion of pedestrian speech acts, equating the act of walking in the urban system to the speech act of a language system. This is not unlike Wittgenstein’s labyrinthine account of orientating oneself both in language and in the city. While de Certeau posits an analogy between walking as the “spatial acting-out of place” and the speech act as an “acoustic acting-out of language,” in many ways these practices converge. The enactment of spoken language shapes our understanding of districts, communities, and scenes as uniquely social

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places in the city. City spaces are partially instantiated through iterative performances of speech, through the rhythms of language use that mark an area time and again, becoming a force in the city’s formation. This is true of neighbourhoods in Montreal, Toronto, or Berlin that come to be identified in part by the predominant language of the local community. Slangs also become associated with local city scenes. William Taylor (1991) identifies the “complex circuitry of special languages and working journalists” that “inspired a unique combination of adoption and invention” in descriptions that came to constitute the communal consciousness of the Broadway and Times Square scenes in the 1920s and 1930s. “To the journalists working there, the way people talked was the story” (218). Many narratives of temporality and the city emphasize acceleration, a relentless quickening of pace as a consequence of modernization, proliferating technologies, increased mobility, and faster interconnections in communication systems. In The Man without Qualities, Robert Musil captures the sense that uttering a few words is never merely routine and repetitive, but relegated to the intervals that fall within the furious rhythm of the modern, mechanized city: Luft und Erde bilden einen Ameisenbau, von den Stockwerken der Verkehrsstraßen durchzogen. Luftzüge, Erdzüge, Untererdzüge, Rohrpostmenschensendungen, Kraftwagenketten rasen horizontal, Schnellaufzüge pumpen vertikal Menschenmassen von einer Verkehrsebene in die andre; man springt an den Knotenpunkten von einem Bewegungsapparat in den andern, wird von deren Rhythmus, der zwischen zwei losdonnernden Geschwindigkeiten eine Synkope, eine Pause, eine kleine Kluft von zwanzig Sekunden macht, ohne Überlegung angesaugt und hineingerissen, spricht hastig in den Intervallen dieses allgemeinen Rhythmus miteinander ein paar Worte. Fragen und Antworten klinken ineinander wie Maschinenglieder. (Musil 2000, 31) [Air and earth form an ant-hill, veined by channels of traffic, rising storey upon storey. Overhead-trains, overground-trains, underground-trains, pneumatic express-mails carrying consignments of human beings, chains of motor-vehicles all racing along horizontally, express lifts vertically pumping crowds from one

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traffic-level to another … At the junctions one leaps from one means of transport to another, is instantly sucked in and snatched away by the rhythm of it, which makes a syncope, a pause, a little gap of twenty seconds between two roaring outbursts of speed, and in these intervals in the general rhythm one hastily exchanges a few words with others. Questions and answers click into each other like cogs of a machine.] (1979, 30) Musil’s description resonates with other renditions of metropolitan life from the period. The rhythm of Berlin, the modern metropolis of industry and technology, was captured in the feuilleton pages of 1920s newspapers, where authors like Walter Benjamin and Joseph Roth attempted to depict fragments of urban phenomena. Michael Bienert’s (1992) analysis of Berlin’s feuilleton representations in Die eingebildete Metropole (The imagined city) connects the explosion of circulating newsprint in this decade to images portrayed in stories of the city’s endless circulation itself. Depictions such as Joseph Roth’s 1924 text Gleisdreieick (a U-Bahn station where three train lines intersected) and Hermann Kesser’s 1929 text Potsdamer Platz “delineate the vision of an ‘inorganic’ space, fraught with perpetual circulation, in the racket of which the human voice, and with it the humane at all, perish entirely” (Bienert 1992, 63; my translation).17 In contrast, we may juxtapose this account of nightmarish speed to the analysis of Lefebvre who, according to Crang, “draws our attention to the overlain multiplicity of rhythms; dominant and quieter, cycles [of] daily, weekly, annual rhythms that continue to structure the everyday as much as ‘linear time’” (189). Language routines are inextricably bound up with the pace of the city, in the city’s accelerative tendencies as well as its time outs and pauses.18 If, in Musil’s example, speaking has been relegated to the minute gaps within unceasing acceleration, in other literary examples speaking is more harmonious with flows and movements of the city, integrated into its temporal fabric. In a 1948 poem simply entitled “Montreal,” A.M. Klein portrays the bilingual nature of the city in invented English, superimposed with Gallicisms: Grand port of navigations, multiple The lexicons uncargo’d at your quays, Sonnant though strange to me; but chiefest, I, Auditor of your music, cherish the

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Joined double-melodied vocabulaire Where English vocable and roll Ecossic, Mollified by the parle of French Bilinguefact your air! ( 30) Between such examples, the city is no longer merely the backdrop to linguistic movement but is viewed as a space itself, demarcated through the temporal patterns and routines of speaking. In Klein’s Montreal, the many lexicons employed throughout the city are linked to its colonial seaport history, while the melody of its contemporary codeswitching, its linguistic mixing and matching, is likened to the unrestricted and all-encompassing flow of air. In an article on l’œuvre migrante, Michèle Thériault (1999) explains that, for writers of Montreal’s Jewish community such as Klein, “it was a question of migrating a plural and diasporic Jewish culture (and spirit) toward a (primarily) English culture, but in the presence of a Francophone reality” (155; my translation).19 Representations of the temporal fragments of city life such as the ones I have delineated above complement sociolinguistic concepts by extending the scope of analysis into the traces that linguistic patterns leave on the city and its representations. In the final section, I consider the ways in which such linguistic traces become visible or remain obscure. VISIBLE WRITINGS, SILENT RECITINGS

In recovering past usages of language, linguistic analyses tend to assume that the only traces of their history lie in written records. But the traces of language usages are equally carved into city structures, leaving an imprint of cultural shifts and conflicts. Language is etched into the city’s very foundations: we inscribe our linguistic presence upon our cities by engraving names and titles into stone and brick, erecting signs and indications, scribbling slogans and spraying graffiti on almost any surface available. These too are language usages to which the city bears witness over time. The city as palimpsest is not only metaphor: inscriptions on city surfaces can, for instance, indicate the supplanting of one linguistic community by another. Writing on walls in Montreal – fading murals, weathered advertisements, building or store names with missing typography – indicates the shift from English to French as the language of

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industry, visible language that unveils the translation of one space’s use to another over time. With its politicized history of linguistic conflict between English and French, Montreal is rife with such linguistic monuments. Similarly, in New Orleans, one can distinguish a transfer from Napoleonic French to American English etched into century-old family tombstones looming in the famous St-Louis cemetery, where in the late nineteenth century “né/mort” finally succumbed to “born/died.” Fading and missing typography on city surfaces characterizes the varying sensibilities toward language use that are prevalent in the marketplace at a given time and place. These are moments when the scraps of city writing suddenly bring into relief the temporal shifts of linguistic use. But if language is perceptible in such concrete formats, how do we apprehend the indiscernible, the moments when the city’s voices are silenced? The corollary to what is uttered or etched, after all, is what is left unsaid or unwritten – or what seems unspeakable. The realm of the unspoken entirely escapes the purview of sociolinguistic considerations. In sites where linguistic differences complicate or frustrate social interaction, dwellers may develop strategies of silent communication, maintaining linguistic distance. Germain and Rose (2000, 245–6) note that interaction in certain of Montreal’s multiethnic neighbourhoods can crystallize as “‘nodding relationships’ with neighbours or conversations with local shopkeepers” and as “pronounced ethnic segmentation” of public parks, suburban shopping centres, and other spaces inhabited by more than one voice. To have recourse to a strategy of silence, such as nodding or smiling to accommodate interaction, suggests, in Bourdieu’s terms, a paucity of linguistic capital, limiting individuals’ resources within their marketplace. Yet silence can equally be a strategy of survival: what is unspoken is also untraceable. After the shock of arriving in the vast, cold metropolis of 1920s Berlin, Bertolt Brecht urged us in his lyric cycle, Handbook for City Dwellers, to “Verwisch die Spuren!” – “cover our tracks!” Was immer du sagst, sag es nicht zweimal Findest du deinen Gedanken bei einem andern: verleugne ihn. Wer seine Unterschrift nicht gegeben hat, wer kein Bild hinterließ

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Wer nicht dabei war, wer nichts gesagt hat Wie soll der zu fassen sein! Verwisch die Spuren! [Whatever you say, don’t say it twice If you find your ideas in anyone else: renounce them. He who has left no signature, who has left no image behind Who was not there, who said nothing: How can they catch him! Cover your tracks!] (Brecht 1967, 267–8; my translation) By effacing the traces of our presence, linguistic or otherwise, we wipe clean the slate of our actions. In times of drastic social upheaval, what is unsaid can indeed be most poignant. Before the fear of censorship took hold of East German authors, writer’s block was not the only hurdle. The literary representation of 1950s Berlin is as strewn with ruins as was the city’s infrastructure itself. Literary ruins evince as much the failure to capture an adequate representation as simply not knowing what to say. In an incomplete project known as Büsching, Brecht himself left many such traces while attempting to capture the contradictions he saw in the transition from the Nazi era to the socialist East German state. The project dealt with a Berlin worker, Hans Garbe, who was celebrated in the East German state for overachievement, but whose co-workers accused him of worsening their work conditions. Like Brecht’s Fatzer-Fragment, another incomplete project from the 1930s, the fragmentary character of Büsching reveals a lack of words, a state of speechlessness about how to capture in language an environment of such rapid social transformation. The East German playwright Heiner Müller grappled with both of these projects. Commenting in 1958 on his own failure to complete Brecht’s Fatzer-Fragment, Müller wrote: “The failure of the experiment to complete an outline by Brecht may be instructive about the change in function imposed on literature during a period of transition. Ruins, like monuments, are building material that comes from quarries” (166; translation Weber 2001, 70). Müller’s first play, Der Lohndrücker (The scab [1956]), was built upon the same theme of Büsching, but he altered certain facts of the protagonist Garbe’s

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actions in order to overcome Brecht’s stumbling blocks (Darroch 2001a; 2001b). Posthumous study of early versions of Der Lohndrücker has revealed Müller’s particular emphasis on pause and silence throughout the dialogue through his use of encircled empty lines, an element that was fully neglected in the play’s first printings (Hörnigk, in Müller 2000, 535). Tongue-tied, Brecht felt compelled to leave his work in fragments; Müller built the not-yet-sayable into his dialogue. I feel these examples reveal, most of all, a relationship between viewing, speaking, and silence in the city. Speaking in public, with friends or merchants, flavours a street with the vitality of movement. As we move about, capturing snippets of conversations of passersby, we might glance at the speakers to associate words with appearances. Rarely do we hear a completed remark, as conversations fade in or trail off. In cities of many languages, these snippets constitute the fragments of the city’s greater soundscape, where the sonority and visuality of languages take precedence over the meanings of words uttered. Thériault delineates an “esthétique migrante” in her study of three artworks that depict the soundscape of Montreal, where the many languages spoken become part of an economy of noises constantly in transit, the din of the city itself: Dans une ville où l’usage de la langue est réglementé dans certains contexts, où le territoire qu’elle occupe est constamment mesuré et fait l’objet régulièrement d’analyze dans les medias, nous en devenons nécessairement hyperconscients. Et quand il s’agit particulièrement de l’usage de l’anglais et du français, c’est beaucoup moins la signification des mots qui nous importe que leur simple présence sonore et visuelle. Si l’aspect visuelle de l’autre langue est l’objet d’un débat toujours renouvelé à Montréal, sa présence sonore l’est beaucoup moins parce qu’elle est de nature diffuse et difficilement contenue. La ville peut s’appréhender donc selon une géographie purement sonore très significative.20 (1999, 157) In considering the din of the city as constituting a “symbolique de la circulation urbaine,” Pierre Sansot (1984) asks, “Y a-t-il un langage du dehors?” (Sansot 1984, 176). He describes the liberty of exchanging words in the street, shaping the street’s language through two forms of stimulation:

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Nous sommes en présence d’un dehors, doublement vivifiant. Stimulation de l’air, du vent, du froid. Il faut lutter contre la morsure de l’aube, contre la fatigue de la journée, être plus fort que le bruit, gagner sa vie debout ou du moins à l’air libre, laissant aux assis le soin de marmonner, de chuchoter dans leurs études ou dans leurs bureaux. Stimulation de la ville elle-même qui charrie tellement d’informations, qui propose un si grand nombre d’excitations. Les passants, l’argent que l’on encaisse, les autres cris constituent un milieu très riche. La ville modifie, sans cesse, l’homme par l’homme. Dans une rue, cette proposition perd l’allure d’une vérité générale, elle s’impose irrécusablement.21 (177) Today, we feel that the street’s language has changed considerably since the advent of new communications technologies, first with phone booths and more recently with mobile phones, which have enabled us to stay in touch across vast distances but have equally rendered eavesdropping a public affair. We overhear fragments of conversations in every space, willing or unwilling audiences to public performances of Cocteau’s La voix humaine. In Toronto’s Chinatown or the Turkish section of Berlin’s Kreuzberg, a stranger easily responds to the language of the street. Despite my incomprehension, I am always captivated by the vigour of Kreuzberg’s street life as storekeepers call to each other, friends cluster on street corners, and neighbours and relatives lean out of adjacent windows to chat. The hustle and bustle of Toronto’s Chinatown echoes in the pace of the many Asian languages now spoken there, in the flash of bartering that can leave outsiders dazed. By contrast, newer diasporic languages are often relegated to the privacy of home life or to the shelter of private conversation, voices lowered on the bus to remain unobtrusive to other passengers. Languages maintained primarily in a city’s private spaces are sheltered out of earshot, relegated to residences, community centres, and places of worship. In cities where encounters between languages are ubiquitous, the act of codeswitching is not only linguistic but gestural. In Montreal, the importance of being seen speaking can be important to being in particular city spaces. Being seen speaking in one way – that is, being seen to possess the linguistic capital required to choose one language over another – can be as important as being heard at all. Monica Heller describes codeswitching in Montreal as involving an

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“extreme awareness of language” that “comes from the symbolic role it has in political life.” She uses the example of hospital clerks to demonstrate, as it were, the hospitable nature of bilingual persons in contexts of complex or formal interaction (112–16). Formal language games are acted out until clerk and patient finally reveal their preferred language. In the English hospital of Heller’s example, “clerks whose French is passable but not perfect tend to feel that speaking French is, on the one hand, part of their duty to be as helpful and as pleasant as possible, and, on the other, a favour which the patient should appreciate.” The political aspect of such negotiation can also carry the burden of honour: “Admitting that you are not perfectly bilingual (for an anglophone) entails loss of face; but speaking French constitutes a favour. However, for a Québécois to accept that “favour” lets the anglophone keep his position of power in the conversation (indicative of his position of power in the community)” (114). The contrary desire to be seen speaking is, of course, to hide behind language, to remain linguistically anonymous. In these moments of overt linguistic performativity, a city reveals something of its character. The experience of immigrating to a new city can place great burdens on the newcomers for whom learning language can be tantamount to performing speaking. Michael Ondaatje brilliantly depicts the impulse to perform linguistic identity among immigrants to early twentieth-century Toronto in his novel In the Skin of a Lion: When [Nicholas] returned to Toronto all he needed was a voice for all this language. Most immigrants learned their English from recorded songs or, until the talkies came, through mimicking actors on stage. It was a common habit to select one actor and follow him throughout his career, annoyed when he was given a small part, and seeing each of his plays as often as possible – sometimes as often as ten times during a run. Usually by the end of an east-end production at the Fox or Parrot Theatres the actors’ speeches would be followed by growing echoes as Macedonians, Finns, and Greeks repeated the phrases after a half-second pause, trying to get the pronunciation right. (47) In contemporary Montreal, ways of negotiating the social landscape become increasingly complex if one wanders beyond the familiar grounds of French and English. Gail Scott (1998), a renowned

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Montreal writer whose works shift between English and French, captures this quality in her essay “My Montreal: Notes of an AngloQuébécois Writer.” Attempting to demonstrate to an American friend her desire for the city’s bilingualism, she leads him to a bar on Montreal’s multi-ethnic “Main Street”: Unfortunately, in ordering two Boréales blondes in French, the waiter, whose mother tongue is Portuguese, uncooperatively replies in English, out of kindness or because he wants to show me that his English is less accented than my French. A game, a battle one risks having each time on buys bread, shoes, or cigarettes, in this neighbourhood where the majority of the population speaks two, three, even four languages. Curiously, even young francophones, wishing to practice their second language, often reply in English if they detect an accent (accents are detected before you open your mouth: a haircut, an item of clothing, a gesture can give you away). (Scott 1998, 4–5) Language and linguistic identity are visibly inscribed on the body through fashion or gesture, acted out in everyday encounters. Indeed, in such a city one need not speak outright in order to indicate one’s linguistic preference. Learning French in Montreal, I quickly learned to thwart francophone shopkeepers from readily speaking English to me by visibly displaying a copy of a French newspaper tucked under my arm. Nevertheless, it seems to me that no aspect of city language is more visible than silence. The silence of nodding relationships in Germain and Rose’s example relates the intensity with which, when linguistic communication goes sour, refraining from speaking can nonetheless be performed. Indeed, the city suffers from aphasia in those non-places or those objectionable encounters we all avoid – the undesirable and thus unuttered features of any city. Yet the speechlessness of an author like Brecht is not the same solitude as that which emanates from the unspeakable. Cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Berlin resonate with routine patterns of speech and the regular shifting between modes of speaking, but are also filled with moments of conflict and the collision of languages that dissonate in their everyday traffic. As resonance and dissonance compete for attention, language in the city diffuses into the language of the city.

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The city was in a state of delirious flux. Sometimes I caught its babble of different languages: a snatch of Hindustani, a bellow of pidgin-English across a building site, a rapid interchange in Arabic, a burst of Chinese. I realized why the roundabouts were so important. One meets them every few hundred yards on all main roads in Manama: trim, circular gardens of turf, palms, cacti and vivid flowers whose names I didn’t know – still centres in a world of change. Jonathan Raban, Arabia through the Looking Glass (1980)

As Mike Crang argues, “instead of being a solid thing, the city is a becoming, through circulation, combination and recombination of people and things” (190). I have attempted to demonstrate the need to balance studies of language use in the city with representations of how speaking in the city, in its countless forms, contributes to moulding a city’s particularism. The sheer diversity of approaches and images that I have reviewed begin to articulate the acute relationship of our linguistic presence in the city to our shared awareness of a language of the city. This constantly evolving relationship might best be construed as framing the nexus of chronotopes of speaking in the city. Based on the representation of space-time human relations, Bakhtin’s (1981) theory of the chronotope exemplifies a symbolic form that belongs, on the one hand, to a particular socio-historical context or experience but, on the other hand, is continually renewed and transformed.22 The notion of chronotope allows us to conceive of how individual literary examples of speaking in various cities, as outlined throughout this article, can be representative both of localized peculiarities of urban discourse in particular spatiotemporal spheres and of generalized patterns of speaking that are constantly reiterated in the cultural practices of all cities. Bakhtin focuses his study on the form of novel, which he views as an especially privileged locus for grasping the “heteroglossia” of an epoch, or the “multiform speech genres and modes of discourse found in the everyday lifeworld” (Gardiner 2000, 60). I have sought, in this article, to outline a series of chronotopes of the spoken character of the city derived from multiple sources, with a view to capturing some of the ways in which knowledge about language in the city is continually formed and reiterated. The

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chronotopes of the spoken character of the city that I have tried to draw out cover a variety of forms of linguistic expression, from the relation of language to the form of the city, to forms of linguistic exchange such as codeswitching, networking, and diffusion, to the spatial and temporal, the visual and obscured manifestations of speaking in the city. In this regard, urban sociolinguistic studies themselves are written representations – among many – that capture important aspects of city language in given spatiotemporal constellations. All of the approaches toward language and the city offered here are chronotopic in their own way, each contributing to our ever-transforming awareness of how to speak our city. As JeanFrançois Côté (2007, 76) articulates, “any chronotope, any representation of a city, calls for an aesthetic tradition of which it becomes a part, and that it embodies in a specific fashion as a living re-opening of its meaning.” In contrasting these multiple accounts, I hope to have shed light on how the city itself is a cultural expressive form in which language and linguistic exchange play a defining role.

NOTES

1 David Banon offers interesting reflections on the relation of Babel to language and the city: “En effet, c’est au sujet de la constitution d’une cité – socialisation de l’individu ? que la Bible pose le problème du langage, de ses errements et de son pouvoir” (1981, 49). [Indeed, it is with regard to the constitution of a city – the socialization of the individual – that the Bible poses the problem of language, its erring ways and its power (my translation)]. In his monumental work on the history of Babel, Arno Borst traces the image that Babel represents as an ancient city type, alluding to turn-of-the-century writer Father Marie-Joseph Lagrange (1855–1938) who wrote: “Et la tour de Babel n’est point une pure imagination … Considérer Babylone comme une ville orgueilleuse où toutes les langues se donnaient rendez-vous, ce n’est point une chimère” (1903, 214). [And the Tower of Babel is not a figment of the imagination … Considering Babylon as a jealous city where all languages mingled is not at all a chimera (my translation)]. Borst further interprets Lagrange’s observation: “Die heidnische Entwurzelung des modernen Menschen in der vielsprachigen Großstadt ist in der Bibel gemeint; weil es Paris gibt, darum gab es Babel” (1961, Band 3. 2). [The heathen ancestry of the modern person in the multilingual metropolis is implicated in the Bible: Paris exists today because Babel existed before (my translation)].

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2 “Die wahre Übersetzung is durchscheinend, sie verdeckt nicht das Original, steht ihm nicht im Licht, sondern läßt die reine Sprache, wie verstärkt durch ihr eigenes Medium, nur um so voller aufs Original fallen. Das vermag vor allem Wörtlichkeit in der Übertragung der Syntax und gerade sie erweist das Wort, nicht den Satz als das Urelement des Übersetzers. Denn der Satz ist die Mauer vor der Sprache des Originals, Wörtlichkeit die Arkade” (Benjamin 1972, 18). 3 In a similar vein of thought Steiner observes: If “our speech interposes itself between apprehension and truth like a dusty pane or warped mirror,” then “the tongue of Eden was like a flawless glass; a light of total understanding streamed through it” (1975, 61). Steiner later writes that translation for Benjamin is “both possible and impossible – a dialectical antimony characteristic of esoteric argument. This antimony arises from the fact that all known tongues are fragments, whose roots, in a sense which is both algebraic and etymological, can only be found in and validated by ‘die reine Sprache.’ This ‘pure language’ … is like a hidden spring seeking to force its way through the silted channels of our differing tongues … A translation from language a into language b will make tangible the implication of a third, active presence. It will show the lineaments of that ‘pure speech’ which precedes and underlies both languages” (66–7). 4 The entire German aphorism reads: “Daß die Sprachen (2) und (8) nur aus Befehlen bestehen, laß dich nicht stören. Willst du sagen, sie seien darum nicht vollständig, so frage dich, ob unsere Sprache vollständig ist; – ob sie es war, ehe ihr der chemische Symbolismus und die Infinitesimalnotation einverleibt wurden; denn dies sind, sozusagen, Vorstädte unserer Sprache. (Und mit wieviel Häusern, oder Straßen, fängt eine Stadt, Stadt zu sein?) Unsere Sprache kann man ansehen als eine alte Stadt: Ein Gewinkel von Gäßchen und Plätzen, alten und neuen Häusern, und Häusern mit Zubauten aus verschiedenen Zeiten; und dies umgeben von einer Menge neuer Vororte mit geraden und regelmäßigen Straßen und mit einförmigen Häusern” (Wittgenstsein 1953, 8, §18; my emphasis). 5 “Die Sprache ist ein Labyrinth von Wegen. Du kommst von einer Seite und kennt dich aus; du kommst von einer andern zur selben Stelle, und kennst dich nicht mehr aus” (Wittgenstein 1953, 82, §203). See also comments in Paetzold (1997). 6 “La cité est un discours, et ce discours est véritablement un langage: la ville parle à ses habitants, nous parlons notre ville, la ville où nous nous trouvons, simplement en l’habitant, en la parcourant, en la regardant. Cependant, le problème est de faire surgir du stade purement métaphorique une expression comme ‘langage de la ville’. Il est très facile métaphoriquement

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8

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de parler du langage de la ville comme on parle du langage du cinéma ou du langage des fleurs. Le vrai saut scientifique sera réalisé lorsqu’on pourra parler du langage de la ville sans métaphore. … Le meilleur modèle pour l’étude sémantique de la ville sera fourni, je crois, tout au moins au début, par la phrase du discours. Et nous retrouvons ici la vieille intuition de Victor Hugo: la ville est une écriture; celui que se déplace dans la ville, c’est-à-dire l’usager de la ville (ce que nous sommes tous), est une sorte de lecteur qui, selon ses obligations et ses déplacements, prélève des fragments de l’énoncé pour les actualiser en secret” (Barthes 1985, 265–8). See also Henri Gobard, “De la véhicularité de la langue anglaise,” Les langues modernes (January 1972): 59–66. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guatarri (1986) rework this “tetralinguistic model” in Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, 23–4. See, for example, Dell Hymes (1974) on “Ways of Speaking” in Bauman and Scherzer’s Explorations in the Ethnography of Speaking (433–51) and John Gumperz (1984) on the “Ethnography in Urban Communication” in Auer and di Luzio’s Interpretive Sociolinguistics (1–12). Gumperz notes in Discourse Strategies: “Because it makes no assumptions about sharedness of rules or evaluative norms, the interpretive approach to conversation is particularly revealing in modern urbanized societies where social boundaries are diffuse, where intensive communication with speakers of differing backgrounds is the rule rather than the exception, and signalling conventions may vary from situation to situation” (1982, 6). It should be noted that funding for studies in rural dialects in American sociolinguistics was quickly displaced after World War II by a concern for solving “urban problems” such as school failure and illiteracy among inner-city communities. Thus, the us federal government partially underwrote the development of Labovian sociolinguistics and early projects in the ethnology of speaking. (See Murray 1998, 180.) Gumperz (1968) comments: “The standard literary languages of modern nation-states … tend to be representative of majority speech. As a rule they originated in rising urban centres, as a result of the free interaction of speakers of a variety of local dialects, they became identified with new urban elites, and in time replaced older administrative languages” (quoted in Giglioli 1972, 222). In her excellent anthology of studies on codeswitching, for example, Carol Eastman (1992) entitles the preface “Codeswitching as an Urban Language-Contact Phenomenon” but fails to illuminate any exclusively urban frame of reference, acknowledging only in conclusion that “codeswitching is generally seen to be the use of at least two languages (or dialects or

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registers) within a particular genre (song, conversation) during a speech event often in a multilingual (primarily urban) setting” (1992, 16; my emphasis). For example, see Médéric Gasquet-Cyrus, “Sociolinguistique urbaine ou urbanisation de la sociolinguistique?”: “La sociolinguistique n’est finalement pas urbaine par essence, car elle a en charge d’envisager les phénomènes linguistiques dans une perspective beaucoup plus vaste que l’urbanisation ou la ghettoïsation” (Marges linguistiques 3 [May 2002]: 67). [Sociolinguistics is ultimately not in essence urban, since its task is to contemplate linguistic phenomena from a much broader perspective than urbanisation or ghettoization (my translation)]. See also Mike Crang (2001), “Rhythms of the City,” 192–5. “Un espace n’est que l’inscription dans le monde d’un temps. Les espaces sont des réalisations, des inscriptions dans la simultanéité du monde extérieur d’une série de temps : les rythmes de la vie, les rhytmes de la population urbaine … la ville ne sera véritablement repensée, reconstruite, sur ses ruines actuelles que lorsque l’on aura bien compris que la ville est un emploi du temps” (Lefebvre 1970, 224). “Les marcheurs, Wandersmänner, dont le corps obéit aux pleins et aux déliés d’un ‘texte’ urbain qu’ils écrivent sans pouvoir le lire” (de Certeau 1980, 141). “Beide Texte entwerfen die Vision eine ‘anorganischen Raumes’, der von immerfortwährender Zirkulation erfüllt ist, in dessen Getöse die menschliche Stimme und mit ihr das Humane überhaupt untergehen” (Bienert 1992, 63). In this vein Pierre Sansot (1998) challenges a simple opposition of circulation to sedentariness: “Est-il assuré que circuler soit le contraire d’habiter, que le premier incite à la célérité et le second à la sédentarité? Il nous paraît possible de dépasser dès maintenant cette opposition – du moins dans certaines circonstances. Habiter c’est d’abord avoir des habitudes à tel point que le dehors devient une enveloppe de mon être et du dedans que je suis. C’est pourquoi on peut affirmer que, d’une certaine manière, j’habite une ligne de bus, dès lors que je l’emprunte chaque jour. Le chauffeur m’est connu, mon trajet est ponctué par un certain nombre de stations. À une heure déterminée, les autres voyageurs me sont devenus familiers; c’est ainsi que l’absence répétée de l’un d’entre eux m’étonne, voire m’inquiète. Dans ces conditions, le trajet n’est pas exactement un fragment soustrait à la durée, un blanc insignifiant. Il constitue une pause à l’intérieur de mes tâches” (Sansot 1998, 173). [Is it certain that circulating is the opposite of inhabiting, that the former prompts celerity and the latter sedentariness? It seems to me possible that we may now surpass this opposition – at least

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in certain circumstances. To inhabit is foremost to have habits to such a point that the outdoors becomes an envelope of my being and the inside of who I am. This is why we can claim that, in a certain way, I inhabit a bus line, from the moment that I take it each day. I know the driver, my ride is punctuated by a certain number of stops. At a certain point, the other travellers have become familiar to me; in this way, the repeated absence of one of them surprises me, indeed worries me. In these conditions, the ride is not exactly a fragment, subtracted from the whole day, an insignificant blank. It constitutes a pause within my everyday tasks (my translation)]. “Il a été question de faire migrer une culture (et un esprit) juive plurielle et diasporique à travers une culture (surtout) anglaise, mais en présence d’une réalité francophone” (Thériault 1999, 155). “In a city where language use is regulated by certain contexts, where the territory it occupies is constantly measured and regularly subjected to media analysis, we have necessarily become hyperconscious of it. And when it deals in particular with the use of English or French, it is much less the meaning of the words that matters to us than their simple sonorous and visual presence. If the visual aspect of the other language is the object of a constantly renewed debate in Montreal, its sonorous presence is much less so, since it is by nature diffuse and difficult to contain. The city can thus be apprehended by a purely sonorous geography that is very meaningful” (my translation). “We are in the presence of an outdoors, invigorating for two reasons. Stimulation of the air, the wind, the cold. We must fight against the bite of dawn, against the fatigue of the day, be stronger than the noise, earn a living on our feet or at least in open air, leaving to those seated the trouble of murmuring, of whispering in their studies or in their offices. Stimulation of the city itself that channels so much information, that proposes such a large number of excitements. The passers-by, the money one collects, other exclamations, constitute this rich environment. The city incessantly alters people through people. In the street, this proposition loses the allure of a general truth, it imposes itself incontestably” (my translation). In this regard, see Jean-François Côté (2007), especially the section “The City as Chronotope, and the Chronotopes of the City: Bakhtin’s Aesthetics and Ethics,” 76–9.

2 Telepathically Urban JENNIFER GABRYS

A medium is a medium is a medium. As the sentence says, there is no difference between occult and technological media. Their truth is fatality, their field the unconscious. Friedrich Kittler, Discourse Networks (1990, 229) Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future (1962)

CITY OF DUST

The urban ether swims with a multitude of invisible particles: the residue of ash and aerosols, signals and light. Circulating through the city is the dust of industry, a pixelated material history. But dust also circulates through the urban and technological imagination as a potentially “smart” material that shapes wireless sensor communication. In the wireless city, communication technologies have been described as “utility fogs” and “pervasive networks” as well as “smart dust” in order to capture the possibly miniscule yet ubiquitous extent of wireless infrastructures. While smart dust in particular has developed as much as a technology of conjecture as application, the notion of dust that circulates and communicates the details of an electronic urban ecology is pursued in this chapter as a resonant figure for imagining the transmission and sedimentation of signals in an urban context. Smart dust has been envisioned in the form of microscopic and drifting wireless sensors that coordinate radio signals from mote to mote. From clouds of signals to smart particles, the imagined wireless city becomes charged with invisible, instant, and

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cryptic communication, which primarily occurs among machines. Within the traces of this machinic communication a city emerges that is telepathically urban, where the firing of messages assembles environments into immediate correspondence. Our primary access to this telepathic exchange is through the dust, that nearly imperceptible but electric remainder of technological conjecture. Particular forms of dust materialize with every industry and era, and distinct cities emerge through the accumulation of debris sloughed off from modes of economic activity (Amato 2000, 8). Dust sediments as well as gives rise to material processes – it is a unit for capturing the transpiration – “the becoming and dissolution” of matter (ibid., 5). Like firing neurons, dust blinks on and off as the minimum recognizable entity of material transformation and circulation. Amassing with the dust of the urban past, smart dust hovers as an imagined residue discharged by the future wireless city. Smart dust has been developed in the form of tiny wireless sensors that could be released en masse, so that countless machines are in constant relay, coordinating information about an environment.1 Wireless sensors, distributed and embedded in environments, move the “information city” from a zone where digital media is produced and circulated by media workers, to a space where the city itself is a site of information generation – an urban information ecology. This sensor technology is less concerned with increasing computing power and more attentive to reducing the size of hardware, a technological shift that would allow millions of tiny machines to be deployed in drifts of simultaneous communication. Sensor systems have moved beyond the initial imaginings of smart dust, but both imagined and actual deployments generally are developed with a microprocessor and bi-directional radio and can be installed as distributed networks that can monitor everything from temperature and traffic to humidity and light. Applications ranging from the hypothetical to the mundane have included dropping as many as ten billion motes by airplane into the atmosphere in order to monitor the weather, or simply scattering motes across roadways in order to detect passing traffic (Broad 2005; Estrin et al. 2002). Once installed, sensors are intended to operate relatively free of human interaction. Constantly transmitting and synchronizing messages in “the same unstoppable conversation” (Johnson 2000), these devices organize and collect environmental data and transmit select

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information back to databases. The “unstoppable conversation” relayed from machine to machine forms an invisible background of communication in the wireless city. As this exchange among machines transpires remotely, beyond the limits of perceptibility, it gives rise to speculation about the (possibly telepathic) correspondence among machines. Telepathy or, literally, “remote sensation” occurs as invisible and instant communication beyond the channels of sense. This is a process of displaced sensation, of sensing in an extraordinary capacity, or of communicating impressions beyond the reach of usual communicative practices. Wireless sensors – particularly in the more hypothetical form of smart dust – perform this removal and rerouting of sensation. Urban ecologies are monitored, programmed, and made into transmittable information, but this sensory information transpires through relatively opaque machinic spaces – and the messages circulated may be decoded as much through conjecture as clear communication. Telepathy is then a form of invisible communication that might describe how a wireless city continually talks to itself, circulating messages and programming urban ecologies. Organized in what Marshall McLuhan would call a “galaxy of machines,” our electrical environment of communications – as an extended central nervous system – is at once invisible and pervasive (2003, 150). In fact, McLuhan’s central motto revolves around this space of invisibility, as he explains: “‘The medium is the message’ is not a simple remark, and I’ve always hesitated to explain it. It really means a hidden environment of services created by an innovation, and the hidden environment of services is the thing that changes people” (ibid., 242). The technological medium is a charged electrical environment. It can even put into play a set of automated processes and correspondences that appear fanstastical. This chapter examines how the wireless city shifts – through the circulation of remote sensing and sensation – to become telepathic, and to stimulate uncanny forms of urban communication. ELECTRIC ATMOSPHERE

From the time of telegraphy and radio, wireless signals have permeated the city. Previously, wireless communication typically involved correspondence from person to machine, yet this transfer of communication now occurs predominantly from machine to machine.

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Wireless clouds are suspended over cities, marking the frequency for the relay between microprocessors. Machines speak to machines to facilitate urban surveillance and automation: the operation of cctv cameras, the monitoring of noise levels, the recording of traffic density, and the updating of local temperatures. In the future wireless city, it is not just multiple forms of urban dust that circulate: urban ecologies also circulate. The environmental attributes of the city become animated by sensors (Gabrys 2007). Above and beyond the circulation of messages moves a flood of material descriptions, not metaphysical claims but hyperphysical documentations. The city circulates as extended phenomena. Traffic moving at 5 mph, noise at 72 decibels, temperature registering 40 degrees Celsius: the air vibrates with local detail that searches for remote modes of assembly. In his discussion of the “overexposed city,” Paul Virilio suggests that electronic telecommunications changed the physical fabric of the city. The surge of communications through the “electronic ether” gave rise to a city “devoid of spatial dimensions, but inscribed in the singular temporality of an instantaneous diffusion.” For Virilio, the city is overexposed: it exists all at once and so lacks “here and there” (2003, 272–3). Yet the city of telecommunications, this supposed virtual mirage, does not efface the physical city as much as alter and even intensify its modes of space and time. Electricity, automation, together with multiple modes of communication, rework the ratio and intensity of space and time in the city.2 With wireless communications, another assemblage of space and time emerges through the operation of invisible frequencies. As an electromagnetic field, of the sort that nineteenth-century physicists imagined, the city contains “neighbourhoods” of electricity and magnetism (Luckhurst 2002, 75–88). With the wireless city, communication is more than a process of instantaneity. Electricity exceeds the wires.3 It is atmospheric, drifting through spaces without edges, pervasive but located with differing intensities. It accumulates as a shifting temporal archive, saturated with ancient static simultaneous with the pulse of the new. Signals do not transmit via a process of conduction but are induced across stretches of space. The relay from mote to mote hovering in this atmospheric surround is suggestive of another era of wireless communications, where the transmission of invisible signals gave rise to fantastic conjecture. At the turn of the nineteenth century, wireless technologies

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emerged simultaneously with a burgeoning interest in telepathy. Telepathy, and the murky, all-encompassing medium of ether, were figures of technological imagining that at once anticipated and responded to more “applied” technologies. In this sense, these more hypothetical devices performed in direct relation to the qualities of telegraphy. In fact, as Laura Otis points out, Marconi’s wireless telegraph suggested new explanations and legitimacy for telepathy (2001, 187). While radio operators were sorting out how to intercept and interpret the transmission of wireless signals, telepathists were similarly exploring modes for communicating through the ether without apparatus. Although both telepathy and the ether have been at turns debated and dismissed as processes of creative interpretation, they have enabled an expanded understanding of the space and operation of wireless communications. There are cases where the practice of “poetic induction,” or “pulling signals out of the air,” as John Durham Peters writes, initially even surpassed the actual capacities of wireless technology (1999, 106). For this reason, he suggests, “it is misguided to construct a history of radio in which the spiritualism is an excrescence; it was one key to the medium’s very development” (ibid.). Through the process of induction, it is possible not to narrowly delimit the scope of technology but rather to expand it beyond the obvious and verifiable into spaces of suggestive possibility. Telepathy and ether, those conjectural leaps into the unknown aspects of wireless transmission, are resuscitated in this chapter as ways to poetically induce signals from the contemporary wireless city. As an imagined space of conductivity and transmission, the ether was the medium that allowed the envisioning of wireless technologies. The ether was a transducer of signals, a space for the correspondence of obscure communication, a figure of technological imagining. “The mother of all media,” ether was the construct that “allowed light, electricity, and magnetism to work at a distance” (ibid., 102). The development of wireless technologies depended on the ether, and it was a critical construct for physicists, including James Clerk Maxwell, who imagined the possibilities of wireless communication through the fantastic medium of the ether. Ultimately, while the ether enables the sense that “the universe seems to be in constant communication with itself” (ibid., 102–3), this idea in many ways was not taken literally, but more speculatively, as a way to imagine new communication capacities. This conjectural

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aspect of the ether then prompted numerous speculations on wireless communications. Writing on telepathy in the nineteenth century, Roger Luckhurst characterizes the ether as an “expansive matrix with unknown limits” (2002, 90). This imagined but unmapped space of transmissions enabled technological speculation, just as it was eventually rendered obsolete through the development of these same technologies to which it gave rise. The ether is a space where matter and signals both vanish and appear. The electric transference of communications dissolves into the ether, but the ether is also an infinite reservoir of retrievable particles. In her study of scientific developments that influenced the work of Duchamp, Linda Henderson traces the transformation of matter at the turn of the nineteenth century, where dissipating and dematerializing atoms and electrons eventually found their way back to the ether. Writing on the work of Gustave Le Bon, she notes that he sought a relationship “among ordinary atoms, ions, electrons, x-rays, and energy” and observed that “matter dematerializes little by little; it disincarnates itself, as a spiritist would say. An atom becomes an ion, an ion becomes an electron, then an x-ray, and, finally, energy and ether” (1997). At the limits of matter, the smallest detectable unit of sense – whether speck of dust or electron – gives way to conjecture about what lies beyond. Within this zone, the charged particles of smart dust inhabit the world of the miniature, similar to the bit, electron, atom, and chip, another iteration on the miniscule that achieves infinite expanse through absolute reduction. The ether of the nineteenth century, where the sky was imagined to be replete with infinitesimal and “smart” particles, in many ways resembles the clouds of wireless motes that are locked in endless conversation. With smart dust, the ether becomes operational, so that the urban atmosphere assembles quite literally into clouds that could “scan a city and detect traffic patterns or blow through the atmosphere to monitor the weather.” With these proposed scenarios, the Internet is inverted to become environmental, an invisible surround that one writer suggests “will be like an ocean, the air, a biological system” (Johnson 2000). Like the weather, this system describes an atmospheric drift of communication that moves through its own accord – a sensory system scanning and spontaneously taking shape. In the same way that the ether was imagined to be a force guiding the movement of energy and signals, wireless sensors assemble into

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an intelligent communication ecology. In the furthest imagining of the capabilities of wireless sensors in the form of smart dust, some proposals have suggested that in the future this unknown medium may be completely captured and harnessed, so that “wherever you go, this obedient, intelligent ether will anticipate your needs and await your every command” (Johnson 2000). Such ordering of the electric atmosphere resonates with the declarations of Futurist artist Filippo Marinetti on the triumph of wireless in the early 1900s. He claimed that “wireless telephones” could even be used to plant fields, that vegetables would sprout with the surge of electricity. In this way, “all the atmospheric electricity hanging over us, all the incalculable electricity of the earth, is finally harnessed.” Finally, in this totally charged planet, “electricity stimulates assimilation everywhere” (1971 [1917], 105). Wireless electricity enables a sort of planetary intelligence, and gives rise to uncanny correspondences among humans, vegetables, environments and machines. The force of growth and the means of assemblage are all achieved by tapping into the electric atmosphere that surrounds us. But this assimilation develops as a fantastic pursuit, where the space of the unknown gives rise to strange imaginings. Prior to the parcelling up of the electromagnetic spectrum to control frequencies for commercial purposes, the ether was an operative space for technological speculation and unusual connections. Yet earlier conceptions of ether resurface, as Joe Milutis suggests, “in unstable moments of technological shift” (2003, 72). This other ether “is the idea of a network mind that allows for indiscriminate connections and animistic insight” (ibid.). The imagined correspondence between cosmos and radio sets, or between plants and telephones, is a critical way in which the technologies of communication are fabricated. These are practices of uncanny and telepathic communication, where unusual ideas can be “pulled” from the ether, or seemingly disparate concepts can collide in a space of apparent similarity. Perhaps these practices are even most compelling for how they elicit the curious and latent aspects of communication. CITY OF COINCIDENCE

With the network of wireless communication and ubiquitous computing proposed in the form of sensors and smart dust, it is not telepathic transference from person to person but rather from machine

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to machine that presents the possibility for the most unusual connections and correspondences. The atmosphere of wireless sensor communications suggests an even more expanded dimension of machinic telepathy. “The future” has even been characterized as “a world of connecting machines” (Paul Saffo, cited in Johnson 2000). Such autonomous machines would function autonomously, “talking to other machines on behalf of people,” so that communication among people is projected to be “less than half a percent of the traffic on the Net” (ibid.). Such a degree of automation effectively enables machines to “read and write by themselves” (Kittler 1997, 147). But the feedback loop from machine to machine that plays out in these scenarios for the near future establishes an even more cryptic scenario for communication, where we are immersed in and yet relatively unaware of the surrounding – telepathic – exchange. Perhaps this is why, when Alan Turing endeavoured to determine whether machines think, he required a “telepathy-proof room.” In his well-known essay “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” (1950) Turing modifies his original experiment conducted with a man and woman in one room, and an interrogator (or machine) in another room, to account for the possibility of extra-sensory perception, or esp. In this modified experiment, the interrogator must tell the difference not between a man and woman, but between a man with telepathic powers and a computer. Yet because telepathy would throw into disarray the entire basis for assessment, Turing concludes, “if telepathy is admitted it will be necessary to tighten our test up. The situation could be regarded as analogous to that which would occur if the interrogator were talking to himself and one of the competitors was listening with his ear to the wall” (1950, 454). At this point, telepathist and machine, and even interrogator and machine, become conflated. Telepathic chatter is the one constant – and it proves difficult to trace the source or limits of this errant communication. With the prospect of machines talking to machines, one wonders if Turing was finally attempting to limit the possible interference from machinic telepathy. What would be the salient difference between a person communicating telepathically and a computer simulating human communication? Perhaps the differences between these – and the possible means for clearing up the interferences between telepathic people and humanoid computers – were too difficult to identify. But the possibility for such telepathicmachinic interference is ubiquitous in the wireless city, which is far

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from an impervious space. The wireless city is full of leaking telepathic signals and the wayward hum of garrulous machines. The urban atmosphere circulates and sediments with random shadowy particles, so that the process of wireless correspondence is inevitably subject to interference. Telepathy is a similarly imperfect exchange, a process of communication that is riddled with interference and so relies upon considerable acts of induction and conjecture. Studying the possibilities of telepathy in the 1920s, Upton Sinclair and his wife, Mary, performed their own elaborate series of telepathic experiments. Attempting to understand the telepathic exchange, Sinclair asks if it is “some kind of vibration, going out from the brain, like radio broadcasting?” (1930, 4). The resulting study, “Mental Radio,” documents the process of thoughts transmitted wirelessly between husband and wife while in separate rooms – much like the Turing experiment, without the third party. They produced a series of comparative drawings, and although their success rate was not astounding (23 per cent successful matches, 24 per cent failed matches, and the remaining 53 per cent a murky mismatch), the Sinclairs were convinced that the matches far exceeded any possibility for random guessing and were evidence of the veracity of telepathic powers.4 Regardless of whether their experiments are “proof” of telepathy, the system of correspondence that plays out suggests other dimensions of wireless communication. The Sinclairs’ telepathic correspondence matches up an inverted roller skate and a hairy horse, a hanging monkey and a trumpet, a volcano and a beetle with antennae. In the graphic fold of imagined similarity, a shadowy form of communication allows unusual connections to be made, while at the same time rewriting the rules for correspondence.5 An interpretive leap is often required to match the figures that are sent and received. When the feedback is set sufficiently low, so that a pony and roller skate become one and the same, a system of curious miscorrespondence is put in place. Between input and output, telepathic clarity emerges not in a one-to-one ratio but rather as an expanded space of interpretive resonance. Durham Peters has suggested that the dream of telepathy leans toward a type of “communication without remainder” (1999, 16).6 But the mental radio experiments demonstrate that telepathy is full of remainder and mis-correspondence. These are sites where interference and residue surface repeatedly in the process of transmission.

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Then as now, the wireless city is infused with these telepathic correspondences, the convergence and timing of machines, the instant transfer of messages, the strange conflation of events, and the lingering remainders. In nineteenth-century Paris, the Eiffel Tower was rigged for wireless transmission and could be tapped into with receiver sets from home balconies. Douglas Kahn has called this structure the “emblematic oracle of simultaneity,” even a “wireless landmark” (1999, 53). Today, the ambition to fill the urban skies with such oracular signals continues unabated. Paris has – in turn with many other global cities – been called “the first large wireless city in the world,” equipped as it is with contiguous and continuous access to wireless signals (Dembart 2003). Electrical signals enable processes of simultaneity, and the city plays out these synchronized, telepathic possibilities. McLuhan speaks to this process of electricity and instantaneity found in automation, going so far as to suggest that “any process that approaches instant interrelation of a total field tends to raise itself to the level of conscious awareness, so that computers seem to ‘think’” (1994, 351). This field of simultaneity, intelligence, and interrelation resonates with Marcel Mauss’s definition of “savage telepathy,” a scene in which “the whole social body comes alive with the same movement” (2001, 133). The play of instant correspondence suggests an “intelligence” of exchange, where anticipation and event coalesce – in the savage communication of machines. The synchronized sensing and transmissions – the automated stirrings of the city – appear intelligent because of their programmed spontaneity. The simultaneity, instantaneity, and smartness of wireless communications acquire a “presence,” as Sconce would suggest, by virtue of their “liveness” (Sconce 2000, 6). These qualities of presence, moreover, suggest a transition in communications from that of a channel to an atmosphere of communication, an “all-enveloping force occupying the ether” (ibid., 11). Like the pervasive presence found in ether-bound communications, a similar presence is located in the ubiquitous computing enabled by smart dust. Replacing what is similarly seen as the “conduit” of the Internet, it is possible to imagine information transformed into landscapes – environments and cities. An atmospheric mode of communication – like the ether, telepathic and electric – delineates a particular type of urban space that is composed not of distance and duration but rather a space of etheric density that gives rise to new forms of presence (Gabrys forthcoming).

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Stephen Graham asks how we can “imagine the ‘real-time’ city” so that we may account for the ways in which telecommunications reconfigure our notions of urban space and time (1997, 31–2). The atmospheric communication hovering over the city like a sensate cloud moves beyond even the architectures of conduit and screen, not to the virtual but to the imperceptible. This atmosphere is the space in-between: not an idealized representation but a particular mobilization of urban matter through pervasive and automated computation. In fact, with wireless sensors and the proposed applications of smart dust, the virtual collapses. Information is no longer a degree removed but completely embedded. Machinic telepathy reconfigures urban ecologies so that we no longer map the virtual or physical but take inventory of the telepathic migration of dust: how does this sensorial information circulate within and transform our urban settings? DUST OF MACHINES

With autonomous machines connected to autonomous machines, the city is now in telepathic communication. Increasingly instant and automated, urban space circulates through the transitory and monitored circuits of web cameras, surveillance systems, timers, and traffic monitors – all the constitutive parts of a communications city that talks to and watches itself. As a city geared toward infomatic output, this environment is highly coded: at once invisible but thoroughly documented. Smart dust presents the furthest imagined instalment of the programmed city. It enables ways of navigating the city that redirect sense and orientation toward a store of telepathic data. “You want to be able to simply say, ‘Take me to the projector in room 515,’” says Hari Balakrishnan, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and a researcher with mit’s Project Oxygen. Or, “‘Take me to the nearest projector in the building, or in the neighborhood, or find the nearest Chinese restaurant that serves low-sodium food.’ Cafés, drugstores, post offices, any place you might want to visit – all would be sending out digital beacons to vie for your attention” (cited in Johnson 2000). But the initial – and now even historic – imaginings of this technology have over time reached actual application. It may not yet be possible to telephone your garden, but it is possible to consult mobile phones for low-sodium restaurants. In the smart-dusted wireless city, both

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landscapes and artifacts are specked with sensors to facilitate wayfinding and consumption. An urban “network mind” can be continually dialled and consulted, revealing not just the circulations of urban messages and information but also informing the pathways of people who are reliant on these systems of navigation. Locative technologies, wireless sensors, geotagging, and Web 2.0 or Environment 2.0 technologies are now all-pervasive in urban settings. Mobile phones are gps enabled, and even commodites are tagged with radio frequency identification tags (rfid s) – a technology that has also been a source of speculation through smart dust, which could similarly be deployed in any number of products. Dust-specked and “smart” commodities circulate in the city to eventually become another type of dust – waste – as the everaccelerating cycle of production, consumption, and obsolescence ensures the rapid decay of objects (Gabrys forthcoming).7 The initial “inventor” of smart dust, Kris Pister, elaborates on such a merging of products and information: “Every conceivable object would have a recoverable history, a place in the cybernetic realm: physical space and cyberspace would truly melt into one” (cited in Johnson 2000). This urban space is far from virtual, when the physical world becomes the basis and location for information. This is an attempt not to collapse space and time but to fill it with dense layers of data and dust. With the project of completely monitoring the physical world and putting the environment “online,” there is no limit to the data to be retrieved. The data-gathering task is broken down into the smallest possible scale, so that previously large-scale measurements can be refigured as micro-data. With billions of motes forming detailed sensory networks, an increasing amount of information may be extracted from the urban environment. Smart dust finally offers the possibility of all-encompassing sense technologies that can continually scan, generate data from, and even regulate and modify, our natural-cultural environments. This database is global in scale, and reflects what McLuhan refers to as an “ecology of media.” With the launching of Sputnik, the planet became visible for the first time as an artifact, and as McLuhan writes, “transformed the planet into Spaceship Earth with a program problem” (2003, 242). The environment became programmable, a coherent system. An ecology of media was transposed to this space, and the electric nervous system of

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communications enshrouded the entire globe (as the subsequent launching of satellites confirms). Such a media surround resonates precisely with the objectives of the purveyors of smart dust, who “have visions of sending billions of these machines into the atmosphere so that the entire planet could be wired. Far-reaching networks of communicating sensors would give the earth a digital nervous system accessible to the web and giant search engines, from which we could instantly access anything about the state of the planet” (Anderson 2003). With the implementation of micro-data, the question becomes how to make sense of the welter of information. The planet is at once observable as an artifact, such that we can call it an object of data, and yet surrounds us as a space of potentially limitless data production. Wireless sensors are now in place on ocean buoys and in soil matrices, across urban roadways and within the skeletons of buildings. The applications for environmental sensing are inexhaustible. But a critical operation continually emerges from within these extensive data sets. A means of filtering the data is necessary.8 And so we return to telepathic machines. It is not just the relay from mote to mote that is telepathic; so too is the process of sifting through the static of all possible data to arrive at decipherable communication. In order to read through the haze of information, the machinic radio must be tuned to a legible frequency. Without this capability, smart dust encounters its double: the dust that is noise. ENDLESS CITY

Neo-geological, the “Monument Valley” of some pseudo-lithic era, today’s metropolis is a phantom landscape, the fossil of past societies whose technologies were intimately aligned with the visible transformation of matter, a project from which the sciences have increasingly turned away. Virilio, The Overexposed City (2005, 297) By refusing “technological miracles” the artist begins to know the corroded moments, the carboniferous states of thought, the shrinkage of mental mud, in the geologic chaos – in the strata of esthetic consciousness. The refuse between mind and matter is a mine of information. Smithson, A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects (1996, 107)

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The wireless city is a space for the production of dust in all its modalities. The city abounds with compressed and errant signals. Yet instead of dissolving urban space, as so many writers suggest, these communication and sensing technologies fill it with signals. In this space of machines speaking to machines, an inexplicable transference, correspondence, exchange occurs in the noise that irrupts between signals. As Friedrich Kittler suggests, the “noise of the real” – another kind of dust – produces an infinitely dense static discharge. “Molecular swarms and whirling electrons” appear in one instance as “dancing sun particles,” but “in the real are the noise on all channels” (1999, 51–9). Every medium, and every machinic attempt to access “the real,” is saturated with noise – the dust of transmission. The use of the term “smart dust” to describe the possible occupation and ingestion of all the possible data offered by environments – urban and otherwise – then encapsulates this other sense of dust, as it reveals the difficulty of capturing and making operational such a large store of environmental data. The dissipation and appearance of dust equally describes the formation of cities, as they lapse into wasted zones and residual districts. But as Yves-Alain Bois suggests, dust – particularly the dust of cities – is often not visible until it has settled (1997, 228). Dust is immanent and inescapable, it spreads and multiplies, promising to overwhelm. The modalities of dust offer further insights into the self-organizing, diverse forces of urban systems. Cities, as Nigel Clark writes, “are dynamic and open systems, the multiple forms of matter-energy (including minerals, biomass and genes) which pass through them entering into complex, non-linear relationships whose outcomes tend to exceed the calculations of their human component” (2000, 24). These urban systems – and the devices that would track and circulate information about them – typically surpass our available operating systems. They generate residue – they give rise to remainder that may even be best understood through telepathic modes of correspondence. While for Bois the city is “pure noise,” as it exceeds the limited “transmission of the message” (1997, 230), for McLuhan it is exactly the noise – or dust – that is most characteristic of the medium – as extended environment. The medium, through its side effects and unintended changes, gives rise to this environment of communications, which exceeds the message as sound-bite (Cavell 2002,

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153). But in a medium that is noise and extended effect, how does that other kind of “smart” dust filter through the urban background, replete as it is with interference, to extract information? Here the operation of smart dust must be telepathic on another level: in order to sift through the urban environment and coordinate correspondence from mote to mote, a telepathic filter must be in use. Even though wireless sensors are tuned to specific forms of input, a completely accurate reading of the city is impossible (as the Surrealists and Situationists have demonstrated, and exploited). The noise of the environment inevitably impedes the clear transmission of messages. Sensing, moreover, is not a singular mode of communication. Wireless sensors operate as a multitude of devices that make tentative attempts to assemble a whole. But the matter is not whether they arrive at an accurate assemblage but how they will filter through the noise and dust, and what sensorial arrangements and circulations will be the most compelling and pertinent. This is the telepathic imperative. Data exists everywhere in excess. In the wireless city, it floats and settles in a hazy surround. Sifting through the modalities of dust to sense and communicate through the urban medium will ultimately require a well-tuned telepathic sense.

NOTES

1 Smart dust was developed by Kris Pister et al. at the University of California at Berkeley between 1997 and 2001, and originally funded by the us Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (darpa). Smart dust utilizes microelectromechanical systems, or mems. For further technical information, see “Smart Dust: Autonomous Sensing and Communication in a Cubic Millimeter,” http://robotics.eecs.berkeley.edu/~pister/SmartDust/; and Brendan I. Koerner, “What is Smart Dust Anyway?,” Wired 11, no. 6 (June 2003); and Mohammad Ilyas and Imad Mahgoub, eds., Smart Dust: Sensor Network Applications, Architecture and Design (crc Press, Taylor & Francis: Boca Raton, Florida, 2006). 2 This argument draws upon and extends McLuhan’s notion that new media extend and alter the ratio of the senses (see Understanding Media). 3 See Luckhurst (2002) for a discussion of telepathy within a spatial framework and electricity as an emanation, 12 and 89.

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4 In a subsequent edition of the text, Albert Einstein also wrote the Preface for Mental Radio, where he briefly asked the reader to maintain openness to the experiments Sinclair presented. 5 This slipped system of correspondence is also suggestive of the opening discussion in Michel Foucault’s The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage Books, 1994). 6 If for Durham Peters communication is most fully revealed when it breaks down and fails, then telepathy may be the ideal form of communication for just this reason. Noting the successes of telepathy, however, Laura Otis cites British scientist William Barrett, who argues that telepathy, for all its failures, is actually more effective than “the clumsy mechanism of speech.” What’s more, Otis writes, “in efficiency, telepathy surpassed telegraphy, which had not yet transcended the primitive, organic vehicle of spoken language” (185). 7 For a discussion on what may be considered the “dust” of commodities, see Will Straw’s “Exhausted Commodities: The Material Culture of Music,” Canadian Journal of Communication 25, no. 1 (2000). 8 See also Brendan I. Koerner’s “Intel’s Tiny Hope for the Future,” Wired 11, no. 12 (December 2003), where he writes, “Sensors can’t become the next big thing until a host of mundane technical issues are resolved: How to get the chipset radios off the crowded 900-mh z spectrum? How to program the networks to not just spew reams of information but be intelligent enough to figure out which measurements are vital and which are junk?”

3 The Imaginary of Self-Satisfaction: Reflections on the Platitude of the “Creative City” ALAN BLUM

I want to consider the imagined quality or value of the city, certainly creative in its way, against the discourse on the “creative city” that has become almost an orthodoxy among the policy sciences and certain academics in North America. For example, Richard Florida’s book on the creative city (2002) formulates its problem as one of “producing” a normal life (a “common world”) in part by making the city into an association that joins what he calls the “mainstream” and the “fringe.” His project understands quality, exemplarity, and individuality in very specific ways – quite differently, for example, from the way of much theorizing, and yet in a manner that seems to reflect a symptomatic vision of modern life. Because Florida’s approach to creativity allows him to make the question of value digestible to many people today (the “mainstream”), he raises again the question of the status of reflective thought in and for the mainstream itself as a topic to be contested around the issue of the “normal life” of the city. He proceeds by implicitly asking what a normal life is and how a city can understand its responsibility for it. What is at stake in Florida’s book is the status of reflection in modern life and how or whether an “open” society is closed to philosophy (to poetry, metaphysics). More deeply, what is at stake is the very notion of an “open” society itself and the kind and quality of “normal life” for which it stands. In this respect,1 I begin to address how the conception of the platitude. and its use in The Creative City discourse in particular, becomes a figure of speech for representing deep and important

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matters of life and death. In representing “platitude,” I imagine a formula, in the words of Kenneth Burke, as if a strategy of “sizing up” a situation that, though useful, risks being inflexible and automated when used mechanically. So I want to understand how the form of the platitude as a speaking relationship has particular applicability to the creative city usage. For example, if it turns out that an appeal to populism characterizes the tendency of the platitude to make thought tangible and palpable through a method of ingratiation where the speaker submits to the one spoken as if an accomplice in a struggle against the pretense of distinguishing, then how can this apply to the critical city discourse? SHALLOW THOUGHT

The philosophical worries of a period can be expressed not only in the lofty thought of poets, philosophers, and thinkers, as Heidegger maintains, but in shallow thought as well. In fact, as many have noted (Burke 1957), shallow thought often condenses, displaces, and abbreviates the most soul-searching worries in scripts such as formulae, platitudes, clichés, and various commonplace formats for expressing what often seems inexpressible or intangible. In contrast to Martin Heidegger’s strategy of distinguishing shallow thought from lofty thought as “chatter” from “authentic speech” (Heidegger 1959, 51, 130), creating the long-honoured strategy for rejecting or correcting chatter called critique or criticism, or the alternative but complementary position of accepting chatter in an eye-blink as if self-evident and true, some of my colleagues and I have developed methods over the years for analyzing chatter as symptomatic of the imaginary relation of the moment at which such commonplaces seem to matter. This paper then proposes to use one popular book as such a symptom in order to disclose matters of relevance for the relation of circulation to life.2 CIRCULATION

Values are said to circulate; cities certainly rise and fall in luster, and circulation itself might be said to circulate. That is, if “things” circulate, including the city itself, is this very idea of circulating things not itself a constant that takes many shapes? It is the notion and not simply the “things” that come and go to which circulation makes

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reference, including the vision that props it up as a recurrent imaginative relation to the things that are in motion or that undergo alteration and change, but the relation of desire to life that takes shape as an ongoing encounter with material conditions and the perplexing question of the materiality of our own existence in time. Circulation, making reference to the link between vitality and expectation, is correlative with life itself, the constant need to imagine some or another realization (in the words of Zizek) “right around the corner” (1997). What circulates are variations on a theme, the different inflections of the desire for elevation in relation to the flux and incoherence of existence, for a sense of continuity and consequentiality that seems to offer more for us than any present can confirm. This desire always evokes in the image of specific content, the dream of some realization of our talents and capabilities as an ideal, both an incentive and a source of frustration, much like Lacan’s mirror image. The figure of the city as an object of desire evokes an aura of eternality that charms, fascinates, and seduces those who come to it in anticipation of its powers as a beacon of fertility, as the site at which the expectation of a change of fortune is honoured as a value of preeminence. The appeal of the city as such a lure reinstates it in a different shape at any present defining moment as the exemplary destination for all who desire to move and be moved as such.3 As a start, consider the city as standing for the ideal of being of consequence, of ambition, expectation, and opportunity inevitably conjured up as an object of desire, and so, evoking the potential of a reversal of fortune promising fertility or futility, ecstatic fulfillment or tragic comeuppance in the way the centre dramatizes and exemplifies the power and beauty imagined as and in the image of the propagation of the species. The city always reinstates a recurrent vision of movement itself as creative, as the decisive seat of a difference to be made in life, a vision registered not only in surface views of urban transformations and social change but in the lure of urbanity and its peculiar kind of life as a means of liberation (the home of beauty as Marcuse’s “liberating image”). I suggest that the beauty of the city “exists” as a symbol of procreation and that what circulates is the desire to preserve this aura of procreation in the image of a normal life that is treated inspirationally as the exemplary life, valued as a life worth living and that matters and that makes a difference at any present defining moment.4

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THE PROVERBIAL STRUCTURE OF CIRCULATION

Any distinction depends upon a specific proverbial structure that can be exposed by analyzing the usage through which it comes to view, and in this sense circulation is no different. The sociological cliché of life chances expresses the proverbial identification of circulation with life itself through the discourse that imagines any present situation as if it inhabits a space between a past that it inherits and a future that cannot exceed that inheritance. In Arendt (1958) this is the view of life as conditional or as (in Greek) en medias res, the inevitable situation of social action as being in the middle of things in the sense that whatever interpretation and action come to as a passage in time (that can only unfold temporally) must be a recapitulation of their past (with allowances for improvizational inflection). What circulates as correlative with life itself is such desire, the notion of the difference that one’s being here hic et nunc can make but always within the context of a past and its conditions that we have inherited and that often seem paralyzing as limits.5 The prosaic sense of circulation makes reference to the constant and never-ending expectation of change that invests any present with significance on the basis of the capacity to imagine such a moment as a means toward a future of consequence and so, in the imaginary sense, as eternal. The city is conceived as the site that offers to free us from whatever impedes such progress, and so, any city is as if a technology for permitting those at (any) present to imagine themselves as mattering. We want to appreciate, in any period whatsoever, how its present is given significance and the way in which the city is represented as a mechanism in such an imaginative structure. This begins to move closer to an appreciation of the creative city; for in its way, it must evoke the illusion that can empower the many at present to examine the consequentiality of their current “normal life” and to imagine the exemplary type of city that can be creative in its time for making such a life seem as if it matters, and thus to imagine not only a social formation assumed to be different in degree and kind from anything preceding it but a masterplan for its construction as if this is a body of “knowledge” and policy to be disseminated and used by relevant decision-makers and constituencies in making a better life.6

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THE SURREAL ENVIRONMENT OF THE CREATIVE CITY

We can only address the question of the creative city by asking after the notion of creativity around which cities seem to revolve. Such a city is currently projected to be a normal and pleasant urban environment, but it is all that and more and certainly is an aspiration that seems to animate second-tier cities. In this sense, we find that cities without the burden of a strong history constitute a growing market for Richard Florida’s self-help advice, which essentially tries to provide a master plan for enabling them to invent themselves as marketplaces in this period. Deeply, the notion of the city as a marketplace (Weber 1952) translates the city into an object of desire by using the standard of market value to make over the city into an object that everyone desires, or the site where everyone should want to be, the seat of action.7 Because the voice of such a curriculum increasingly tends to establish itself as a normative vision for any city, it is worth exploring this ideal within the context of great cities and the complexities of their history in any present. The surrealism of Florida’s policy lies in its curious ambition to tame the concrete specificity of all of the cities we tend to know and love on the grounds that such complexity (always a configuration of beauty and ugliness) appears unruly for many people today and further, is unwanted by those in the know. That is, the very complexity of such cities resides in their mix of beauty and ugliness as a distinguishing focus in ways that can be fascinating and not simply unhygienic impediments or obstacles to remove. The message is clear here: at present, to understand what kind of city normal people or the mainstream want and covet, we need to understand the “system of needs” (Hegel 1952) by which the mainstream is ruled, and we can only learn of such by camouflaging ourselves as the mainstream in order to grasp its ways.8 One question Florida’s book raises concerns his choice of audience and the way he camouflages himself in the voice of this constituency. His book on creative cities is a manual for cities to follow in creating stimulating environments for people whose interest in their own personalities needs to be rehabilitated, or whose motivations need to be revived and nurtured in any present moment. Such people need to be stimulated, and the task of cities is to give them what they need, stimulation.9 The reputed mobility of modern life

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reflected in the capacity of people to move about freely is interpreted as giving cities a new kind of productivity, that is, the opportunity to produce stimulation itself as if another technology. But stimulation, neither meaningless nor self-evident, is itself a dialogical notion, both held in common and taking many shapes. In The Rise of the Creative Class, Florida equates stimulation with the hyperactivity aroused by the weakening of restrictions, seeking to show policy-makers involved in rethinking urban social change that their cities can be attractive to people who will help them prosper if they make stimulation happen in certain ways. The stimulating environment, from this perspective, is one that can free people from “stronger bonds that once gave structure to society” by providing “places where we can make friends and acquaintances easily and live quasi-anonymous lives” (Florida 2002, 7). Florida’s idea of stimulation is stimulating only in the way that it frees us from a reflective relationship to the signifier (“stimulation”) by equating stimulation with, say, the excitation of hysteria. This is not a dialectical approach to the concept of stimulation, which would call upon the city to address the reciprocal relation “interior” to stimulation between its view of the common world and changing conditions.10 Florida identifies stimulation by designating its arousal by amenities without further ado. In contrast, in much work the city is viewed as expressive through and by virtue of its struggle between its persistence and modification, as Aldo Rossi (1998) would say, in how it persists and changes and so “handles” the problem of the tension in this relationship. Here, what the expressive city “expresses” is the expenditure of effort or work invested in being the Same and the Other at any moment, rather than its status as a sanctuary for lifestyle choices. C I T I E S : G R E A T , P R I M A R Y, C E N T R A L

There is a notion of value or rank implicit in discourses over the character of the city, historically as the distinction between “great cities” and all of the others (the nodal points of civilization and the other centres), more recently a distinction between “primary” and “second-tier” cities, and increasingly a concern for “creative cities” as environments promoting certain styles of life and concentration of amenities. If all cities are in some sense central, they are primary

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only relatively in relation to, say, economic spheres of influence, while “greatness” seems to evoke images of singularity and more, of a climax in values and achievements that exceed centrality and primacy, just as much “mental” as anything else. But I am not proposing a typology of cities in any such sense, since my intention is to provoke a conversational relationship to the question of the value and quality of a city. Although such talk is about the city (or could be about collectives in general, or persons), more deeply these concerns point to a pervasive conception of excellence and the exemplary in everyday life, reflecting a contemporary notion of distinction, rank, and value that makes reference to ways in which the normal and exceptional are invested with “quality” and value (for example, “greatness” has been transformed into “primacy” and now “creativity”). That is, where greatness appears to suggest singularity, primacy resonates with relative value and comparability, while creativity avoids speaking about the city per se by describing certain kinds of persons or workers it attracts or to whom it is thought to appeal. If, in the idiom of Kierkegaard, the value of distinction seems increasingly unrecognizable, hidden, and treated as only negatively capable of repelling persons (1962, 80), suggesting the diminished power of the notion of principle (in the sense that the weighty notion of distinction resonates with the grounds out of which something emerges), I will treat such provocative suggestions as discursive positions in the self-understanding of modern urban life, particularly in relation to the question of value. The great city has stood not for virtue or superiority in the sense of being better than the others (as we might call someone a “good person” and an evildoer a “bad person”) but for a kind of scale and magnitude, perhaps sublime, the greatness of which lies in bringing together the extremes. Thus it is not a good city in some normative and external sense, but good as a city, that is, as standing for the specific and unique value of cities (their telos, end) which very well might be to mix and match in some combustible manner the best and worst of humankind in a vital cauldron. Such a reflection requires thinking about the end of the city, its value in such a sense, its excellence as a city. For example, the great city is reputed to have a tumultuous public life because it makes public (through images and representations) the self-understanding of the common world of its time (including the understanding of the “normal life”) and how it

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is shared, contested, diversified, and represented. Because the name of the city always evokes an aura of uniformity that must collide with its diversity in practice, the common world is necessarily reflected in the diverse ways of advancing the “thesis” of its solidarity. This suggests that the common world of the great city, reflected in images of its normal life, can never be captured in idyllic snapshots of pacific processes but more likely appears as representations of the mix of pleasure and pain in urban life. That a great city makes public, contested versions of the normal life of its time suggests that “greatness” resides in part in making division and diversity (and the anxieties and conflicts of the time) come into view, come into the open, to be seen and oriented to as an enduring problem. In this way the greatness of the great city resides in its mirroring the tensions and strains in the civilization of its moment. In contrast, Florida’s creative city is viewed as providing the freedom from effort or difficulty that we might think of as convenience, and such convenience remains an amenity, giving us an opportunity to constantly redefine ourselves, to “create our own identities” along “the varied dimensions of our creativity” (2002, 7). There are many things going on in the fold of this imaginative structure, beginning with the idea of the restrictions on our conceptions of who we are by social structures that are rigid and unresponsive to our wants (once upon a time before these changes, people were determined by social structures). CREATIVITY AS COLLECTIVE AND AS INDIVIDUAL

The idea of a city as creative trades off the imagery of individual creativity. Whatever the notion of creativity is made to mean in common usage, however, it must still make reference to a collective feature and not to an individual property (as sociologists have long recognized in distinctions between types of attributes and levels of analysis). It might be difficult to understand that a creative city is not eo ipso a city with a number of creative people, because it is hard to grasp the notion of collective agency (of the collective actor) and especially because of a suspicion toward essentialism that tends mechanically to treat all personification as reification.12 In other words, can we think the notion of the creativity of a collective? Here is a hint: some collectives are moribund, and others renew

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themselves metabolically. If this is hard to measure, it is still necessary to think the creativity of the collective, despite its being an uncounted part or a notion whose determination needs to exceed its enumerative character (Rancière 1995). So, if one virtue of Florida’s book is that he makes creativity such a collective concern of the city, it is in relation to whatever he assumes to be the creativity of individuals in ways that confuse the distinction, tending to envision a creative city as one that is hospitable to certain individual aptitudes as a kind of up-to-date unreflective relation to differences. The creative city that Florida models is simply a city receptive to various influences he calls “creative,” assuming in its way that the creativity of a city is akin to permissiveness. By and large such a distinction rests upon a census classification of manual versus “mental” work. Indeed, this could be a contemporary vision of a creative collective as one that is permissive, an open society (Blum 2003, chapter 4). This is the first way in which Florida’s work reveals itself as a symptom of the very phenomenon it wants to disclose, offering a rhetoric for encouraging cities to lay down the arms of (old-fashioned) customs of distinguishing in order to become permissive and receptive to diverse, “new” ways.13 In contrast to second tier cities, the great city never starts anew in efforts to free itself from its past, because that past includes the memory of critical moments that marked the formation of the city as a special and particular place. The “great” and complex cities that stand as iconic landmarks of the turning points of history and its exemplary moments always appear to struggle with changes in any present under the constant shadow of their distinctiveness, as a problem to negotiate painfully under the weight of the demand to be up to date and to revise their past in accordance with dreams of the pleasant and agreeable present. The “past” also includes not just historical periods and events but also the diverse social formations in which a population is rooted, such as age, class, race, and gender, which are always constraints and opportunities to be developed in any beginning. The historical nature of people means that their beginnings are always somewhat impoverished and undeveloped until they are taken up and actualized in life’s encounters. Alternatively, second tier cities tend to imagine their present as an opportunity to be unencumbered by a past that is treated as either barren or up for grabs, as if it is a new opportunity

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for pursuing and acquiring an “identity” (as if merchandise) that is to be fashioned from the materials of the present. Second tier cities tend to glorify the accumulation of amenities as a means of salvation from an undistinguished history, a chance to develop and establish flexibility. WHY RICHARD FLORIDA IS SO GREAT!

The tension in the notion of creativity that Florida’s work permits us to appreciate (as if we needed the jolt of his manual) is how in his world the subject is assumed to see itself as both normal (mainstream) and special (“creative”) while not understanding that it is impossible to be both. This tension that centred the work of Georg Simmel (1971) and has been developed in the writing of René Girard (1977) can only be averted by watering down the notion of creativity and inflating the notion of normalcy – that is, by destroying both notions of creativity and normalcy as distinctions (because as “strong bonds” they prevent us from thinking of ourselves as both creative and normal), and so, by rejecting the continuous offer of our living language to reflect upon the strength and weakness of our distinctions in use (what Thrift calls “meaning”). In contrast to Florida’s notion of creativity, we might imagine the discourse as revealing in its way the essential character of the gap between the “normal life” or the “mainstream” and the mavericks. This “gap” is endlessly circulating and not tied to any historical period, because in any period, representations of the common world implicitly offer solutions to the problem of the relationship of the mainstream to the mavericks. In direct contrast, Florida’s project for closing the gap seeks to convince us that we might live fruitfully through our present time if we can think this idea of the “normal life” in ways that always make it pleasant rather than indigestible, and if we can rethink creativity in ways that make it a relatively effortless “skill” to acquire. This creative city is one that can prosthetically make over or remake mavericks to become part of the mainstream and (we might add) make over the mainstream to believe that there is a touch of the maverick in them (“the wild and crazy guy!”). This creative city is the prosthetic city that specializes in enhancement technologies that offer the makeover of persons (of personhood?) as a kind of service delivery.

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In this way we can read Florida’s book as a travesty (in the strict sense as a performance, say, a writing, that debases itself in a way that “sends up” what it is imitating – in other words, the “normal life”), a book that exposes the limits of such a city by imagining the way its “mainstream” represents “normal life” as if it is a stream of consciousness that it can impersonate. Here what is travestied is the vision of social order as both classless (without distinction) and pleasant and agreeable, not only for reasons Plato suggested (that pleasure is not only false but impossible when done without distinction) but because of the incredible implication that it is only possible to gain tranquility (pleasure, happiness, whatever) in a life indifferent to distinguishing and distinction, and that we can only feel at our best when we are unburdened by the ethical limitations of a living language and social bond (that is, in a life free of the symbolic order). Florida’s travesty works in two parts: first by revealing how banality itself is imaginary, operating according to an ideal driving its desire to be free from criteria of evaluation that it did not create and which exist as the work of others in which it had no hand, fired by the trope of adolescence and the sense of injustice and its overcoming through escape in the company of similar others; secondly, through his illustration with countless examples of how such a life might be lived in the city as a course of action of detached amusement in which the pacific security of the suburb could be joined to the presence of urban diversity as if a spectacle to be witnessed and not engaged. Florida’s reinstatement of the demands of creativity as a social construction, needing to be enforced by an hospitable environment, serves as an alternative, operational code for many cities by affirming what appears to be a truism – that the strongest social bonds are names, and so (since the name is essentially arbitrary, conventional, a floating signifier) like any proper name, essentially revisable. Critics of Florida’s popularity, ideology, superficiality, and the like seem to sense that he has made explicit the self-understanding of the modern city (perhaps of modern life) in his image of the type of city required by a population needing to think of itself as creative: that is, as having an interchangeable opportunity to be self-determining. Creativity can be as simple as name-changing and at best can be enacted in the readiness to make names that appear foreign, alien, or intractable into opportunities that are totally digestible. Creativity

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can be as painless as the name-changing in the history of American immigration when strange sounding and hard-to-pronounce foreign names became “Americanized” en route to a pleasant and agreeable “normal life.” Florida helps show how the city of today gives us an opportunity for pleasure only if we think of ourselves and our practices as constantly newborn – that is, as infantile. Bear in mind, though, that with the newborn we do not discard or abandon history but work together to build a joint history, in part by renewing the past as something vital to which the infant might relate in future. To do a turn on Alfred Schütz, we make history together (1973). What is always exciting about this relationship is the making and remaking of a “strong social bond.” This is where the provocation of nihilism appears, for if, as Arendt says, parents must take responsibility for the common world, this procreative revitalization of the common world, in the usage of the doxa of coming and going in any present, remains the antidote to nihilism: “Nihilism is then the state in which the potentials of a life … in the world, has been lost” (Deleuze 2002, 18). Florida’s creative city cannot be tempted by nihilism, by the difference between Being and Non-Being, whereas it might just be this difference, as the vital horizon of any present, that supplies the buzz in a creative city. Such a temptation is expressed potentially in the challenge of change. The “common world” needs to survive and become reshaped in the coming and going of the present, and the coming and going of material conditions (essentially ephemeral) must be a field of application for any procreative view of the common world. As we give the common world a public face in any present, we make it appear in speech as the diversification of our history. This is to say that the collision between the common world and the coming and going of generations is the discursive space at which the question of the “normal life” and its meaning and value is contested. It might be that Richard Florida is so great because he exposes the dream of eternal youth in the second tier city as an alternative to the dialectical relation to the past that is an ever-present feature of the great city and in such a gesture brings to view a basic ethical collision over the material city, its relation to history and its renewal, and the quality and kind of social bond that is contested. Florida is so great because he travesties the circulation of the

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problem of circulation, the hallucinatory extremes of remaining tied to a past in which nothing of import can be said to change (to “really” matter), or of remaining tied to a present in which the survival of our personalities depends upon seeing our past as of no matter. Since in both extreme positions the past assumes material shape in our distinctions and actions of distinguishing (the “strong bond” of language), what circulates is the “gap” in our reflective relation to language and the potentiality for action to traverse the fantasies that our language is completely settled, or/and that our language is completely open. The platitude of creative city (and person) is a formula made accessible to any generation for thinking of its life at present as consequential and of one self as “interesting” and free from being marked by the past in ways that might hinder its self expression as such. Thus, a platitude such as “creativity,” when applied to persons or collectives, is a formula for self identification and for describing one self as special, a strategy of self enhancement that Florida discovers people and collectives to require, a gesture reminiscent of the “power of positive thinking.” In giving a positive feeling to all, the formula is a way of doing assurance by diagnosing a population in a manner designed to encourage good feelings about one self. The formula as such then differs from procedures that are ad hoc and that invite participants to work in such a way on whatever problem in order to discover their voice (say a Platonic dialogue, or a good class discussion in which persons can risk finding out for themselves how they stand with respect to their development and self formation), preferring to diagnose the person in advance of any action, fearing that in the absence of diagnosis the person might withdraw or be inactive. Diagnosis such as this then anticipates a vulnerable other who requires encouragement to begin, similar to giving children nurturance at their most vulnerable times, one shape of the need to give positive support for the unformed and immature. As a platitude, the creative city works as a diagnostic category for empowering the vulnerable subject who lives in fear of having a destabilized identity. Creativity envisioned first, as the anticipation of a convenient environment that releases us for constant redefinition that is under our control rather than subject to anything Other, frees us from having to define ourselves as others define us and from the effort of struggling with such typifications. We are free to disregard any expectations if they interfere with our vision of painless existence (the

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pain of having to constantly define ourselves through actions that are limited in ways that must be constantly negotiated). The selfdetermination of the subject of the creative city is marked by the desire to associate with others who are similar, and to collectivize on the basis of common interests in being with others who similarly want to pursue their own objectives of flexibility unburdened by expectations that were not freely chosen. Convenience then refers to freedom from the effort of a reflective relationship to our environment (our “concepts”?) and from the mix of pleasure and pain in any such relationship (because reflective thought is not mechanical or casual and takes effort; like learning, it always mixes pleasure and pain). The intermittent solitude of creative labour is both conceded and treated as a challenge for the city and its “civilizing process” (Elias 1978) that now extends to the resocialization of “bizarre mavericks operating at the bohemian fringe” and remaking them as the “new mainstream” (Florida 2002, 6). It is correct to call this an “astonishing mutation,” as Florida does, since it involves the reciprocal disciplining of selves and society, in a kind of “extension of the senses” every bit as pervasive as McLuhan’s proposal for developing a new curriculum for the renewal of the senses as a liberating force. But the “mutation” is astonishing for a deeper reason: the relationship between the “normal life” and “mavericks” that lies at the core of Florida’s curriculum is itself economized in a restricted way, made “convenient” and divested of the effort (mix) of reflective thought. That is, the normal life and the maverick can only be joined so casually by resisting reflection on what they each might mean (because “meaning” is gratuitous and obsolete under present conditions). What is “stimulating” is the hallucinatory prospect that mavericks might be normal and that normal folks might be able to discover in themselves a bit of the maverick. The repudiation of classification risks rejecting the city as a preeminent strong bond, generating a vision of a classless society as indistinct, dispersed, heterogeneous, and anonymous, that constantly must reinvent from its own resources a common interest sufficiently benign to appeal to large numbers of persons who are indifferent to public life but still desirous of being special. This is the sociological conception of a mass. But then again, this might express one version of the truth of our moment: the desire of any collective, no matter how engaged or even ideological, to be free of the strong bonds of

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language and distinguishing that could obstruct a painless present. Florida might be speaking for our time, our civilization, as the voice that represents its desire to be unburdened by language and distinguishing. If everything changes, why cannot the city itself be reconfigured as one great mass, not really an environment of equality but of accessibility to a mainstream, as if a tool, means, or method for producing a population of “normal” people from the debris of “bohemians and mavericks” and any others who treat themselves as exceptions to the rule? In this respect the strong bond expressed by the past for the city is nothing other than its name. The name of the city, more than an arbitrary floating signifier, is what Hegel called the region of becoming between something and nothing, because the name is a something that is not yet, always waiting to be developed. The inbetween character of the name, as that which, as a totem, marks and relates all who are named by it and under its spell, is a something that constantly awaits determination in each present to be the something that it is not yet (see Rosset 1989). If, on the one hand, treating the name as fixed and unalterable regards it as something and not nothing, and so as impermeable to modification and diversification, changing the name at any and every time treats it as constantly becoming other than itself, a formless stream punctuated only by name-changing. What circulates endlessly is the “buzz” in creativity coming from recognition of the in-between character of the name of the city, of its being both and at the same time something and nothing always waiting to be developed, explicated, and actualized. The “buzz” comes from the necessary and irresolute challenge of the need to enact thinking-the-being-of-the-city in the contested routines and practices of everyday life. MAVERICKS AND HOUSEHOLD NAMES

Florida’s identification of creativity with the “margins” (“everything interesting happens at the margins,” he says [2002, 184]) shows us that Heidegger’s “thinkers, philosophers, poets” have disappeared. On the one hand, this could be a good thing, reflecting America’s aspiration to create a city that is less exclusive. On the other hand, what is “interesting” at the margins is their dedication to recovering the poetic and the philosophical in the mainstream.

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The margin in itself is not interesting if it is merely deviant: it is only interesting as long as it tries to think what is unthought. The margin itself, whether persecuted, exploited, eccentric, bohemian, oppressed, should be cared for, but it is not eo ipso “interesting” creatively unless it exercises the “violence” of poetic, philosophic thought. Poetry and philosophy are needed in any present to recover what is unthought in mainstream beliefs about civilizational solidarity and its images of a normal life. If the “margin” is banal and platitudinous, it is simply an unlucky and disadvantaged part of the mainstream. While Heidegger’s extremism seemed to identify creativity with creative individuals, it is actually the practice of creativity in which we are interested. Arendt says that such a common world must appear in public. What she means is that the common world does not exist as a formlessness prior to the symbolic order but is integral to recognition itself and the character of discourse in which we are implicated (there is no private language). This is to say that the collective experience of the world must appear as an encounter with the overstimulating challenge of the diversity of interpretations and actions that occur as part of the material conditions of generational change. Public life must make a space for the coming-to-view of our diversity as our common world and for a relationship to diversity that is thoughtful and poetic. In Florida’s curriculum for the American, this involves recognizing that “normal life” must retrain itself to see the “margins” not only as unthreatening but as resources or opportunities, whereas in Europe and in great cities the “margins” have typically been acknowledged as part of the “normal life” of the city – that is, as necessary and desirable while yet different. “Consider, too, the nature of the offerings in the street-level smorgasbord. In culture as in business, the most radical and interesting stuff starts in garages and small rooms. And lots of this creativity stays in small rooms” (ibid.). This “stuff” that starts inconspicuously is nothing other than creativity, lots and lots of creativity! For the mainstream the history of creativity is occluded, originating unofficially and secretly in private spaces; for the mainstream, creativity resonates at its origin in the enigma of insular and arcane gestures that only later become baptized as officially “productive.” That what is public and official begins “somewhere,” in “garages and small rooms,” reflects an indifference to what creativity is, a formulaic satisfaction

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much like saying, “Everyone has had a mother!” In the everyday life ruled by the distinctiveness of indistinction, people who cannot tell what is creative, who cannot distinguish creativity in any way, must be told (officially) what it is in order to be able to say that, “whatever it is,” it must have a history or must have begun somewhere. That is, when the going gets tough, when distinctions become indistinct, the mainstream must always say, “Whatever …” “The street scene is eclectic. This is another part of its appeal“14 (see endnotes for continuation of excerpt). Florida provides a list of famous people, names, genres recognized as mixing and matching, which he uses to praise indistinction. Yet Picasso, Warhol, deejays, and musicians each and all struggled not only with the mainstream and its sanctioned imagery but with authoritative “normal” views of their art and work at the times in which they lived. Montage, borrowing, and mimesis always reflect the struggle of theorizing, because the relation of creative work to its influences is necessarily problematic (Girard 1977) insofar as the dissolution of self is always at stake in the dialectic (Blum 2001). In Florida’s creative city, the struggle of creativity, its negative and oppositional character, is normalized, redefined as a mainstream activity (“eclectic scavenging for creativity is not new”). For example, Picasso is depicted as wanting to be an “original,” as if creativity is akin to novelty and something a person wants to be, part of an enhancement technology as if it were a search for a new body part or possession or identity rather than a fate always in need of development and determination. Picture Picasso saying to himself, “God, I want to be creative! What can I find that will allow me to be creative?” The creative person formulated as if the desire for novelty grounds his actions is an entrepreneur “scavenging” in the way of a new enterprise, identifying a new market, designing a product, and optimizing gains, assets, and revenues in a view that can only make creativity intelligible by formulating it as a familiar activity much like starting up a business. Picasso is “humanized” by being made into someone Florida can recognize, someone like himself and his circle. Rather than understanding creativity as developing in relation to the challenges of the work and the critical aporia it poses, inspiring the development of new resources and methods, we begin with a conception of the artist as a social climber who “wants to be creative” as if creativity for the mainstream is just another “identity” to covet, something to acquire or not. The reason

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creativity is thought to begin inauspiciously in secret spaces is because in this world it cannot be recognized by people condemned to indistinction until it is “officially” confirmed (say, as celebrity), and only with such justification is it entitled to be thought of as having a history and beginning somewhere. In this world, Florida would have trouble telling whether Picasso was a phony person scribbling on tablecloths or “authentic” unless the market solved the problem for him. If creative persons are now household names in the way of Picasso, Einstein, and Jesus, this itself is a phenomenon that is worth analyzing; that is, what kind of formulative work enters into the construction of the household name? Certainly an analysis of the household name as a phenomenon would have to revisit and engage the commonplace beliefs that have entered into say, Jesus, as an object of desire. That is, if Jesus arouses a “buzz” in the mainstream, theorizing this kind of “buzz” and its place in collective life would mark an altogether different “creative buzz” as the “buzz” of theorizing that inquires into the “problem” of Jesus. The creativity of Jesus is only discernible in the problem to which he was responsive and which he set for himself in relation to mainstream beliefs about the normal life of his time. If it is true that Jesus is now a household name and that the ways in which this phenomenon materializes in our cities might show us something important about the uses of such a household name in the city, the violence that marked his engagement in his time as creative problem-solving is glossed in thinking of him simply as a “maverick.” That is, what is essential to creative work is the problem it inherits and struggles to solve in its time in a combination of pleasure and pain (what Nietzsche calls “terror”) – which becomes pacific and formulaic as it is inscribed in the household name (Nietzsche 1995). ECLECTICISM

Eclecticism is a phenomenon that is not only “interesting” but one in which Richard Florida participates, for just as his approach is permissive, so must it be eclectic. He pictures eclecticism as mixing and matching without further ado in a way that itself eclectically assimilates everything different under the name (of “eclecticism”). His antipathy to distinguishing takes material shape in permissiveness and eclecticism because any classification

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other than “creativity” is a “strong bond” that is a fetter upon our freedom. After all, the name, like the foreign-sounding moniker of the immigrant who arrived in America, is not important; it is a floating signifier to be traded in. Permissiveness (receptiveness to any and all influence) and eclecticism (mixing and matching of genre) both play off the notion of name changing, which suggests freedom (and so for Florida, creativity). Recall how the name (of the distinction, whether person or city) is the strong bond most deleterious to creativity. Even more, eclecticism as a social marker for distinguishing people represents creativity through the figure of the “creative class person” who is identifiable by his “style” without reference to anything more than whether or not he “wears it” well. “Furthermore, street-level culture involves more than taking in staged performances and looking at art. It is social and interactive“15 (see endnotes for continuation of excerpt). In this striking text, Florida advises the American city dweller not only on the importance of receptiveness to diversity but also on how the unsafe street can be made “interesting” if treated as excursionary entertainment. Imagine “experiencing culture” as a goal, or “choosing to pick up your creative stimulation” as a choice about where to “hang out” (“Hmmm, dear, I wonder where we’ll get our creative stimulation tonight?”). Plainly, in this world creativity is a visible resource attached to anonymous activities in which “culture” is represented in urban scenes. Florida depends upon such scenes to be open to idle onlookers and their curiosity. In this respect one of the fundamental ethical collisions of the scene, that between commitment and the idle onlooker, is normalized as “entertainment” (Blum 2003, chapter 6). The onlooker is encouraged to use the scene for profit as entertainment (of course, at the risk of becoming part of what is observed – say, another poseur) in ways both exploitative and one-sided, as if the scene were simply fodder for a detached witness. Both the depth of the scene and of the commitment of the urban flâneur are glossed as touristic detachment. Florida, however, honours eclecticism as a mark of good taste as a way of reinstating how the mainstream can be seen as tasteful. He uses eclecticism as the exemplary desire to be in vogue without reflection upon the implications of such absolutism. Here good taste is legislated and not discussed, by identifying it with mixing and matching that is okay “when done right” (185). But such a platitude does not help us formulate good taste because anything and

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everything might be okay “when done properly.” What he means to say is that we needn’t judge a book by its cover and must treat any and everything innocently, for nothing is good or bad in itself but only becomes so through use (“when done right or improperly”). Thus, eclecticism says that today good taste is being open to all diverse influences, whether people, cuisine, attire, ideas, or customs, because anything can be of value when used properly. Yet, aside from being a shibboleth, if proper use is a measure of value, than this rhapsody to the multis of influences of everyday life still measures them by exchange value rather than use value, by the entrepreneurial eye rather than the creative eye. Compare this platitudinous register with the way that Baudelaire cautioned his contemporaries to resist handed-down classifications of genre painting; advising them to be open to new subjects such as horses or military men or scenes of everyday life, rather than being mechanically attached to religious figures, he proposed that this would be good for their painting and their relationship to such, and not “profitable” or even tasteful (Baudelaire 1972). Or again, consider how we speak to children about being eclectic in their food preferences, or tastes in music, art, and friends, in trying out new things: we honour eclecticism in order to induce the innocent and unformed to be experimental and to try out alternatives that they had excluded. Except among snobs, the goal of such eclecticism is not to make youth “tasteful,” nor to invite them to treat all of their diverse experiences opportunistically (“be eclectic because some day you might need a contact from the 3rd grader sitting next to you when you require a letter of reference from her mother to gain admission to law school”). And finally, eclecticism itself can never be more than a beginning and never an end, more like advice to the young to gain experience en route to maturity. THE

“ BUZZ” OF VARIETY

At the same time, let’s not be too quick to belittle the social aspect of the street. Conversation, to begin with, is a valid art form … Richard Florida (see endnotes for continuation of quote16)

What can we say about such talk, permissive and eclectic, absorbing all distinctions in the voice of the neighbour, perhaps a version of what Zizek calls the “sleazy, repulsive neighbor,” whose impersonal

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familiarity seems to make the desire to theorize and its gesture of estrangement ludicrous (1997). The subject whom Florida addresses has to be instructed that idleness is more productive than it has been thought and that “shooting the breeze” (talking with people on the street, overhearing talk) can even be a learning experience and so, profitable rather than escapist. The advice to be eclectic in order to be tasteful is given flesh and transformed from a passive receptiveness to influences into a more active mode where new recruits to open-mindedness are urged to hit the streets, first counselled to treat leaving the house as eventful in ways altogether different from past precedents, not simply for formal occasions but to pass time on the grounds that passing time can be both productive (they can learn something) and secure (they won’t get injured). This requires freedom from old prejudices (innate ideas) about the street as yucky and about the private-public divide as perilous. “Just people-watching is arguably a valid form of cultural exchange” (Florida, 2002, 186; see endnotes for continuation of excerpt17). Here we have the complete Americanization of the voice of the flâneur: people-watching. The new pedestrian, impressed by variations in the appearances of people, can be stimulated to “meditate” on the species, because this diversity in sizes and shapes is “thought provoking.” Note how this advice completes Florida’s curriculum, for openmindedness and hitting the streets still remain passive unless people take the risk of “mixing and socializing” and looking and listening without limit (“the good listener phenomenon”). This is interesting because it instructs us on how to be seen and appreciated as one of taste (one of “the creative class”) in this world: choosing our friends from the most diverse mix available and being a good listener could serve as maxims of conduct for a political campaign in this city. The fact that politics in even the best cases typically sees itself as condemned to such opportunism is what makes most typical politics seem nauseating to many. The idea that one can be involved and detached at the same time works off the entrepreneurial image of the profit in such exchanges – that in treating the city as a “stimulating variety” akin to a “costume party,” the curriculum can work on repressed people to make over their prejudices by persuading them to retrain themselves to regard what seemed bad to be now “interesting” (and at least safe).

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This replays one of the most important conventions in theorizing difference, when variety is considered stimulating for provoking thought as if one has to travel to other places to see what is concealed in one’s own environment. Where Wittgenstein parodies this “anthropological view” that makes thinking depend upon an exposure to such differences as a way of understanding possibility, Rancière more recently speaks of the need not to travel to another place but to risk getting lost in one’s own (1994). If the mainstream belief confers upon exoticism such a thought-provoking character, as if thinking depends upon the spectacle of variety, the convention of theorizing inherited from the Greeks speaks of theorizing as animated by wonder aroused by contradiction and the desire for clarity rather than by either anthropological fixation upon variability or Heideggerian contempt for such a mainstream belief. What Florida glosses in this overestimation of variety is the way it releases interpretive discordance around questions of mainstream beliefs and so arouses the desire to recover what is unthought in popular conventions regarding style and appearance. To say it in Baudrillard’s terms (1990), in this creative city, diversity of appearance, like plumage, becomes fascinating rather than seductive; that is, it arrests rather than stimulates genuine thought.18 “I also feel it is inherent to the creative mindset to want to maximize choices and options, to always be looking for new ones, because in the game that Einstein called combinatory play, this increases your chances of coming up with novel combinations. And as more people earn their keep by creating, the more these aspects of experience are likely to be highly valued and just plain necessary” (Florida 2002, 184–7). If Florida’s book itself is an example of “shooting the breeze,” it is worth examining what this means. The capitalism depicted by Max Weber, with its renunciation of sensuality and its ascetic dedication to productivity in the ways he describes seems to reflect a period that has come to pass. Florida writes as one engaged by the problem of contending with this asceticism as an inheritance that needs to be subverted, driving him to write as the offspring of an ascetic capitalist legacy. If one implication of the 1960s in America was the revolt of suburban Protestant offspring against the rigidity and authority licensed by previous generations, that first gesture in the “modernization” of ascetic capitalism can be understood as reshaped now in the effort to teach the old folks not only the values

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of permissive and eclectic relations to the “common world” but that their retraining can be profitable to them if they too lay down the arms of archaic distinctions. Florida’s inhabitation of the platitudinous register of domesticity is grounded in the desire to convert old-fashioned capitalist views of the “common world” to a new understanding, shaped first in the celebration of public life and its diversity, working strenuously to picture a city that is safe, sanitary, and amiable, imagining crowds of influence that are entertaining and more, an “eyeful,” a laugh, if engaged in the proper spirit. As a son would speak to his parents, he tells them that the modern city does not have to make them sick. Immunity against sickness is guaranteed by external detachment in viewing the diversity of the city, as if the spectacle of a variety of appearances and types that can be objects to behold and nothing more. Indeed, with the proper detachment, diversity can be amusing, even an occasion to mediate on the species and “the possibilities of life” it offers to the slumbering imagination in need of respite. Diversity does not have to be seen as threatening if it has no voice and so makes no demands on us. On the other hand, if diversity is committed and we are mutually oriented rather than diffident, we might fall under its spell by asking of diversity as a signifier (to paraphrase Lacan in another context), “Just what is it you are trying to say?” In this recognition, we see the city itself reappear as a strong bond, evoking a common fate that might be inescapable, the fate of our common limitation and finitude, expressed negatively as impotence and positively as shared being (McHugh 2005). This is because diversity, a condition with which we must come to terms, can be a moment of arrested thought that congratulates itself on its “openness” to possibility or the start of a movement in thinking. To question diversity rather than simply note its fact means to risk at first becoming immobilized and rendered inarticulate by its spectacle as an occasion to pursue its analysis (Blum 2003, 101–5). The city is encouraged to enforce a conception of creativity as its own strong bond, the only strong bond that creative people are prepared to accept. For example, the city can invite such “mavericks and people at the fringes” to rethink of themselves as normal rather than as eccentric. In contrast, we note that Arendt tells us that the creative founders of the polis exercise figurative violence

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in rising above the commonplace in ways that might always seem anything but “mainstream,” which raises important questions about how, whether, or to what extent a city such as Florida describes changes the meaning of creativity in normalizing it as something everyone can acquire with a bit of effort, and destroys the meaning of the commonplace by universalizing it to the point where there is nothing other to it. (If everyone is normal, no one is normal, and “normal” loses its weight as a distinction because it is not unlike anything other to it.) In other words, the specificity of notions (city, creativity, maverick, normal) evaporates when everything can be anything, indistinguishable, one version of the American classless society. Now we begin to appreciate the contemporary dream of the classless society as the society free of classification, unshackled from the fetters of distinctions and distinguishing – or could we say the society that has overcome classification through eclecticism? CONCLUSION

Florida tries to rescue us from a situation in which various views of modernity conceive of it as a shock registered in the continuous but external interruption of the flow of life by conditions that release contingencies exceeding what is anticipated at any moment, in ways that are dramatic and incoherent, causing confusion about what is and is not a normal life and about who and what we are. Representations of the normal life at such times are said to suffer the “trauma” of the loss of self-mastery. As part of this discourse, Florida’s vision seeks to convert this loss into an opportunity for rebuilding selves that have become destabilized. To proceed, he must make the city into the weakest bond of all, now conceived as nothing but a sign (Listen: Don’t just accept the city as a site where you have to be but treat it as an opportunity to “live quasi-anonymous lives” with “people just like you.” That is, treat it (1) as that suburban development that you had always hoped would be downtown, and (2) that you can choose rather than have chosen for you). Despite its apparent limits, the creative city discourse provides us with an opportunity to explore a powerful imaginative structure, tinged with a utopian inflection that dreams the integration of knowledge and action in the very creation of social life and its

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various formations. In this sense Florida’s creative city embodies the imaginary creation of the city in accord with the best knowledge of its time, city planners and political decision-makers serving as crucial agents of change based upon their most up-to-date conceptions of the propensities and desires of their constituencies. The creative city illusion struggles against the reactionary vestiges of former intellectual regimes that cannot keep abreast of the changes, occurring in much the same ways as Marshall McLuhan imagined the old guard resisting the electronic age. If, in this sense, Arendt’s conception of the polis as the site of creative thought seems different, we have pointed to the continuous thread in this concerted self-regard of the species for its city and its dream of creative climaxes in the image of political action capable of arousing itself to listen to its people. The family argument between Florida and old-style capitalism over the importance of the responsiveness of leaders to their time is ultimately an argument over the question of the best relationship to the popular culture of the moment. I have tried to show how the creative city discourse exposes the tensions in the imaginary of democracy. The creative city, ultimately a story about creative political leadership, identifies such creativity with the kind of third ear he proposes capitalism needs to use to hear its own desire, echoed in the aspirations of the contemporary crowd to be free of strong burdens, strong bonds, so as to conceive of its present as consequential. The question coming to view in such a discourse concerns the status of political leadership as creative or not, the question of how catering to the contemporary lifestyle of its masses is true to the notion of creativity. In Lacanian terms, we might say that the Real irrupts whenever such self-defensive gestures break down in the face of recognizing that something is missing from the life lived in the city, a reminder of how the irregularity haunting urban life can be dreamt away only at a cost to the city itself and to its capacity to endure as an intimate relationship to those touched by it. In a way, forever circulating is the changing shape of the ethical collision over the question of what is a normal life and the ruses and strategies used to prop up this question as a matter worth interrogating. This is the unthought question of what it is to think being about the normal life. This question seems to ask about the bonds between the human being and social life. This unthought question of the discourse makes reference to the creative way of building a city and of moderating the many

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influences and relationships that try to define its quality. Florida proposes that this requires listening to the masses and being responsive to their views of what gives satisfaction and is of the moment at any time. In Florida’s terms, the transformation of this bond from strong to weak can be energizing: it promises to stimulate people by freeing them to overestimate themselves and/or at the same time, to devalue themselves and everyone else as if grains of sand in a soulless universe. If these are the implications of such a system of wants and needs, it is this imaginary to which he assumes former regimes and critics are deaf. In contrast, note how Hannah Arendt’s story of the rise of a mass society and the decline of a class society actually equates the masses (and their terrorism, in her case study of fascist movements) with the hostile repudiation of what is today called essentialism. Here we see the two-sided character of the story of the masses, liberated from strong ties that might restrict them and diminish self-confidence, while at the same time exposing their vulnerability as exemplifying the need for deferential relations to leadership when resources are limited to conviction about their own opinions and beliefs and that alone. This dialectic of resistance in the technical sense needs to be explored in ways that allow us to appreciate both essentialism and anti-essentialism as excessive narcissistic distortions rather than as moderate self-monitoring initiatives. Thus, Arendt’s story focuses upon the “dark” (European) side of the loosening of strong ties reflected in a class society (a society still under the spell of classification) as she hints at a crucial difference between the old world and the new (Arendt 1951, 14). The “creative city” might be a very American way of negotiating the tensions of a mass society. Here, we would need to explore and recover the voluptuous imaginary of urban American life, perhaps Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles, inquiring into the relationships between creativity, commerce, and art.

NOTES

1 It might seem as if Florida popularizes what his many academic critics accept, their unstated but inevitable opinion that self-development needs to be unburdened by the strong social bonds of form (of “totality” essentialism, metaphysics, of language or distinguishing per se) in order to free itself to develop its productivity in any ways “whatever” (of course within the

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limits of an environment undisturbed by anything that would jeopardize its pleasant and agreeable character). 2 If language can be eventful, a “happening,” it must also at its unformed inception be mere “chatter” (Heidegger 1961, 183). Rather than taking a stand against chatter, we recognize in contrast to this spiel that language is chatter insofar as its intimate connection to the unconscious is always a beginning that invites analysis. So his wish that language be other than it is, that it prove up to the challenge of “jumping over its own shadow” (which he claims to be impossible for das sein) is similar to his version of death as being the possibility of impossibility (“no one can leap over his own shadow” [214]). If this were simply the way in which the death drive functions in Heidegger, it would be intelligible, but his continuous contempt for the inauthentic chatter of multis shows his inability to work through his transference relation to the “public” in ways that mark him as determined by what he opposes. Heidegger notes this as an inevitability in the struggle against distorted speech that “the one who struggles becomes dependent upon his opponent” (205). 3 Imagine a dialogue (Blum 2003, 75) over the question of the city as a work of art and its place in history around two extreme positions: “In the first case, the city, though altering its shape, retains a degree of eternal fidelity which is, in some sense, unchanging. In contrast, a city ‘chained to the course of progress’ is always changing, always becoming other than itself. In a sense both views see the city as ‘chained,’ in one case to its historical moment as exemplary, and, in the other, to change itself … the main interlocutors … are the positions that the city is chained to its conception of persistence as an inimitable and singular mark and, alternatively, that the city is chained to the course of change as its inevitable and inexorable fate … one view sees the city as chained to its destiny (its inimitable exemplarity), and the other as chained to its fate (inescapable commonality).” What is interesting about the extremism of these opinions is their orientations to their own present: in the first case, the present tends to be viewed with contempt when measured against the standard of an imagined exemplary historical moment, and in the second case, the present tends to be viewed complacently as another digestible and intelligible incremental moment to be welcomed unreservedly as a reflection of human progress. The conventional idea of paradigm as linked to progress makes temporality seem the issue whereas succession is only an advantage as usage in the same way that reading the classics might be advantageous (that is, in terms of usage, going back to the classics might be as inspiring and “progressive” as keeping up with new works).

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4 In Plato’s sense of procreation, eros anticipates the imaginary overcoming of our mortal fate through a vision of discursivity and its creation of a public life and its unending archive of traces that promises to renew persons and groups for perpetuity, a life capable of elevating itself from the incoherent material conditions that come and go. Here, what could be said to circulate is the desire for liberation itself, to shed the fetters of material determination, as an aspiration grounded in the need and desire to cross boundaries. 5 This dream is perhaps first exemplified in Descartes’s ambition to see the world and test his opinions against the reality of worldly diversity. As the so-called inaugurator of modern philosophy, Descartes pursued truth by seeking an unassailable and authentic place from which to engage the coming and going of material conditions and the incoherence of their diversity (Amsterdam became his “creative city”). In the city, the image of procreation achieves materiality as such a punctuation in the flux of life. In a certain sense, the spirituality of the journey of Descartes, the need to establish a pure and indubitable self-relating authenticity amidst incoherence, is a paradigm of the modern desire to find oneself in the city or the city in oneself, a place for me, around which everything swirls so that I might confirm at least to myself that I am not just another incidental thing that circulates (Park 1926, 3–18). Before Descartes, envoys, travellers, and philosophers seemed to treat the city as another kind of trope (in ways that I cannot entertain in this paper). 6 Parenthetically, I am particularly concerned that Canadian cities such as Montreal and Toronto, in lacking the stature of great cities, give themselves too promiscuously to American models of a “creative city” and that even the European cities of Berlin and Dublin, which we study, run this risk of losing something of value by imitating the standard of the “creative city” (on Dublin, compare Florida 2002, 301–2; Blum 2003, 25–32). 7 “As cities are increasingly expected to have ‘buzz,’ to be creative, and to generally bring forth powers of invention and intuition, all of which can be forged into economic weapons, so the active engineering of the affective register of cities has been highlighted as the harnessing of the talent of transformation. Cities must exhibit intense expressivity” (Thrift 2004a, 58). In this standard view, Thrift takes for granted all of the equivalences between unanalyzed notions on which Richard Florida cuts his teeth, linking “creativity” to “invention” and “intuition,” and the “affective register of cities.” There is not much interest in the meaning of such notions or in their discursive register: it seems as plain as the nose on your face! Thrift even celebrates such a

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view as one that looks at performance “rather than meaning” in an approach that he calls “transurbanism” and which we must assume to be meaningless as if the idea of performance is also self-evident (Thrift 2004b, 724). What is it that speakers such as Florida and Thrift assume as the mark of our times? Certainly not everyone wants “buzz,” since one convention identified with the country asserts that people “want” tranquility. Thrift might be correct in that cities are identified with “buzz” but this still leaves “buzz” as unanalyzed and only raises the question which we want to pursue rather than treat as settled: What is an expressive city? It is not that this city is commodified, because commodification is simply one of the ways in which cities must come to be, as New York certainly shows. The problem of the city is not to be pure and to protect itself from being a market, but how to develop its relation to the market (as self possessed rather than being possessed) by establishing a link between pleasure, commerce, and sex (say, as Baudelaire uses woman as a sign of beauty and as Marilyn Monroe is used in the film The Misfits). The prospect of a managerial relation to stimulation and by implication to culture always raises interesting questions, for while we want to influence our cities (and environments) in certain directions, it is the collective limits on such influence, limits interior to collective life, that frame the problem of creativity in the city. The dialectic of stimulation makes reference to its many senses and how such plurality always invites inquiry regarding the way in which such heterogeneity is woven together rather than treated as self-evident. Stimulation could be equated with hyperactivity or hysteria or conversely with quiet intensity, rage, fury (think of road rage), or the kind of agitation Schopenhauer is reputed to have shown in pushing a noisy older neighbour down the stairs. The idea that stimulation is “buzz” just takes everything for granted instead of exhibiting respect for what the Greeks called the relation of Same to Other). This is why the aversion of Thrift to meaning, like Florida’s aversion, is symptomatic of the disavowal of the “strong bonds” that make the richness of language and its ambiguity a matter toward which such people can only be impatient. Colleagues and I are in the process of investigating the ways in which such regimes of heath and illness function in the city, developing the hypothesis that the creative city is being reformulated as good by implication of being dedicated to healthfulness. Since any signifier comes to life as a relationship, it is misleading to charge the use of terms such as “creativity” or even “the city” with personification.

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In other words, if the creativity of a city exists, it must be practised in ways that bring to view its status as a matter of fact that is oriented to in action (see Blum 2003, chapter 1) and not as an occult property. Similarly, if the city is reputed to exist, this means sociologically that it is oriented to in practice as a social fact or constraint, that is, its “existence” must materialize in action. Such tenets are materialistic assumptions that we need accept without implying that the agency of language originates in and as an effect of some antecedent collective mind. In sociology, neither the collective actor nor the predicate is used as anything more than a recognition of the social fact and phenomenon of distinguishing in its incipient form (that people orient to city in practice does not mean that they are being mystical or superstitious but only competent, grammatically aware social actors). The materialism of such an approach refers to the collective agency of language as a grammatical phenomenon (the symbolic order) that is grounded in a kind of idealization (the imaginary) that only the idealism of theorizing can begin to recover. This makes theorizing both materialistic and idealistic in the best sense. The attribution of “existence” to the signifier assumes that it is undeveloped, implicit, and abstract (Lacan’s empty speech) and is not a description of its quality or “being.” In the best sense, sociology always operates by translating characteristics, agents, and the like into courses of social action in ways that make language performative at its core (this phenomenologically inspired convention of reading Weber, Durkheim, Marx, and Simmel adumbrates ordinary language philosophy and parasitic conceptions of action as performance developed today). This means that a creative city is not an essentialist fiction but an implicit hypothesis about a relationship best grasped as a designation of collective agency that organizes and orients co-speakers even as they might differ substantively, but as such can only be grasped by an approach that desires to escape its materiality by idealizing the actor subject to such relationships. 13 In this way, desirability seems almost exhibitionistic, reflecting an enlightened version of knowledge that is optimistic with respect to the prospect that cities can be made over if they take their bearings from what the mainstream wants (that expressivity should be exhibited), producing notions such as the makeover. 14 “Consider that eclecticism is also a strong theme within many of today’s art forms. Think of dj s in Harlem nightclubs of the 1970s who started the technique known as ‘sampling’ … Think of the proliferation of hyphenated music genres like Afro-Celt. Think of Warhol, Rauschenberg, and a host of visual artists after them appropriating images from news photos, comic

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strips, food packages, wherever. Eclectic scavenging for creativity is not new. Picasso borrowed … rock and roll pioneers melded blues and r&b … Today, however, eclecticism is rampant and spreading to a degree that seems unprecedented. It is a key element of street-level culture – and eclectic taste is a social marker that can usually be counted on to distinguish a Creative Class person. Eclecticism in the form of cultural intermixing, when done right, can be a powerful creative stimulus” (Florida 2002, 185). 15 “One can meet people, hang out and talk, or just sit back to watch tonight’s episodes of the human comedy. To many the social milieu is indeed the street’s main attraction. If that sounds a bit vapid and superficial, sometimes it is. This is not high art; it admits amateurs … And even when experiencing culture is truly the goal, if hanging out in nightspots frequented by artists and aficionados is how you choose to pick up your creative stimulation, you are going to pick up a lot of chaff along with it. You run the risk of becoming chaff yourself: a dilettante, a poseur, a gallery gadfly, a coffee-shop talker” (ibid., 185). 16 “Dorothy Parker and Oscar Wilde are quoted more from their repartee than from their writing. Few people today read what Samuel Johnson wrote, but many have read Boswell’s Life for its accounts of Dr. Johnson shooting the breeze with Oliver Goldsmith and Joshua Reynolds. All Socrates did was talk … In my own work I often learn a great deal from talking with people in coffee shops and other such venues … and this stimulates my own thinking. The creative faculties are fed by meeting and talking informally, by chance, with a diverse range of creative-minded others” (ibid., 185). 17 “Take the experience of strolling through a good street scene in, say, New York, or the city of your choice. The first thing that strikes you is the sheer visual variety of the people. Many ethnic groups are present, of course, in various ages, conditions and sizes, and this alone is thoughtprovoking. You may find yourself drawn to meditate on the history of our species – the many so-called races of humans, and how they came to grow apart as they spread across the globe, and how they endlessly intermix. You may find yourself meditating on your own history – how you were once as young as that one, and may someday be as old as that one, and are liable to look like that one if you don’t mend your wicked ways. And then, if it is a proper street scene, there will be many people of exotic appearance … people dressed as cowboys, Goths, Victorians, hippies – you get the picture. And for many people, the experience of this picture is exhilarating, liberating. It is similar to the thrill of a costume party, when people literally put on new identities – including masks that obliterate or

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alter the social “masks” they normally wear – and there is a delicious sense of adventure in the air. One has an awareness of the possibilities of life” (ibid., 186). 18 See also Blum 2003, 27, 46, 86, and 176 on exhibitionism, and especially 183–7 on diversity of sights and appearances.

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PART TWO

City Traffic

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4 Absence, “Removal,” and Everyday Life in the Diasporic City: Anti-Detention/Deportation Activism in Montreal JENNY BURMAN

The suspect is that fleeting presence that does not allow recognition, and, through the part held back that he always figures forth, tends to not only interfere with, but bring into accusation, the workings of the State. From such a perspective, each governed is suspect, but each suspect accuses the one who governs and prepares him to be at fault, since he who governs must one day recognize that he does not represent the whole, but a still particular will that only usurps the appearance of the universal. Maurice Blanchot, Everyday Speech (1987)

On Montreal’s Ste-Catherine Street in the winter of 2004, there was a spray-painted stencil on a block of concrete that read “Ramenez Cherfi” – “Bring back Cherfi.” Mohamed Cherfi is the Algerian-born Montreal resident who was dragged out of church sanctuary that March to be detained in the United States, his point of entry into Canada, while us authorities decided whether or not to send him back to Algeria. Cherfi had been ordered “removed” (deported), deemed unassimilable in Quebec – due in part to his involvement with Montreal-based activist group the Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians – and ineligible for refugee status in Canada. He was caught in an odd but not uncommon kind of nonstatus limbo at a us detention centre for fifteen months, but was still connected to Montreal through his spouse and a local network of advocates.

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Although Cherfi was not deported as a security threat, he is widely believed to have been targeted for his activism and outspoken opposition to provincial and federal immigration and refugee policies; he was one of several non-status activists to be beaten and arrested at then Immigration Minister Denis Coderre’s office in 2003. His name reverberates along with those of other detainees memorized by opponents of secret trials and arbitrary state detention powers.1 The tangible remains and the ghostly traces of absent people, detained or removed by the government, circulate in city space partly through the public life of names. Names – painted on city buildings, printed on posters, flyers and t-shirts, worked into demo chants like “Adil Charkaoui, son pays, c’est ici!” (“His country is right here”) – remind us of what and who have been taken, but they also issue a demand for redress. As such, they link past and future in a present call, and they link here (these streets) and invisible theres (the liminal zone of the detention centre, the end points of deportation). Names demand that the absent be admitted into public space and consciousness, and their circulation forms part of a broader demand for admittance on new terms. “No one is illegal,” as the name of one organization in the global and local anti-deportation movements has it; if no one is illegal, each is entitled to this space. There is a difference, as Linda Martín Alcoff (1999) puts it, between coming to belong in a place – which, after all, anyone can do by forming social networks and routines – and having the place belong to you. I describe this distinction below as one between a multicultural and a diasporic city. What used to be called deportation is increasingly referred to in Canadian government parlance and legislation as “removal.” In the way that many aspects of deportation policy disavow state accountability for the socialization of young residents – legislation introduced in the 1990s targeting Caribbean-born black men frequently led to the deportation of non-citizens who had been living in Toronto since infancy (not born, then, but certainly “bred”) – the linguistic shift to removal effects an analogous erasure. While deportation is a noun that foregrounds a state action against particular individuals and groups (and establishes a connection to historical precedents like the deportation of Jews from Europe during World War II), removal is a seemingly benign term, seldom applied to humans in other contexts, that simply describes the

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making-disappear of a stain or a wart on the body politic. Even more tellingly, in policy documents we see the syntactically revealing construction removal to, which wipes out (removes) the prospective deportee’s dwelling-place completely. Cherfi is not ordered removed from Montreal and Canada, then, but to Algeria. This paper is concerned with the removal of non-citizens rendered suspect in the climate of post-9/11 Islamophobia, who are detained and/or deported without specific charges with the help of “security certificates,” and the impact of removals on the landscape of a cosmopolitan city like Montreal. Security certificates are predeportation orders, which justify indefinite detention; they rely not on evidence but rather on suspicion, hearsay, and prospective risk, and they employ secret trials during which defendants and their lawyers are not privy to details of the government’s case.2 They have been in place as legislation for more than ten years, but their deployment in high profile post-9/11 cases has triggered public protest on the part of activists and media commentators (for example, columnists for the Globe & Mail, writers and filmmakers Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis). When people are removed, their absence leaves an imprint. The intimates they have left behind restructure their everyday lives around that imprint. But how is the imprint of absence transposed into presence, and how does that presence affect the city as a site that lets flourish or prohibits radical difference and hybridization? I am less interested in conventional acts of commemoration, meaning how loss is made concrete against time’s erosion of memory, than in how absence is lived presently – how it is kept moving, not still. (Anyway, the absent ones I’m talking about are not dead, they’re just … removed). The government’s removal of someone who was part of our everyday life reverberates materially, economically, spatially, socially, and psychically. It also affects imaginings of the future. Every kind of grief and loss changes everyday rhythms and habits in the city, for a time or forever, but not every kind changes irrevocably our sense of security and full participation in the “host” nation and city. Avery Gordon (1997) refers to the transformative recognition inspired by remains: “The ghost is not simply a dead or a missing person, but a social figure, and investigating it can lead to that dense site where history and subjectivity make social life … The way of the ghost is haunting, and haunting is a very particular way of knowing what has happened or is happening. Being haunted draws us affectively …

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into the structure of feeling of a reality we come to experience, not as cold knowledge, but as transformative recognition” (8). Absence is made presence when those left behind develop a wellfounded suspicion of the state that transforms their sense of possible futures. For example, detainee Mohamed Harkat’s francophone Canadian spouse, Sophie Harkat, and his mother-in-law, Pierrette Brunet, have both become outspoken critics of “their” government (I elaborate on this and other examples below).3 When we consider the city as a crossroads site deriving its energy from the coming into relation of people (citizens, legal and “illegal” residents) and their global affiliations, the question that arises is: Do the truncated horizons of the few, the most vulnerable, mean an imperilled future for the diasporic city? THE DIASPORIC CITY: THE SPATIAL POETICS OF RELATION

Although removal policies are federal, the city is a much more productive site for the analysis of everyday life effects. Cities are, famously, receptacles or collectors of strays, promise-seekers, displaced or violently dislocated peoples, social outcasts dreaming of invisibility, and other strangers. Residents occupy every position vis-à-vis state-defined legality, from citizen to permanent resident to temporary worker to refugee to underground and undocumented worker. A minority of big-city dwellers consider themselves rooted there, and that fact is one of the site’s sources of possibility. In Canada, the vast majority of non-status migrants live in Toronto and Montreal; the city is the immediate space from which they are removed. It is also the place of activist movements’ expressive disruptions of routine city circulation patterns. But if we want to conceptualize the city as an affectively charged site of both alienation and hope, we must move away from the notion of a multicultural city (a place of many bounded cultures), which is too narrow to handle hybridization, “illegality,” or the asymmetry of entitlements to space. Elsewhere (Burman 2007), I have described Montreal as a city that is still caught in the multicultural model – due to factors like language policies that keep alive the franco/anglo binary, leaving a still narrow space for “allophones” or “cultural communities,” and migrant community spatial segregation that exceeds

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Toronto’s – although it is a city that is changing very fast. I maintain that these factors slow the transformation of Montreal’s cultural landscape, but here I am nonetheless interested in experimenting with a model of diasporization in relation to Montreal, more specifically to those possibilities articulated and sometimes actualized by anti-detention and deportation activists when they refuse the stratified framework of belonging that is laid out by provincial and federal policies concerning cultural difference and migrant illegalization. Below, I outline briefly my use of diasporic city, before turning to deportation as an obstacle or blockage to urban mobility. I then discuss everyday urban life and the local antideportation movement, which together introduce new flows and possibilities for circulation. I mobilize the language of diaspora – the adjective diasporic and the process diasporization in particular – to describe the postmulticultural city that is partly a reality, partly a horizon. My use of the term post-multicultural is intentionally narrow: I find it useful as a way of flagging the extent to which multiculturalism in Canada, no matter how expansive commentators try to make its definition, carries the history of awkward top-down diversity management. Multiculturalism is virtually programmed to miss the dynamism of cultural hybridization in cities; in some cases, through cultural funding programs, it reinforces the culture = ancestral origin equation. Other contemporary mobilizations of multiculturalism – Gilroy (2005) and Hesse (2000) on Britain, Walcott’s (2003) use of multiculturalism to describe ground-up changes in Canadian cities – are more generous. Diasporic evokes dynamic characteristics rather than a fixed object like a group defined by way of their common territorial origin, and diasporization (Hall 1990) suggests a process and project that is open-ended and transformative. This changing social field affects all city residents, not only those who identify as transmigrant or displaced. The affective dimension and historical weight of the language of diaspora are key to its rhetorical force: diasporic city tries to layer places and times to imagine a dynamic chronotope, one that exceeds the nostalgia of some diasporic longings (bringing to mind Glissant’s (1997) description of a poetics of relation over one of origin). Diaspora, as I use it here, highlights emplacement: the sowing after dia-speirein’s scattering of seeds. The process of emplacement involves coming into relation with

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other city residents and their multiple affiliations: this spatial poetics of relation, then, describes a particular circuitry that is different from urban site to site. The diasporic city gains its dynamic emotional texture – sedimented, yes, but in Glissant’s sense, which is closer to motive ocean sedimentation than mineral-to-rock formation – in part from the critical mass of residents with deep ongoing attachments and connections to other places. Residents’ everyday lives are conditioned as much by those connections (visible and invisible, nostalgic, hostile, tender, ambivalent) as by material surroundings. In turn, their translations of external orientations, whether essentially private (i.e., informal storytelling to intimates), or addressed to broader urban publics (i.e., commercial enterprises, artistic ventures), come to infuse the imaginations and everyday lives of all residents: even those who believe themselves to belong “naturally” and historically to the city. The hybridization of places and subject positions in the diasporic city is a cumulative creative process born of accidental encounters, deliberately cultivated habits of multiplicity, conscious and unconscious desires and practices. But when “reading” the cultural landscape, it is easy to forget the impact of that which has been ejected. Peter Nyers (2003) uses the term deportspora to highlight the route out, pointing out that current border control policies are creating an abject diaspora travelling in the reverse direction to most. It is important, then, to be attentive to events that invoke the absent or invisible in ways that are not abstract but deeply entwined with city space and evocative of particular relationships: inhabited spaces still remember the absent, both officially, as in the commemorative park across from the Ecole Polytechnique where Marc Lépine killed fourteen women in 1989, and unofficially through informal and everyday recollections. COERCED MOBILITY AS STOPPAGE: DETENTION AND DEPORTATION

Stoppages and flows are intertwined: the rhythms of city traffic in goods, people, and money are made up of both mobile and immobilized subjects and objects. Understanding the workings of immobilization – not only the obvious examples of detention and removal but also the stagnation of “inherited” poverty; the persistent link between race and poverty that hinders the mobility of communities

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stuck in city housing projects and dangerous neighbourhoods; the ceilings faced by migrant professionals who cannot get upwardly mobile employment without Canadian experience, and vice versa – contributes to an understanding of circulation and flow in the city. When a particular blockage is met with active resistance and activist mobilization, however, as in the case of detention and deportation, we see a dialectical tension between block and flow. Targeting, detaining, and removing suspects from the city block movement and horizons but give rise to new spatial and community possibilities through demonstrations, marches, sit-ins in government offices, and other appropriations of urban space. New temporary alliances and mutual affective investments are created through oppositional politics, which reopen a sense of possibility: something is absented, something is created. In June 2002, Canadian policy-makers replaced the Immigration Act with an overhauled, “security” conscious version, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The new act was tabled in the House of Commons in February 2001 and had been in development since 1997, but the urgency introduced by 9/11 lent its changes strong support and led to the proposal of Bill c-36 (the AntiTerrorism Act) (Roach 2003). In spite of several cultural commentators’ insistence that irony is the emblematic expression of Canadian identity, the naming of the new act was surely an example of post-irony: the main changes in the nominal move toward protection narrowed the grounds for migrant admissibility and expanded the grounds for expulsion. The local city-based opposition to policy changes introduced an important and, in many cases, measurably effective opposition and counter-discourse to so-called anti-terrorist legislation. I discuss oppositional movements below, but first, the galvanizing crisis: the government targeting, detention, and deportation of members of racialized /ethnicized migrant communities, often without official accusations or recourse to appeals. Practices of detention and deportation in Canada4 and the United States have drawn renewed justification from the events of September 2001, but it is worth noting that the so-called war on terror joins a long list of “reasons” for the unjust treatment of citizen and non-citizen suspect communities: take the well-known historical examples of head taxes on Chinese migrants and the internment of Japanese and Italian-Canadians during World War II.5 In the 1990s in Canada, with the introduction of Bill c44, the federal

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government granted itself extended discretionary powers over migrants in the name of public safety. Non-citizen legal migrants charged with a criminal offence could be deemed a “danger to the public,” detained indefinitely and then sent “back home,” no matter how long they had been a resident of Canada. This kind of administration of punishment through removal, however, sidesteps questions of socialization and criminalizes racialized non-citizen bodies (Valverde and Pratt 2002). Mass media are instrumental in the reinforcement and circulation of ethnoracial stereotypes: the Canadian Islamic Congress, which issues an annual report on representations of Islam and Muslims, has in a reverse pathologization referred to the “condition” of “image distortion disorder” that afflicts the Canadian press.6 Citizenship’s mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion operate through local measures and tactics – recruitment of “native informants,” surveillance of demonstrations, border security measures – that change according to global geopolitical concerns (Razack 2002, Kymlicka and Norman 2000). In Canada as elsewhere in the “strong passport” countries, the construction of worthy and unworthy citizens is partly effected by redefining illegality and deportability (De Genova 2002), stratifying the population anew, and by rounding up undesirables to both muscle-flex and keep mainstream Canada secure.7 Through removal policies, the project of inclusion posits a normative concept of the mainstream (those Canadians naturally entitled to citizenship and “national security”), as exclusion targets selected groups. Policy changes aim to ferret out “illegals” and to redraw the boundaries between citizen and non-citizen, as well as transform the space between them, expanding a liminal zone wherein some are pushed incrementally toward the illegal side of the spectrum. EVERYDAY URBAN LIFE

Un an derrière les barreaux! Au moins trois cent soixante-cinq bisous de Khawla de râté! Des milliers de réunions et de repas familiaux de gaché! De longues nuits doublement blanches, neige continue et stress incessant! Adil Charkaoui, “Un An”8 (21 May 2004)

The Canadian city has been an idealized destination since the late 1960s due to low crime rates, a humanitarian national reputation,

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and a besieged but still existent social welfare state. But how does new or revised legislation concerning national security influence everyday life in urban Canada? Michel Laguerre wrote about the overlapping diasporic temporalities in New York City mainly by following through the implications of having several different religious calendars operating at once: “Diasporic temporalities fragment the social landscape of the city, link its components to overseas sites, globalize that relationship through the deployment of transnational networks, and in the process, give rise to localized global chronopolises” (2003, 3–4). In the 1930s, Ernst Bloch wrote about what he called non-contemporaneity: “Not all people exist in the same Now. They do so only externally, through the fact that they can be seen today. But they are thereby not yet living at the same time with the others. They rather carry an earlier element with them; this interferes. Depending on where someone stands physically, and above all in terms of class, he has his times” (1991, 97). Together, these two texts join the macro-level transformations usually described under the rubric of globalization – the fragmentation of contiguous space and normalization of transnational linkages – and the individual and collective stories that people walk around carrying, which straddle their pasts, presents, and futures. It is important to explicitly spatialize these times, since the Now is partly made up of past and present links to extra-territorial sites: we have our spaces. Lefebvre’s concept of differential space, developed to describe the overlap of urban, rural, and industrial space, is useful when conceptualizing interdependent non-contiguous “glocalized” urban spaces. He writes that spatialized differences are engendered by the energies of those who settle in and confront urban realities: “Contrasts, oppositions, superpositions, and juxtapositions replace separation, spatio-temporal distances” (2003, 125). Other examples of different everyday chronotopes include refugee claimant or non-citizen limbo: this is the time-space between applying for and receiving (or not) landed immigrant or citizenship status. During this period, one can move around the city freely, working and socializing but without a sense of ownership or entitlement. This can last for more than ten years, as in the case of some Algerian non-status residents of Montreal. An Algerian man I know tells me about friends of his who grow more and more depressed as time goes on: they work, but their inability to put down roots wears them down, warps their sense of time and horizon. This man had

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lived in Montreal for seven years without ever buying himself anything too big to carry, let alone investing in the future in the way that the North American economy rewards you to do by, for example, buying a house. He did not propose marriage to one woman he loved for fear that she would think he was after her passport. He has no trouble understanding why a fellow Algerian threw himself off the Cartier Bridge a few years ago. Removal policies affect the everyday lives of city residents in several different ways, engendering differential relations to the city as a place of mobility and free circulation. There are those people specifically targeted, like Mahmoud Jaballah in Toronto and Adil Charkaoui in Montreal, who were or still are detained within miles of their families for months on end.9 There are those who know they may at any moment be targeted and so watch their own every move and become paranoid about past social encounters (detainees are often identified by secret witnesses who claim to have met them in various dubious locations) or tourist activities (at a time when, depending on what you look like, taking pictures of the cn tower can go into a csis file).10 There are those left behind, who personally move freely but for whom the environment is still less safe. Finally, there are those who are not directly implicated but express opposition nonetheless by joining activist events and movements. The variable instability of city dwelling is portrayed in a number of literary texts by Canadian migrant writers such as Gérard Etienne (1991) in Montreal and Dionne Brand (2005) in Toronto. The most vulnerable city residents are haunted, as we all might be, by what De Genova calls their own deportability (2002, 439). Stories circulate like the one about the Algerian who was arrested for jaywalking and then resisting arrest on a busy street corner. The cover story in the Montreal weekly The Mirror (17 October 2002) involved the case of “Hassan,” a non-status Algerian refugee claimant: “Hassan stepped off the sidewalk to hail a taxi at the corner of Decelles and Edouard-Montpetit. As Hassan recounts it, he was promptly stopped by police for jaywalking. Handcuffed and thrown in the back of a patrol car, he managed to talk the charges up to obstruction and uttering death threats to a police officer … He fears that if he’s convicted, he’ll be taken to the Laval immigration detention centre and from there to the airport. His lawyer, Denis Barette, admits, “They can – it’s important I don’t say they will – use this to send him back.” Stories like this one, combining

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banal everyday life routines with the dangers of a selective police state, have the power to influence vulnerable people’s perception of how safe they are, how careful they must be, and how randomly they might be targeted, and thus, their behaviour. Furthermore, one’s fate in such circumstances varies not according to the objective threat a refugee claimant-cum-deportee would face “back home,” but according to the status granted the site by politicians. In the case of Algeria, Canada’s removal of a moratorium on deportations (in spite of a severe travel advisory addressed to legal Canadians) followed then Prime Minister Chrétien’s visit to Algeria rather than any change in the violence of the Algerian civil war.11 Immigration and Refugee Board and Danger Opinion (ministerial) decisions have a demonstrable inconsistency: many who have faced but escaped deportation know someone with virtually identical stories whose claims were denied and who was deported. People left behind by the post-9/11 detentions and removals of their loved ones have been vocal in the media and at public activist events about both domestic effects and political implications of government actions. Spouses of detainees like Sophie Harkat, Monia Mazigh, and Louise Boivin have stepped into the public eye. Harkat says she will abandon Canada for Algeria if Mohamed is deported; she is also the most explicit about the bodily effects of separation (no affection or sex, a new dependence on Pepto-Bismol). Families provide the most obvious emotive content of opposition activism: the teenage daughter of Mahmoud Jaballah says, with classic teenage self-absorption, “I’m at an age where I should be going out and having fun with my friends. Instead I’m sitting at home and helping my mom with my brothers.” A ten-year-old daughter’s grades are suffering at school without her dad’s homework assistance; an adult sister is hospitalized due to stress-related illness; a two-year-old daughter learns her first slogan, which she sings like a schoolyard chant: “No borders, no nations, stop the deportations.”12 In one of Pierre Mayol’s contributions to The Neighborhood, the second volume of The Practice of Everyday Life, he places in tension the subject’s interior and exterior in a description of how the resident “appropriates” or “privatizes” city space. The neighbourhood “is a practical device whose function is to ensure a continuity between what is the most intimate (the private space of one’s lodging) and what is the most unknown (the totality of the city or even, by extension, the rest of the world)” (11). What is altered, in the

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case of today’s in-between dwellers, is not only the relationship between intimate and unknown, in which public space is fraught with apprehension because of the possibilities for screwing up, but the very makeup of the intimate, at the level of lodging (people deemed “illegal” may be scooped from their homes at any time) and imagination. Blanchot (1987, 13) writes that everyday life is partly “a utopia, and an Idea, without which one would not know how to get at either the hidden present, or the discoverable future of manifest beings.” While it is clear that potentialities are unevenly experienced, hope for discoverable futures is still, always, discernible. Expressions of outrage and hope coexist in oppositional urban politics; this is perhaps the quintessential manifestation of an everyday dialectics of alienation and potential liberation (Gardiner 2000, 17). NO ONE IS ILLEGAL: ACTIVISM AND THE POLITICS OF IDENTIFICATION

Everyday life is what we are given every day (or what is willed to us), what presses us, even oppresses us, because there does exist an oppression of the present. Every morning, what we take up again, on awakening, is the weight of life, the difficulty of living, or of living in a certain condition, with a particular weakness or desire. Everyday life is what holds us intimately, from the inside. Paul Leilliot (cited in de Certeau, Giard, and Mayol 1998, 3)

For those made vulnerable in the current political climate, the usual pleasures of anonymity, walking in the city (the pleasures of adrenaline flow and kinetic movement), fleeting glances, or meetings (visual and haptic erotics of city life) are curtailed, or tinged with the shadow of imminent threat, or quashed altogether. Other communal pleasures, of course, might intensify, like those to be found in a demonstration or politically oriented social event (not to mention the momentary visibility of and encounters with an oppositional segment of the “mainstream,” that is, anglo/franco-Canadians). What might be added to an analysis of anti-deportation activism and everyday life in the city is an opening to questions of desire for proximity, for face-to-face interaction with kindred strangers and familiars, for communal remembering of people who have been removed. As Gardiner writes in his discussion of Lefebvre’s work, “The body manifests sensuous, inarticulate desires and impulses

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that cannot be fully colonized by rationalized systems. Human embodiment retains the trace of a longing for communal solidarity, of intense collective experience and action, and of the need for physical proximity and intimacy with concrete others” (2000, 16). Demonstrations, while risky because of their heavy policing, temporarily reterritorialize urban space and create a sense of safety in a like-minded crowd (one that can at once sharpen suspicion of police and slacken suspicion of surrounding strangers). Such realignments of intimate and alienated relations are meaningful in relation to the question of how identities are refashioned through experiences of intersubjectivity. Svetlana Boym’s description of “diasporic intimacy” (2002, 251) speaks to strategies of finding a feeling to substitute for “home.” New intimacies do not need to rely on a common origin – people come into intimate relation on the basis of a shared understanding of displacement and/or emplacement, or a shared affective investment in the future of a common dwelling-place. In Montreal, dozens of Palestinian refugees are slotted for deportation along with hundreds of others deemed suspect or undesirable. (North Africans and South Asian Muslims, for example, have seen their cases scrutinized and their claims treated with prejudice.) This has led to a great number of demos in which crowds fill the streets, shouting over megaphones, “So so so! solidarité! avec, avec, avec les refugiés!,” as well as public actions outside and inside government offices. These included weekday morning pickets in front of Montreal’s Citizenship and Immigration Canada offices and the sit-in at the immigration minister’s Ottawa offices that led to taser gun injuries, abuse, and incarceration of unarmed non-violent protesters. (Many of these actions were documented and screened by the local video collective Les Lucioles.) Sometimes demonstrators wear handmade oversized id papers around their necks with their government dossier numbers, or they carry placards with the images of people denied refugee status; the Ayoub family poster depicted three Palestinian elderly siblings in the church sanctuary room where they lived for several months (they have been since released and granted sanctuary due to the persistence of activists). Richard Day describes an anarchist logic of affinity characterizing the so-called anti-globalization and other recent social movements, motivated by a politics of the act rather than of the demand (2004). I suggest that demonstrations that momentarily take over public/corporate terrain, interrupting the regular flow of everyday

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downtown and thus reappropriating city space, would profit from an analysis that considered both the demand and the act. Young white Québecoise women marching along a commercial thoroughfare during a demonstration, shouting repeatedly, “Fatiguées, fatiguées, donnez-nous nos papiers!,” both articulate a demand for the regularization of “illegal” migrants and assert a politics of affinity by inventing a new “nous.” Furthermore, the anarchist anticommercialism that sometimes leads to property violation arrests is strictly controlled in anti-deportation actions. Bold anti-poverty activists – whom I have seen in other contexts antagonize the police – here consent to organizers’ insistence that, due of the precarious legal status of many of the demonstrators, participants must agree on a peaceful behavioural protocol. Anti-deportation activism in the Toronto and Montreal is a key site for the articulation of a postcolonial politics of identification, one that brackets solidarity based on common ethnic origin in order to pursue a crisis-based alliance.13 The anti-detention/deportation movement has gathered force globally over the past fifteen years,14 and in Canada, over approximately the past ten years. Locally the movement is concentrated in Toronto and Montreal, cities whose demographic transformations over the last thirty years have changed their social and cultural landscapes irrevocably. There are now No One Is Illegal chapters in both those cities as well as in Vancouver and Edmonton. The name of this organization deploys what might be called a compensatory humanism in order to foreground the anti-human rights policies pursued by “host” nation-states. It emphasizes the hypocrisy of the discursive construction of migrant illegality on the part of wealthy nation-states whose foreign policies and histories of colonization are deeply implicated in modern-day stories of mass dislocation. Illegality and the renewed fortress mentality are the underbelly of the sense of entitlement that the nationstate offers to its “natural,” umbilically connected citizens. Thus the space between citizen and non-citizen widens, but so does that between fellow citizens born on and off native soil. Canadian No One Is Illegal groups borrow their name from a collective of cultural producers, activists, and writers who first announced their presence at Documenta x (1997) in Kassel, Germany. The collective quickly linked up with a transnational coalitionbuilding network to oppose Fortress Europe and other entrenchments of exclusionary borders. In Europe and the United Kingdom,

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the movement has drawn artists and other activists: Internet art concerning illegality (for example, fake Lufthansa ads offering special deals on “deportation class” flights at www.deportationclass.com; uk artist Heath Bunting’s project to cross borders illegally and document each successful passing through) and the utopian desire for border dissipation are important aspects of these anti-deportation and asylum-seeker advocacy movements. In Canada, things are proceeding differently: participation seems to be grounded primarily in anti-poverty, anti-war, and antiglobalization social movements. In both cases, though, we see evidence of short-term plans to challenge, disrupt, and refuse – such as attempts to shift the language concerning illegality, a good case being the Australian campaign “We Are All Boat People;” the physical occupation of government offices; the networks of churches that keep “deportables” on their premises until either deportation orders are revoked or, if all else fails, the people in question are moved underground – as well as long-term horizons that on occasion invoke a vision of borderless societies (i.e., “no borders, no nations, stop the deportations”). Montreal’s anti-deportation movement, international in its concerns but intensely local in its actions, is a good example of a heterogenous coalition politics. The Union United Church, for example, the province of Quebec’s oldest black church, was for a time a focal point of local activism. Meetings and press conferences took place in the basement. Several families slotted for deportation took sanctuary in the church, gaining much media attention and leading to in one case a reversal of then Immigration Minister Coderre’s decision. The church’s Reverend Darryl Gray was a most outspoken local opponent of deportation. Thus, along with other non-governmental institutions (for example, legal advocacy groups like the African Canadian Legal Clinic), churches occupy an important grey zone in what otherwise might seem in this study like a binary relationship between grassroots activism and top-down government-mandated hegemony (Lippert 2005). The anti-deportation movement is also gaining momentum through use of mainstream and alternative media, especially new media technologies. Activist organizations generate mainstream publicity, organize and inform through the Internet (listservs, sites, etc.), and document actions and demonstrations with digital video cameras with great savvy. There is much room for narrative analysis

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of amateur Internet reportage,15 which pays significant attention to the implications of strong-arm state tactics to deport undesirables in terms of the everyday, the interpersonal ricochet, the physiological and psychological side effects. In short, unlike mainstream journalism, the Internet pays attention to the affective dimension of life under “protection” legislation. The action-reaction dynamic that is one aspect of state-activist relations is only part of the story.16 In the process of forming temporary communities of opposition, people knit together in a new way on the basis of a shared hope for the future of a shared site. There is a catalyzing dissonance between Canada’s humanitarian reputation and its current legislations and practices that succumb to heavy us pressure, and for many the dissonance acts as an imperative. For the targeted, this new and pressing dimension of one’s identity, as illegal/undesirable/suspect, is unexpected and unwanted. In a different and less immediately urgent way, this redefinition of “Canadian” comes as a shock and shameful dimension to critically reflective people already identifying as Canadian.17 This is not Charles Taylor’s “fused horizon,” which he deems necessary for the success of a politics of recognition under multiculturalism (1992). Rather, it permits the building of “communities of dissensus” (Scott 1999): alternative ways of being-in-common on the basis of friendship, momentary commonality, and complementary (not identical) visions of the future. It is important to examine the dynamic dialogical relationship between policies regarding citizenship and immigration (shifting the emphasis from the “illegality” of migrants to that of nation-states contravening international human rights covenants), and the banal everyday actions, dreams, and perceived horizons of city residents, as well as to recognize the work of actors occupying the political terrain between state policy-maker and individual /group protester. There is a potential attenuation of horizons effected by new (but old) measures to “protect” some and “secure” others, which amounts to the transformation of the relationship between past, present, and future. It is this question of the spectral horizon that links anti-deportation activist movements, which simultaneously perform and demand a just articulation of temporal and territorial sites, to the future of the city as site of possibility or becoming. The kinds of spatial reappropriations public evocations of the absent that I have been describing are part of the city’s soft circuitry. What Lee and LiPuma (2002) have called the cultures of circulation

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would seem to involve temporary crystallizations of overlapping spaces and times that sometimes find their coherent expression in new social configurations or communities. The “nous” in “donneznous nos papiers,” when uttered by citizens and non-citizens alike, changes the usual channels of nation-state based community building and thus challenges the pre-existing conduits of circulation. This version of “us” displaces the hegemonic articulation of global to local spaces (meaning the local translation of a paranoid global geopolitics by way of surveillance, policing, and detention strategies), replacing it with the kind of politically based affinity indexed by “no one is illegal,” and makes visible the city as a node of differential temporalities and asymmetrical orientations to the nation.

NOTES

1 In March 2005 a demonstration called “Free the 5 in 2005” travelled along Ste-Catherine Street to protest the detention, with insufficient evidence, of five men under “national security” legislation: Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, Hassan Almrei, Adil Charkaoui (now out on bail), and Mohamed Harkat. Mohamed Cherfi was granted political refugee status by the us Board of Immigration Appeals in June and released from custody in July 2005. 2 The Campaign to Stop Secret Trials prepared a detailed and forceful critique in the form of a “brief for Members of Parliament” entitled “What’s Wrong with Security Certificates?” (2005; available on their website www.homesnotbombs.ca). Convention refugees can be deported through “danger opinions,” ministerial decisions regarding the potential security risk, or danger to the public of a resident (see the 2004 Fact Sheet issued by the Canada Border Services Agency, “Keeping Canada Safe,” at www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca). These pieces of legislation are part of a continuous effort to exercise control over suspect and otherwise undesirable communities. Historically, Canadian immigration policy has always left plenty of room for arbitrary decisions regarding whom to include and exclude. See, for example, Roberts (1988) on the exclusion of Caribbean and other migrants for reasons of climate unsuitability and general unassimilability. 3 See Sophie Harkat’s website at www.justiceforharkat.com. 4 For a thorough analysis of detention centres, detention/deportation legislation and security concerns, and discretion as concerns the criminalization of migrant communities, see Pratt 2005.

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5 See the essay collection Race, Space, and the Law (Razack 2002), for explorations of several historical cases of injustice and anti-democratic targeting of non-European-descended Canadian residents (First Nation peoples, Japanese-Canadians, mixed-race Canadians, and black Canadian residents of Africville). 6 Their latest report is available at www.canadianislamiccongress.org. The cic reports a sixteen-fold increase in verbal and physical attacks against Muslims since 9/11. 7 There exists a most instructive linguistic distinction here, with “protection” for immigrants and refugees and “security” for mainstream Canadians – citizens descended from pre-multiculturalism policy “charter groups” (English, French, Aboriginal peoples) and other European-Canadians. 8 At http://www.adilinfo.org/actions_coalition/demo_21052004_fr.pdf. 9 Charkaoui was released on bail in February 2005, which was an important victory for Montreal anti-detention and deportation activists. At a bail hearing that I attended, the small courtroom was filled with relatives in the front row and friends/activist supporters behind them, taking notes, whispering about fine legal points, translating for non-French speakers. The regular showing of community support is said to have played a key role in the judge’s decision. 10 An October 2004 protest reacted to the case of Kassim Mohamed, an Egyptian Torontonian investigated by csis and jailed in Egypt for having videotaped the cn tower and other tourist sites in Toronto. Muslims and others assembled at the base of the tower to videotape it en masse. 11 The moratorium has since been reinstituted, due largely to the organized resistance of activists. 12 Sources for these kinds of stories include reports and articles circulated on listservs and posted on websites (www.homesnotbombs.ca, www.ocap.ca, www.adilinfo.org, No One Is Illegal listserv). 13 See Naber (2002) on post-9/11 coalition building and activism in San Francisco. She discusses examples such as Nosei, a Japanese-American group that has affiliated itself with the fight against backlash politics now targeting Arab-us residents, and several organizations representing women of colour. 14 A partial list of nodes and networks would include the No Borders Network, the Make World collective, Border Panic, x Border, Barbed Wire Britain, pajol, and Collectif Anti-Expulsions, in addition to the countless ngo s working on behalf of asylum-seekers, refugees, and detainees. 15 On websites such as www.homesnotbombs.ca, people who attend hearings or events (e.g., the public portion of security certificate hearings) post detailed descriptions.

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16 Operation Thread, the government’s 2003 “immigration sweep” that swept up twenty-four South Asian Muslim men in the Greater Toronto Area (more than half of whom were deported in the following year), gave rise almost immediately to Project Threadbare, a coalition of South Asian Canadian communities who worked persistently to expose the absence of evidence. Muslim communities were in some cases accused of withholding support, remaining silent, and disavowing links to the accused (No One Is Illegal symposium, Toronto, 2003). While both reactions are on some level understandable, one is attuned to self-preservation and assimilation, the other to a longer-term horizon. 17 As soon as one pays attention, there are infinite reminders of the precariousness characterizing the lives of neighbour-strangers in the city. Before Adil Charkaoui was released on bail, updates and details circulated continuously on the activist listservs: he was only permitted to hold his newborn for a few moments during each hearing; his sister who had been granted citizenship was in and out of the hospital with stress-related illness. The courts cared nothing for the passing of time. Every day there are new stories with different characters, new emergencies, new appeals for legal funds and intervention.

5 The Spirit of Traffic: Navigating Faith in the City ALEXANDRA BOUTROS

Multiple popular religions and non-institutional spiritual practices exist side by side with the more formal architectural structures of the churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues of Montreal. Unlike the immutable facades of the buildings of institutional religions, “unofficial” religiosity often appears in a more ambulatory form. In the residential neighbourhoods of Montreal, as in many North American city centres, Jehovah’s Witnesses and immaculately suited Mormans, often from the United States, go door to door, negotiating language barriers and cultural difference in an effort to bring their faith, literally, to the home of the city dweller. These same city dwellers browse “white magic” supplies alongside Harry Potter paraphernalia from La Witcha or can purchase the accoutrements of Buddhism from another store just minutes away as they stroll the popular commercial strip of rue St-Denis. Stores such as Le Mélange Magic on St-Catherine and the Diocesan Bookstore located in the Promenades Cathédrale (a shopping mall built under Montreal’s Christ Church Cathedral) are yet other examples of a multitude of commercial centres which not only sell the stuff of religion and spirituality but also provide points of access to religious communities and services. In Montreal’s diminutive Chinatown, vendors set up fair-weather palmistry and astrology stalls catering to tourists and locals alike. Further north, a sign on an apartment door on rue Roy advertises the services of a psychic, an entrepreneurial spirit transforming the space of the home into a centre for the business of knowing the future. And not far from here, on the corner Hôtel de Ville and avenue des Pins, a Baha’i centre displays books on that religion in a ground floor window.

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In the city, religion and spirituality are everywhere you turn, shaping the architectural landscape, knocking on your door, for sale in places of commerce, advertised on the sides of buildings, and hawked on street corners. On occasion they even follow city dwellers through the streets and traffic-ways of the city in a gentle but insistent bid for recognition. Not all encounters with religion in the city are innocuous. Not far from Montreal is the site of the infamous Solar Temple, where worshippers committed mass suicide in macabre tandem with others in Europe.1 Montreal is also the city Raelien leaders often choose to hold press conferences to make public their controversial claims of human cloning2 – playing up an uneasy mix of religious and scientific discourse in front of a media-driven gaze. Montreal is also the city where anti-Islamic sentiment turned to violence soon after 9/11.3 This is the city where Jewish schools (and texts) have been the targets of arsonists who link their actions to the conditions and politics of lands across the ocean.4 And this city is the focus when national news headlines often wonder and worry whether “the conflict in the Middle East is leading to conflict in Montreal.”5 Such conflicts, while notable, are contemporaneous with multiple instances of cooperation and coexistence between the city’s plurality of religions and cultures. Montreal is a site of vibrant religious syncretism and inter-religious contact as Hindu pilgrims climb the stairs of St Joseph’s Oratory – a pilgrimage of intercession to Hindu gods on the sacred site of a local Catholic priest-turned-saint.6 In Montreal, religious practitioners from countless faiths are willing to come as guests into city schools and academic institutions. They bring first hand-knowledge of Buddhism, Fallun Gong, or Baha’i into the classroom and leave behind pamphlets for interested students. Montreal is also a place where self-identified Wiccans and neopagans dance barefoot at the Tam Tams at the foot of the mountain7 before wandering out onto the grounds of the mountain to perform twilight rituals. It is a place where Vodouists live, and where nonVodouists may be able to take a guided tour, a flânerie, of “Vodou Montreal” with a “real-life” Vodou priestess.8 This is a place that defies the much-reported decline of Roman Catholicism as the Fraternities of Jerusalem quietly take over a church in the heart of the Plateau district in a bid to minister specifically to the conditions of city dwellers.9 In Montreal, it seems, so many gods and apostles jostle for room that it is a wonder any of them can find any space at all.

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Arguably, space is at a premium within the physical boundaries of the city. In his introduction to Gods of the City: Religion and the American Urban Landscape, Robert Orsi (1999) suggests that urban popular religions are constituted in part through a continual negotiation of spaces controlled and delimited by a matrix of forces indigenous to the city, including urban planning, urban architecture, and numerous other institutional and social modes of controlling the circulation of people and things, as well as many historically contingent narratives about what it means to be religious in the city. As multiple groups and communities carve out space for both religious practice and religious presence in North American cities, they develop what Orsi calls “religious topographies” – ethereal maps of the city existing in the minds and bodies of religious practitioners. These maps chart places of safety and insecurity, community and alienation, marking out terrain where non-institutional or unofficial religious practices can be public and overt, and spaces where religious practice is better kept covert, private, and submerged. But metaphors of topography and cartography suggest a durability that these religious maps do not have. All spaces in the city are subject to constant transformation and reconfiguration, either physically or in terms of the meaning ascribed to them. So, as Orsi explains, “people must contend with intrusions upon their religious topographies, with the efforts of others to control, reorient, redistrict, or even obliterate their distinct experience of the city, and with conflicts and disjunctures of their own mapping” (52). For both institutional and popular (or non-institutional) religions, the negotiation of space in the city is a continual dance of tolerance and intolerance, acceptance and violence, visibility and invisibility. These often-fraught negotiations taking place in the practices and discourses of urban religions and spiritualities are as much about what constitutes cosmopolitanism as about religion or spiritualism. Although their presence and visibility may seem to be contingent upon the social structures and institutions of the city (which can be varyingly tolerant or intolerant of their existence), urban religions are not passively shaped by cosmopolitan forces but are complex processes of enculturation that constitute the city as much as they are constituted by the city. It is widely accepted that economics, globalization, and transnational politics influence the culture of the city. However, there is sometimes a tendency to see religion as that

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which imparts flavour to a cosmopolitan centre, as something that can be added or subtracted without changing the fundamental makeup of the city itself. Yet, as transnational religious movements sweep the globe – and as major cities are arguably becoming increasingly homogenous as they inevitably cede to global economic demands – urbanism, religiosity, and spiritualism are less easy to tease apart. Instead, contemporary cities are increasingly articulations of global and transnational movements that map their own symbolism and signification onto the spaces and histories of the city. The examples of religion and spirituality in the city that open this analysis have much to do with overlapping practices, often advertised as diversity, which result from both mobility and the tracking of such mobility by the ever-watchful lenses of the media. These practices intersect with the city’s physical and ideological parameters and also connect it to other coordinates around the globe. Post-industrial cities are blurred entities that extend beyond the “city limits.” “World cities,” as major cosmopolitan centres are increasingly known, make economic and cultural connections with other cities, creating a hectic traffic of people and things via mass (and rapid) transportation, global media conduits, and modes of communication. Increasingly, cities function as nodes on a mass circulatory system that carries ideas and ontologies as well as people and objects (Hannerz 1993, 68). Of course, while “world cities” are nodes on a circulatory network, they are themselves sites of circulation. In this context of continual circulation and movement, urban religiosity is perhaps best understood not only as a local expression of a particular religion but as constitutive “practices of making connections, real and imaginary, within neighborhoods, across the city, and around the globe” (Orsi 1999, 52). These “practices of making connections” are not limited to transnational or immigrant religions in the city, although they may be most acutely visible there, where both local and global connections are often generated and maintained through religious practices and cosmologies. Such practices and cosmologies generate ways of being that allow practitioners to situate themselves in the fluid urban environment while also generating (sometimes idealized) continuity with social worlds far removed. This doubling of place, the mapping of multiple and transnational signifiers and ways of being onto the local space of the city, is not limited to either urban religiosity or immigrant experience but is a condition of an urbanism contingent on an ethos of mobility.

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Mobility in the city is manifest not only in the daily movement of people, but also in the gradual shifts in population that occur as people drift more slowly through. Immigration, migration, tourism, and even the cycles of decline and revitalization of neighbourhoods are the large-scale shapes of a mobility that can result in the carving up of city space into districts with invisible but tangible borders. At the same time, new technologies intersect with mobility, often allowing (or encouraging) the city to be accessed from afar. A growing body of work on the virtual city10 speaks to the way in which this access seems to contribute to the dissolution of the city’s borders.11 New communication technologies, the economics of service industries, and the continual expansion of urban infrastructures have led to an urbanism characterized by diffusion and extension (33). Individuals no longer require immediate proximity to the city in order to pursue workplace, social, and cultural connections to their “urban homes.”12 This is the seeming contradiction that characterizes North American cities. Their space is at once ubiquitously accessible and notably restricted; often movement seems to be virtually easy and literally uneasy (there are no-go places in every city). Maintaining social interrelatedness, a primary concern of urban popular religions, is complicated by the contemporary diffusion and expansion of the city but also by a pervasive image of the city as both a place in need of redemption (filled with temptations) and a site of otherness (9). Historically, social anxiety about cities as containers for an imagined “otherness” has been spawned largely by exaggerated representations or images of slums, inner cities, ethnic enclaves, and ghettos. Orsi explains how such representations of the city as a place of poverty, depravity, and otherness have provided a foil to religious narratives of redemption, healing, and salvation. Certainly, the North American city has been constituted by such (predominantly Christian) religious narratives as much as it has constituted religions themselves.13 In order to be present and visible, contemporary, urban and “unofficial” religions must map different narratives onto the spaces of the city. Such “religious cartographies disclose the coordinates of alternative worlds for practitioners, remaking the meanings of ordinary places and signaling the locations of extraordinary ones, establishing connections between the spaces of the city and other spaces” (54). These mobile religious worlds allow practitioners to transfigure sometimes seemingly inhospitable, alienating, and locally specific places into spaces with

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transnational connection, significance, and meaning. In so doing, they generate a particularly religious subtext for the reconfiguration of urban space and the practices that occur there, allowing practitioners to navigate the conditions that make “being religious” in the city possible or problematic. The sweeping movements of transnational and pan-global religiosity affect not only the space but also the temporality of the modern city. In “Seeing Bifocally: Media, Place, Culture” (1997), John Durham Peters suggests that modernity itself is characterized by a particular understanding of the relationship between space and time engendered by mass media, namely “the possibility of envisioning spatially dispersed events at a single moment in time” (78). For Peters, this conquest of simultaneity requires a re-evaluation of what he sees as a focus on spatialization in the humanities. He explains, “Modern media pose the question of the continuing relevance of place as a marker of intelligibility in social description” (79). While his critique is well taken, it seems difficult to think of the modern city in terms of something other than spacialization. After all, it undeniably is a place – a home, destination, site for political action, tangible geography – that both defines and contains the experiences of city dwellers. However, analysis of contemporary conditions of urban religiosity and spirituality reveals practices that, while undeniably site specific, are as dependent on concepts of temporality as they are on notions of space. Although the ambulatory quality of urban religiosity traverses space, such mobility is contingent on a temporal mechanics that can easily be overlooked. In a study of cultural and religious diversity in New York City, Michel Laguerre (2003) notes that although communities congregate in geographic areas or enclaves that shape a collective and shared experience of the city, religious and cultural experience is delineated by culturally specific modes of marking time. Pointing to examples from the maintenance of the Jewish Shabbat to public displays of the Chinese New Year, Laguerre argues that urban experience is constituted as individuals navigate multiple temporal systems from the official structures of the civic week to the temporal religious calendars of manifold communities (7). Urbanites must negotiate these multiple temporal systems of the city, temporarily appropriating one or the other in order to best meet their cultural, religious, or economic needs. Laguerre suggests, then, that the modern city is filled with multiple

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“cronopolises,” smaller subgroups of the larger city that operate according to differing mechanisms of temporal logic. In this way the contemporary city conditions a set of strategic possibilities for its citizens contingent on specific constructions of both time and space. These strategies are not merely individual but are dependent on how the institutions, economics, politics, and other realities of the city circumscribe and liberate ways of being and how they condition the choices possible in the metropolis. Given the circulation of people, things, and ideas in contemporary cities, it could be argued that they are gradually becoming local crossroads of a global spiritual marketplace where religion and spirituality are commodified and marketed. However, the choices made possible within this marketplace are determined by conditions that are both locally specific and globally significant. Teasing apart the interdependence of local and global can demystify the growth of religion in a supposedly secular age. Cities in particular have long been imagined as bastions of innovation, democracy, and (inevitably) secularism. In Europe the vernacular religions of the folk or peasants were derided as superstition and thought to have no place within the historical concept of the city (Romberg 2003, 9). Yet as more and more of the world’s population moves into cities. it becomes clear that Enlightenment assumptions of the triumph of secularity over religion and myth have not come to pass. Raquel Romberg, in an analysis of urban vernacular religions in Puerto Rico, observes that conceptualizations of secular urbanism have seeped into many of the frameworks used to understand contemporary urban religiosity. Such a priori assumptions are often bound up with post-Enlightenment efforts to create a modern state governed by reason, rationality, science, and progress. Such nation-building processes conceptualized religion as primitive, anachronistic, or superfluous (1). However, as Romberg explains, religion and spirituality “are not as absent from modern economic circuits and political developments as assumed … The assumed rationality and homogenization necessary for the birth of modern systems of government and economic development has not hindered the formation of hybrid forms of political economy and culture” (11). Despite the forces of contemporary globalizations, that increasingly homogenize spaces and cultures, modern North American cities are the sites of a growing contemporary religiosity, a religious-ness that is fluid, mobile, transient, and often strategic.

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Such growth suggests that individuals no longer stay within genealogical religious communities for an entire lifetime, but instead move from religion to religion, mixing characteristics from seemingly disparate, even conflicting systems of belief and practice, generating new religious meaning and identification.14 SPIRITUAL TOURISM: COMMUTING, QUESTING, AND CONTINGENCY

This spiritual mobility shapes both a literal and virtual movement through the city, reconfiguring it as site of pilgrimage, sacred space, tourist destination, and spiritual enterprise, in an ever-varying flux of religious signifiers and commodities, ontologies and communities. For the spiritually mobile, the city is not a distinct space but functions as a portal through which commodities, people, signs, and images constantly travel. This circulation is not extraneous to urban religiosity but is fundamental to its makeup. Consequently, the study of urban religiosity must take into account the overlapping and heterogeneous spaces and temporalities of circulation, examining the conditions that make possible, or limit, movement. As (transnational) religious objects, practices, and communities circulate through the local spaces and times of the city, they accrue new and multifarious meanings. What emerges is a process where often conflicting meanings and multiple historicities, become condensed (or sedimented) within a singular place and time. The moments of inter-religious conflict, which receive so much media attention within the physical space of the city, can belie the complex ways in which urbanites embrace the concurrence of multiple belief systems. In part, the concurrence of belief is generated by the tension between multiple forms of mobility in and through the city. Tourism and pilgrimage are two forms of human movement that seem to have contradictory impetuses and meanings. However, in the context of spiritual mobility, tourism and pilgrimage overlap in complex ways, reconfiguring both the spaces of the city and the practices of urban religion. Zygmut Bauman argues that the world’s mobile populace can be divided largely into two groups – tourists and vagabonds (1998, 77) – emphasizing the growing global divide between those who can move around the globe freely and those who cannot. He suggests that the rapidly growing commerce of tourism is not simply an

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industry but a defining characteristic of global (capitalist) culture. Clearly, tourism has vast implications for cities, which, as hubs of mass transportation, are sites of continual arrival and departure. But the implications of tourism for urban religions are more complex than the simple circulation of bodies. Bauman suggests that tourism is emblematic of contemporary consumer culture, in which it is the ethos of travel or mobility far more than the movement of object, that is the new mode of circulation governing social and cultural relationships. For Bauman, “Consumers are first and foremost gatherers of sensations; they are collectors of things only in a secondary and derivative sense” (83). This collecting of sensation seems to apply aptly to some descriptions of the spiritual marketplace,15 where consumers and practitioners can pick, choose, and even pay for religious experience or membership. Indeed, some religious experiences overlap quite tangibly with tourist experiences. Religious sites, rituals, and celebrations are often marketed to tourists as part of local urban culture. The touristic approach to religion seems to run the risk of homogenization, diluting the cultural specificity of religious traditions in order to make them more accessible and palatable to a tourist sensibility. And certainly, commercial tourism is very much about ease of accessibility and, to a large extent, rendering the foreign, or the unfamiliar, familiar. In his introduction to Virtual Globalization: Virtual Spaces/Tourist Spaces, David Holmes argues that tourist spaces are increasingly marked by both convenience and familiarity. He suggests that in these homogenous spaces time is not experienced as constraint (2001, 5): “They are spaces which seemingly allow anythinganywhere-anytime” (5). Tourist centres link multiple metropolises and cronopolises across vast space by creating a sense of sameness and familiarity. For Holmes, this “standardization of experience” generated through the mixing of urban and technological forms (such as the Internet, mobile telecommunications, and the twentyfour-hour cultures of airports, fast food restaurants, hotels, and tourist enclaves) “can itself become a centre of attachment – a kind of ontological security we find wherever we go” (5). If experiences such as those of tourists are becoming increasingly standardized, then the efficacy of mobility also seems to be calculated less in terms of what individuals choose to do or have (less about where they chose to visit or vacation, or what they choose to purchase while there), and more in terms of their ability to move toward a

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new standard of mobility (or the ability to visit multiple places rather than any one particular place). This movement toward the new emphasizes the temporary nature of touristic consumption. As Bauman explains, “Ideally, nothing should be embraced by a consumer firmly … It is but the volatility, the in-built temporality of all engagements, that truly counts” (1998, 81). This movement toward the new is engendered by what Bauman sees as a necessary process of forgetting, born out of the transience of a consumer society (82). To be free to move toward new standards of consumption (and the new ways of being that such consumption supposedly generates), individuals must be able to forget those histories that tether them to both tradition and concrete locality. The mechanics of such “forgetting” is part of the currency of spiritual mobility. The spiritual marketplace undoes the ties that have traditionally bound religion to a particular group or locale. Increasingly, religion and spirituality are seen as choices, or more specifically, quests.16 The movement that occurs as practitioners shift from one religious or spiritual identity to another mimics the gathering of sensation that Bauman attributes to the tourist. But the quest of the spiritual tourist does not seem to be limited to “on-themove” elites. Instead, spiritual tourism touches multiple subjects whether they have the actual means of travel or not. The spiritual marketplace is often derided, accused of diluting religious tradition, rendering it a mere commodity, the offering of transcendence for sale. However, the praxis of spiritual mobility constitutes a complex process of identification. The spiritual marketplace allows individuals to touch a generative matrix of cultural, spiritual, and religious signifiers. Touching these religions, however briefly, does not leave the identity and the ideological matrix of these seekers unaffected. Like swallowing a magic potion, this practice of consumption can lead to transformation, or transfiguration. When tourists travel in search of spiritual or religious sensation, they do so in ways that sometimes subvert the seemingly one-way flow of travel and cultural appropriation that tourism implies. TRAFFIC JAMMING: SUBVERTING THE GLOBAL FLOW

While it is important to guard against an analysis that fails to account for systemic power and privilege differentials between identity groups, the very notion of mobility seems to warn against the

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preservation of rigid dualities. There is undeniable movement and interdependence between those who have access to a touristic mobility and those who do not. While ignoring the implications of the widening gap between the rich and the poor is problematic, it is equally problematic to insist that those on the wrong side of the tracks, as it were, have no avenues for action or agency. Uprisings do occur, tourists do become vagabonds, and so-called vagabonds utilize the very system of mobility supposedly denied them to mobilize in ways that are anything but static and powerless. In the case of urban spirituality, this interdependence is perhaps most acutely visible in the transnational conditions of many diasporic religions that coexist in North American cities. When diasporic religions, already concerned with issues of mobility, enter the spiritual marketplace, they intersect powerfully with forms of spiritual consumption and tourism in ways that belie the seeming homogenization perpetuated by global capitalism. In Montreal, home to a large Haitian population, the diasporic practices of Haitian Vodou exemplify the symbiotic conditions of urban spiritual mobility. Many of the practitioners of Haitian Vodou in Montreal are diasporic Haitians. However, Montreal Vodou communities are also populated by those who have no genealogical or geographic ties to Haiti. They come to Vodou, in part, via the aisles of the spiritual supermarket as it superimposes itself onto the cartography of the city. In cities such as Montreal there often exists no simple distinction made between “new” and “traditional” Vodou practitioners. Vodouists of many nationalities can be detected at Vodou ceremonies and rituals, on local listservs and in online communities. Because knowledge of Haitian Vodou is contingent on knowledge of Haiti, non-Haitian Vodouists are often knowledgeable about Haiti, its history, and its contemporary political climate. This knowledge is generated partially through the cosmology of Vodou, which is rich with the historical figures of Haiti who often manifest during the rituals of possession central to the religion. But the ebb and flow between the islands of Haiti and Montreal can be even more literal. Vodou initiation practices require that practitioners “return” (although for many new practitioners these “return” trips take them to Haiti for the first time) to the spiritual home of the gods and goddesses (the lwa) of the Vodou pantheon. Priestesses and priests (mambo and houngan) are usually paid to conduct initiation ceremonies, and in addition to this payment, most initiates are

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expected to pay the diasporic mambo or houngan’s airfare back to Haiti. Commerce, especially in the spiritual supermarket, is never a one-way street. Given the current and continued state of the Haitian economy, it is perhaps unsurprising that there is an emerging trade in Vodou initiations from the lowest level (or hounsi kanzo) all the way up to asogwe (the initiation as a Vodou priest or priestess) for tourists visiting Haiti. In the transnational passage between cities such as Montreal and Port-au-Prince, it is not always clear where the divide between the spiritual tourist and the spiritual authority occurs. What is clear is that the rigours of Vodou initiation insist on active engagement with Haiti. Awareness of the specificity of Haitian culture amongst nonHaitian Vodou practitioners is not simply a result of the transcontinental travel undergone by initiates. There is something deeper about the motion between Vodou and Haiti than simply the literal journey to the “homeland.” Vodou has no recognizable hierarchy of religious authority, nor does it have a universal creed or religious text. To be a Vodouist (in Haiti or in North America) is to identify not with any particular creed but with the fluidity, syncretism, and aggregating qualities of Vodou itself. To be a non-Haitian Vodouist requires immersion in an acculturation process that transforms one’s understanding of self. And to be a non-Haitian Vodouist in North America is often to become what some call “a friend of Haiti.” The term has become part of the language of activism around the economic and political conditions of Haiti. Haitian activists have reached out to activists outside of Haiti, often along the vectors of Pan-Africanism, for support. Diasporic Vodou communities in Montreal, particularly those partially populated by nonHaitians, often contain individuals who count themselves “friends of Haiti.” The practices of diasporic Vodou require awareness of the political and economic plight, the social conditions, and even the history of the country that spawned the Haitin gods and goddesses that the new practitioner now serves. In a way, this is deterritorialization in reverse. For immigrant Haitians living in North American city centres, the processes of deterritorialization, the method by which their diasporic identity is constituted (in no small part through their relationship to the “home country”) is influenced by the political discourse of Haiti.17 Perhaps more difficult to understand is the status of the

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people Vodou takes back to Haiti. The conditions of spiritual mobility import an ever-shifting population of Vodou initiates and “friends of Haiti” who identify with that land in complex ways. Unlike, perhaps, the practices of global tourism described by Holmes and Bauman, spiritual mobility can frustrate the seemingly one-way flow of globalization. For new practitioners of religions such as Vodou, the praxis of mobility defined by notions of pilgrimage can take them outside of the homogenizing spaces of tourism. While it is vital to explore how cultural appropriation and global capitalism can rewrite local differences in ways that make them palatable for those whom Holmes terms the “tourist citizen” and the “abstract cosmopolitan,” it is equally important to understand how, and when, these processes are subverted. When immigrant Haitian priestesses or priests from Montreal insist on paid airfare back to Port-au-Prince – so as to conduct initiation rituals for non-Haitian practitioners – they are quite literally hijacking the global flow. Contemporary cities generate durable routes between diasporic communities and their homelands; these routes traverse the city, opening up possibilities for travel by transnationals and tourists alike. Spiritual tourism provides avenues for mobility that crisscross the ideological space that links the metropolis to other sites. REDIRECTING TRAFFIC: PILGRIMS AND THE COMMUTE

While the transnational travel of Haitian and non-Haitian Vodouists and the growing commercial trade in Vodou initiations in Haiti can be understood as subverting the seemingly culturally dominant patterns of global tourism, they also blur the distinction between tourism and another form of mobility intrinsic to religiosity: pilgrimage. In this way, spiritual mobility can reconfigure seemingly obvious moments of tourism, such as a visit to Haiti. Pilgrimage blurs the elite signification of global mobility, ascribing new symbolism to old forms of human movement and redirecting groups of people to different spaces. Some urban centres have long been sites of religious pilgrimage. However, new forms and sites are shaping experience of and identification with cities. Anti-globalization movements, for instance, which bring together diverse groups in the lunar-like landscapes of protest spaces in cities such Seattle, Quebec City, Ottawa, and elsewhere, can be understood as pilgrimages overlaid with complex understandings of the city’s embeddedness in

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a global context accessed through a mediated lens.18 Like the spiritual mobility of new Vodou initiates, the mobility of anti-globalization protesters simultaneously exploits and bolsters channels opened by travel tourism. Embedded within these groups, although sometimes invisible, are those who see protest as part of their (individual and collective) spiritual work and practice. For them the urban space is a spiritual site, but it is not a rooted and immobile site to which they may return again and again. Instead, these are context-specific pilgrimages, transient moments of spiritual practice that coalesce for an instant only to disappear again. Such transience signals the ways in which pilgrimage can reconfigure the spaces and temporalities of the city. Spiritual mobility generates conditions in which practitioners must negotiate and sometimes adopt the temporal systems of not only their own but also other diasporic religious calendars. In the introduction to the new edition of his seminal work on Italian vernacular religiosity in East Harlem, Robert Orsi (2002) observes how, since his ethnography was first published, the once waning religious festivals of East Harlem have been interpolated and revitalized by an influx of Haitians and Puerto Ricans who layer their own meaning and cosmologies onto the religious rhythms of what once was Italian Harlem. As Orsi explains, Haitian immigrants were drawn to the Harlem church dedicated to the Madonna of Mount Carmel “perhaps because she most closely resembles the figure of the Virgin who is said to have appeared over a palm tree on the island as she is depicted in Haitian Catholic iconography” (xxxi). Layering memories of Haiti onto the spaces of East Harlem, immigrants carved out new avenues of mobility within the city, journeying “to the festa in long pilgrimages from Brooklyn by car, chartered bus, and subway” (xxxi). Such annual festivals pattern both the time and space of the city. Contemporary cities generate durable routes not only between diasporic communities and their homelands but also between a host of religious practitioners and geographies that quickly become new sites of pilgrimage. Haitians, for instance, create new pilgrimage routes, journeying from Brooklyn to East Harlem in massive numbers to join the Italian festivals for the Madonna in lieu of making more expensive pilgrimages back to Haiti. In part, these local pilgrimages taking place within the city boundaries are efficacious because of the connections that urban

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religions regularly make with transnational sites and events. In her exploration of Vodou in New York city, Karen McCarthy Brown suggests that it is the connection to Haiti that makes the rituals and practices of Haitian Vodou in New York viable: “It is often possible to go back to Haiti for important Vodou ceremonies, but in more routine ways, the spirits can be well served in New York City partly because there is such frequent contact between the diaspora community and Haiti itself. The stream of arrivals from Haiti enriches the community’s memory of songs, dances, and rituals. New arrivals and frequent travelers carry herbs from Haiti to be used in treatments in New York. They bring beads, icons, and ritual implements. They even carry the soil of Haiti” (1999, 80). This travel, bolstered by the flows of spiritual tourism and pilgrimage as well as immigration, brings the local specificity of Haiti to the urban centres in which Haitian and non-Haitian Vodouists practice the rituals of the religion. What results is a doubling of place, a transposition of the sacred places and events of Haiti onto the spaces and events of urban centres such as New York or Montreal. Orsi’s explanation of the layering of Italian Catholicism, Puerto Rican Santeria, and Haitian Vodou in an East Harlem church illustrates the multiple vectors of mobility that generate a place layered with multiple levels of signification. As Robert Rotenburg explains in his introduction to The Cultural Meaning of Urban Space (1993), “In cities, people force the spaces around them to take on meaning. No space is permitted to be neutral – or homogenous” (xiii). The sedimentation of disparate belief structures creates compound levels of signification within the urban environment. Although imbued with numerous and perhaps even contradictory meanings, the urban centre functions as conduit through which meaning passes and is transformed. This traffic in meaning shapes an ethos of mobility in the city that is closely linked to the ways in which urban social interrelatedness is constituted. Experiences of spiritual mobility are thus linked to processes of identification with a particular group, community, neighbourhood, or network, even if that identification is transient, strategic and contingent. Certainly, religious communities can help newcomers integrate themselves into the city. Karen McCarthy Brown explains how Vodou communities in North American urban centres provide not only spiritual guidance but also tangible help in the form of material goods and social support systems allowing new immigrants to integrate into the city centre; “participation in a New

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York Vodou community can make the difference between succeeding and failing. Vodou ‘families’ thus function as safety nets for Haitian immigrants to make it in the city” (1999, 87). Such examples illustrate that urban religiosity emerges from a set of strategic choices that are delimited and circumscribed by the social conditions and institutions of the city. Processes of identification and social interrelation occur within the generative matrix of a city that constitutes a specifically urban religiosity. If the city is all about signs and signifiers (which we are often told it is), then the proliferation of spiritual signs, signifiers, and discourses in the city not only requires negotiation but also shapes the everyday experiences of city dwellers. Spiritual mobility intersects powerfully with both tourism and pilgrimage within the parameters of the city, bringing seekers of different things into close proximity. In the city, spirituality is marketed to the tourist who (perhaps unwittingly) samples it as part of the local culture, while at the same time the spiritually mobile transfigure ritual, pilgrimage, and even conversion out of tourist events. Spirituality is often marketed as part of the local culture, or what Claude Jacobs in his analysis of New Orleans tourism calls “local color” (2001). However, the commodification of local culture that Jacobs decries in his analysis also provides opportunities for local residents to scavenge moments of transcendence out of commercial enterprises. Vactioners in Montreal visit St Joseph’s Oratory as one of the to-be-seen places. Some go as an act of pilgrimage, while others visit simply because it is listed in tour guides as a noteworthy historical site. While there, they encounter a complex system of intersecting and syncretic beliefs and practices; they may partake in the commerce of the place, which feeds itself back into the maintenance of the Catholic Church; and they can engage with various forms of tourist media (tours, brochures, and so on) that explain to them the historical significance of the place while including in their descriptions a strong faith discourse. All the while these tourists are surrounded by those more familiar with the locale, making intercessions, performing rituals, and practising their faith. It is this concurrence, this simultaneity, that characterizes urban spirituality and religiosity. Some might call this concurrence of multiplicity hybridization, a term that suggests the emergence of a new identity out of the social conditions generated by the circulation of spirituality in the city delimited by the conditions of globalization. However, as Ananya Roy explains, “Hybridity takes as its starting point a

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pregiven subject. Despite all its ambivalences, it ultimately assumes that difference is a solvable political problem, that the uneasiness of colliding systems of difference has been resolved in a neat and identifiable form of new identity” (2001, 235). The conditions of urban spiritual mobility illustrate not so much the hybridization of multiple religions into new urban religions as an overlapping heterogeneity of belief and practice. Urban religiosity is difficult to understand fully through convenient categorizations such as diversity, plurality, or multiculturalism. Instead, it requires an understanding of the complex ways in which multiple religious signifiers, cosmologies, and practices are layered onto the time and space of the city. Urban conditions distill countless sacred events and sacred spaces into spatio-temporal crystallizations of signification. The practices and discourses of urban religions, while undeniably conditioned and circumscribed by the urban climate, are not simply determined by the spatial and temporal institutions of the city; they also enculture the city, ascribing mythic meaning to cosmopolitan geographies and temporalities. Although the examples of spiritual and religious mobility in this analysis have collective global reach, they are intrinsic to the local specificities of urban centres such as Montreal, locales shaped by the traffic – of transnationals, commodity, and media – that intersects within the particular space and time of the city. Intersecting avenues of mobility are mediated through the city, providing tangible links to a fluctuating global culture of transnational and panglobal religious movements. These links are not always forged out of the inevitability of cultural dilution and absorption. The city, in an age of globalization and information technology, opens up opportunity for a reversal of the seemingly one-way flow of homogenization that appears to characterize contemporary modernity. Urban spiritual mobility illustrates that there is far more play within the system than is suggested by many theoretical frameworks that forecast the demise of either the city or the social relationships occurring within it.19 The overlapping practices of tourism and pilgrimage explored here illuminate how the very dispersion and diffusion so emblematic of the contemporary city allow for an increased circulation of religious ideas and signifiers, along with the movement of religious practitioners and commodities. The modern metropolis organizes meaning not only around its geographic local but also around a virtual double, the image of

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the city, which is projected along the routes of information and communication technology and broadcast via diverse forms of media. Spiritual mobility creates a dynamic vitality, a mythic city generated by the circulation of people, things, and ideas that coexists with the local but is intrinsically connected to the discourses of the global.

NOTES

1 Between 1994 and 1997, seventy-four deaths were linked to the Solar Temple cult in Quebec, Switzerland, and France. Under the leadership of Belgian Luc Jouret (who reportedly recruited practitioners from institutions such as Hydro-Québec), adherents embarked on “death voyages” that entailed suicide. Multiple incidents of mass suicide occurred in Quebec, often in tandem with suicide pacts executed in Switzerland and France. Most notable were those that occurred in St-Casamir near Quebec City in 1997 and in Morin Heights just north of Montreal in 1994. In 2001 Quebec provincial police confirmed reports of between thirty and sixty Solar Temple adherents still living in the Quebec City and Montreal area. Authorities continue to monitor the activity of known cult members. 2 On 27 December 2002 Brigitte Boissilier, a Raelian bishop and ceo of Clonaid, announced the birth of a baby girl said to be a genetic clone of her mother. The child was given the “press” name of Eve. No independent testing of this or subsequent Clonaid claims has even been performed. Cloning is congruent with Raelian cosmology that posits that human beings are the result of genetic experiments performed by aliens. Although Clonaid claims to have a research base in Las Vegas, Nevada press meetings with Boisilier generally took place in various hotels in Montreal, Boisillier’s city of residence. See also http://www.clonaid.com and http://www.rael.org. 3 On 13 September 2001, one day after the events of 9/11 in the United States, a firebomb was thrown at a mosque in Montreal. While this was the only report of post 9/11 anti-Islamic violence in a Canadian city, antiIslamic violence was reported in cities around the globe. 4 On 5 April 2004, the library of Montreal’s United Talmud Torah’s School was set on fire. A note taped to the front of the school linked the arson to the killing of a Hamas leader by the Israeli army. 5 On 5 October 2004, Global National used this headline to announce a story on the “on-going” tensions between Jewish and Islamic students at Concordia University.

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6 St Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal was built on the persuasion of Brother Andre, a Catholic priest who became known for intercessions, said to heal the sick. This site is still one of pilgrimage, and many who visit it claim to be healed from illness. See http://www.saint-joseph.org, for more information. 7 The Tam Tams are a group of drummers, dancers, artisans, vendors, and onlookers who gather each Sunday in summer at the foot of Mont-Royal in Montreal. Wiccan communities often meet up at the Tam Tams before conducting rituals on the mountain. Montreal Reclaiming advertises regular New Moon and Full Moon on the Mountain rituals during the summer months in Monteal. See http://www.cosmic-muse.com/reclaiming/ home.html. 8 In their 2003 calendar, Amarrages sans frontières offered a walking tour of “Vodou Montreal” with a local priestess as a tour guide. Although this particular tour was not offered in the subsequent calendar year, the organization often offers tours of Islamic, Jewish and Buddhist Montreal. See, for example, http://www.amarragessansfrontieres.com. 9 The Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem were founded in 1975 by Father Pierre-Marie Delfieux. After spending two years as a monk in the Sahara Desert, Father Delfieux was inspired to take his mission into what he describes as cosmopolitan “deserts,” harmonizing the monastic tradition with the conditions of the city. In Montreal, the Sanctuaire du St-Sacrement on Mont Royal Street was handed over to the fraternity in September 2004. See http://jerusalem.cef.fr. 10 For more discussion on the virtual city, see, for example, Mike Crang “Public Space, Urban space and Electronic Space: Would The Real City Please Stand Up?,” 76–95, and Kevin Robins “Foreclosing on the City? The Bad Idea of Virtual Urbanism,” in Technocities, edited by John Downey and Jim McGuigan, 34–59. 11 See the work of Jennifer Gabrys, in this volume, for further discussion of the way in which wireless technologies seem to encourage networks of geographically dispersed individuals even as the movement of such loosely coalesced groups is monitored by the same technologies. 12 For further discussion of the relationship of changing work and leisure patterns to the diffusion of the city, see Manuel Castells, “The Space of Flows,” in The Castells Reader on Cities and Social Theory, 314–66. 13 For a discussion of the history of religion in the shaping of North American cities see Orsi’s “Introduction: Crossing the City Line” in Gods of the City: Religion and the American Urban Landscape, 1–78. 14 See, for example, Wade Clark Roof’s A Generation of Seekers.

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15 See, for example, Wouter J. Hanegraaff’s “Prospects for the Globalization of New Age: Spiritual Imperialism Versus Cultural Diversity,” in New Age Religion and Globalization, edited by Mikael Rothstein (Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus University Press, 2001), 15–30. 16 In A Generation of Seekers, Wade Clark Roof defines a “seeker religiosity” as typifying the baby boom generation. For these “seekers,” Roof suggests, the quest for a spiritual identity is as important as the goal. 17 In Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments and Deterritorialized Nation States (Pennsylvania: Gordon and Breach, 1994), authors Basch, Glick Schiller, and Szanton Blanc explore how the contemporary political discourse of Haitian presidents such as former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide has served to emphasize the boundlessness (versus the boundedness) of national identity (174). 18 For more discussion, see Tziana Terranova’s “Demonstrating the Globe: Virtual Action in the Network Society,” in Virtual Globalization: Virtual Spaces/ Tourist Spaces, edited by David Holmes, 95–111. 19 For example, in his introduction to Ethnography Unbound: Power and Resistance in the Modern Metropolis (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991) Michael Burroway calls for an examination of “the way in which everyday life in the modern metropolis is continually eroded, distorted, overpowered by, and subordinated to institutional forces that seem beyond human control” (1).

6 The Ephemeral Stage at Lionel Groulx Station AMANDA BOETZKES Montreal’s subway was built in 1966, just in time for the city to accommodate the influx of tourists expected to attend Expo 67. To assume its status as an international city, Montreal constructed a massive public transportation system. The metro’s network, now sixty-four kilometres long, with four lines and sixty-five stations, joins the city’s main arteries to its more residential districts. Unlike those of many other cities, however, Montreal’s metro is entirely underground; travel from one destination to another involves a descent into the city’s subterranean passages. The intricate circuitry of pedestrian traffic within these passages is governed by the rhythm of the trains – by their arrivals, their departures, and the intervals between. A journey on the metro always represents a significant break from the sights and sounds of above-ground activity. The metro provides a unique order of perceptual experience that is defined both by the highly regulated flow of people and by a variety of interactions between individuals. At metro interchanges in particular, the subtle communication between passengers heightens the contrast between the anonymity of people in transit and their close proximity. Over the course of a ride, especially one requiring a transfer from one line to another, ideas about urban alienation seem to lose their pertinence, as new forms of solidarity are produced. The performances by buskers in metro stations are particularly effective in nourishing such solidarities. Performers work to solidify bonds between strangers, and to use these bonds as ways of framing their performances. Confronted with disaffected, hurried crowds, buskers seek to produce events that will anchor the experience of passengers, cutting across the barriers of ethnicity and culture that

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otherwise divide them. The platform between the orange and green metro lines on the second floor of the Lionel Groulx station condenses all of these processes. It is a deteriorated corridor that has become the site for lively performances of music and dance. Performances that recycle long-forgotten songs are made easier by the fundamentally ephemeral stage that emerges on the site at particular moments in the movement of subway cars and people. The platform is thus suspended in a tension between entropy and spontaneity – between the disintegration of previously distinct cultural activity into homogeneous sensorial matter, and the brief coalescence of this sensorial matter in a new context. The deteriorating space gives the impression that buskers are carrying out last rites for an old song before it is buried in the city’s underground. At the same time, however, the often spirited displays uplift the area, momentarily transforming the platform into a space of public drama. The performances are usually synthesized versions of musical clichés that convey a sense of cultural degeneration. Indeed, because of the limited amount of time between trains, the music must be reprocessed in such a way that the temporality of the situation is creatively integrated into the performance. In the most interesting cases, buskers choose familiar songs so that in spite of the necessary adjustments in rhythm, they can capture the continuously shifting attention of the audience before its imminent dispersal. The integration of the performance into the temporal fabric of the metro exchange epitomizes the modern experience as “transient, fugitive, and contingent,” in Baudelaire’s words (1962, 163). And, while buskers may not necessarily aspire to the other half of Baudelaire’s prescription for a truly modern art – the eternal and immutable poetic truth that lies in the midst of the transitory – they use their music to create a shared cultural event, albeit one that is short lived. THE EMERGENCE OF THE STAGE

Huge cement supports divide the grimy space between the two metro tracks. The dark platform is interrupted by large square areas where escalators lead downwards to the lowest floor. Metal railings cordon off these areas but also delineate the central zone where performers are situated. The low concrete ceiling heightens the awareness of being underground, and shafts of fluorescent light cast

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shadows on the hopelessly dated orange and yellow floor tile. As though in reference to a time when the metro was a new and exciting form of transportation, this garish dot pattern tries vainly to produce a sense of dynamism. The rumble of arriving trains periodically fills the station and just as quickly leaves it with only hollow echoes. While at other stations in which the metro lines converge, passengers either exit or scatter to catch another train, to change lines at Lionel Groulx one simply crosses the platform. If the trains are out of synch, the platform serves as a holding area for transferring passengers, simultaneously making them the perfect captive audience. It is not simply a crowd that is produced at this exchange; the flow of traffic concentrates around the busker, forming an invisible stage. Whether the show is mellow piano playing, folksy guitar, jazz trumpet, a one-man-band, or a dance, a boundary emerges between the performer and the audience. As people gather at the platform, their physical arrangement frames a place for the busker. Though the site is a contrived lapse in a well-travelled commute downtown, it generates a surprisingly compelling experience that transcends the mundane world. A theatrical interval results because of (and not in spite of) the fluctuations of people and the unpredictability of the audience’s response from one train exchange to the next. Unlike a more formal stage that is elevated above its audience, with a proscenium arch to focus attention, the space of the performer at the Lionel Groulx station is not pre-established, immediately self-evident, or clearly distinguished from that of a willing audience. The disjointed rhythms of the green and orange lines determine the tide of spectators, and, subsequently, the density of the frame around the performance. Unlike spectators at a carnival or a festival, where the chaotic movement of audiences is expected, bystanders at Lionel Groulx are generally focused on their final destination and do not mill about the station looking for new spectatorial experiences. Even when the performances at Lionel Groulx draw people in transit toward the centre of the platform, the crowd’s awareness of itself as a unified audience is not immediate. A polite distance between people always remains, in terms both of their physical proximity and of their psychological disassociation from each other. Nevertheless, there is a unanimous agreement to carve out a distinct place for the performance to proceed and, as a

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result, a stage-like space emerges. But its formation is born of the already existing, and fundamentally urban, detachment of bystanders, which intensifies upon exposure to the performance. The stage is a collective form, but in the case of Lionel Groulx, it is paradoxically the insularity of urban individuals in a public place that leads them to secure a theatrical distance around the busker. It must be understood, then, that despite the semblance of a civilized reserve between people in public places, collective patterns emerge in the circulation of traffic. When a performance takes place, a seemingly contradictory transformation occurs, as the entropic degeneration of the station is interrupted and the site is reborn as an environment of lively spectacle. This transformation sets the conditions for the sudden inversion of an alienated modern condition, as decayed human connections are revived through the coalescence of an audience and the demarcation of a stage. The evasiveness of social connectivity in the city, even in instances of a public performance, is an intrinsic structure of modernity. As Marshall Berman explains, modernity sets up a dialectic between the prosperity of society – its “fixed, fast-frozen relationships” – and the disintegration of our social and material conditions. “In this world,” he says, “stability can only mean entropy, slow death, while our sense of progress and growth is our only way of knowing for sure that we are alive. To say that our society is falling apart is only to say that it is alive and well” (1982, 95). This is not to suggest that social connections are impossible or unidentifiable in the city, only that they are in flux and are visible in patterns of appearance and disappearance. The formation of the stage, then, does not contradict the logic of anonymous city life. Rather, it operates within the continual upheaval caused by circulating people, as a symptom and a byproduct of that movement. There is a distinction to be made between a performance and a stage, and it is one that sets the Lionel Groulx station apart as a case study. A stage does not appear in every instance of urban spectacle. A punk with coloured hair and ten face piercings is a kind of performance one may encounter in the city. Bystanders may engage in a fleeting glance at the punk, or possibly steal a longer look at the risk of being rude. However, it is unlikely that they will group together as an audience to differentiate the space of the spectacle from their own position as observers. In other words,

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many varieties of public performance do not produce discernable formations and are better understood as relations. On the metro platform, however, it is through the grouping of people that the semblance of a stage crystallizes. Both the interactivity of the performance and the consensus of the crowd to pay attention are crucial elements in the formation of the stage. This is not to assume, however, that the more explicit the interaction between the performer and the audience, the more evident the stage becomes. At Lionel Groulx, the density of the stage fluctuates, and its shape is not always predictable, but it is more visible if the event is voyeuristic rather than participatory in nature. The less that bystanders partake of eye contact, close physical proximity, and the ethical obligation to pay money, the more likely they are to view the act as an audience. Concurrently, as the density of the audience increases, the more the stage opens as a window to an alternate time and space and engenders the sensation of a shared cultural experience (or perhaps, given the outdated musical repertoire, a shared memory). Within the time constraints imposed by the passing trains, the entire area is ignited by the collision of a simulated past and an immediate present. In order to elicit any interest, the performance must evoke two responses in tandem: the semblance of a pre-existing attachment to a given song and the presumption that the song is renowned enough to be compressed for rapid presentation. By quickly crafting the impression of a collective connection to the music, the busker strengthens the tenuous bonds between individuals and invites them to congregate. George Simmel suggests that metropolitan people produce an exterior of rationality to counter the overstimulation of the senses that accompanies city life (1971, 325). At Lionel Groulx, this public mask is both challenged and reinforced by the unusual dynamic initiated by performers. In this case, however, it is not so much that the senses are overextended as that they are subjected to an abundance of sentimentality. Though the buskers vary in tone, style, and medium, a good number revel in heavily nostalgic songs that seal the space with an atmosphere of saccharine emotionality. More accurately, performances could be seen to provoke a sense of “ersatz nostalgia,” in accordance with Arjun Appadurai’s notion of “nostalgia without lived experience of collective historical memory” (1996, 78). Played with so much enthusiasm, the songs that permeate the crowd and dramatize the most dreary part of people’s day

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are difficult to ignore. As the simple process of taking the metro becomes a journey of epic proportions, enacted to the soundtrack of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata – or perhaps the theme song from The Young and the Restless – the mask of rationality is put to the test. Can the music breach the façade of the stranger? If shuffling feet and embarrassed smiles are any indication, it appears that, when under duress, the sophisticated armour of the urbanite yields to the forces of romanticism. This is not to suggest that every performance truly appeals to the inner core of bystanders or that this is even the goal of the busker. At times, a more durable surface is produced to resist the almost abject tunes, though most people cannot help but respond, even with a remote fascination, to a severely kitschified version of “I Will Survive” or “It’s Raining Men.” Strangely, the off-putting song choices do not necessarily disperse the crowd; indeed, they often serve as the basis of the audience’s unity. But whether people’s curiosity about the performance is genuine or cynical, their absorption is periodically interrupted by an awareness of the public venue, leaving them split between concentration on the show and the selfconsciousness of being seen to respond to it. In this oscillation between detachment and engagement with the performance, the stage is formed. Though each individual might be visibly interested at one moment and distracted at the next, the group as a whole moulds a space around the performer. It may be that a conventional stage is clearly delineated from the audience for the purposes of maximizing its attention – to increase public visibility or for the overall effect of enchanting viewers with a ritualistic line between the fictive drama and the mundane world. Yet for a group of commuters who are preoccupied by their daily business and expect to remain so, the stage serves the opposite purpose. The space that forms around the performer shields the audience from the possibility of being visibly transported by the music. Paradoxically, as each individual shelters her or himself from the emotive force of the performance, the collective embrace of the stage appears. Simmel argues that the problems of modern life stem from the individual’s attempt to maintain independence from the weight of historical heritage and external culture (1971, 324). Yet it is clear that, despite drawing thick boundaries between the self and society at large, urban individuals nevertheless forge social relationships and participate in cultural practices that secure a sense of

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collectivity, whether or not these are anchored in history. Moreover, the stage is not formed simply out of the cold remove of the group of onlookers; it is of a more malleable texture, made as much out of the flitting looks, veiled facial expressions, and toe tapping to the beat of the music as it is of drifting attention, agitated shifts of weight, and heavy sighs. Simmel’s claim that the urbanite creates a protective organ against the profound disruption of the fluctuations and discontinuities of the external milieu is not entirely adequate to explain the subtle participation of the audience at Lionel Groulx. Certainly, the public face of bystanders is rational and not prone to erratic outbursts. However, the introduction of a well-known song, or at least a recognizable musical vernacular, triggers a more permeable boundary between the self and the urban environment than Simmel’s characterization of the relationship between the disconnected urbanite and the chaotic white noise of the city. The audience, whose attention is coveted by the busker and whose familiarity with the songs is anticipated, is thus a key determinant of whether the performance functions as either a cultural repetition (that is to say, as a practice worthy of regular revival) or a sensorial generality. The audience’s role is not to determine whether the song is objectively good but whether its delivery shows it to be worthy of repetition in the first place. The crowd’s judgment is then communicated through the quality of its coalescence. Even the most generic pop music may, through the ingenuity of the busker’s seduction of the crowd, be experienced as vital and specific rather than homogeneous. Not coincidentally, Gilles Deleuze uses the metaphor of the theatre to distinguish between repetition and generality. The theatre of repetition, he says, is an empty space filled with masks which precede the faces underneath, and with the language which precedes words (1994, 10). Otherwise put, what is at stake in a repetition is not an accurate representation but the dynamic and idiosyncratic force between generalities that connect our activity to history. Understood in this way, the performances at Lional Groulx do not forge a chiasmic tie between the busker and the individual. If they effectively arrive at a note of creative specificity, they do so by integrating the city’s anonymity, impenetrability, and temporality, thereby catching the pulse of its circuitry. The parameters of the metro mean that the performance, like Deleuze’s notion of repetition, does not arise from “underneath the masks, but is formed from one mask to another, from one privileged instant to another,

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with and within the variations” (17), as buskers endlessly replay their selections upon the arrival of each new group. Because the temporal pattern of the trains keeps the group immobilized on the platform, the potential for a tentative sense of intimacy is produced. The environment is akin to a bar on Retro Night when patrons willingly relive the embarrassing details of a previous generation of music. The difference, of course, is that commuters have not chosen this journey into the past. Moreover, in the sobriety of one’s daytime routine, a foray into nostalgia is jarring in the absence of the forgiving spirit of nighttime revelry. The station’s corroded setting, with its dimmed lights and outlandish floor tiles, introduces a sense of unpredictability to the standard codes of rational behaviour. The performance calls for a reassessment of public protocol. Indeed, as the busker entices onlookers to come together as an audience and allow a stage to materialize, these onlookers surreptitiously interact with each other, to see if others are overtly watching the performance, to raise their eyebrows in disbelief at the tackiness of a hackneyed chorus, or to stand behind someone else in an effort to avoid the gaze of the performer. People continuously measure their behaviour against that of others, and even if this is a safeguard against a display of surplus emotion, the busker’s disruption forces the crowd to respond as a whole. THE ECONOMY OF TRANSIT

In the same way that buskers can only elicit the attention of their audience by surrendering to the necessarily repetitive and temporary confines of the metro, so must they pose the uncomfortable question of payment by hinging it on the anonymity and transience of the audience rather than on the quality of the performance. Precisely because the disjunction between metro lines stymies the flow of traffic, the platform between the orange and green lines at Lionel Groulx station is an opportunitic snare for buskers and has in fact been officially designated as a busking area by the city. However, the platform produces a somewhat ambivalent atmosphere, for bystanders are confronted with the performance, regardless of whether or not they are seeking distraction. And inevitably, the uncertainty of whether or not to pay for this unsolicited service presents itself relentlessly over the course of the countdown to the next train.

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Unlike the experience of street performances in the open air, where passersby have the freedom to move on after catching a glimpse of the show, watching the acts at Lionel Groulx comes to be conflated with waiting for the train. Street performance is often considered an aestheticization of the city because it functions in excess of the more fundamental urban economy. Contributing money to a busker is not obligatory, and performances usually occur in public spaces where the pressure to contribute is brief and where the discomfort that comes from not having money or simply not wanting to pay is minimal. The notion of an artistic gift is less viable at Lionel Groulx since bystanders have little freedom to leave the site. They watch not out of any particular interest in the performance but because it is a convenient distraction while they wait. The uncomfortable issue of payment has less to do with whether one has appreciated the performance than with whether it is appropriate to compensate the performer for services rendered, even when one has not solicited those services in the first place. At other metro stations in Montreal, although buskers do appear in the corridors where people change lines, crowds are never held in those spaces. Most often they pass to their destined platforms and interact with a busker in the same manner as they would with a performance in the street. One tactic used to entice a donation appears at both the Berri uqam and Sherbrooke stations: the busker is positioned at the bottom of an escalator so that people can hear the music before they come into contact with the performance area. The public is thus cued before entering the situation, and so the boundaries of the performance space are set by the growing or decreasing intensity of sound. The parameters of the performance develop progressively as one gets closer, and gradually diminish as one walks away. This design generates a far more permeable stage and involves less responsibility to behave as a paying audience than does the platform at Lionel Groulx. While people at the Berri-uqam and Sherbrooke stations think nothing of passing through the performance space and thwarting any formation of a stage, etiquette demands that the crowd at Lionel Groulx, because it is sealed within the space, attend to the central activity of the busker; the performance appears unexpectedly as fully integrated within an economy of transit. Caught between its traditional position as an aesthetic excess and the everyday monetary transactions that sustain the circulation of traffic (like the purchases of a cup of coffee, a tank of

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gas, busfare, and so on) the performance presents itself as a kind of optional toll booth: payment is not enforced but there is an expectation that one will volunteer it anyway. The anxiety of Lionel Groulx is not the expression of a miserly crowd that does not see value in artistic expression. Rather, discomfort is caused by the sudden problematization of public behaviour that occurs when travellers must confront the insubstantiality of their connection to the temporary performance. The conflict between the proper etiquette of spectatorship and the uncertainty of their financial obligation to the performer is made even more complicated by the audience’s collective diffidence. If the people assembled behave as an audience, with their attention undivided and their intention to watch the show, they appear to be demonstrating their willingness to exchange money for a performance. While the crowd at the Lionel Groulx station may be dense, it is only by clandestine glances that the performance is acknowledged as even potentially the focus of an economic exchange. Bystanders uphold a discernable ambivalence so that they are not obliged to pay for an impromptu performance. By feigning disinterest, one is not snubbing the busker but only reserving the right to claim that one was not really paying attention. Only in the unified directing of gazes toward the performance would the busker be distinguished as an object of attention and the etiquette of formal performance be required. Bystanders can be seen interweaving a concern for the performance with assertions of a preoccupation with their own lives, checking their watches or looking down the tunnel to see if the train is arriving. These counter-displays of individuality need not be dismissed derisively as expressions of fear of a unified collective or a reticence to display genuine emotion in public. The undivided attention of a homogeneous audience is by no means the busker’s ideal scenario. In his critique of modern life, Simmel notes that money is concerned with what is common to all; exchange value reduces all quality and individuality to the status of quantity (1971, 326). There is a uniqueness to street performance, however, that is not reducible to pure exchange. The goal of the busker is not to herd the crowd or present people with a show that is enjoyable at the most general level. Rather, in the restricted time frame available, the busker must integrate his or her practice into the limited trajectory of each passing group. Contrary to Simmel’s assessment, the monetary exchange here

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is not generalized; it is when the performer strikes an idiosyncratic chord that a bystander steps forward and donates money. If the theme of the gift is at all relevant to this set of circumstances, it does not correspond to the giving of free music. Instead, it is manifest in those moments when people are moved to declare their enjoyment, when the performance is acknowledged as having been appreciated. To give money is to acknowledge the specificity of the performance and to distinguish it from the general. The first bequest, the gift from an interested listener, cues the rest of the crowd to the value of the performance. Paradoxically, it is only at that moment in which a bystander acknowledges the performance with money that it becomes worthy of recognition as a gift. Whether to reward the busker or to avoid being seen as “stealing” the performance, the audience counters any connotation of generality that might accompany the exchange-value of the performance. In their unending execution of recycled songs for a short-lived audience, these performances exemplify the economic distinction between repetition and generality offered by Deleuze when he argues that “if exchange is the criterion of generality, theft and gift are those of repetition” (1994, 1). The shorthand vocabulary of busking and its dependency on repetition are not necessarily indicative of the uniformity of urban culture. Though the songs may be nostalgic, the object of nostalgia is, as Svetlana Boym explains, notoriously elusive. In other words, although the stage mobilizes as a palpable form, suggesting an object of interest that is common to all, its ephemerality reveals the complex dynamic between the collective movement and the interior life of urbanites. Indeed, what is tantalizing about nostalgia for Boym is its fundamental ambivalence, its repetition of the unrepeatable and its materialization of the immaterial (2001, xvii). The ephemerality of the stage, then, cannot be understood simply in terms of its short-lived, transient condition. Ephemerality is a quality caused by the ebb and flow of the crowd’s concentration on the performance and a reflection of the nostalgic character of specific performances. Putting into relief the empty space around the performer, the stage is an accumulated effect of each person’s waxing and waning interest and develops in the gaps between moments of personal individuation and the condensation of people who gravitate to the centre of the platform. This is especially noticeable if two trains from one side of the platform pass before the connector

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train collects the first group of commuters. The more populated the platform, the more the performer’s space is marked off from the space of the crowd. The individual disengagement that coalesces with the ambivalence of others, only to then invert and become a collective focus, reveals the internal disruption that results from the collision of private and public worlds. Because buskers are conveniently planted to capture waiting customers, their performances introduce anomalies in the circulation of people and thus complicate the notion of an economy of transit based on perpetual movement. Though performances are fleeting and in this sense integrated with urban temporality, they nevertheless occur at a point of stoppage. Rather than accelerating the circulation of people, the musical interlude at the metro is an obstacle to traffic and thus can be seen as a diversionary tactic subverting an otherwise uneventful journey. As Michel de Certeau argues, “The loss that was voluntary in a gift economy is transformed into a transgression in a profit economy; it appears as an excess (a waste), a challenge (a rejection), or a crime (an attack on property)” (1984, 25). Perhaps it is an exaggeration to classify the Lionel Groulx performers as transgressors, yet there is nevertheless something pertinent in de Certeau’s observation of the diversion of time in the workplace. The metro is not under the jurisdiction of an industrial or corporate institution, but the progression of the commute is one from the private spaces of the home and the neighbourhood to the public spaces of downtown. Particularly during the morning rush hour, when people are headed to work or school, the crowd is oriented to its professional exterior. People are often in a hurry (which adds to the pressure of waiting for the connecting train) and are already beginning their work day: checking appointments in their agendas, checking their stocks in the newspaper, studying, or having a cup of coffee. The insertion of forgotten songs is uncannily dissonant in this business-as-usual situation and, consistent with de Certeau’s account, overlays the mechanical movement of commuters with an environment of leisure. Buskers seize the lapse between trains and attempt to reorient the crowd to a strangely ludic environment that is appropriate neither for work nor for unrestricted entertainment. They offer a challenge to professional behaviour, inviting one to relax formal etiquette and enter a recreational mode. The time of performance is thus a splitting of the time of transit.

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There is no sense of a loss of time in this. On the contrary, the two simultaneous experiences (of work and of leisure) double up in the same stretches of time. If the passengers acknowledge and appreciate the gesture – the theft of time from within – they are restoring the performance to its status as an aesthetic gift through their own gift, the voluntary offering of money. If they do not acknowledge the gesture, they proceed as through their time had not been made to harbour any excess aesthetic experience. DEGENERATION AND SPONTANEITY: THE CASE OF “TONY DANCER”

In the Lionel Groulx station, the busker’s choice in music rarely deviates from a predictable, easy-listening playlist, but each performer reprocesses this music in distinct ways. While some deaden the space and disperse the crowd, others stimulate it and enhance its sociability. Like any performance, the goal here is still one of transforming the atmosphere and opening up an alternate time and space. To suspend disbelief, the busker, while always remaining cognizant of the limits of the venue, must run the performance against the grain just enough to tease out a substantial communication with the audience. Rarely do buskers seek to reproduce music with exactitude, since their songs are usually recognizable enough to allow for creative licence. Three regulars at Lionel Groulx play the electric piano. Their songs are immediately identifiable but played at an accelerated rate, usually with a heavily synthesized sound and often with a New Age flavour that occasionally comes dangerously close to that of elevator music. The contrast between the ostensibly relaxing sounds of synthesized piano and the rapidity with which songs are rendered is often blunt. Nevertheless, this combination seems appropriate to an interim stage. The brevity responds to the fact that the assembly of people is forever about to leave; the deliberate soothing sounds foreground the artificiality of the meeting between audiences and performers. In this situation, there is no attempt to move the spectator in genuinely emotional ways, and buskers must highlight their efficiency above all else. The objective is not a perfect simulation but that of supplying a taste of the original, gesturing toward its associations. Since there is not enough time between trains to build a song’s drama and carry it through in entirety, the performer simply

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demonstrates an ability to play the piece, evoking the original but emptying it of its precise fluctuations of rhythm and melody. However, the more the song appears curtailed by the demands of a fast, anonymous exchange, the more the music is rebuffed by commuters. The sounds dissolve into the nonsensical verbiage of advertising, public chatter, and machinery also occupying the station. Without an innovative jump-start from the performer, music that has reached the end of its popularity eventually sinks underground, and, in an exhausted and more malleable form, is doomed to be indistinguishable from other metro noise. When the temporality of the metro is actually integrated into the performance at the peril of its creativity, the idea of buskers engaging in a transgressive theft of time is less plausible. Aspiring only to fill the space caused by the break between trains, many performances are insubstantial because they do not dislodge general activity. Interestingly, the performances that most reflect the deterioration of the space because of their formulaic use of music are actually agents of stagnation, not reinvigoration. When they adhere too strictly to the temporariness of their predicament, merely filling the space rather than transforming it, some performances are nothing more than the sum of the parts of the music, divorced from an “experience lived as effervescence” (Straw 2001, 254). It is important then to distinguish between the binding of the crowd that occurs when it is attracted to the creative performance of a familiar tune, and the decomposition that is acutely witnessed when buskers sometimes disable a song by restructuring it according to the rhythms of transit (the densification of general sound). While some performances enhance the decrepitude of the space, others energize it. Performances that successfully straddle the precarious boundary of the onlooker’s public façade contravene the awareness of the immanent interruption of the train. “Tony Dancer,”1 of all the buskers that I have seen, commands the largest amount of space and draws the biggest audience, occasionally inciting an outburst of applause – a show of appreciation above and beyond the donation of money. Performing in the middle of the crowded platform, Tony Dancer puts his own body on the line, daringly presupposing the emergence of a protective stage. The fine line between the space he occupies and the space of the audience is considerably more risky than the spaces of more prosaic buskers because his performance is more vulnerable to the interruptions on the platform

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that threaten to absorb it into the commotion of other platform activity. His performances therefore require that he be more assertive in distinguishing himself from bystanders. Nevertheless, Tony Dancer commands attention because of the single tenet that relates all his performances: he only dances to Michael Jackson songs. In this respect there is a commonality between the electric piano players and Tony Dancer, for all recycle retro tunes. But perhaps because Tony Dancer invests himself so fully and thus provides something to look at, the crowd becomes more solidly grounded as an audience and secures a more visible stage. Insofar as it is the commitment involved in actively watching a street performance that might make the crowd feel insecure, Tony Dancer walks a fine line between threatening the public restraint of onlookers and allowing them to be voyeurs. But voyeurism here is not passive visual consumption; it is the condition for building the necessary link between the viewer and the performance. Where a musician might cause the bystander to complete the spectacle by “acting out” the songs she or he is playing, the dancer mercifully provides an object of attention to supplement the atmosphere created by the music. The poignant sensation that one is always being watched when in public is momentarily alleviated by the show. The performance defies public spatial relationships by unifying people in a collective form, and it successfully reroutes the temporal break between trains into a new awareness of the passage of time based on the beat of the music (in its original version) and the movements of the dancer. While the performance takes place, the degenerating space comes alive and successfully unifies the crowd. CONCLUSION

The ephemeral stage that arises on the platform at Lionel Groux station is instigated by the temporal lapse between trains capturing an audience of transferring passengers. The performance space is not strictly public for it is sealed, but neither is it private, for it is part of the everyday flow of traffic that takes people away from the residential neighbourhoods of Montreal to the downtown core. In this intercalary zone the crowd cannot behave according to the decorum of a conventional performance, nor can it ignore the altered atmosphere that the buskers create. The fortifications of the individual in the city are renegotiated over the course of this transfer

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period. Paradoxically, through subtle communication, individuals in the crowd collaborate and come to a precarious agreement to collectively gravitate around the performance while respectively maintaining their personal definition. Thus the emergence of the stage does not signify a break in the veneer of urbanites but instead demonstrates a permeability between the individual and the crowd such that the collective forms resulting from the circulation of people permit the preservation of individual airs. Bystanders’ responses are subject to how well buskers appeal to this urban sensibility in their integration of the time constraints of the venue. Particularly if the performance is overly complicit with the transience of its situation, the stage is not properly secured and shows the performance to be devoid of cultural substance. Upon occasion, however, a busker may enchant the audience by upsetting the economy of transit and layering the time of transit with the aesthetic plenitude of an innovative cultural repetition. Tony Dancer’s performances challenge passengers’ downtown orientation and, more than simply paying lip service to the music, he redirects the predictable flow of circulating people, thus positioning the platform as a space of disruptive creative production. Instead of exploiting the generalizing tendency of popular songs, such performers concede the alienation of the individual in the crowd but generate a common experience based on the potential ingenuity of repetition. The coalescence of a frenetic crowd into an audience and the delineation of a stage for the performance is not evidence of any historic bond; buskers do not seek an essential collectivity. Rather, by intervening in the temporal flow of traffic, performances stimulate the manifestation of new bonds between strangers. Buskers invite the judgment of the group of passengers as a whole, risking their own dismissal as sensorial excess. But when the performance is successful and appreciative payment is made, the ephemeral stage that appears in the lag between connecting trains delays the entropic course of music. Though it may appear that there is a contingency between novelty and the circulation of people, the case of Lionel Groux shows that it is the brief lapses in movement that generate the conditions for original performances. Without these lags, a performance can become overly reductive, conceding too much to the transience of the situation, thereby stifling the space and deterring the attention of passengers.

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The key to a performance that rides on the patterns of circulation in the city is its ability to momentarily stay the passage of time and to use this interval to introduce a new interpretation of music in the city’s collective historical memory. The repetition of familiar songs might breed apathy, but the performance catches the interest of strangers by running against their expectations, resisting the flow of transit and consolidating an audience at exactly the point when their indifference threatens to disperse the stage.

NOTE

1 Designated street performance areas in Montreal always have a time signup sheet available. This particular busker calls himself Tony Dancer.

7 Cities of Rhythm and Revolution TOBIAS C. VAN VEEN The urban problematic, urbanism as ideology and institution, urbanization as a worldwide trend, are global facts. The urban revolution is a planetary phenomenon. Henri Lefebvre, The Urban Revolution (2003, 113)

LIKE SEEDS IN A SACK: THE STATE AND URBAN REVOLUTION

A revolution happens somewhere: in a city, a springtime revolt, the unexpected uprising, the insurgency of the city against its occupiers, whether military or monetary – these are all the classic forms. In the violence, boredom, and exhaustion of the 21c,1 there are revolutions in product design, software, advertising, and taste, while the upheavals that remake the world are rarely granted the dubious privilege of ‘revolution.’ Despite its broad application, or rather, the attempt to render its force banal by subsuming it to the language of consumption, ‘the revolution’ nonetheless maintains an exclusive meaning when it comes to the remaking of the world as such. And this remaking has had particular import by way of the City: it is the City that is the locus of the State.2 What is the City that it overwhelms the world with a concentrated force, that it, once expressed as ‘the urban,’ a tendency of the city to globalize, becomes the engine of history? Such would be Henri Lefebvre’s “urban revolution,” the city as the “dominant” global “manifestation” in which a new form of the social emerges: the “urban society” (2003, 5). The urban supersedes the agrarian and overtakes not only the country but even the city itself – for once

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all is woven within the urban fabric, the city loses its particularity, its oppositional architecture to the country’s expanse: “The urban fabric grows, extends its borders, corrodes the residue of agrarian life. This expression, ‘urban fabric,’ does not narrowly define the built world of cities but all manifestations of the dominance of the city over the country” (3–4). But what is the city? Society? The country? A dialectical comment by Deleuze and Guattari on the matter teases out the ambiguity of Lefebvre’s hypothesis remarkably well: “It is not the country that progressively creates the town but the town that creates the country. It is not the State that presupposes a mode of production; quite the opposite, it is the State that makes production a ‘mode.’ The last reasons for presuming a progressive development are invalidated. Like seeds in a sack: It all begins with a chance intermixing. The ‘state and urban revolution’ may be Paleolithic, not Neolithic” (2000, 429) Deleuze and Guattari challenge the (traditional, Marxist, liberal, linear, etc.) narrative of humanity’s “progressive development” (from nomads to cities, agrarian to urban) by arguing that the progressive timeline that would posit the emergence of the city-state at a specific moment in the “linear development of civilization” falls prey to tautology in its quest for the origin and evolutionism of historical succession (427–8). Theses “on the origin of the State are always tautological,” not only because they fall into tautology but because the State is tautological (ibid.). In fact, according to Lefebvre, it is because all “logics,” including that of the state and the law, commodities, the organization of space, the object, daily life, language, information, and communication want “to be restrictive and complete, eliminating anything that is felt to be unsuitable, claiming to govern the remainder of the world,” that they become “an empty tautology” (2003, 35). This tautology, however, is not meaningless: its emptiness shares a common point in the accumulation of surplus value in the city. Thus Deleuze and Guattari “are always brought back to the idea of a State” – as an “apparatus of capture” – “that comes into the world fully formed and rises up in a single stroke, the unconditioned Urstaat,” to which we might add its dimensional aspects: centripetal, circular, enclosing, inscribed in the corridors and walls of the polis (427). The city-state emerges with the ‘origin’ of history itself: “Economic evolutionism is an impossibility … An evolutionary ethnology is no better … Nor an ecological evolutionism … All we need to do is combine these abstract

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evolutions to make all of evolutionism crumble; for example, it is the city that creates agriculture, without going through small towns. To take another example, the nomads do not precede the sedentaries; rather, nomadism is a movement, a becoming that affects sedentaries, just as sedentarization is a stoppage that settles the nomads” (430). Let us make quick work of this moment – for the radically antievolutionary, non-developmental thesis of a “coexistence of becomings” (against which “history translates into a succession”) (ibid.) is also to be found in Lefebvre. It is found in the complex interplay of the urban, wherein the urban anticipates its own realization as the ‘virtual’ horizon of its own becoming.3 Lefebvre is quite aware of Simondon’s theory of transduction (2003, 5), which Deleuze and Guattari will later incorporate when encountering this exact problem: the virtual. The urban, like Deleuze and Guattari’s Urstaat, always seems to have coexisted in the tension between city and country, as the fabric of their antinomy, though one might argue – as Lefebvre will – that the urban has now become the Ur-apparatus of capture, the overwhelming of all other becomings wherein both city and country dissolve within the urban fabric. And it is certainly the case that Lefebvre’s insistence on the urban as the global revolution, if not as the production of “globalization” per se, derails the dialectical succession of history and empties it of its content, for the urban revolution swaps out history’s engine, the relations of production, for an ambiguous and virtual “fabric,” Ur-becoming, that is the urban itself. This is one tendency of Lefebvre, and one I shall insist on, to draw out its heterodoxy, to amplify all that it has to say, and to emphasize its precedent to Lefebvre’s later technique of rhythmanalysis. Not surprisingly, then, the samizdat concept that is the urban upsets the orthodoxy of teleological history: the virtual-urban, the becoming-urban, in-forms the ‘present’ material reality. Can the transductive logic of the urban, even if thought as synchrony, function within a linear development of history? Lefebvre insists upon the diachrony of urban history – a dialectical progression of the urban – all the while arguing that the “impossible” barriers to the urban realization, erected on the horizon of the virtual object, must be torn down (2003, 7, 17). The impossible is reduced to a possibility to be overcome. The tension between becoming and historical succession, diachrony and synchrony, transduction and

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economic evolutionism, develop a kind of rhythm – unresolved, impossible, aporetic, even – that is taken up at length in the complex thought of The Urban Revolution, and later in the problematic of rhythm itself, in Rhythmanalysis. LIKE AN IMPLOSION-EXPLOSION: “ THE CULT OF THE STATE AND THE FETISHISM OF PRODUCTION”

If, as Henri Lefebvre suggests, the force of historical change has shifted from capital accumulation and industrial production to the globalization of the “urban revolution,” to “all manifestations of the dominance of the city over the country,” then “the expression ‘urban society’ meets a theoretical need” (2003, 4–5).4 This be the state of the world as Lefebvre sees it, circa 1970: “The urban assumes cosmic significance; it is globalized (combining world as obscure path and cosmos as luminous unity” (123). But what is the world? Does theory answer a need? How is it to be understood? Theory? The need? The city? And what is ‘urban revolution,’ and why, if revolutionary, must it remain reactionary – responding to a need – rather than productive of it? Or is it? Perhaps Lefebvre’s concept is not as reactionary as it appears – for the expressions “urban society” and “urban revolution” respond to a theoretical need. What is theory? Let us venture something good – the creative anticipation of the possibilities within an aggregate tendency wrought over time that, in its possibility, contains the force to upend the temporal map itself. Which is to say, something about the revolution and its expression remains, as Lefebvre puts it, virtual. It might already be presumed that theory would present itself as the virtual object to the concrete materiality of the urban in Lefebvre’s text, that, in short, theory would respond to the city. Or, to rephrase: that the “human sciences,” specifically those critical, respond to existing conditions; that theory responds to a need wrought in the iron concrete; that it is the “urban” that theory names once it appears in the material world, and, as the general condition of the world, this “urban society.” Here it is precisely the opposite case: the urban in Lefebvre is yet to-come, a virtual object, a possibility. Which does not in any way reduce the concrete impact of the urban society. On the contrary,

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Lefebvre’s insistence on an urban revolution – however virtual – makes possible the very concrete conditions of the social. This is, of course, an aporia: the content of the virtual (the urban revolution) cannot possibly make possible what is already here and now an urban society. Hence the necessity for theory to realize this possibility by overcoming the impossibility of the barriers to its virtual object: “To reach it – in other words, to realize it – we must first overcome or break through the obstacles that currently make it impossible” (17). Theory’s task, like a revolutionary at the barricades, is to breach the impossible in order to realize it. Lefebvre’s response to this aporia hangs upon its complexity (45), and this complexity is such that, if the aporia of the urban is thought in linear terms, it means that the delayed future (the virtual) is the condition of possibility for the past present, the form of which the future anticipates. While Lefebvre thinks it in a linear form, near utilitarianism – “The future illuminates the past, the virtual allows us to examine and situate the realized” (23) – the complexity of the aporia saturates his text. It even calls for an entire chapter devoted to what he calls the “blind field”: “Between fields, which are regions of force and conflict, there are blind fields. These are not merely dark and uncertain, poorly explored, but blind in the sense that there is a blind spot on the retina, the center – and negation – of vision. A paradox. The eye doesn’t see; it needs a mirror. The center of vision doesn’t see and doesn’t know it is blind. Do these paradoxes extend to thought, to awareness, to knowledge? In the past there was a field between the rural and the industrial – just as there is today between the industrial and the urban – that was invisible to us” (29). What is Lefebvre’s own blind field? Precisely that of the articulation of the blind field as a simplism of ideology (30–1), a veil that distorts the true knowledge of things, whereas the complex of the virtual, and its nonlinear temporality, suggests what Lefebvre has already proposed but hesitates to grasp in its complexity: that the blind field is a field, a time-space in which linearity applies not, in which events dis/appear in their flux only by way of their spectrality (originary simulacra: virtuality). The perception of the virtual always appears as or in a blind field; it is the form of the virtual, at least to the mutant we call the human. Lefebvre’s recognition of this moment is startling: “No, the urban is a highly complex field of tensions, a virtuality, a possible-impossible that attracts the

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accomplished, an ever-renewed and always demanding presenceabsence” (40). Even more startling, a few sentences later, is the return to the simplism of the ‘veiled’ urban, suggesting its eventual uncovering and total clarity under non-ideological illumination: “The urban is veiled; it flees thought, which blinds itself, and becomes fixated only on a clarity that is in retreat from the actual” (41). That is, thought can only focus on the “clarity” of the past (industrial production) and cannot see what comes (for the future is veiled by the language and techniques of the past) – very much like Benjamin’s angel of history, forever facing backwards against the storm of change. The insinuation of an end to it all remains: that the virtual, once realized, will be stripped bare, unveiled, and ideology terminated in the telos of a final revolution – the urban revolution. Would this also be the (catastrophic) end of the virtual itself? Would it not then realize the end of all that Lefebvre grasps as the essentially incomplete and thus creative energy of the virtual, its possibility, exploration, and action (31)? The urban, as the locus of the virtual – its particular content – would lose its “concrete contradiction” (39) and thus cease to be “a place for creation” (28). While the necessity, then, for theory arrives from this (virtual) blind field – this futurity of what remains to-come, which is at the same time this impossibility of the unknown and the unrecognized – it is still 1970. At this moment, and despite delivering a rather radical proposition to the Marxist camp5 that the urban (or what was considered the superstructure) and not the base (industrial production) is the engine of history, Lefebvre remains cast in his age: an impossibility is to be overcome through its realization, the barriers torn down that bar the dream, the possible made actual. In this sense, the impossible is not truly impossible but only a temporary impediment to the eventual realization of The Revolution. Lefebvre’s diachronic schema of world history charts the evolution from the political city, or 0 per cent urban, to the critical zone of 100 per cent urbanity, passing through the mercantile and industrial city, the transition from agrarian to urban, and the final, apocalyptic-sounding “implosion-explosion” of “urban concentration, rural exodus, extension of the urban fabric, [and] complete subordination of the agrarian to the urban” (15, 25). Even as the engine of history has been swapped from the economic base to the urban as virtual tendency, the direction is set: “It is the possible, defined by a direction, that moves toward the urban as the culmination of its

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journey” (17). The evolutionist, developmental progression of history is here at its strongest – and perhaps most banal. Luckily (for the unlucky orthodoxy, here is where the world remains: at the precipice of catastrophe), the heterodox tendency in Lefebvre acknowledges that the urban revolution can never culminate in its final arrival, and that this tendency, nonetheless, still articulates a necessity, for this necessity is of the urban fabric, a blind field already felt in its effects (the urban society, etc.). For in the culminating schema of dialectical history, the final arrival of the full presence of the virtual would not accelerate theory but rather would empty it of its energy. If it did because it will anyway, there would be no need to realize it: let it happen of its own accord. It is precisely because the virtual, in its specific content of the urban revolution, is impossible that it remains incomplete and that it remains, by necessity, a virtual object, even when objectively concrete. Thus Lefebvre will introduce a synchronic chart of the urban in its “dimensions” and “levels,” in the attempt to inventory the effects of the (virtual) urban (78, 100). The heterodox or virtual tendency presents its own risks. The risk of the aporia or blind field is that it may be understood as a tautology in the sense of a self-producing, self-sufficient, auto-affecting, enclosed totality, whether as general concept (I can’t accept the “urban revolution” – it’s self-serving!) or theoretical analysis (the urban has brought itself about as an always-already tendency that forms the condition for its own spectre that looms on the horizon – what is this?). The urban risks becoming both the birth (condition of possibility) and death (virtual futurity) of its own becoming. It is the same risk that Deleuze and Guattari encounter when encountering the tautology of the Urstaat. They respond to it like this: “Everything is not of the State precisely because there have been States always and everywhere. Not only does writing presuppose the State, but so do speech and language. The self-sufficiency, autarky, independence, preexistence of primitive communities, is an ethnological dream: not that these communities necessarily depend on States, but they coexist with them in a complex network” (2000, 429–30). It is because the Urstaat is everywhere that its particularity, if not locality, is rendered banal: nothing is truly of the State because everything is always connected to it. The State, in this sense, is akin to Lefebvre’s urban fabric. It is a complex network where no absolute autonomy can assert itself, where no wo/man can be an

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island, and yet, at the same time, the autonomous is everywhere at work because the State is nowhere to be found. For neither can the State disassociate itself into a particularity and announce, I am the State, and you are not, for all are of the State, in a relation to or with the State, without anything being able to assert in the last instance, I am, this is – the State. Of course, the ‘history’ of the State charts exactly this attempt, wrought by violence, on two registers: (a) by asserting the geonationalism of a territory, by proclaiming the city state as the locus of the State, the capital of a nation, with its mythical (usually mytho-racial) cohesion and exact borders, and (b) by proclaiming, one against everyone, L’état, c’est moi, that one body among all is the State embodied, the sovereign power, usually by invoking the right of an absent but apparently greater non-body, the divine. Here we must ask: is not the question of the State also that of the urban? If Lefebvre’s analysis of the urban is nothing less than an attempt to ask the question of the State, then the theoretical dissolution of the boundary between city and country occurs precisely because what is at question is the fabric of the State today. What holds it together? What is the (necessary) fiction of its cohesion and homogeneity, its nationalism, territory, and boundaries? Its fiction is not its untruth; on the contrary, its necessary fiction is the originary simulacra or virtuality that sustains the ‘reality’ of the State itself. As the story changes, so does the apparatus of legitimacy, which is why the State maintains its tautological capture less and less by the divine right of the sovereign, the national myth of a racial homeland, or even the concentration of mercantile, economic, political, or military power in a capital city. The urban, then, is the necessary fiction that upholds the cohesion of the late twentiethcentury State – it is the ‘truth’ of the State that it treats its inhabitants as an urban society, no matter the locale, and that it views its own “progress” as one toward an urban revolution. The State desires (its) urban revolution. As Deleuze and Guattari write, the State and urban revolution go hand in hand, for the urban revolution makes possible the global expansion of the State. The real question is whether the State, as the apparatus of capture, can capture and contain the global dimension of the urban revolution – its worldremaking capability – or whether the urban revolution will remake the State itself, will empty the apparatus of capture from its content of “the State.”

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Lefebvre calls this attempt by the state to capture the urban revolution the “ideology” and “institution” of “urbanism” (28, 81, 91). This “pseudoconcept of the urban” upholds the “application of industrial rationality” against “urban rationality” (41, 6). This is the urbanism of the “abstract utopia” and the “lifestyle” – for sale at a certain price, of course (151). The urban revolution struggles not only against urbanism but against the perpetuation of the State itself. Let us put it another way: insofar as the State goes global – and this process of globalization we call here the “urban revolution,” already a tendency since time immemorial insofar as the globe was always (on) the horizon as the virtual object (2003, 17) – so does the urban society. If the State can remake itself into global empire by attempting to control the urban revolution via urbanism (180), then the urban society can possibly evacuate the State – the global State – in the same moment. Thus, “the cult of the state and the fetishism of production” are “succeeded by the urban … During this new period, what once passed as absolute has become relativized: reason, history, the state, mankind” (36). How? In part because the State, infused by its logic of urbanism, remains caught in a blind field or paradox of epistemology and temporality: the State only sees the urban revolution in light of past content (industrial rationality), “a fragmentary analytic tool that was designed during the industrial period and is therefore reductive of the emerging reality” (29). The urban society, however, is capable of reflecting the virtuality of emerging conditions – and is constituted by them – in “urban thought,” a thought that is more or less a practice or encounter of “urban space-time” in which “the data that was established and separated by history” is restored in an “enlarged context,” that of the “totality,” or what Deleuze and Guattari would call a “complex network”: “Urban space-time, as soon as we stop defining it in terms of industrial rationality – its project of homogenization – appears as a differential, each place and each moment existing only within a whole, through the contrasts and oppositions that connect it to, and distinguish it from, other places and moments” (Lefebvre 2003, 37). Here a grammar and a network of space-time enter the “picture.” These urban space-times are differentiated as isotopic (similar), heterotopic (differential), and u-topic (“elsewhere,” “the non-place that has no place and seeks a place of its own” [38]). Lefebvre will reintroduce these three distinctions (using nearly the same signifiers) to differentiate between the three

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fundamental rhythms in Rhythmanalysis (2004): arrhythm, eurhythm, and isorhythm. In fact, this triadic structure permeates the structure of Lefebvre’s thought, the coordinates of his own blind field. But first – THE COLONIZATION OF SPACE: EMPIRE AND THE PLANETARY URBAN

Centers of wealth and information, of knowledge and power, are beginning to create feudal dependencies. Lefebvre, The Urban Revolution (2003, 113)

This revolutionary thrust of Lefebvre’s thesis6 dovetails nicely with the “revolution of the multitude” found in Negri and Hardt, whereby the very relations of production that support capitalist globalization also produce the new global commonality of the multitude, which is “not merely a fragmented and dispersed multiplicity” but “singularities that act in common” (2004, 105; Negri, 111). The multitude, empowered by capitalist investment in cognitive or immaterial labour, becomes capable (and conscious) of networking across class, gender, and remnant national barriers to overthrow Empire itself. In this way “immaterial labour thus seems to provide the potential for a kind of spontaneous and elementary communism” (Negri and Hardt 2000, 294).7 In the uprising of the multitude against (or among) Empire, the city regains its status as the locus of struggle, for it takes on new power as the centralizing control and “centripetal trend of command” over deterritorialized production and “the increased mobility of capital”: “As a mass demographic shift, then, the decline and evacuation of industrial cities has corresponded to the rise of global cities, or really cities of control” (297). Taking his cue from Mao, Lefebvre writes of the global city some twenty-five years prior (2003, 169). As the “city is where this [surplus value] accumulation occurs,” those who control the city control wealth (24). Indeed, the heart of Lefebvre’s thesis against Marxian dismissals of the urban is to be found here: “urban centrality … contradicts the belief that the city of old and the contemporary urban center were no more than superstructures and had no relation to productive forces and the mode of production” (25). Hardt and Negri converge with Lefebvre at this precise point by emphasizing the necessarily structural

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relation of the city to Empire (or what might be read as the “central control of production” to the “planetary urban” [Lefebvre 2003, 113]). In turn, they elaborate an invigorating account of a possible global (or urban) revolution, taking into account the urban and spatio-temporal dynamic of Empire whose diachronic and ontological aspects Negri emphasizes in The Porcelain Workshop (2008). Specifically, “concretizing subjective rights [the “right to resistance” of the multitude, of singularities in commonality acting by way of antagonism] implies their development in space,” which calls for what Lefebvre would call the “theoretical need” to take into account “Empire and its capacity to dissolve the borders and territorial conditions of public law” (2003, 113). Likewise for Lefebvre, in the urban reality “power – the state as will and representation – is exercised at the global level” (78). Here Empire might be read as qua the urban: a system of power that dissolves borders so as to establish planetary power (military, economic, nomological, etc.), in which its very spatio-temporal and ontological character is that of its centre: the control City. But what is the ontological and spatio-temporal character of the centre? The hypothesis converges in both the “critical analysis” of the planetary urban and that of Empire: its fluidity (Lefebvre writes: “that any point can become central is the meaning of urban spacetime” [2003, 116n1, 191]). Thus, for the urban as for Empire, the boundary is no longer between city and country “but cuts across the urban phenomenon, between a dominated periphery and a dominating center” (113, 170). Thus it is that the city is surpassed by a network of centres that, although they “superimpose” (upon) the city, no longer correspond to the city as place (121). It is the juxtaposition and accumulation of objects – a dialectic of centrality – that decentres the city and makes “the urban urban” (116). Insofar as “the concept of the city no longer corresponds to a social object,” “the urban reality today looks more like chaos and disorder – albeit one that conceals a hidden order – than an object” (57). What is chaos to the “neocapitalist dictatorship of the right angle” is hidden order for the urban revolution (98): toward the uprising of the multitude for Negri and Hardt, and toward the u-topia of “urban communism” (perhaps: “urban democracy”) for Lefebvre, which he sees as a “utopia inherent in urban thought” (125, 105). But this way of looking at the urban revolution is slightly off. The urban revolution opens onto a further dimension because the

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possibility inherent in Deleuze and Guattari’s formulation – and nascent in Lefebvre’s blind field – is that the elementary aspect of the apparatus of capture, the general schema of the centripetal force of sedimentation (the centralization of control and centripetal trend of command), will empty its content of the State in the very process of urban revolution. Why? Because the State is a container: the urban is a practice (Lefebvre 2003, 50, 76, 99). Even as the State changes “the urban core into a citadel of power,” it “has been unable to contain the urbanization of society” (79, 61). The urban threatens to “overflow” the State. Unlike Negri and Hardt’s multitude, which, once Empire has been established, struggles toward global and communist revolution, the possibility inherent in the urban revolution is that it will (a) accelerate the necessary fiction that sustains the cohesion of the State (the urban) until it becomes the real and (b) do so by way of the virtual possibility of the urban, thereby emptying the urban fabric of the State.8 In this evacuation of content, a vacuum opens for the possible remaking of the world – a vacuum in which no Empire can be said to exist, insofar as it remains part of that complex network of the State itself (possibly no multitude either: this be the limit of the encounter between Negri and Lefebvre). Lefebvre is much more direct: “The incompatibility between the state and the urban is radical in nature” (2003, 180). What does “incompatible” mean in this instance? Something of Lefebvre’s position tends toward that of Paola Virno’s account of exodus: “a radical politics that does not want to construct a new state.” But would not the urban surpass ‘politics,’ insofar as the polis can no longer sustain a meaningful identity? The disintegration of city/country decentralizes practice in the urban fabric – a practice that would be excentric to the polis. In this sense, the urban revolution expresses the force of Virno’s exodus: a movement toward an elsewhere (u-topia) that remains essentially incomplete.9 Centrality, as dialectic, precipitates this vacuum. Even as “it requires a content … the exact nature of that content is unimportant” (Lefebvre 2003, 116). The content of the content matters not: it is empty, formal. Its index allows its dispersal in a decentralization of centrality, which in turn opens any urban site to the possibility of revolution. The threat of the urban is why attempts to “liquidate urban reality” remain, such as in the reports of Soviet urban planners in 1925: the city is vice, disease, disorder, chaos, alienation (91–2). Thus the

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urban remains the “site and nexus of struggle” to the point where “it is theoretically impossible not to support urban concentration, together with the attendant risks of saturation and disorder, and the opportunities for encounters, information, and convergence” (96). And, we might add, once again … revolution. A NECESSARILY INCOMPLETE GRAMMAR OF “ TRANSFORMING FORM”

The urban will only be the first such expression responsive to what is, in a sense, a ‘revolutionary’ need – a need for a thinking to anticipate and yet also articulate the sea change in things, insofar as it comes around again as the remaking of the world (for this will not be the first, nor the last, revolution). In this respect the urban society is a unique kind of revolution, for Lefebvre seems to suggest that, without the grammar to acknowledge it, the revolution might just pass us by, unnoticed, unseen, unheard, in the technocratic homogeneity of “urbanism” (96). Something of the urban society happens as if in slow motion and almost by subterfuge. The perception of the “world” itself – something of its distinctive binary, of its grammar as natural/urban, city/ country, its phenomenology – is at stake here. The urban revolution threatens to collapse the world into a flat signification wherein all is of the urban. Lefebvre’s analysis is not conservative in nevertheless calling for its realization. And yet, at the same time, as if by countermovement, Lefebvre seeks to expand the vocabulary of this imposing urban by inscribing differences and accents within the supposed flatness of this urban society. In this grammar of the urban, the terms urban society, urban phenomenon, and the urban in general “are preferable to the word ‘city,’ which appears to designate a clearly defined, definitive object, a scientific object and the immediate goal of action, whereas the theoretical approach [the approach Lefebvre here follows] requires a critique of this ‘object’ and a more complex notion of the virtual or possible object. Within this perspective there is no science of the city (such as urban sociology or urban economy), but an emerging understanding of the overall process, as well as its term (goal and direction)” (16). And so it is precisely a virtual object that is announced in the need, and it demands a theoretical process – transduction – capable of eschewing the definitive object and grasping the complexity of

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the virtual or possible in its goal and direction – the “what remains to come of what has barely yet come to be.” What remains, however, remains essentially incomplete: “This kind of discourse [of the urban – but also in general] can never be completed. Its incompletion is an essential part of its existence. It is defined as a reflection of the future, implying operations in time as well as space: transduction (construction of a virtual object) and the exploration of the possible-impossible” (166). In other words, Lefebvre’s tendency toward the virtual upsets the conventional and depleted view of ideology. It is not that ideology cloaks the ‘real object’ and keeps it suspended in a state of impoverished virtuality and insufficient incompleteness, and that (critical) theory reveals the true face underneath – but rather that theory reveals the cracks in the veil to be the cracks in the real itself. Lefebvre tends toward the essential incompleteness of the real in his concept of “rupture,” which, exceeding epistemology, philosophy, history, and the political, “goes much deeper than that. It simultaneously introduces and grounds a form of knowledge” (122).10 It grounds a form, however, only insofar as it remains “form itself, as generator of a virtual object, the urban, the encounter and assembly of objects and subjects, existing or possible” (122). The “totality” of form is its rupture of completeness, which is why the tautology of form is perforated. Virtual form remains necessarily incomplete by virtue of a rupture that strikes uncontent from form – a rupture that takes on the form of form itself. It is this incompleteness that calls for its “virtual synthesis” in “action” – the action of revolution. But can it ever be fulfilled? Does it not contain within its empty shell the promise of one day restoring its true kernel? What is to be gained here? That the virtual is not a smokescreen, the incompleteness of reality not an inadequacy (that is precisely the ideological moment). As Zizek puts it, “The gaps and voids in our knowledge of reality are simultaneously the gaps and voids in the ‘real’ ontological edifice itself” (2008a, 63). The real’s essential incompleteness is what allows the void to promise the trace of the virtual. (The real is nothing less than an effect of the virtual’s multiplex of unrealized possibilities.) This is why the virtual is revolutionary. For the urban revolution to express a theoretical need, the totality of its expression cannot be given to consciousness, which is to say, to theory.11 If it were, the need would no longer be theoretical, that is, revolutionary: it would be over before the fact, a

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fait accompli. The very incompleteness of its expression develops necessity (the burning desire for its – nonetheless strictly impossible – completion [123]). Lefebvre writes it like this: the urban is a “void, but one that demands or calls forth a content” (171). This content is always elsewhere, u-topic (172). It “defines centrality” by its restless movement. As the u-topic by definition is elsewhere, so the centrality, or totalization, of the urban is never effected, a movement that “cannot achieve closure” (171, 174). This needs to be said in a more direct way: the promise of revolution can only be theorized – realized – by emptying it of its content (116). This tendency of Lefebvre toward the revolutionary virtual is akin to that of Derrida’s “il faut l’avenir” (“it is necessary [that there be] the future”) (Derrida 1994, 73), which moves “from a promise of the future that insists on the ‘what’ of future, to the atheological, ‘dry’ promise that there is a future, before all else” (Fritsch 2005, 60). For Derrida as for Lefebvre, this remains a ‘revolutionary’ promise. Lefebvre wavers on the questions of ideology just as he vacillates on all others that traverse diachronic principles of Marxism. At times, ideology remains in its simplism of blindness, where “our not-seeing and not-knowing, implies an ideology” (2003, 30). Here, ideology remains captured in the old Marxian language of “bad faith” and “false consciousness.” At the same time, however, ideology is characterized as misrecognition, and the analytic of the blind field is introduced, a (virtual) field in which possibility (and not mere subservience to false knowledge) plays a role: “Remember, these are fields and open to exploration: for the understanding they are virtuality, for action they are possibility” (31).12 What is at stake in Lefebvre, then, from The Urban Revolution to Rhythmanalysis, is the question of grasping a tendency – the urban revolution – that must remain incomplete, that operates by way of its essential incompleteness – and not because we have inadequate knowledge of the real, but because the real itself remains essentially incomplete. The urban is not a Platonic form awaiting realization: it is a “transforming form” that “consciously creates difference where no awareness of difference existed,” that “consolidates” as it “transforms,” that “destructures and restructures its elements” (174). Such a form becomes the motion-movement of differentiation that Lefebvre will call rhythm. The gap in knowledge is not a failure of epistemology or methodology but rather of the structure – or better, rhythm – of this need and this expression, this transforming

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form of structuration in general, which is to say of the world. But what, then, if the essentially incomplete world is remade in the name of the urban revolution? Before turning to Rhythmanalysis, let us glance over the reception of Lefebvre’s work, for it reveals something of what is at stake in the question. THE

“ ABSURD HYPOTHESIS”: ( CONCRETE) U- TOPIA

For socialism soon finds itself confronted by the urban problematic, armed with nothing but childish concepts and ideologies. Lefebvre, The Urban Revolution (2003, 110)

Before The Production of Space was translated into English in 1991 (and The Urban Revolution in 2003), the critiques of its central thesis were already known. As Neil Smith recounts in a brief yet informative introduction to Lefebvre’s reception in the English-speaking world, these critiques have “established a certain pattern of response” (2003, xvi). The response is marked by Manuel Castells who, in La question urbaine (1972, trans. 1977) objects that the urban is not only an incoherent object of study but that Lefebvre displaces the primacy of economic analysis, which is to say, that Marxism itself becomes secondary to urbanism. Here, a certain (Marxian) thinking must continue to accord theoretical primacy to the virtual as well as actual ambiguity of the urban. Likewise, in Social Justice and the City (1973) David Harvey questions whether urbanism supercedes industrial capitalism, even as he acknowledges the globalization of urbanism – for is it not the accumulation of industrial capital and its circulation that provides the raw material for urbanism? Are not cities built of the stuff of industrial capital? As Neil Smith puts it, “Urbanization here [for Harvey] is the excrescence of the circulation of capital. The global spread of urbanism, he concedes, is real, but the circuit of industrial capitalism still predominates over that of property capital devoted to urbanization” (xvii). The materiality of industrialism is the condition of possibility of the urban. It cannot be overcome. To overcome industrial capitalism would mean to overcome the material by the virtual itself. But is this actually the case? This critique relies upon a depleted interpretation of the virtual and the reintroduction of a binarism of

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the virtual/material. While Lefebvre will argue that the urban has succeeded industrial capitalism, does he not mean something else by the urban when he writes that “the hypothesis is anticipatory” (2003, 4), as if thinking that there is an urban to-come situates the “theoretical need” of a different kind of thinking in the anticipation of its (already) resonant effects? As these virtual effects already inform urban society, this will be “proof by the absurd” (4). The signifiers “virtual,” “possible,” and “impossible” are the indexes in Lefebvre of this question – of responding to this theoretical need by which the urban becomes increasingly emptied of content (the binary of city/country is overcome by the urban) and yet in-forms particular material processes (the centralization of control in global cities; the diachrony in which industrialism is succeeded by the urban; the development of particular concrete forms). “The urban is, therefore, pure form: a place of encounter, assembly, simultaneity. This form has no specific content, but it is a center of attraction and life. It is an abstraction, but unlike a metaphysical entity, the urban is a concrete abstraction, associated with practice … The urban is both form and receptacle, void and plenitude, superobject and nonobject, supraconsciousness and the totality of consciousness” (118–19). Thus the true (theoretical) threat of the urban (at least to Castells and Harvey) lies not in its revolutionary materialism – that the urban is a new material reality poised to overthrow not only industrial capitalism but the central tenets of Marxian theory, though this is also evidently its threat – but in its precise blind field, which is to say material force, as a virtual object. At the limit of this thought, as Derrida would put it, the urban is not only ambiguous concerning its precise relation to the forces of production: it is theoretically undecidable and incomplete in this moment, and necessarily so, for it is emptied of its content. All that can be said (at this limit) is that there is an urban society as the horizon, or virtual condition, of the (urban) revolution of this world. The urban revolution is already happening – as Lefebvre details, the material evidence is everywhere, in globalization, world cities, migration, diaspora, the diverse content that fragments the “sciences” of the urban (136), urbanism as ideology and so on (151) – but its condition and horizon, the urban society, lie as empty of content as the virtual itself. The urban is “not situated behind the actual in time, but, on the contrary, as a horizon, an

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illuminating virtuality” (16) is both condition and to-come. The urban thus in-forms content by way of its negativity – the breakdown or “negation” of existing binaries of city/country13 – meaning that it must remain empty in its positivity. But this emptiness is by no means the Zen of the promised void. Indeed, “It is why urban space is so fascinating: centrality is always possible [which is to say: the decentralization of revolutionary action]. At the same time, this space can empty itself, expel its content, become a place of pure scarcity or power” (130). Why will this scarcity, which is power, have no content? It is the evacuation of content itself which is the condition of pure power (pure negativity: negation of negation). In this scarcity, u-topia. Where is this “non-place, the place for that which doesn’t occur, for that which has no place of its own, that is always elsewhere” (129)? First, it is in the verticality of the gaze itself: the gaze that overlooks the city, the gaze of the map, that is in itself a “vaguely determined place” and that of “a place of consciousness,” a “consciousness of totality” (130). Both the State and the revolutionary share this gaze. Is the name of this gaze not vision? And will this vision not risk a final synthesis, of putting to rest a relentless gaze with the final arrival of the u-topic? Here, in this visionary moment, the final but nonetheless “real” risk of the catastrophic moment awaits: that the heterotopia of the urban, in this visionary moment, will be “absorbed” and “metamorphosed” into the u-topic (131). This risk: that heterotopia, the differential quality of the urban, would be reduced to a homogeneous and final ideal of the u-topic. The catastrophe: that revolution and annihilation tread the same “pathway toward it” (66). Blinded by the “illuminating virtuality” of metamorphosis and absorption (131), Lefebvre will not adequately acknowledge the risk of catastrophe. Nonetheless, in this blind field the text twists against itself. Something otherwise arises in the same light of illuminating virtuality: the form of blindness. The form itself, that “basis for study at the highest level” (the very verticality of u-topic thought), withholds the finalism of the utopic (136). For – and this is the second nonplace of the u-topic – “the need for a presence that is never achieved” characterizes the differential quality of this moment, and of this gaze, that gives it over to “urban practice” (131–2). What is this need? Desire (123). In Lefebvre, finalism (or the metaphysics of teleology) falls before a self-critical, dialectical totality (67), a totality that can only be

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grasped as an (ongoing, temporal, dialectical) urban practice, this “transcendence” of “nature/culture, unresolvable division, absolute separation, programmed segregation” that would be a “path, not a model” (144). That this path remains a path is a function of desire. What is “put to an end” are “things that make totality impossible”: the inequalities, everydayness and “carefully controlled passivity” of that “colossal and ludicrous project” that is the State (140, 152). THE “IMAGE OF THE CITY”: RHYTHMANALYSIS AS “URBAN PRACTICE”

In urban practice, discourse on or about the city is circumscribed, inscribed; it prescribes acts, directions. Lefebvre, The Urban Revolution (2003, 132)

The question of urban practice draws us to Rhythmanalysis. By doing so, we skip over what is seen by many as Lefebvre’s greatest work: The Production of Space. But Space is already a known entity, its influence vast, its critique prevalent. Even when discussed in the same breath, The Urban Revolution is seen as its skeletal precursor, Rhythmanalysis a curious footnote. These two slim volumes that bookend The Production of Space nonetheless develop underappreciated tendencies of urban practice. The first is the question of the virtual. The second is rhythmanalysis itself. Both take up the question and develop forms of (urban) practice. What is urban practice? In 1970 Lefebvre will write of “urban guerilla” activity (2003, 146), but this narrowly defined sense of praxis is already eclipsed by something otherwise. Even in references to groups that would “invent their moments and their actions, their spaces and times, their works” (98–9) – perhaps a covert reference to Lefebvre’s brief involvement with L’internationale situationiste (l’is, or si) – the hypothesis stresses the totality of urban practice, toward what Lefebvre calls “the durable primacy of habiting” (89). Taking its cue from Heidegger’s sense of “dwelling” (from Hölderlin: “poetically man dwells on earth”), habiting refers to the concrete, functional, and foundational practice of dwelling (or in Heideggerean: being-in-the-world) (81–2, 85). As a practice, dwelling is not a habitat (an environment, constructed,

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readymade, imposed-from-above, an index of “basic acts”), but, qua practice, and insofar as it is concrete, repressed in the unconscious by the ideology (and counter-practice) of “class urbanism” (81, 160). How? We can perhaps better grasp why Lefebvre wishes to propose “a movement of thought toward a certain concrete, and perhaps toward the concrete,” for it is by way of thought qua “urban practice” (2003, 5). What is this urban practice, and what is its relation from a certain concrete to the concrete? Lefebvre insists that theoretical work cannot merely treat the urban as an abstraction: it must grasp the urban as a legitimate or scientific abstraction, “an ongoing social practice, an urban practice in the process of formation,” and the labour of this new thinking “must reveal the terrain, the foundation on which it [the urban] resides” (2003, 17). Everything about habiting speaks to this grammar: the foundational, the functional, practice, the “concrete space” that is “the space of habiting” (182). What is this practice? What is this foundation? Is this foundation still that of industrial capitalism, its terrain or superstructure that of the relations of production (2003, 15)? Or is the urban revolution – the moment of urban practice realized in its totality – not “grounded” upon the futurity of urban society, “something other than, something more than, a superstructure” (166)? Indeed, Lefebvre will endorse the latter and write: “Urban reality modifies the relations of production without being sufficient to transform them. It becomes a productive force, like science” (15). An entire problematic of the difference between transformation and modification enters here, one that converges with the question of a certain concrete to the concrete, of the general to the particular.14 Is urban practice, however, force enough to transform the relations of production at the level of the concrete? Certainly at the level of a certain concrete: but at the level of the concrete? Or to put it in terms of practice: is a particular u-topia, a certain concrete u-topia, enough to modify the concrete conditions of global – and thus revolutionary – u-topia? The problematic of the concrete (or to read it in its form: of the general to the particular, theory to praxis) will be reformulated in Rhythmanalysis to that of a differential between differing kinds of rhythm: differing levels will become rhythms, their interrelationship one of rhythm itself (Lefebvre 2004, 15). The concrete problematic

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itself, of the city in general – how will it stay the same in its image, as the locus of the urban, even as the urban extinguishes the difference between city and country – is already announced in The Urban Revolution, wherever Lefebvre discusses “an image of the city, tending toward a concept” (107), wherein the city is “always a spectacle for itself, viewed from high on a terrace, a tower, a hilltop, a vantage point (a high point that is the elsewhere where the urban reveals itself)” (116). The problematic of the concrete introduces the problematic of the u-topic gaze: the non-place from which to grasp the totality of (concrete) action that is urban practice. The possibility of u-topia is that of the concrete; urban practice takes place in the impossibility of this totality, a certain concrete. That the concrete remains impossible is by way of its essential incompleteness, and withholds it from teleology. Such it is that “the urban phenomenon can only be comprehended as a totality, but its totality cannot be grasped. It escapes us. It is always elsewhere [u-topic]” (2003, 186). Let us isolate this complex problematic – which is the problematic of the complex, the network, or rhythm itself – to the question of the city: how will the city maintain its image (the question of the same) while undergoing drastic upheaval (the question of difference)? Rhythm will play a strategic if not essential role in reformulating this problematic for Lefebvre, which, it should be emphasized, is nothing less than the question of the dialectic itself, of diachrony/synchrony, of dis/continuity, of the virtual to the totality, of “difference and repetition – interaction and composition – cyclical and linear – frequency and measure … eurhythmia, arrhythmia, polyrhythmia … (2004, 26). (These three categories of rhythm will be addressed shortly.) The problem: inasmuch as the city appears to change and shift over time, it remains fixed by the image of its apparent stability. This image comes at a precise moment for Lefebvre, one marked not in the timeline of history but in the succession of “moments” that make up the weight of history. This “crucial moment” is when “the merchant city succeeded the political city”: “during this period, the image of the city came into being” (2003, 11–12). The city in its image is always the city, the polis, the habitation of a timeless subject always converging upon a restless centre. And to address this problematic of the image of the city, we must briefly turn to Lefebvre’s earlier work. To overcome the “fixation of the city in

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time,” the Situationists proposed the critique of urbanism known as unitary urbanism: “L’urbanisme unitaire est opposé à la fixation des villes dans le temps. Il conduit à préconiser au contraire la transformation permanente, un mouvement accéléré d’abandon et de reconstruction de la ville dans le temps, et à l’occasion aussi dans l’espace” (Mosconi 1997, 80). The year is 1959, the place of publication L’Internationale situationniste, no. 3. At this point, unitary urbanism, taking its cue from Lefebvre’s theory of moments,15 advocates the permanent transformation of the city, an accelerating movement of abandonment within (la dérive – the drift) and reconstruction of (détournement – physical deconstruction) the city. The problem is once again that of the totality, as Debord writes in a letter to Constant, the Situationist member and Dutch artist : A final word. Our necessary activity is dominated by the question of the totality. Take note of it. Unitary urbanism is not a conception of the totality, and must not become one. It is an operational instrument constructing an extended setting. Unitary urbanism is ‘central’ to the extent that it is the center of the general construction of a milieu. Neither this theoretical vision nor even its intended application will allow us to think about determining or dominating a way of living. That would be a kind of unrealistic dogmatism. Reality is more complex and rich than that, and includes all the links between these ways of life and their settings. This is the only terrain equal to our desires today. The terrain where we must intervene. (Debord 2009, 235) This problematic of the totality, of the sameness that must be impossibly grasped even in its essentially incomplete differentiation, forms the central question of Rhythmanalysis. It is contained in all its complexity in the following enigmatic phrase: “Rhythms: the music of the City, a scene [picture] that listens to itself, an image in the present of a discontinuous sum” (2004, 36). The indexes of the complex mark themselves here: the same City and its image, the problem of dis/continuity, the totality (the sum), and differentiation (rhythm: sound to image, music to virtual object). The problem of dis/continuity already marks Lefebvre’s text. The urban cannot “take shape conceptually until the end of a process during which the old urban forms, the end result of a series of discontinuous transformations, bursts apart” (2003, 2). The coming of

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the urban parallels the coming of the revolution itself; moreover, it remains within the realm of the possible – and not the determined. The theoretical problem is not only that of attempting a ‘materialist’ analysis of a virtual object but is one of the object itself. What is an object? What is the continuum that underlies the material object as it is now and the virtual object as it is yet to-come? The identification of such a continuum, the temporal materiality, would be that of enabling the coming of the material itself, which is to say, the engine of (possibly, revolutionary) history. And so the “theoretical problem” that Lefebvre poses by way of the problem of its situation: “How could any absolute discontinuities exist without an underlying continuity, without support, without some inherent process? Conversely, how can we have continuity without crises, without the appearance of new elements or relationships?” (2). To put it another way: how to situate these discontinuities and continuities in respect to one another is the problem of how to compare the incomparable, the urban to the various habitations that have preceded it, how to reduce the irreducible, the differentiation of the entirely novel, to all that has come before it, the problem of the ground itself. Thus the city is an “image in the present of a discontinuous sum”: here, the gaze, the vision of the image, forms the subjective continuum in which discontinuity forms an essentially incomplete totality. Neither have originary precedence. In short, the ‘abstract’ problem of dis/continuity found in The Urban Revolution is reframed in the embodiment of its perception in Rhythmanalysis. The distance between the image and the discontinuous sum, or between the Same and the Different, is no longer one of asserting a formal dialectic: it becomes reframed in the embodiment of rhythm. How does the City remain the ‘same,’ then, even in the moment of its urbanization? Lefebvre’s reply will be: by way of an interrelationship of rhythm. Will rhythm, however, merely displace the problem to a new grammar, a new discourse? Will its embodiment demand otherwise?

(A VERY) COMMON REVOLUTIONARY ROMANTICISM As Debord notes in 1960, while for Lefebvre the difficulty lies in categorizing a list of moments, the difficult for the si (L’internationale situationiste) is in transforming “this series of situations that

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(can?) constitute such a Lefebvrean moment” (335–6). Why? To quote Debord’s shorthand: “Because the m[oment] –> pure body.” Debord reads the moment as an embodied experience, to which Lefebvre will charge the si with “revolutionary romanticism” (349–50). Lefebvre’s split with the si hinges upon this point of embodied practice, insofar as Lefebvre remains suspicious of the pure body. The point is not to separate urban practice from the subject; the question is its constitution: what is the urban subject? Is it a body? Indeed, we can summarize that to undertake urban practice is to advance the “critique of separation” – to counter the segregation of peoples, things, places – proposed by both the si and Lefebvre (2003, 133, 178). For Lefebvre, the essential incompleteness of the urban totality guides not only the ongoing dialectic of urban practice but the relation between the urban and thought itself. Thought, like the urban, “continues in its concentration endlessly” without being able to maintain it (171). And thought, like the urban, even as it is colossal, is always localized, to a place, to an event, to “fact” (172). The de facto application of urban practice in the event is not only isomorphic between thought and urban practice but localizable to a subject that thinks and practices. This subject, moreover, must be common insofar as the urban is global. So such subjects, as their locales, are isotopic, or held in common, by a sameness: the “transforming form” of the urban. The isotopic aspect of the event is necessary to identify and localize a point, to establish the near order around a momentary center that is “produced by practice and can be grasped through analysis” (2003, 172). The incompleteness and momentariness of this isotopic event (locale and subject), however, operates by way of its transductive logic, its virtuality, and thus ensures at the same time, in the same space, the cut or suture of its heterotopia, “the other place, the place of the other, simultaneously excluded and interwoven” (128). A common subject exists at the moment of urban practice different from all. In this antinomy (or better: rhythm) of heterotopia and isotopia, alterity operates by way of the transforming power of urban form, which is to say, it precedes it as that which is added on after in order to make the same space whole to begin with (it acts by way of its impossible supplement). As the event is always essentially incomplete – by virtue of this transductive ‘logic’ of the virtual – it is in common to all. But this in itself is not enough of a

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proposition: this “commonality of difference” is one held everywhere without need for the common practice toward a shared elsewhere (u-topia). It is the urban itself from which the necessity arises to assert a non-place (u-topia). As the urban emerges as a global common, so does the necessity arise to transform it, and be transformed by it, by way of a common process of continual differences. Thus a second argument for the commons is to be found in Lefebvre: cognitive labour is not the only common of the multitude. Much more powerful, perhaps – by definition of its void, its transforming form – is the urban. Everything about space comes into play at this moment: that it is not an indifferent medium but “the product of social labour” (including cognitive labour and the production of info-space), which is to say, of a localized body acting in concert with others, in the rhythmic production of what is “the very general object of production,” space itself, a space indissociable from a virtual or transductive temporality (2003, 154). The missing element at this point is the embodied practice of this analysis: what is it, besides critique and a renewed dialectics of transduction? What is rhythmanalysis, then? First, what it is not: it is something other than dialectics, though Lefebvre’s triadic analysis of rhythm will reintroduce this problematic (2004, 12, 67). And it is something other than phenomenology, even though its call to practice is immersed in the body (27). That said, rhythmanalysis embraces something of a phenomenology rejected in The Urban Revolution (2003, 47). The ‘analysis’ of rhythmanalysis demands the practice of embodied experience and immersion in the rhythms of an (urban) place: “A certain exteriority enables the analytic intellect to function. However, to grasp a rhythm it is necessary to have been grasped by it; one must let oneself go, give oneself over, abandon oneself to its duration … In order to grasp this fleeting object, which is not exactly an object, it is therefore necessary to situate oneself simultaneously inside and outside. A balcony does the job admirably” (Lefebvre 2004, 27) This particular embodiment of the rhythmanalyst appears as the sedimentation of the Situationist dérive. Letting oneself go on the balcony, for Lefebvre, is more or less an immobile practice. Yet music, dance, crowds, traffic, and ritual will also play a part in the sensing of polyrhythmia.

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The city, the urban, is also mysterious, occult. Lefebvre, The Urban Revolution (2003, 120)

Lefebvre identifies three rhythms: the asynchronous (arrhythm), the coinciding or synchronous (isorhythm), and the differentiating (eurhythm) (2004, 67–8). Rhythm in general for Lefebvre is a process in which a discontinuous or incomplete totality of triadic relations among asynchronous, coinciding, and differentiating rhythms cohere into metarhythmic flows. Rhythm always operates by way of a non-identical rhythm to itself: the “relation between repetition and difference” (6). It is the analysis of this relation that occupies the rhythmanalyst, to grasp this “moving but determinate complexity” (12). In the case of cities, it is the apparent lack of difference that signals the isorhythm of the City. Or, the “coherence” of metarhythm is the image of stability found in the city, its apparently stable hum (isorhythmia) which we hear in the image of the “present of the discontinuous sum” (27). To put it another way, the coherence of the city – and here we also speak to the global city qua the State – operates by way of masking divergent rhythms. At the level of space, the city produces segregation and separation as the coherence of isotopia. To critique separation by urban practice would mean to render the isorhythmic metarhythm of the city incoherent while at the same time desegregating and unseparating that which its coherence has held apart. The City appears in order only insofar as it segregates itself into orders. Thus implicit in Lefebvre’s argument is that any intervention that tampers with any one of the three triadic rhythms – or rather the relation between rhythm, nonrhythm (which is also a rhythm), and their difference (which remains rhythmic) – would scratch the metarhythm that sustains the cohesion, and thus coherence, of the City16 (“scratch,” as the term sounds apt: a dj scratches rhythms on record; also, to scratch is to dispose of). What would a disruption of the isorhythmic appear and sound like? We are all romantics when it comes to barricades that block or reroute the circulation of the city. But such interventions can happen within info-space and biospace and can take place by acceleration as well as blockage.17 How does one identify that which is to be disrupted? Isorhythm marks the overall state or higher order of the city, the rare standing

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wave of rhythmic equivalence, the identity, for example, that distinguishes Amsterdam’s traffic from Montreal’s. But the isorhythm, as synchronous metarhythm, is also the rhythm in which the city is the city. As the identity of that which appears as non-differentiated, it is the rhythm that disappears into itself. It is the apparent ground of the City’s being: it thus has no identity unto itself, as it always appears in its metarhythm. In short, does not isorhythm function as synthesis? Although the triad of rhythm “doesn’t lead to a synthesis in accordance with the Hegelian schema” (2004, 12), isorhythm operates synthetically. Isorhythm propels the triad of rhythm to its “coherence”: it is the part that in-forms the whole. The set of triadic rhythms, of which isorhythm is a member, is strictly polyrhythmic, even as it appears isorhythmic. Here we encounter not a simplism of ideology, in which isorhythm would be the propaganda that masks the truth of difference; what is in operation here, as Lefebvre identifies (and consistently with the principles set out in Urban Revolution), “does not signify a closed totality, but on the contrary an open totality” (89). The problematic of isorhythmia, as that which is the masking operation of the City/State, is that its mask is its identity. It cannot be merely eliminated. To do so would be to risk catastrophe (89) – but so would to grant isorhythmia the closure of the totality. How does isorhythmia appear as the totality of rhythm, the metarhythm of polyrhythmia? Lefebvre views the problem by way of a derivative simulacra. For Lefebvre, “a kind of magic,” propagated by the “image” and the conductor’s baton – rhythmological forms of “mediatisation” – change “presence into simulacra,” “copies confirming to a standard, parodies of presence,” to the point wherein “the present simulates presence and introduces simulation (the simulacrum) into social practice” (2004, 68, 23, 47). Lefebvre draws the distinction between the present (re-presentation) and presence (true presence) to sustain this Platonic line of critique against the “reign of the commodity” (7). But elsewhere Lefebvre’s text speaks otherwise. Here I do not wish to be mistaken: the analysis of mediatisation, commodification, or the power of image and sound is not at stake. What is at stake is the identity of what appears, as that which appears but is not, yet nonetheless appears for all in general. For such a process is that of re-presentation in all its forms. It is also the problem of what appears to be all, but is by way of what it is not: the commons.

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A resort to magic will not conjure away simulacra. If isorhythmia is a constituent synthesis necessary for identity in general, for the identity of difference, then simulacra does not derive or fall from phenomena. The simulacrum is always constituent of the metarhythm in which the phenomenon appears. Isorhythm is nothing but the identity – the Same – of simulacra: its mask is its identity. Lefebvre’s text announces such a reading when he announces “The Rhythmanalytical Project.” Here the double aspect of rhythm “enters into a general construction of time, of movement and becoming” (2004, 79). What is this double aspect? Repetition and becoming, “the relation of the Same to the Other.” Here the ‘same’ is “subordinated to alterity and even alteration, which is to say, difference.” It is this subordination that comes to form a rejection of the essential role of the Same at a politico-phenomenological level. This problem is not as abstract as it seems. Just as Lefebvre critiqued Debord’s pure body as revolutionary romanticism, so do we critique Lefebvre’s “pure presence.” To denounce a derivative simulacra (and one that disrupts nothing less than pure presence itself) is to identify a target for critique and destruction: to carry it out (the destruction of “standardized” images and sounds, mediatisation, re-presentation) would be catastrophe itself. Yet what I advance here is not the sword of critique. The practice of a more complex principle of isorhythm – identity, isotopia, the Same, simulacrum – is already at work in Lefebvre’s text, and it is signalled not only under the sign of the City or the State, but that of the urban. What is essential, then, is not its Sameness, but its difference: the open totality of an urban polyrhythmia against the apparatus of capture, or closed totality, of the global State. What Lefebvre would call the “determining complexity” of the problem (2004, 12) is brought to the fore in the analysis of Mediterranean Cities, where “everything happens as if the Mediterranean could not renounce the unitary principle that founded and still founds its identity” (99). The ‘as if’ is significant: here isorhythmia operates even in its apparent absence, or at least, its submersion. Isorhythmia is not present per se nor appearing in its presence. Isorhythmia always seems to act under an as if, an extension into the temporal ‘perhaps,’ a possibility, for it is the disappearance of divergent rhythms that appears as the absence of isorhythmia. Lefebvre will write in his conclusions that there are “few isorhythmias, rhythmic equalities or equivalences, except of a higher

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order” (67). Let us reiterate that last point, which is an exception: except of a higher order. Yet are there not always higher orders, or, in what amounts to the same, submerged orders of which isorhythm reveals nothing? Is not the city always appearing? On the one channel, this exception nonetheless forms the condition for which differentiating rhythms take place: it is the disappearance of difference (the unity of isorhythmia) that allows differences to come to the fore. On the other channel, differentiating rhythms are precisely what is synthesized by isorhythmia: they are constituent to isorhythmia, as that which isorhythmia needs in order to ‘synthesize’ (for isorhythmia has no content: its identity is its mask, its mask is that of its disappearance). The restlessness – or rhythm – of this problem has been illustrated by way of its (1) essential lack of origin or terminus and (2) its self-cancellation.

“THE VISIBLE MOVING PARTS HIDE THE MACHINERY”: THE SILENCE OF THE STATE

We have returned to where we began: with the question of the origin of the State. We can now pose the question in terms of rhythm. Deleuze and Guattari chart the emergence of the State – the apparatus of capture of which the city is its actualization – as “the form of the convergent or centripetal wave, a wave that cancels itself out precisely at the point of convergence marking the inversion of signs or the appearance of the State” (431). That is, in Deleuze and Guattari’s language the State – the city, polis, moment of enclosure, higher-order isorhythmia – is a particular rhythm that in its signification appears to cancel itself out and achieve stasis to the point of its invisibility. As invisible it becomes “essential”: the ground or fundament of rhythm. The City synthesizes itself into its invisibility and thus becomes the enclosure or habitus of everyday rhythms. Erased is that the City is a coincidence or superposition of two inverse rhythms. In spectrography, the State is a flat line: when two inverse rhythms meet, there is phase cancellation. The peaks and valleys meet each other at equidistant points, and the wave flattens. Broadcast from a speaker, nothing is heard. Such an effect is produced, for example, in the technology of noisecancelling headphones. Silence is thus generated. Silence is not the absence of waveforms but produced by their cancelling superposition. We hear and see nothing, which thus marks the appearance of

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the city-state and the disappearance of the city’s difference. One is thus blind and dumb to the moment in which isorhythmia takes place, for it is always taking place. This leads us directly to Lefebvre’s urgent question of the very possibility, then, of embodied rhythmanalysis. We must even ask, under this apparently infallible movement of isorhythmia, “Is there nothing left of the visible, the sensible?” (2004, 15). For the entire project of rhythmanalysis advocates this “concrete universal that philosophical systems have lacked, that political organisations have forgotten, but which is lived, tested, touched in the sensible and the corporeal” (45). But if isorhythmia, by way of a “spatial simultaneity” (31), masks the sensible differences of the City, how can it be perceived as such? To a degree, Lefebvre cautions us against “going too far,” writing that “a truth pushed beyond its limits becomes an error” (15). But what is this error – is it merely the dialectical inverse of truth? – and how do we know when we’ve reached it? The limit? And the truth? And if “the visible moving parts hide the machinery” (15)? Perhaps one signal – though of what, exactly? – is the collapse of different phenomena to a reductive isomorphism. In The Production of Space Lefebvre cautions us: “A further problem with the dynamic of fluids is that it suggests a particular analysis and explication; if taken too far, that analysis could lead us into serious error. Even if a viable parallel may be drawn with physical phenomena (waves, types of waves, their associated ‘quanta’ – the classification of radiation in terms of wavelengths), this analogy might guide our analysis, but must not be allowed to govern the theory as a whole” (1991, 87). What, precisely then, is the difference between analysis and theory? In diverse instances, forms of isomorphism converge upon a general principle of dimensions or levels, expressed in Urban Revolution as the convergence or parallelism of the urban to thought, and in Rhythmanalysis as the interplay of interrhythmia – polyrhythmia and metarhythmia. But the incomplete totality of the theory of the city in Lefebvre’s work certainly will not rest in this moment: throughout Rhythmanalysis as throughout Urban Revolution, the city in its differentiation, though synthesized by the isotopia of order and the isorhythm of identity, expresses implosions-explosions of diverse manifests. That theory itself can offer up differential accounts accounts for the failure of the “closed totality.”

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The problem is rendered all the more acute, however, when one considers the accelerating collapse of differentiation between city rhythms due to urban homogeneity. Particularities marking distinct rhythms from Berlin to New York succumb to the erasure that is the effect of geospheric isorhythmia. As each city becomes a node in the greater urbanity of the planet, the isorhythm of an urban geosphere threatens to install itself as the new rhythm of everyday life everywhere: this is the operative force of a global city. Yet it is because the city is global that decentralization is the control mechanism of Empire, that the globe tends toward the urban, and that a particular, local intervention can jumpstart a global polyrhythmia. What would such an intervention, always local, in the place of the city yet taking place everywhere, in every City, look like? These possibilities demand their exploration: Withdrawal and Exodus Lefebvre notes how “We are only conscious of most of our rhythms when we begin to suffer from some irregularity” (2004, 77). Such an irregularity marks the disruption of rhythms hitherto imperceptible or non-sensible: it reveals the contours of their absence – the body as metronome of eurhythmia (19) – and introduces a new rhythm (the irregular: arrhythmia). This proposition is expressed by Heidegger in Being and Time. What is regular – the space of what is ready-to-hand (Zuhandenheit) – is close or near (in der Nähe) and thus “has the character of inconspicuous familiarity” (135–7, I.3 §22). What is ready-to-hand is inconspicuous as it must withdraw for it to be ready (99, I.3 §15). It withdraws as “that [with] which we concern ourselves primarily is the work” – and not what is ready-to-hand (“equipment”). When it no longer withdraws – when it stops functioning – it becomes present-at-hand or known to us. Here we encounter Lefebvre’s assertion that “rhythm enters into the lived; though that does not mean it enters into the known” (2004, 77). There are several pathways here: that of making known that which is withdrawn, which is to say manifesting the irregular; or, conversely, that of withdrawal itself, by removal from the known (subtraction as force itself: exodus). This might entail a surface of regularity while irregularity is played elsewhere.

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From Corpuscles to Galaxies, One More Time! The breakdown of rhythm is always in process, for its movement is that of the relation between rhythms themselves, “which interfere with them” (Lefebvre 2004, 21). This relationship can be sensed, for the rhythmanalyst “thinks with his body, not in the abstract, but in lived temporality.” To do so is to “catch a rhythm and perceive it within the whole.” But what is “the body?” First, it is that which is listened to, in order to learn rhythms from it, “in order consequently to appreciate external rhythms” (19). When describing the “supply of space” from his window, Lefebvre writes how the elements and objects “situate themselves in a permanence, in a spatial simultaneity, in a coexistence. But look harder and longer. This simultaneity, up to a certain point, is only apparent: a surface, a spectacle” (31). That it is an essential surface might challenge Lefebvre’s metaphysics, but that its simultaneity is a play or rhythm of surfaces demonstrates the polyrhythmia of apparent isorhythmia within (isotopic) space. Lefebvre encourages us here to listen attentively: each element “has its rhythm, made up of several.” Each bodily sense plays a role. But a body isn’t necessarily the corps of the author: “The substance [matière] is the crowd (or molecules, corpuscles), it is a body. The crowd is a body, the body is a crowd (of cells, of liquids, of organs). Societies are composed of crowds, of groups, of bodies, of classes, and constitute peoples. They understand the rhythms of which living beings, social bodies, are made up. The concept passes from vague and confused representations to a grasp of the plurality of rhythmic interactions; to diverse degrees and levels: from corpuscles to galaxies, one more time!” (42) Thus rhythmanalysis is not only in the singular: the rhythmanalyst is a crowd, a crowd within a body, and a body within a crowd. The breakdown and perception of rhythm involves the many. To learn rhythms from the body requires the body of the other, and of the multiplicity, the common alterity, so as to distinguish external rhythms from the common body (what hinders the very possibility of the commons). It is through the common of the throng that intervention – rhythm as movement – becomes possible. It is here that everything concerning the “political reasons for passivity” must be thought (185): “Objectively, for there to be change, a social group, a class or caste must intervene by imprinting a rhythm on an era, be

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it through force or in an insinuating manner. In the course of a crisis, in a critical situation, a group must designate itself as an innovator or producer of meaning. And its acts must inscribe themselves on reality. The intervention imposes itself neither militarily, nor politically nor ideologically” (14).

NOTES

1 “Twenty-first century” is here abbreviated to “21c” to designate the binarization – or digital codification – of the historical timeline as the archives of humanity become accessible only through complex technological systems. The soundbyte style of 21c can be attributed to dj Spooky’s defunct magazine of the same name (rip). 2 City, as well as State, is here capitalized in accordance with the work of Lefebvre, where the signifiers attain a quasi-atemporal status, as if referring to a near a priori manifestation of human activity. Thus, at times, I refer to cities or a particular city in contrast to the City (a city’s ur-principle of centripetal control). Likewise for “the revolution,” which is marked by the near teleological destination of its pronoun, and later, Negri and Hardt’s deployment of “Empire” to demarcate an organizational command that exceeds the nation-state. 3 Lefebvre will write of the urban how “its complexity surpasses the tools of our understanding and the instruments of practical activity,” serving as a “constant reminder of the theory of complexification” (2003, 45). If our missive bows to such a theory, it is in part because any would-be Occam’s Razor would only prove that simplism empties itself out in reductionism. The law of parsimony (Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate) should read: Reductio non est ponenda sine necessitate. 4 Despite appearances, and his critique of socialism and socialist theory in The Urban Revolution, Lefebvre is, in fact, quite close to Marx’s account of capital – or at least Zizek’s account of it. Capital is not some abstraction that merely masks the “real” conditions of production; rather, abstraction is “‘real’ in the precise sense of determining the structure of the material social processes”: “it is the self-propelling metaphysical dance of capital that runs the show, that provides the key to real-life developments and catastrophes” (Zizek 2008, 12). As Zizek, and I think a certain Lefebvre and Marx emphasize, one cannot grasp the “real” – the “social reality of material production” – without the simulacra of abstraction, an originary simulacrum from which the real is “produced.”

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5 It is radical enough that Lefebvre predicted that by the year 2000 the globe would be so polluted that “life on earth will be difficult to maintain,” the point being that (a) one cannot control industrialism, as Marx thought (2003, 41), and that (b) “it is now possible to conceive of a form of ‘socialism’ that differs considerably from what is commonly understood by the word or from what Marx defined” – that is, the urban revolution in which what was scarce is plentiful (food, goods), but once plentiful scarce (air, water, time, nature … ) (26–7). 6 Let us not mince words: “Such a [leftist] critique can only become radical by rejecting the state, the role of the state, the strategy of the state, and the politics of space” (Lefebvre 2003, 163). Indeed, “The state can only separate, disperse, hollow out vast voids, the squares and avenues built in its own image – an image of force and constraint” (161). 7 Here at least, Lefebvre differs from the theses of 1970s Autonomist theory, which already in Negri, Marazzi and Virno, among others, focus on cognitive labour; see Sylvère Lotringer and Christian Marazzi, eds., Autonomia: Post-Political Politics (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2007). By contrast, Lefebvre writes of “unproductive but socially necessary labor (intellectual, scientific)” (2003, 34). But what is production? 8 Certainly Negri’s later work (The Porcelain Workshop, 2008) emphasizes a theme explored in the work of Paola Virno, that of “exodus” as strategy of resistance. For Negri, “the web of difference and exodus” makes up “the fabric of postmodern ontology” (109). Whether postmodern ontology is to be surpassed by an onto-communism of the multitude is uncertain. Something about exodus speaks to Deleuze and Guattari’s possibility of emptying the apparatus of capture of its form of the State. Possibly. 9 Of particular note here is Virno’s comment relating the multitude to space and memory: “The multitude is also a combination of memory and a sensual enjoyment of places, of histories that those places tell us, that those places have, that a certain ‘neighborhood’ of Buenos Aires or a certain ‘quarter’ of Milan contain. If that didn’t exist, the multitude would be a poor thing, it would be a sociological – in the worst sense of the word – discourse” (2002). Virno seems to suggest here that exodus incorporates sensible memory of urban space – a proposition taken up under different terms by Lefebvre in Rhythmanalysis. Lefebvre values the sensible in its ability to reveal the polyrhythmia of a locale. 10 Lefebvre grapples with this “problematic” everywhere, no more so than with attempting to synthesize the diachrony of evolutionist history into the synchrony of the virtual. Thus, when envisaging the mutation in

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12

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which industrial society becomes urban, “such mutations determine the problematic – that is, the problematic character of the real” (2003, 138). See, for example, Lefebvre’s meditations on the necessity of “metaphilosophy” to remind us of the demands of a totality it cannot theorize (2003, 68; see 56–69). The relation between Lefebvre’s blind field and Lacan’s theory of the gaze deserves serious consideration. It would take the form, perhaps, of the encounter also needed here with Zizek. Lefebvre will write of the “negative power” of the urban when speaking of its ability to rework and recombine or “destructure” and “restructure” the elements of the earth, communications, “heterogeneous materials and contents” (2003, 174). Strictly, the urban can only be marked in its negativity, insofar as transduction reveals the positive (content) to be essentially incomplete. Lefebvre writes, “As a [‘transforming’] form, the urban transforms what it brings together (concentrates)” (2003, 174), suggesting something of an unthought, or rather, uncarried distinction between transformation and modification. A digression here: the urban is precisely the blind field of theory for it concerns the structure, the base or the ground itself – the concrete – while remaining a virtual object (a possible object: a certain concrete that operates in the dry promise of the concrete: that there will be a concrete to-come). Yet Lefebvre is careful not to allow the urban to take on the completionist circle of a perfect tautology: the urban only modifies the relations of production; it is not sufficient to transform them. There are two ways to read this: (1) urban reality/practice (a certain concrete) can modify the relations of production (the concrete) but not transform them, which leaves the materialist basis of Lefebvre’s Marxism intact; or (2) urban reality/practice (the concrete – qua reality) can modify the relations of production (a certain concrete – certain as production is certain), which unroots production as the material base and introduces the -duction of urban practice in its stead: a certain concrete (production itself) is modified but not transformed by the concrete (reality – urban reality). Which is why the relations of production shift imperceptibly in diachrony even as the totality of reality has already become an urban practice in synchrony. It would seem that the second reading can already be presumed in the first: even if the relations of production retain their basis as the concrete, they are productive only of a certain concrete which is nothing less than reality itself, a reality that, in order to be reality, would include the relations of production. But here we reach the limit of Lefebvre’s blind field.

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15 For Debord’s correspondence on the matter, see Debord 2009, 335, 349, 370, 376. 16 Lefebvre mentions “intervention through rhythm,” but primarily in the context of military and sport training that reinforces eurhythmia (2004, 68). 17 See, for example, the work of Critical Art Ensemble, notably Electronic Civil Disobedience (Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1996), which asserts that electronic communication (the Net, as in the conglomerate of telecommunications of which the internet is only a part) has overtaken the street as an effective site of intervention (insofar as capital is an electronic transfer); and The Molecular Invasion (Brooklyn: Autonomedia 2002), which explores the (human/plant) body itself as a contested site of genetic intervention and resistance.

PART THREE

City Circuits

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8 Spectacles of Waste1 WILL STRAW

In her book Atlas of Emotion: Journeys in Art, Architecture, and Film, Guliana Bruno points to various currents within contemporary cultural analysis that have converged to address what she calls the “shifting grounds of socio-cultural mobilities” (2002, 15). This convergence is an interdisciplinary development, extending beyond the boundaries of what John Urry has labelled a “mobile sociology” (2001, 186). Across the study of the visual arts, cinema, literature, architecture, and communications media, one finds a broadly shared concern with the experience of heightened movement and speed, and with the birth of this experience in the emergent modernity of the nineteenth century. If there is a coherence to “mobility studies,” it stems in part from its preoccupation with phenomena that are urban in character. The renewed interest in the work of Georges Simmel and Walter Benjamin has been an important influence here, through its sustained attention to the interplay between speed, urban space, and modernity (see, for example, Simmel 1997, Benjamin 1999). The experience of urban modernity is now offered as the privileged background through which one might understand such phenomena as the origins of cinema, collage-based painting, or the structures of the twentieth-century department store. These cultural forms are themselves now treated as transformative interventions in the social organization of movement and speed. In 1985, in the revue Communications, Henri Lefebvre offered the outline of a field of social research to be called “rhythmanalysis”: the study of the rhythms and cycles of urban life (Lefebvre and Régulier-Lefebvre 1985). While “rhythmanalysis” might seem central to the project of “mobility studies,” Lefebvre’s influence within

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such a project has remained relatively minor. As Kofman and Lebas note (1996, 30), his short book Elements de rhythmanalysis was not published until 1992, following the author’s death and amidst uncertainty over the work’s quality. In the anglophone academic world, Lefebvre’s claim that rhythmanalysis might offer an alternative to psychoanalysis has seemed of little pertinence to an interdisciplinary field (that of urban cultural studies) wherein psychoanalysis has exercised little influence anyways. In the context of the Culture of Cities Project, the collaborative interdisciplinary endeavour on which this volume is based, the notion of a rhythmanalysis has come to exercise a steady if secondary influence. It has given us a vocabulary with which to contemplate the relationship of stasis to movement at several levels of urban life, from the quotidian experience of public transportation through the patterns of renovation and reconstruction by which buildings and neighbourhoods are being transformed. In pursuing a rhythmanalysis, we are constantly led back to the question of the city’s essential relationship to time. This question in its simplest and most idealistic form asks whether the city is a mechanism for perpetual motion or a force for stasis and immobility. In the language of contemporary sociology, this question is posed as that of the relationship between mobility and stability, materiality and fluidity (Pels, Hetherington, and Vandenberghe 2002). The rapid turnover of things and ideas and the concomitant erasure of historical sensibility have long been diagnosed as defining features of urban life. This diagnosis has been central to theorizations of modernity within the social and human sciences, from the work of Georg Simmel through that of Marshall Berman (see, for example, Simmel 1997; Berman 1982). As Robert Beauregard has suggested (2003, 999), numerous works of contemporary urban cultural geography strain to express, often in quasi-poetic form, a sense of the city as characterized by “continuous novelty and virtualities … by its circulation, hybridity, and multiplicity.” The ongoing imbrication of the urban and the modern within accounts of each other, and the invocation of mobility and speed as definitive of each, have marked numerous studies that labour to capture the effervescence and restlessness seen as emblematic of the modern city (see, for example, Vasudevan 2003; Donald 1999; Schwartz 1998). Alternative accounts of the city’s relationship to time have been more scattered and less totalizing in their theoretical claims. Across

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a range of writings, nevertheless, one finds descriptions of urban culture that stress its slowness or immobility, that see the city as a place of dense and almost imperceptible accumulation. In these writings the city is a space in which artifacts and other historical residues are stored and movement is blocked. Here, the city is marked by stasis and the persistence of the past, by the tangible presence of history rather than by its constant erasure. Lefebvre, for example, has suggested (1984, 123) that the democratic character of city life may have as much to do with its accumulation of historical artifacts available to everyone (which allow every city dweller to “reap the benefits of past glories”) as with the challenges to entrenched hierarchies more typically embraced by those who revel in the city’s impermanence. The city’s capacity for accumulation thus makes the city a repository of collective resources whose abundance obscures or balances its social divisions. Some twenty years ago the sociologist George D. Suttles called for scholarly attention to the “cumulative texture of local culture” (1984, 283), to the ways in which local identities take shape in the piling up of sentiments and materials. In a book of architectural theory entitled Anytime, Mennan et al. suggest that urban space is a “delay mechanism,” a structure marked by its resistance to change (1999, 71). Culture, they suggest, “by definition builds upon a set of procedural and behavioural codes that transform it into a machine for delay” (ibid.). The city is a machine for delay in part through its capacities for storage, through the spaces of accumulation (like pawnshops and used book stores) that take shape and proliferate within it. The tension between these ways of grasping urban life and experience – one insisting on the city’s endless mutability, the other stressing its tendencies toward stasis and inertia – runs through various sorts of urban cultural analysis. This tension is sometimes expressed as the difference between specific media or cultural forms. Thus, for Ackbar Abbas (1997, 64), the distinction between mobility and stasis is embodied in the difference between cinematic and architectural experiences within the city. The former best express the fragmentary, unstable experience of the city; the latter transform spectators into passive contemplators of a stable, touristic spectacle. The cinema thus captures and expresses the destabilizing impulses within city life, while architecture functions as the assertion of historical solidity. This comparison recalls Victor Hugo’s account of the shift from architecture to the printing press as the

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cultural form most expensive of urban life and its rhythms (for a discussion, see Stierle 2001, 299). In his own attempts to map the multiple aesthetics of urban life, Alain Mons (2003, 114) has noted a similar polarity. On the one hand, he suggests, urban photography and painting have given us dense, compact images of the city, filled with old structures and materials whose visual overlay renders the city solid and immobile. On the other hand, the contemporary cinema has come to favour fleeting, partial images of the city – of its fugitive non-lieux and lines of flight – which make the viewer’s look upon the city ceaselessly mobile and disoriented. USED OBJECTS

The analysis that follows retreats from these questions of a textualized urban aesthetic to examine tensions between mobility and stasis at the more mundane level of everyday objects and their lives. In particular, we focus on the fate of second-hand or used commodities within the city. Second-hand cultural commodities participate in urban mobility through their circulation within the city, a circulation that finds them imbricated within the broader rhythms of urban commerce. At the same time, second-hand objects typically move toward sites of disposal or accumulation, as they become disengaged in whole or part from these rhythms of commerce. In this disengagement, such objects pose a new set of questions for analysis. One of these has to do with their residual commercial value. What are the institutions, strategies, and markets that have taken shape so as to wring additional economic benefit from objects in the latter stages of their life cycles? Other questions are provoked by the range of ethical issues that have come to surround old artifacts, such as the ecological acceptability of their outright destruction, or the extent to which societies will tolerate an unregulated, unofficial commerce in used commodities. A third set of questions concerns the spaces in which old commodities are stored or offered for resale, and the proximity of such spaces to other regions of social and economic life. As we shall see, a commerce in used commodities may be ennobled by its proximity to middle-class residential neighbourhoods, degraded by its closeness to the urban poor, or rendered suspicious when implicated within institutions suspected of illicit activity, like the pawnshop. A rhythmanalysis of the second-hand commodity is, at one level, an account of the commodity’s movement in and out of markets,

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but it requires as well an investigation of what Janelle Watson has identified as a given culture’s “mode of accumulation.” “What I am calling ‘mode of accumulation’ determines the fate of surplus material goods circulating in the economy, the way they are acquired and by whom, as well as how they are stored, displayed, and disposed of,” she writes (1999, 40). We may characterize various parts of the city in terms of their role in these processes of accumulation. Urban spaces may be differentiated according to the extent to which they enhance the mobility of things (heightening the velocity of their circulation, for example) or may serve to render them static and immobile (by retaining them within spaces wherein their appeal is diminished or from which their removal is slowed). These processes contribute to those broader patterns of what Parkes and Thrift (following Jean-Luc Nancy) have called the “spacing of time”: the organization of temporal processes as spatial differences or itineraries (1975, 653). A rhythmanalysis of the city is, in this sense, a “topics” of urban space – a study of the ways in which “temporal qualities [are] inscribed in spaces” (Lefebvre 1996, 173). In moving through the city, objects move through space, but they pass as well through different stages of their own existence. As Michael Thompson has noted, objects have both physical and commercial life cycles, and these two cycles are typically asynchronous (1979). The physical life of objects takes them from the moment of their creation to the point of their material decay or destruction. This physical dilapidation is typically uni-directional, with occasional reversals (as when machines are repaired or books are rebound) and lengthy periods of relative stasis. The commercial life cycle of an object, on the other hand, may involve several changes in value and price, and while these too may follow a unidirectional decline, the occasions on which they undergo important reversals (by becoming rare and collectible, for example) are numerous. Thompson’s distinction between the deterioration of an object’s physical base and a decline in its social value is mirrored in Roland Barthes’s theoretical separation between physical and semiotic dilapidation (1967, 298–301). The relationship between these various cycles would serve to ground a rhythmanalysis of the artifact or commodity. We are more interested, however, in the ways in which both cycles serve to trace lines of passage through the city. An object’s life cycle is intertwined with its physical movement, as it passes through potentially

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limitless series of public and private spaces, and as it is subject to varieties of use and treatment. In the movement of commodities from the place of their first sale, into the contexts of domestic ownership, and from there into the markets of second-hand commerce, things move across the space of the city. At the same time, the movement of second-hand commodities is partially dependent upon a variety of other rhythms rooted deep in the social practices of city life: in the rates of turnover of households or businesses, in the seasonal cycles of outdoor commerce, in personal or collective rituals of disposal and replenishment, in the intermittence of economic necessity, and so on. In the next sections we pursue a concern with these cycles through an examination of different forms of second-hand commerce within the city. THE CHARITY SHOP AND THE MAIN STREET BOUTIQUE

In their study of British charity shops – retail establishments that sell second-hand goods to raise money for charitable causes – Gregson and Crewe (2003) trace the efforts of shop managers to find the appropriate place for such institutions within the broader commercial geographies of cities. Charity stores were traditionally situated in parts of cities marked by the stigma of transience: near bus terminals, for example, or in neighbourhoods dominated by renters rather than property owners, or along streets with heavy automobile traffic. In part, this had been the result of charity shop owners seeking rents lower than those typical in city centres. As well, in large measure these locations were appropriate to the original function of these stores – that of offering low-cost objects and services to the poorer members of communities. As Horne notes, this function of the charity or thrift store would change in the 1980s (1998, 155). Increasingly, these shops came to make their money by selling clothes and other goods to hip teenagers or to an educated class that recognized the signs of connoisseurist value in older, discarded artifacts. These populations had become the privileged customers of the charity shop. The services provided to the disadvantaged clients of charitable agencies now come principally from monies raised through the sale of goods to more prosperous buyers rather than from the provision of the goods themselves As a result, charity stores have moved closer to the spaces of middle class

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commerce, severing their physical proximity to the poor or transient populations with whom they were traditionally linked. In fact, as Gregson and Crewe note (2003, 20–3), stores specializing in second-hand materials have gravitated toward two sorts of locations over the past two decades. Charity shops (like the Oxfam chain) have sought locations amidst the legitimate, “first-hand” commerce of main street retailing. In doing so, they have acknowledged that their principal competition is with national retail chains, for mainstream customers. One effect of this relocation is that charity shops are drawn to employ practices of display and promotion typical of the commercial chain store, such as the seasonal sale or the window display. A limited number of attractive, contemporarylooking items are made available for viewing in the main areas of a store; excess stock is kept hidden in storerooms. In its mimicry of the mainstream store, the charity shop has shed an image that once haunted it: as a place of limitless accumulation, or an uncontrolled repository in which historical time (and any sense of the differential currency of objects) has been dissolved. While earlier charity shops made only minor distinctions between retail display space, workshop rooms for the repair of objects, and storage areas, the newer shops of British high streets have carefully segregated these various activities, often within separate buildings. At the same time, by locating itself in proximity to the chain store offering new goods, the charity shop mimics the chain store’s imbrication within rhythms of fashionability and commodity turnover. In its distance from the households from which its stock derives, it mystifies its reliance on locally based practices of donation and disposal. Other sorts of second-hand commerce have found their appropriate locations elsewhere within the city. Those shops whose merchandise is directed at a connoisseurist, retro-oriented clientele are more likely to seek locations amidst the cafés, music stores, and other institutions of urban bohemia. They are often located within or near old industrial buildings, which entrepreneurship and urban policy have transformed into signifiers of a rough, subcultural authenticity. Here the maintenance of stocks in seemingly unorganized or chaotic assemblages (such as piles of raw fabrics or textiles) serves both to distinguish these stores from commercial chains and to cast the experience of shopping as one of an exploration requiring expertise and determination (ibid., 73–83). The location of these stores next to older buildings and purveyors of antique furniture,

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musical recordings, or books endows them with a museum-like quality that heightens their difference from the commercial strip with its relentless turnover of commodities. In both these cases – that of the main street charity shop and the bohemian quarter retro store – second-hand commerce has shed its associations with geographical and social marginality. Most notably, these institutions have distinguished themselves from events such as the flea market or car-trunk sale, which represent to many a distasteful extreme among the institutions of second-hand commerce. Flea markets and trunk sales temporarily occupy unused parking lots or agricultural markets on the peripheries of urban life. While their popularity has grown significantly in the past two decades, these events have not shed the image of parasitism stemming from their exploitation of temporal gaps in the normal uses of these spaces (cf. Gregson and Crewe 1997, 108). The intermittent appearance and disappearance of vendors and goods, the use of automobile trunks to transport and display merchandise, and the absence of any of the usual signifiers of commercial stability (such as credit-card machines) all arouse popular and judicial suspicion against which these events must struggle. This suspicion is rooted in large measure in the fact that these events fail to balance the free circulation of artifacts with the stability of permanent architectural or entrepreneurial structures. THE NEIGHBOURHOOD YARD SALE

The yard or garage sale assuages these suspicions through its proximity to places of residence. Virtually unheard of before the 1970s, the vente de garage has emerged as a common practice in urban middle-class life throughout North America. Within it, the suspicion that attaches to street vending is minimized through the belief, implied by vendors and assumed by buyers, that the objects for sale originate in the residence directly behind them. We might take this belief as a vernacular equivalent of the significance accorded an object’s provenance in the markets for old masters paintings or other fine art objects. In a rhythmanalysis of the yard sale, the primary relationship is that between the temporary character of these sales and the stability of the residential context that is their backdrop. One will find high variation, between neighbourhoods and cities, in the rates at which the occupancy of buildings change. In Montreal,

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a city whose rate of home ownership is below national norms, the high number of garage sales is sometimes traced to the frequency of turnover of households. The occasions on which people move become pretexts for the disposal of goods through public sales, and these are more frequent in Montreal than in many other cities. A relationship between the rhythms of household relocation and the frequency of garage sales is, very simply, a relationship between the velocity of movement of people and that of objects. Both such speeds will shape the “mode of accumulation” characteristic of a neighbourhood or other unit of urban life. The frequency of residential turnover in Montreal means that households within the city are less likely than those in more stable communities to become repositories of objects accumulated over long periods of time. The commerce of the vente de garage in Montreal thus involves a high number of sales offering commodities that have been acquired relatively recently. It is commonly shared lore among those who frequent garage sales that older neighbourhoods with stable populations are the best sources of antiques or other vintage materials. John Brinckerhoff Jackson has noted that “the age of the average American is greater than that of the house he lives in” (1984, 94). An extended rhythmanalysis of city life might compare the age of residences with the ages of the people who live within them. It might note as well the ages of objects within households and compare these to the duration of people’s occupancy of any given home. Through these analyses, we might grasp the extent to which physical residences are institutions of preservation and stasis. Garage sales throughout Montreal tend to offer commodities (such as compact discs or baby toys) whose origins lie within a narrow and relatively recent strip of historical time. This characteristic has made the Montreal garage sale the object of judicial and regulatory attention. When garage sales are dominated by objects only recently removed from the world of commercial retailing, they invite the suspicion that they are part of a traffic in stolen goods, or that they represent attempts to engage in commerce without paying the necessary costs of commerce such as retail licenses and sales taxes. Second-hand objects that do not bear the marks of age or the traces of extended prior usage come to be seen as direct substitutes for new objects; their purchase no longer seems to be driven by the sense of whimsical discovery or cultural preservation that the genteel, middle-class garage sale is meant to inspire. What is missing in

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these sales is evidence of that two-stage process of burial that Kevin Heatherington has described as typical in the disposal of objects: Conduits of disposal often have this two-stage “holding” process through which consumer objects pass before becoming waste. The bookcase, the recycle bin on a computer, the garage, the potting shed, the fridge, the wardrobe, even the bin, are often constituted more as sites of first burial rather than of second burial. Items are held in them for a period of time while their uncertain value state is addressed (use, exchange, or sentimental value) before being removed into the representational outside where they undergo their second burial in the incinerator, the landfill, or unfortunately sometimes just fly-tipped onto the side of the road … If the intrinsic worth of a person is assumed to be their soul, the intrinsic worth of an artefact is its value – use value and sentimental value as much as exchange or sign value. Only when all forms of value have been exhausted or translated and thereby stabilized will the object be permitted to undergo its second burial. (2004, 169) We may regard the respectable vente de garage as a “second burial,” then, for objects that have typically lingered in closets or storage spaces (the space of their “first burial”) before their final expulsion from a household through their sale to strangers or neighbours. The suspicions that surround certain forms of street vending now become clear. When it is obvious (from their newness) that the objects offered for sale have not gone through that extensive phase of domestic stasis – that “first burial” – wherein their value is allowed to quietly dissolve before they are cast off, garage sales invite the judgment that they are no longer casual rituals of household renewal. The case of a yard sale offering twenty boxes of shoes, cited in a debate over garage sales by members of Montreal’s municipal government, raised the question of how one might distinguish between a legitimate yard sale and the operation of a quasipermanent, household-based retail outlet. In Montreal, as in many other municipalities throughout North America, this has been decided through decisions that allow city dwellers to hold only two or three garage sales per year. (See, for example, Topeka, Kansas [no date]; Derfel 1997, a3.) The challenge, in the regulation of the yard sale, is to establish an acceptable frequency for such events that

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corresponds to the slow rhythms through which household objects age and, in aging, slowly communicate their superfluity to those who possess them. The quick disposal of objects that have not moved slowly through these phases of domestic “burial” risks appearing as an act of commercial calculation or economic desperation. The respectability of the garage sale requires that it be motivated by an abundance of things rather than a shortage of money for those holding them. Sales must be scheduled, therefore, in a manner detaching them from any sense of punctual financial emergency. Garage sales are typically planned and announced long in advance of their occurrence, and at times of the year decided upon through neighbourhood consensus, tradition, or the seasonal rhythms of household cleansing. This scheduling functions to block and disavow any direct relationship between emergent financial need and the disposal of household artifacts. THE PAWNSHOP AND ITS RESTRICTED INVENTORIES

The middle-class respectability and recent popularity of the yard sale distinguish it clearly from the pawnshop, a longstanding institution of second-hand commerce whose historical role within the rhythms of urban life has been very different. Jim Fitzpatrick notes that the pawnshop emerged to allow people to survive drops or gaps in anticipated income, such as those resulting from crop failures or the sudden need to move to find employment (2001, 10, 26). The pawnshop is thus associated with emergency situations, in which goods must be turned over rapidly so as to raise money. In virtually all respects, the pawnshop represents an inversion of the features of the yard sale. The pawnshops’ exchanges are transacted in private, obscure spaces, and the purely financial character of those exchanges is acknowledged rather than disavowed. The yard sale locates itself amidst the rhythms and rituals of residential neighbourhood life, while the pawnshop is typically confined (by law or tradition) to marginal spaces within the city. For all of these reasons, the pawnshop has come to be linked in the public and judicial mind with illegality. This link is reinforced by shifts over time in the categories of goods sold in pawnshops. In an earlier period, the pawnbroker’s merchandise was dominated by household items marked with the signs of individuality and deeply personal attachment (jewellery,

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household linens, family heirlooms). The pawnshop was more obviously a space of accumulation and relative stasis, deriving most of its revenues from the interest paid by customers. The sentimentality that attached itself to pawnshop merchandise (such as musical instruments or engraved watches) rendered pawnshops complexly layered archives in which were embedded the residues of important and highly specific occasions in people’s lives. In contrast, the merchandise of the contemporary pawnshop is dominated by massproduced home entertainment hardware and software, artifacts with much weaker affective links to the households from which they come. The perception that the pawnshop is one node within the economic circuits of criminality is reinforced by the increased homogenization of pawned merchandise. In recent years the inventories of pawnshops have been marked by an ongoing standardization of the objects for sale, as if one were witnessing the emergence of a limited system of alternate currencies. One of the most prominent of these categories has been the compact disc and dvd, commodities whose relationship to drug addiction and theft have been noted over the past decade (e.g., Fong 2003). Part of the economy of addiction in such cities as Vancouver, it is suggested, are secondhand stores and pawnshops through which funds for drug purchases can be quickly raised. Until recently, compact discs were considered one of the key commodities within this commerce, insofar as they could be easily stolen, converted into cash, and resold. The compact disc circulated quickly and relatively easily from retail stores to apartments, from there to pawnshops or second-hand stores, and then back into individual collections. Its movements through the city, therefore, led it through multiple spaces of accumulation and exchange; these movements joined together a variety of activities that were illicit and legitimate, casual and urgent. Montreal’s municipal government took up the question of pawnshops most recently in the late 1990s, when the number of pawnshops in the city reached its highest ever levels (Montreal 2000: annexe 1, 2; see also Mainville 1999).2 A report to the Ville de Montréal suggested measures to reduce the mobility of pawned objects so that thieves could not quickly raise money by exchanging stolen goods, and drug users could not have immediate access to funds to support their habits. These measures included the requirement that a pawnshop’s hours of business be restricted (so that they not overlap the typical hours of theft or drug use), or that the sale of

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pawned goods not be permitted until their original owners had been notified (to slow the turnover of merchandise and thus discourage the transformation of pawnshops into simple retail establishments) (Montreal 2000). Each of these requirements would have introduced delays in circuits of exchange rendered smoothly functional by the standardization of pawnshop merchandise over the past few decades. The centrality of compact discs and dvd s (and of electronic goods more generally) to pawnshop commerce represents a reduction of the varieties of knowledge once participant in that commerce. Just as small-time thieves will seek objects that are available almost anywhere (rather than in specialized places of accumulation like private coin collections) and recognized widely as objects of potential exchange, so the inventories of pawnshops have moved toward higher and higher levels of standardization organized around objects of recent vintage. The prices of compact discs, dvd players, and digital cameras are easily calculable and relatively stable. There is little of the variation, based on factors such as condition and age, that required earlier generations of pawnbrokers to be connoisseurs in several fields. The compact disc became central to pawnshop commerce in the 1990s in part because its newness as a form meant that complex forms of distinction between the old and the new, the worthless and the treasured, had not yet settled upon it. A traffic in stolen books can operate effectively only at the level of the rare and precious, and thus requires complex knowledge about objects, potential buyers, and specialized markets. An economic return on books is thus much slower and less likely. In contrast, virtually all compact discs, from the time of the format’s emergence until very recently, could be sold on second-hand markets at predictable prices. Most were sufficiently desired to guarantee a minimal price; none were so rare or obscure as to require expert evaluation of their worth (and the delays in sale that this evaluation might necessitate). The movement of compact discs and dvd s was sufficiently rapid that the spaces of their accumulation (such as pawnshops or secondhand stores) experienced regular renewal and turnover of their stocks. Few of these spaces were allowed to develop an archival depth or exhaustivity of the sort that characterizes large secondhand bookstores or repositories of old furniture. The charity shop, yard sale, and pawnshop may all be invoked to support the claim by Mennan et al. that “urban space is a delay mechanism” (1999, 71). The city delays the disappearance of objects

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by extending the itineraries through which things travel as they live out their life cycles. As an item of clothing passes from department store to domestic closet, to resale in a vente de garage, into new domestic contexts and, finally, to the mammoth spaces of the charity thrift store, its life has been prolonged by the multiplicity of steps punctuating its movement toward a final location. The economies of theft, pawning, and resale that take shape on the edges of the legitimate economy serve to further extend the life cycles of certain classes of commodity, within relatively self-contained, selfreplenishing systems of constant movement. In this respect, the sedimented thickness of urban life is not just a function of the city’s density and multi-levelled accumulation; it is the result as well of the city’s circuitousness, of the innumerable destinations and itineraries it offers to the object as it ages. SPECTACLES OF WASTE

The early phases of a commodity’s life cycle are usually marked by its dispersion and disappearance from public space, as it moves from the places of retail display to the home or other spaces of private life. There is in these early stages a fragmentation of the commodity’s public presence, as its multiple copies move in different directions.3 While the experience of a commodity’s novelty thus finds sustenance in large numbers of publically visible copies, commodities age individually, dispersed within innumerable private spaces and single examples. (This is not the case for buildings or monuments, of course, which age publically and in so doing produce a widespread collective experience of obsolescence and decay.) It is in the later stages of the cultural commodity’s life cycle – near the end of what Ivan Kopytoff has called its “social biography” – that one typically finds its convergence back toward others of similar classes, in such sites of accumulation as the second-hand store or the flea market (1986). This convergence is the result of innumerable economic calculations and transactions, but it must be seen as well as an informal collective response to the question of how to dispose of cultural commodities. Unspoken resistance to the outright destruction of cultural commodities, and more overt ecological commitments to recycling, have led to the creation of complex itineraries along which such commodities typically travel in the final stages of their life cycles. When a used book store will not take

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a book, it is offered in garage sales, then donated to thrift or charity shops, where its ultimate fate need no longer trouble its original owner. Typically, it will find its final stasis among large numbers of objects of the same category, now sold at uniform prices that express few differences from one object of its class to another. One place of final (or near-final) stasis for cultural commodities could once be found within the Palais du Commerce, a large edifice on Montreal’s rue Berri. Destroyed by wrecking crews in 2001, the Palais had been built in 1952, in an architectural style whose historical value was much disputed at the time of the building’s destruction (Bronson 2000). Until the opening of the great shopping and office complex Place Bonaventure in 1967, the Palais was Montreal’s principal commercial exhibition space. Its builders had intended the Palais to be a “maison du peuple,” a community institution that would strengthen the cultural and economic significance of Montreal’s Quartier Latin, the francophone area east of the city’s central business district. To that end, the Palais served as the site of innumerable cultural and social events, including community dinners presided over by the Catholic leader Cardinal Léger, attracting six thousand people at a time. Over the three decades of the Palais’s decline, since the 1960s, it housed a variety of marginal commercial or cultural enterprises: fast-food restaurants, markets for clothes, and a non-profit in-line skating facility. Indeed, struggles to maintain the complex’s skating facilities in the late 1990s took their place within a long history of contestation over the space of the Palais and, more dramatically, of the Parc Emelie Gamelin to which it was immediately adjacent. Just before the Palais was torn down, it served briefly as the site for one of Montreal’s art biennales. In this final function, the structure underwent a sanctification of sorts through its temporary occupation by works of art. The 2001 biennale was devoted to the theme of time, and a concern with decay linked many of the individual artworks to the larger drama of the building’s imminent disappearance (see, for example, Lamarche 2000). In one of the biennale’s most striking works, a room was filled with several hundred old vinyl recordings strewn and stacked in haphazard fashion across its floor. Visitors to the biennale were invited to walk across the records in order to access the rooms beyond. This accumulation of discarded vinyl recordings appeared to most viewers as one more instance of the contemporary art world’s preoccupation with

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material artifactuality. Those familiar with the history of the Palais knew that the vinyl records referred directly to one of the building’s long-time functions. Since the 1980s, much of the space of the Palais had functioned as a graveyard for unwanted cultural artifacts. The Palais had contained within its enormous basement several interconnected warehouse-like stores offering for sale thousands of old books and records. One of these stores, which specialized in vinyl records, was called Le Fou du Disque; its companion was Le Fou du Livre. The abundance of cast-off commodities within both stores had long seemed emblematic of Montreal’s long-term economic weaknesses, which had nourished innumerable informal markets and forms of second-hand commerce across the city. In particular, these stores seemed to epitomize the undervalued abundance that plagued Montreal throughout the 1990s. The huge inventories and large size of these stores were somehow typical of a city in which there were, until recently, too many unwanted things and too many underutilized spaces. We may see Le Fou du Disque as condensing within itself a characteristic tension of urban cultural life. On the one hand, the store was emblematic of the mobility of things within the city; it was one step within complex itineraries that took material artifacts through a variety of commercial and domestic spaces. Le Fou was one node within the city’s economy of pawnshops, informal markets, and second-hand stores, an economy through which artifacts travel along convoluted and usually uncharted routes. It offered itself as one of those institutions in which cast-off commodities are meant to rest, momentarily, before moving into other places of commerce or back into homes. In this respect, it seemed appropriate that Le Fou du Disque was located directly across from Montreal’s bus terminal, and near the main intersection of Metro lines. This was (and remains) an area of the city marked by the predominance of the transitory and of cheaply acquired pleasures. (In fact, Le fou du disque could be reached from the Metro station or terminus d’autobus through a confusing series of underground tunnels.) Through its proximity to transportation crossroads, its own labyrinthian structure, and its place within the itineraries of discarded objects, the Palais du Commerce evoked what, several decades earlier, Pierre Mac Orlan called “le fantastique social”: that atmosphere of secret itineraries and mysterious adventures that marks such urban

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institutions as the railroad station or the seaport (1997). Its associations with transience, and with people and objects of dubious provenance, made it clear that the Palais had abdicated its original role as the site of collective assembly for a stable, locally based community. At the same time, through its massive accumulation of seemingly unwanted commodities, Le fou was a place marked, more than most others, by the sedentary stasis of the things within it. Le Fou du Disque and Le Fou du Livre seemed like final resting places for commodities that were now immobile, for which social desire had withered. These were the places to which radio stations, libraries, bankrupt companies, and dismantled households sent their stocks when their continued possession was no longer feasible or desired. In this respect, the stores were faithful to the original sense of the term d’occasion (Sciardet 2003, 17). Each was a repository of artifacts that the dramatic occasions of personal or institutional biography had thrown back into the public realm. Within these stores, obsolete recording formats, failed or exhausted musical styles, and the products of long-defunct corporations piled up and found a certain kind of stasis. Alongside the undesired records, one could find old schoolbooks, interventions in long-concluded political debates, books from religious orders whose role within public life had faded, and landmark works from artistic careers now forgotten in their entirety. In this accumulation, Le Fou du Disque and Le Fou du Livre were full of lessons about the richly varied popular cultural heritage of Quebec, and of Montreal in particular. The records and books within the stores resonated richly as parables of local and international exchange, as material residues of a lively urban commerce, and as clues to the trade routes that brought artifacts to Montreal from other places. Sounds and texts from elsewhere (the Tijuana Brass sound of the mid-1960s, or French Maoism of the early 1970s) arrived embedded within imported commodities or were adapted and reinvigorated by local creators who produced versions for the Quebec markets. In these forms, commodities lived out their life cycles as things long after the popularity of the words or sounds inscribed within them had passed. Stores like Le Fou du Disque reversed the commercial dispersal of these artifacts, bringing them together in quantities testifying to the depth of a local culture and its energies. The status of stores like Le fou du disque within the lives of urban artifacts is both commercial and civic. Le Fou du Disque functioned

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simultaneously within several different logics of accumulation and disposal. A tiny strata of its merchandise (such as the compact discs that began to appear in the late 1980s) turned over quickly, in the manner of objects sold in conventional second-hand stores. The bulk of its merchandise, however, arrived in large quantities, after extensive periods of “first burial” in the libraries or storerooms of individuals or institutions. At various points within its history, it received large collections of vinyl records from radio stations or from firms producing educational or industrial films. From the former came record-company samplers of their latest recordings, designed for air play and unavailable to the general public. From media production companies came stockpiles of so-called “library music,” records of mood or action music intended to be used as soundtracks for films made outside the commercial feature film industry. In a cartography of local commerce, Le Fou du Disque was one point of convergence for materials rendered obsolete by broader industrial shifts of technology or practice. As such, it functioned at a broadly regional level, pulling materials from companies scattered within and around the city. It brought together, for public display and availability, commodities normally invisible to those outside the media industries that used them. When I first moved to Montreal in 1978, I saw warehouse-like stores such as Le Fou du Disque as museum-like repositories of Quebecois culture. Here, a significant portion of the postwar legacy of Quebec cultural producers could be found, gathered in one place. Here, one found something typically lacking in the popular culture of English Canada: the traces of a long history of commercial, popular cultural production in which the failed and the successful, the ambitious and the exploitative, knitted together into a rich texture across which the visual languages of period styles and genres were visible. In this respect, these giant venues for the sale of old records and books helped to confirm the weight and monumentality of popular cultural production within Quebec. A yard sale offers a particular range of objects in some way homologous to the repertory of objects that make up the domestic household. A store like Le Fou du Disque fulfilled a similar function in relationship to local and national commercial activity. Within it the failed and the forgotten were allowed to accumulate, so that the enormity of local production was visible in the buildup that persisted beneath the rapid recirculation of the new or the perennially desired.

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THE RETRIEVAL OF WASTE

Subcultural theorists, examining second-hand commodities like those just described, would rush to enumerate the acts of reappropriation that they make possible. Unquestionably, accumulations of old artifacts form part of the resource infrastructure of urban culture; they are one precondition for the practices of retrieval and recontextualization that bring these artifacts back to life in ingenious and often subversive ways. Studies of this retrieval in its earliest historical phases have concentrated on the resourcefulness of the urban poor, whose wringing of value from rags or discarded foodstuffs over several centuries is offered as a heroic example of urban inventiveness (see, for example, Sciardet 2003). These themes persist in studies of twentieth century tinkers who build or refurbish cast-off items of a mechanical or electronic character. Yuzo Takahasi has argued that the dumping onto informal markets of huge quantities of military communications equipment in Japan following World War II laid the groundwork for those amateur practices of bricolage and small-scale invention that later fuelled that nation’s electronics industries (Takahashi 2000, 460–1). These examples presume that the capacity to find value in the discarded and rejected objects of material culture is most concentrated in those underclasses which typically have no alternatives. The better-known accounts of retrieval in the twentieth century, however, have imagined it as an elite activity, one whose gratifications are principally aesthetic in character. A series of urban avant-gardes, from the surrealists through the situationists and post-punk subcultures of the present, have sought to find, amidst the refuse of urban life, the tokens of unacknowledged value. The encounter with old objects offered for sale in the city has quite famously been discussed in terms of its disorienting effects. Here is Peter Osborne, for example, summarizing Walter Benjamin’s remarks on novelty: In its fetishization of novelty, Benjamin argues, fashion ‘tirelessly constitutes “antiquity” anew out of the most recent past.’ It thus constantly leaves its objects behind as ‘outmoded,’ reinforcing their independence, and thus their quality as fetishes, ‘before they have been exhausted by experience.’ In their fetishized but outmoded independence, these objects thus come to subsist, their

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novelty sealed up inside them, like time capsules … In an extraordinary dialectical reversal, the outmoded becomes the privileged site for the experience of novelty, and hence futurity itself. (Osborne 1995, 136). The surrealists regularly sought encounters with novelty that would rejuvenate the aesthetic experience of the city and produce a sense of estrangement. This estrangement was supposedly to be found in the discarded or antiquated object, its brute persistence in a world marked otherwise by ongoing rationalization and predictability serving to revitalize perception. Adam Rifkin is one of the few to offer a trenchant critique of this quest for the irrational, calling it profoundly disingenuous. The surrealists’ search for the disorienting, cast-off object, Rifkin suggests, required a connoisseurist, cultivated knowledge of urban artifacts that would only be possessed by an elite. Their deeply theorized anticipation of the found object’s qualities limited the surrealists’ capacity to be genuinely shocked: “This is the self-conscious infraction of the mundane that became a social skill or habit for some groups of Parisian intellectuals of the 1920s in the shape of the Surrealist bluff of inaccessible knowledge” (1993, 93). CONCLUSION: OBJECTS AND THEIR ITINERARIES

It is my view that a preoccupation with these practices of resuscitation diverts attention from the life of things before they are reclaimed, when they have converged on places of accumulation in which they very often remain for long periods of time. In these spaces, I would argue, old artifacts serve as the raw material of an informal pedagogy, offering an apprenticeship in historical styles and values. While narratives of surrealist discovery focus on the singular, disconnected object, I am more interested in those cultural processes that accompany the accumulation of objects in large numbers. This accumulation produces an empirical “thickness” within urban culture, as the convergence of artifacts on a limited number of spaces reverses their original commercial dispersal. The work of Orvar Lofgren invites cultural analysts to trace what he calls the “national trajectory of commodities,” those circuits of movement that, by inscribing lines of movement within and across national cultures, give such cultures their distinctive rhythms of change and artifactual substance. These trajectories, Lofgren suggests,

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work to produce what he calls the “thickenings of belonging” characteristic of a national culture (1997). It is easy to extend these ideas to the study of urban cultures, wherein this thickening finds multiple means and places for its expression and intensification. One kind of thickening takes shape in the regularized movement of objects through different spaces in the course of their life cycles. When compact discs purchased at an hmv store in Montreal move into homes, then to second-hand shops on Avenue Mont-Royal and, finally, to suburban charity shops or yard sales, they inscribe a trajectory of movement. The seemingly haphazard character of this trajectory obscures the fact that the direction of its movement is almost never reversed in its entirety. As regions within the city come to be associated with moments in the life cycles of objects, and as these moments themselves come to ground distinctive forms of urban commerce, the urban dweller’s sense of belonging is given added substance, made “thick.” The pathways that brought record albums or books to Le Fou du Disque and similar stores were varied, but in their regularity they inscribed certain grooves and patterns within the busy dynamism of Montreal culture. These grooves and patterns concretized certain narratives of decline in the lives of objects – such as that which brought to Le Fou du Disque hundreds of sealed, unsold Quebecois recordings by performers who failed to catch on. By charting the typical direction of these lines, we may imagine the city’s different spaces as embodying distinct destinies for the artifacts which make up urban commerce and culture.

NOTES

1 Thanks to Jasmine Rault and José-Manuel Gil for research assistance. Thank you as well to Jean-François Côté, Alan Blum, Elke Grenzer, and other members of the Culture of Cities Project for valuable comments on earlier versions of this article. The larger project on which this article was based was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada through its Major Collaborative Research Initiatives program, and by McGill University. 2 By way of contrast, we would point out that the number of pawnshops in Dublin, Ireland, another of the cities studied by the Culture of Cities Project peaked in 1867 at fifty-three; in 2000 there were only four in that city (Fitzpatrick 2001, 1, 52).

9 Places of Global Shape: The World of Consumption in Divided Berlin ALEXANDER SEDLMAIER AND BARTHOLD PELZER

In his early monographs Le système des objets (1968) and La société de consommation (1970), Jean Baudrillard develops the powerful heuristic device of a “system of objects” to interpret the dynamics of consumer society.1 Since he published these accounts, the consumption of goods in industrial, urban societies has become a prominent theme of scholarly work within a number of disciplines. Some monographs have focused on the department store of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as emblematic of a “classical age” in the development of consumer culture.2 The empirical dimensions of this work, however, lag behind its theoretical advances.3 And while elsewhere one finds an abundance of more empirical research on contemporary retailing with a significant emphasis on the shopping mall,4 the urban department store of the second half of the twentieth century remains under-studied. We argue here that Baudrillard’s “system of objects” provides a valuable theoretical framework for an historical analysis of urban department stores in the Cold War era. This analysis focuses on the divided city of Berlin, examining the circulation of material objects within two competing political systems. We expand upon the rare but significant insights in Baudrillard’s work concerning the department store and the socialist societies in which one of our case studies was embedded. We examine the main department stores of West and East Berlin as institutions exemplifying the competition between capitalist and socialist societies in the realm of material

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culture. Can the ultimate demise of one political system and its absorption into the other be understood through the workings of a “system of objects” transcending the Iron Curtain? In Baudrillard’s early writings the retail form of the department store receives only secondary attention. In his account of the development of a generalized system of objects, the department store seems to have less significance than the shopping mall. Baudrillard sees the department store as characterized chiefly by its display of abundance: “Les grands magasins, avec leur luxuriance de conserves, de vêtements, de biens alimentaires et de confection, sont comme le paysage primaire et le lieu géométrique de l’abondance … Il y a quelque chose de plus dans l’amoncellement que la somme des produits: l’évidence du surplus, la négation magique et définitive de la rareté, la présomption maternelle et luxueuse du pays de Cocagne” (1970, 19). But this land of milk and honey is subject to rationalized centralization through the arrangement of departments, which imposes a functional path on the consumer. The “drugstore” and “shopping centre,” in Baudrillard’s contrast, intensify the abundance that becomes a characteristic of modern consumption. Calculation synthesizes formerly separate consumer activities by enhancing the number of permutational possibilities for shopping: in the shopping mall we find all categories of commodities lumped together indiscriminately: “Néo-culture généralisée, où il n’y a plus de différence entre une épicerie fine et une galerie de peinture, entre Play-Boy et un Traité de Paléontologie” (22). For Baudrillard, consumption is laying hold of the whole of life; all activities are sequenced in the combinatorial mode of commodities.5 The unwavering belief in functional progress in a technical global society can be seen as corresponding to a primitive belief in magic. Even the most humble technical gadget can symbolize a technomythological force, a sample of an imagined world (1968, 81–2).6 The representations of affluence are severed from their objective determinations. Force and manual labour are abstracted from objects, which no longer function as props in the play of the human hand but become the protagonists of global processes in which people are accorded only a minor role (1970, 28; 1968, 78–80). This development in individuals’ relationships to objects is associated with the notion of progress. Baudrillard theorizes this relationship with regard to the traditional bourgeois interior and its implicit social and moral hierarchies (1968, 23–9). Because the connection between

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decoration and social order – and ultimately, between consumption and production – is systematically obscured, the ceaseless flow and circulation of goods appears as a blessing of nature, a gift from heaven.7 A new ethic favouring consumption over production places the object no longer in relation to family or traditional groups but in relation to global society and its manifestations (such as the financial or economic order, or the cycles of fashion) (1968, 221–3). The objects generated by modern mass production thus appear to increase the individual’s dependence on global society and its values, a dependence analogous to the obligations of former generations toward family and class. In a footnote to Le système des objets, Baudrillard depicts the societies east of the Iron Curtain as regressive due to their inability to offer choice, that essential constituent of consumer society: “Là où n’existe qu’un seul type (de voiture en Allemagne de l’Est par exemple), c’est un signe de pénurie, antérieure à la société de consommation proprement dite. Nulle société ne peut envisager ce stade que comme provisoire” (196). Baudrillard sees consumption in the countries of Eastern Europe as following a backward pattern shaped by scarcity. He makes use of a survey conducted by the renowned Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach, which asked two million West German citizens about their personal attitudes toward advertising. Of those surveyed, 60 per cent admitted that they felt there was too much advertising in their environment. However, the same number of people adamantly answered in the affirmative a subsequent question asking whether they preferred this abundance of promotional discourse in the West to the near absence of it in the East (243–4).8 Baudrillard presumes that advertising signifies a direct access to goods as well as to freedom. It soothes the general public conscience by offering a coherent system for grasping a global society.9 Different systems of consumption can be conceptualized as giving forth different orders of objects and different rhythms of commodification. Through his emphasis on the rhythms of material culture, Baudrillard is able to account for fundamental changes in the pace of commodities and consumption. Previously, several human generations superseded each other within the framework of a stable and relatively clear order of objects. Now, generations of objects produce the accelerated rhythms that mark individual existence: “Si auparavant, c’était l’homme qui imposait son rythme aux objets,

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aujourd’hui ce sont les objets qui imposent leurs rythmes discontinus aux hommes, leur facon discontinue et soudaine d’être là, de se détraquer ou de se substituer les uns aux autres sans vieillir” (222–3). These rhythms can be interpreted in the context of urban temporal structures characterized by a multitude of what might be called “pacemakers,” regularized structurings of rhythm. These pacemakers include streams of traffic, hours of work and school, the opening hours of stores and public institutions, and the life cycles of commodities. We may distinguish between formal and informal pacemakers, the former being the product of a binding social consensus (such as the sequence of public holidays) and the latter grounded in determinants that, while not official, are of statistical significance (for example, the seasonal change in people’s desire to visit holiday resorts and the resulting utilization of traffic facilities, or the introduction of personal credit and instalment plans that shape new cycles of business and debt) (Rinderspacher 1988). In a department store, formal pacemakers manifest themselves mainly as the hours of work and business. The antagonistic political systems in divided Berlin were, despite minor differences, surprisingly similar as far as hours of business were concerned: Monday through Friday 9 am to 6 pm, Saturday 9 am to 2 pm, closed on Sundays and holidays. In the following analysis we employ this concept of pacemakers as it relates to the exhibition of goods, conceptualizing it in terms of Baudrillard’s theory of consumption as a social process. As we have seen, Baudrillard’s principal aim is to discover the general order shaping consumption on the most abstract plane.10 He is highly pessimistic as to the possibility of more concrete or delimited levels of consumer research. He curtly states: “How people actually live with their objects – at bottom, one knows no more about this than about the truth of primitive societies” (1993, 133). Nevertheless, we believe it is possible to describe in greater detail the systems of objects specific to historical societies and their modes of consumption. We thus interpret the two German states, prior to their reunification, as representing two competing sub-systems in an overall system of objects. Despite the division of the city, we work from the assumption of a system of needs shared by Berliners on both sides. In this way, we attempt to view the developments in both societies as possessing specific internal dynamics and at the same time forming parts of a larger unity. This requires that we work with three

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systems of objects – that of the East, that of the West, and the overall system of material goods shaped by advanced capitalism and globalization. Within these systems, we discern various forms of interference and exchange. Department stores, we argue, were mediating institutions, standing between the abstract systems of objects and their appropriation by individuals (if only because it was in department stores that individuals encountered the widest range of goods). Our analysis builds upon empirical sources to understand the everyday histories of the two largest and most prominent department stores in divided Berlin, the Kaufhaus des Westens, known as k ad ewe, in the West and the Centrum-Warenhaus in the East. Using newspaper articles and business documents, we will address the question of how consumption was staged within the competing systems. We contrast these two cases in terms of their reflecting affluence or scarcity, their place within the conflicts of the Cold War, and their implications within processes of internationalization. Were both Eastern and Western stores subject to analogous, intrinsic rhythms typical of the life of department stores, or did the former emulate models and trends produced in the capitalist world? In what ways did processes of cultural transfer between West and East shape the pacemaking functions of both stores? Newspaper articles offering public interpretations of the two department stores are relatively easy to find. How, though, might we come to understand what individuals experienced while shopping twenty-five years ago, or how they responded to an ever-expanding field of consumption? In our analysis we chose to draw upon fictional texts, on novels leading their readers into the realm of the commodity. German literary criticism has yet to take up the representation of material culture in fictional narratives as a subject of analysis. Criticism to date has tended to subsume what narratives say about affluence within abstract notions of alienation rather than analysing the literary work’s concrete contents.11 We correlate insights about the individual experience of consumption, drawn from narrative fiction, with the historical development of urban consumer culture in Berlin. For this purpose we compare two novels from the 1980s which pay considerable attention to the theme of consumption, one written by an East German author, the other by a West German. The male protagonists of both visit department

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stores in Berlin. Gleisverwerfung (Rails fault) by Jürgen Höpfner (1982) describes the experiences of a teenage boy called Volker living at the periphery of East Berlin before the Wall was built. Blende (Diaphragm) by Bodo Morshäuser (1985) takes place in a claustrophobic, alienated setting which can be recognized as West Berlin in the 1980s. A potent symbol for West Berlin’s emergence as part of the consumer culture criticized by Morshäuser was the reopening of the Kaufhaus des Westens at Wittenbergplatz in 1950 after its wartime demolition.12 Local newspaper coverage rarely failed to point out that this showpiece of Western consumer society was the biggest store on the “continent,” second only to Harrods in London. On the other side of the Wall the Centrum-Warenhaus received a prestigious new building at Alexanderplatz in 1970 and was hailed by the socialist newspapers as a collective social achievement. With 15,000 square metres net selling space, it amounted to only half the size of its capitalist counterpart. Located at the heart of East Berlin’s newly planned city centre, the Centrum nevertheless served an important function, demonstrating how socialist consumers’ needs could be efficiently provided for.13 This emphasis on needs in the East contrasted with an emphasis on exclusiveness in the West. One society seemed to be in the process of building up a system of objects while the other indulged in a rarification of the social meanings projected onto its goods. The Western market economy and West German consumer society proved attractive models when the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989. These events seem to support the claim of Baudrillard’s teacher Henri Lefebvre to the effect that any revolution that did not entail a fundamental change in the vie quotidienne was bound to fail (1961). This may explain the run on department stores by free and self-determined buyers at certain moments in German history. Only the rush for the newly opened k ad ewe, still surrounded by ruins in 1950, can compare to the run to it by East Germans who gained liberty of movement nearly four decades later. East Berlin had not lacked a prestigious department store, but the West’s k ad ewe differed significantly from the Centrum in its conception of its functions. While the department store owned by the people of the gdr strove to provide goods for everyone in sufficient quantity and quality, the store in the West targeted the spending

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power of the masses with an unending flow of luxurious commodities formerly reserved for a select few. People queued for goods in the East, while the goods were lined up for people in the West. The desirability of capitalist material culture – records, clothes, movies, and books – runs like a bright thread through the novel Gleisverwerfung. It starts in December 1957 with the protagonist making the first in a series of visits to West Berlin. Such trips were strictly prohibited by his parents and teachers. Fearfully he persuades his friend to get off as soon as the train stops in the British sector, where they can only find a small kiosk. After marvelling at the most striking piece of merchandise – bananas – they acquire what they came for: chewing gum wrapped in images of American film and pop stars. The images of Jayne Mansfield and Elvis Presley represent an informal currency back home in their schoolyard in the East. When asked about his afternoon by a girlfriend, Volker claims to have been to East Berlin’s department store at Alexanderplatz. This store, the only one of its kind in East Berlin, is only mentioned once, while the subsequent plot dedicates some ten pages to the description of a store in West Berlin. To acquire commodities from the West and to make personal use of them is as central to Volker’s selfperception as the conflicts these objects produce once discovered by parents and teachers: “He knew that he would be going there again, in spite of his father … Amundsen must have felt like that on returning from the South Pole … coming back loaded with treasures. Not the chewing gum: invisible treasures, a consciousness of power, of independence” (Höpfner 1982, 16–17). Only the erection of the Wall terminates the flow of goods and Volker’s excursions to the other side. No comparable seductive force emanates from consumer goods in Blende. A nameless first-person narrator begins his tale by describing his fellow passengers aboard a flight destined for West Berlin. They are rendered as distinct mainly by the personal objects they use – a portable computer, an expensive overcoat, jewellery, a particular brand of cigarettes. Throughout the novel, people’s appearances, words, and actions remain vague. The fact that the narrator re-encounters the person he sat next to on the plane is established through the man’s use of objects: he is the only one to smoke a certain brand of cigarettes and wears a distinctive bracelet (Morshäuser 1985, 10–20; 95). Although the division of the city is referred to in some cursory remarks, there is no further reference to

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the eastern part. West Berlin and its system of objects appear to be monolithic and uncontested by any alternative vision. In 1955, a tabloid press reporter likened the k ad ewe’s winter clearance sale to a scene from a fairy tale. The writer animates the objects for sale: “The stocks are inexhaustable. Coats and dresses cheerfully leave their hangers. Gloves and shirts rise from the showcases.“14 In the 1960s, the magic projected onto the objects themselves no longer seemed enough; more intricate methods of staging involving trademarks and celebrities were sought. From 1962 onwards the k ad ewe featured fashion shows in cooperation with French designer Pierre Cardin. The press clarified: “Much of what the master himself created for the upper ten thousand is now being made available for us. Of course with slight alterations – mainly regarding the price.“15 The management successfully insinuated that it had democratized consumption. On the other hand, it also catered to exclusive tastes, by offering canned elephant meat or boots for dogs. It proved lucrative to simultaneously address the growing numbers of people able to live comfortably during the heyday of West Germany’s so-called economic miracle as well as the rich who could consider paying more than the average monthly income for an etched glass bowl. In their celebration of abundance, the expensive goods on sale were rivalled only by the newspaper articles cheering the new affluence.16 The functionaries in charge of Centrum might have wished to boast of a comparable range and number of commodities, but scarcity was widespread for several reasons, including a structural neglect of consumer goods production, the effects of collectivizations, and the export of high-quality goods in exchange for Western currency. This is not to suggest that East Germans were living under permanent austerity – it can be safely assumed that there was no starving – but the supply of goods was lacking in quality and quantity.17 The task left to retail was that of directing the precarious flow of what was available to the eager consumers. Rather than striving for exclusiveness, Centrum aspired to a complete selection within a limited range of goods. A newspaper advertisement of Christmas 1973 shows the store at Alexanderplatz as the only one in East Berlin carrying a complete assortment of goods as basic as kitchen appliances or electric razors.18 The obligation to increase the efficiency of distribution was regularly proclaimed: “Members of staff will intensify their efforts … to supply the population …

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continually and according to their needs.“19 Frequent visits by members of the political elite served a dual goal to both inform the people that every effort was being undertaken to secure a reliable supply and to remind the staff of the political importance of exemplary distribution.20 Despite all these obvious limitations, an East Berlin journalist hailed Centrum as a “shopping paradise.”21 The divide between the middle and working classes that has been diagnosed as a feature of “classical” department stores at the end of the nineteenth century became blurred on both sides of the Wall. The k ad ewe consciously appealed to the West Berlin population in its entirety. The simultaneous emphasis on a rich supply of massproduced goods as well as articles for a decidedly distinctive taste effected the strange dialectic allowing all social strata to construct their identities through the acquisition of apparently unique goods, albeit from department stores and therefore shared with innumerable others. The example of the West is clearly in accordance with Baudrillard’s observation that in late capitalism consumption tends to blur social differences without abolishing them.22 Those unable to afford the luxurious objects celebrated in sumptuous displays could still share in the wealth of society as a whole by merely being present, addressed as potential customers. The development of social practices rooted in a system of objects marked by abundance was parallelled by a similar development in the East, where the system of objects was marked by scarcity. Consumers there found themselves on relatively level ground, in the sense that all were more or less equal in front of shelves made to exhibit a sometimes meagre assortment of goods. Nevertheless there did exist an intricate system of preferential treatment.23 This had less to do with department stores than with the establishment of Exquisit shops and Intershops, the former offering high quality goods at relatively high prices in East German currency, the latter selling Western products for Western currency. In contrast to these special stores, Centrum addressed the whole of society. What happened at Centrum was in accordance with Central Committee Secretary Erich Honecker’s proclamation to a party congress that “trade in its entirety … has to watch that … the assortments in the lower priced range are produced according to demand.” On the level of national economy the East German department store served a function different from its Western

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counterpart. From the late 1970s onwards, the store at Alexanderplatz became a model for the general organization of department stores. So-called “cooperative selling units” were introduced, offering industrial goods directly from collective combines without intermediary trade. This was to give producers insight into consumer need, which then could be fed back into the plan for production: “Test sales and interviews with customers are to ascertain the shoppers’ wishes. Suggestions and criticism are … valued.“24 Through this orientation toward the consumer, the East German model wanted to link production and consumption in a way that (as pointed out by Baudrillard) is systematically obscured in Western societies. This was done in accordance with the general ideological appreciation of the proletarian producer. In the West, meanwhile, social esteem was mainly a property of those who consumed visibly and profusely. Western newspapers reporting on rare visits from Easterners to the k ad ewe – only pensioners were allowed to cross – stressed how overwhelmed they were by the abundance that they found. The k ad ewe never had to bother with shortages. The fame of this “temple of consumption” also attracted the late socialist ruling elite. Sealed delivery vans brought secret orders from k ad ewe through the security installations at the inner-city border. Nothing is more revealing than this evidence that those responsible for the systematic demarcation of the two systems of objects were unable to resist the temptations of goods from the opposite side. However, this was only a minor leak in the attempt to isolate both systems from each other. With the Intershops, socialist leaders imported the very system of objects into their own country. Television and radio waves transcended the Wall in any case, bringing with them the seductive powers of Western material culture. This erosion of delimitation was bound to lead to the absorption of one system of objects into the other. When that actually happened in November 1989, it was immediately evident in the shopping districts of West Berlin, where the citizens of the gdr made ample use of the 100 dm “welcome money” given to each of them by the West German government. What had been implicit for four decades could now be put in plain words by k ad ewe’s managing director: “The house represented … the Western model of life. A department store as a daily showcase in the fight of the systems.” In November 1989 the k ad ewe counted

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some 100,000 customers from the East per day. The management gave out coffee and milk for free and decided to sell bananas – which, due to their chronic lack in East Germany, had acquired extraordinary symbolic value – at cost.25 In the novel Gleisverwerfung, as the protagonist from East Berlin visits a newly opened department store in West Berlin in 1958, we see a reconstruction of the bewilderment the capitalist city produced in the mind of its fictional visitor: “Volker asked himself, his gaze searching in vain for a point of reference to relax in this meandering up and down, how he was ever – in these people-consuming halls, in these storeys piled on top of each other, crammed with the most bewildering colours, shapes and packagings, sparkling and gleaming like treasure chests prized open – how he was ever going to find a scarf in here?” (170). A shopgirl correctly interprets his lack of orientation – he is from the East – and offers help. Their route past myriads of objects is symbolized by a dazzling collage of snippets from their conversation, advertisement slogans, and interior monologues from those they pass. With his guide Volker can converse instead of being instantly overwhelmed. Before leaving him at his destination, she tells him about her exploitative working conditions. He starts to daydream until the friend with whom he came suddenly turns up and wants to take off, as he has managed to steal a mohair scarf and a number of seven-inch record singles. Now Volker has to disentangle himself from the lure of objects. Despite the girl’s criticism of capitalist conditions, this visit epitomizes modern urban life. It is the longest description of an urban landscape in the text and the most modernist passage in terms of its narrative form. Fragments from Volker’s consciousness are combined with bits from his surroundings picked up at random. Thus the text conveys the complexity and simultaneity of countless human actions manifest in urban life. The West’s seductive powers start to take effect as soon as Volker leaves the train: “Shops inside the station building were strongly exuding the scent of coffee and chocolate, a pinch of mint, no, it was not exactly that, rather a waft of lavender” (160). In contrast to this vivid, detailed account, the text deals with East Berlin – the capital of the gdr, after all – only cursorily. We find a similar setting in the West German novel Blende when the narrator accompanies a friend to an unidentified department store and experiences nothing but the alienating spell of commodities. In a reserved tone reminiscent of an instruction manual, he

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describes his surroundings: “The department store consists of recreations of habitats, each floor for groups differentiated by age or custom. In the spaces between the furniture the actors are moving about and performing average behaviour. Anything standing around may be picked up and carried to a cashier” (84). In the bathroom section where his friend wants to buy some soap, the narrator perceives the objects only through the promotional discourses about them: “I am staring at mirror ideas and lavatory phantasies” (85). Nothing implies that certain goods could be interpreted as enriching one’s subjective experience as we saw in Volker’s case with the chewing gum to exchange and the scarf to adorn a girl. The system of objects in Blende, as manifest in the sales all over the city, resembles a hostile empire trying to impose its rule on the lives of the narrator and everyone else. The only alternative appears to be the one the narrator embraces when not selling drugs in Berlin: joining his girlfriend in rural northern Italy. We learn that she favoured radical alternatives, not even allowing newspapers in her house to avoid dealing with nuclear death before its occurrence (10). Whereas the Western protagonists are busily looking for their dreams in regions far from home and denouncing their capitalist surroundings, Volker in Gleisverwerfung happily gets carried away by the sensations around him. This culminates in a passage where it is difficult to distinguish the language of an advertisement for aftershave from the hero’s desires: “Finally leaving behind one’s own skin. Leaving behind one’s narrow circumstances. Finally becoming someone else. The whole wide world, the sumptuous and undivided life, it is open to you as well. Tower Bridge – before and after shaving” (170). Only the penultimate sentence reveals this language as promotion. But the sentiments in this passage remind the reader of frustrations and aspirations Volker has previously articulated in a distinctly private context. After his first venture into West Berlin, he tells the girl he fancies, “Often I feel a yearning – and I do not know what for. I want to get away from home” (36). Expressions of adolescent desire obviously coincide with the thematic predilections of advertising. While Höpfner’s account of material culture is playful, optimistic to the point of an uncritical reverence for Western goods, Morshäuser’s anonymous narrator in Blende avoids communication with either his animate or inanimate environment in the department store. He sees both as governed by sinister rules

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forbidding him to interpret consumer goods as extensions of his subjectivity. In a terminology reminiscent of Georg Simmel, our guide reflects on his attitude even before entering the store: “It is easier to observe this mass of people than a face, easier to talk about all of them than to single someone out.” His detached frame of mind allows him to make disturbing observations: “Their faces thwarted by inane greed for objects you buy so that they stop tormenting you. Buying is their vocation” (83–4). The monolithic system of objects appears to act with an autonomy that brings to mind conditions that Baudrillard saw as threatening human relationships in consumer society. Blende’s narrator continues: “The final push [is] levelled at those tormented by objects, so that they do not forget their duty to buy. I do not want to listen, I proceed, but at the next corner the same conversation is being continued by others … the nauseating vertigo resembling seasickness gets the better of me. I stagger on to other corners, but I cannot liberate myself from these conversations … In years of daily labour these talks of least resistance are developed, which then as social talk will speak through the people themselves” (85–6).26 Whereas the narrator in Gleisverwerfung celebrates the department store as a symbol of modern urban life, his Western colleague in Blende uses the same setting to emphasize his irritation as well as his desire to be distanced from the crowd.27 Normally his tone is reserved and neutral, but on this occasion it comes close to ranting arrogance. Both works attain their highest atmospheric density when their respective protagonists enter department stores. However, in neither case do these descriptions provide impetus for the narrative logic of the text. Without consequences in the chain of events, both visits illustrate a structural aspect of reality that requires their protagonists’ presence where the relationship between consumer culture and the individual can be most clearly defined: that is, in a department store. However, questions of individual perception were not preponderate in the public confrontation between the two hostile consumer systems. One year after the erection of the Berlin Wall a tabloid press journalist railed at the k ad ewe for selling a motorboat manufactured in the gdr. The writer found the accompanying brochure a “fine promotion for Ulbricht’s [East German party leader] twostate-theory … a disgrace” and recommended a store in the West German town of Bielefeld that had publicly renounced carrying any

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goods of East German make. The k ad ewe reacted by withdrawing the brochure but keeping the boat.28 In 1965 the tensions between East and West were already appearing in a wider perspective. k ad ewe customers were welcomed by the American ambassador, George McGhee, and could purchase a glass bearing the famous Kennedy quote, “Ich bin ein Berliner” during a promotion campaign featuring the United States. The building at Wittenbergplatz and the six other department stores owned by the Hertie group were all decorated with images of the New York skyline.29 The transformation of the department store building into an advertising vehicle amply illustrates Baudrillard’s claim of advertising’s general shift from the pursuit of immediate commercial interests connected with single products or brands toward a comprehensive notion of consumer behaviour making use of an overarching symbolism. (1968, 258). In 1968 the British ambassador remarked in a speech opening a “British Week” on how the celebration in the k ad ewe underlined “the optimistic will to live of this great and vital western metropolis.” He was accompanied by the governing mayor, Klaus Schütz, who used the occasion of being the first high-ranking West Berlin politician to deliver a speech on the store’s premises to declare: “We enter more easily into a conversation with a stranger if we know his consumer goods and if we appreciate and use some of them ourselves.“30 This ostentatious emphasis on Western consumer society as opposed to the denounced “other” behind the Wall offers an insight into the ambiguity of the relation between East and West: it is not only that the East emulated the West or simply lagged behind, as Baudrillard suggests, but what transpires is the ideology of demarcation. One system fed on the other, which means that the East also influenced the West, which was unable simply to exist on its own terms but found itself in an odd state of permanent tension. (This form of causality, rooted in a social relationship between two collectives, is more difficult to reconstruct through historical evidence than, for example, the mere fact of the East imitating Western design models in the sphere of market exchange.) The situation at Centrum was equally politicized. This, however, was aimed at the everyday routines of staff and customers and only to a lesser extent performed by party celebrities, who kept praising socialist achievements more generally. One result of regular internal competitions among staff members – designed to enhance both

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economic efficiency and ideological consciousness – was the installing of a public meeting room for the German-Soviet Friendship Society within the store. International sales weeks offered “Wares from Friendly Nations,” including food as well as craft objects and household articles from the people’s republics of Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. A business report, however, concedes that planning difficulties restricted this exchange of goods.31 The internationalization of the department store in East Berlin was based not only upon an exchange of goods but also on contexts of foreign policy. In the early 1970s Centrum, like many other public institutions, organized several collection campaigns “for the children of Vietnam affected by imperialistic war.” Among other activities, elementary school pupils were to decorate eggs under the slogan “Easter Eggs for Vietnam,” to be sold in the store.32 Only a few kilometres to the west, the Vietnam War provoked different reactions. Those who wished to declare their solidarity with the victims of the American engagement could not rely on the organizational framework of the department store but were inclined to attack it as the epitome of capitalist aggression. On a Saturday in December 1969, members of the leftist “extraparliamentary opposition” organized a Vietnam demonstration that passed through West Berlin’s main shopping streets. After the rally some demonstrators decided to enter the k ad ewe to continue their protest. The management called the police, who removed the “troublemakers.” One year earlier, the acquittal of a judge who had pronounced several death sentences during the period of National Socialism also resulted in demonstrators heading for the k ad ewe. Heavy police forces guarded the building as protesters shouted “k ad ewe, we’ll get you!” Discussions among student opposition groups show that the department store was a focal point for the expression of discontent. The proposal to “clean out” the k ad ewe and hand out the spoils to those passing did not find a majority on this occasion, but five weeks later show windows were smashed during a rally commemorating the murders of communist leaders Luxemburg and Liebknecht fifty years before. In August 1967 another demonstration, against a law allowing for extended store hours on Saturdays, had induced the k ad ewe management to close early when sit-in discussion groups were established on all floors. Cold War– minded bourgeois public opinion tended to identify the actions of

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the West Berlin student movement with those of the socialist rulers in the capital of the gdr.33 The theme of consumption was central to the debates over the competing political systems. In this context the department store acquired an additional symbolic meaning, becoming a contested space. Considering the amount and variety of wares produced, the Federal Republic’s superiority seemed obvious. However, parts of the intelligentsia and the student movement questioned this reduction of conscience to a material worldview. The first incendiary bombs that Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and two others exploded in two Frankfurt department stores in 1968 attempted to establish a connection between napalm in Vietnam and consumption in the West. Thus the critics of consumer society carried out the same “internationalization of thought” that led bourgeois politicians to claim that the gi s in Vietnam fought for the freedom of West Berliners to live and consume as they chose. It was a comparable line of reasoning that inspired the Centrum management to collect money for the Vietcong by selling easter eggs (Ruppert 2000, 766). The staging of internationality played a major role in defining the public image of both stores. In January 1966 the k ad ewe ran an advertisement offering employment “in our large departments with their worldwide supply.” This emphasis on cosmopolitanism led to a succession of events such as “North African Weeks” (1952), “Week of the Swiss Book” (1954), “European Week” – meaning only Western Europe – (1958), “Japanese Weeks” (1962), an exhibition and sale of Scandinavian crafts (1963), and French mannequins displaying haute couture (1964).34 At Centrum, staff members were recruited to model garments in a fashion show in 1971. Apart from the sales weeks featuring goods from socialist sister nations, which began in 1972, international events at Centrum were much less frequent. Two decades after the first comparable show at k ad ewe, a Centrum presentation featuring Japanese gastronomy took place. While k ad ewe had offered holiday trips to England as early as 1962, Centrum introduced a travel counter selling domestic flights on the airline Interflug only in 1971. The opening of made-to-measure tailor services showed a similar lag of nearly twenty years.35 These phenomena appear to corroborate Baudrillard’s claim that Eastern consumer society in general lagged behind. However, Baudrillard’s ideas allow us to delve further into these different ways of staging commodities. If actual space is being

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created – being rhythmized by a variable interrelation of forms that refer to each other across emptiness – we can discern not only temporal rhythms of commodity staging but spatial ones as well. Looking at photographs of the interior of the k ad ewe just before its reopening in 1950, the present-day observer is bound to be impressed by the gaps between the relatively few goods on display, even allowing for arrangements of armchairs with no other purpose than that of offering customers a place to relax. This remote glimpse of a spatial rhythm from a bygone era may resemble what Western visitors felt when struck by the immediate difference between the familiar display of abundance in k a d e we and the Centrum-Warenhaus’s image of relative emptiness. Such a perception owes more to the social construction of retail space than to the existence of an objective impossibility to satisfy people’s needs (Baudrillard 1968, 86–8).36 Furthermore, the causalities of cultural transfer processes between the competing systems require historical explanation but are difficult to pin down. In East Germany an orientation toward Western models prevailed, leading their emulation as parameters for competition and measurements of affluence. At the same time, however, Eastern leaders denounced Western society as a whole ideologically, including its consumerist norms, though these could not be addressed directly lest socialism’s backwardness in this respect should become manifest. This outlook provided the central contradiction in East German consumer culture. Claiming to represent an alternative to capitalism, the East German state found itself under increasing pressure. From the perspective of an overarching system of objects, it was strained by Western hegemony in the power to define global values. From below, it faced erosion from citizens aspiring to own personalized systems of objects endowed with Western meanings. Let us illustrate this by analyzing a statement made by Centrum’s director, Vera Lehmann, in March 1987. Referring to the cooperative selling units mentioned above, she stressed that they had put management in a position “to flexibly respond to fashion trends” according to customers’ wishes.37 A good deal of passivity reveals itself here in the words of a manager who, were she to hold the same position in the West, would be (and would perceive herself to be) in the position to set and channel fashion rather than meekly awaiting her customers’ suggestions. The question of where Lehmann’s customers got their inspiration remains open. Did their ideas about fashion

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reflect basic needs or, rather, what was shown on the West German television programs available to most citizens of the gdr in the 1980s? The brand name of the most prominent cooperative selling unit suggests another imitation of Western patterns. According to a business report, the name b&c, standing for Baumwolle (cotton) and Centrum, “has imprinted itself on the minds of all visitors of centrum department stores as an expression of the new quality.” The observer could not help associating this trademark with that of c&a, a big West German textile retailer.38 The very architecture of the new Centrum, built in 1970, provided another example. The inexpensive reinforced concrete structure, devoid of windows in the upper floors, was covered by a netlike suspended aluminum facade. This type of design, easily recognizable from a distance, had been used by the West German department store group Horten as an unofficial trademark since the 1950s. The leading East Berlin business columnist responded to a complaint about the store being without windows by stressing that the new structure corresponded “to the international tendency which is marked by windowless department stores.” The architect himself emphasized that the facade bestowed upon the building “a typical character.“39 These examples show how socialist planning tried to guarantee its citizens a “modern” life too. As in the West, this effort was pursued through symbolic acts. The sign systems of modernity enabled acts of redirection through which a suspended aluminum facade could be labelled as cosmopolitan and representing the International Style. The notion of modernity was more and more associated with a system of objects that were by their very nature unable to fill this notion with meaning. As we know from Baudrillard, a system of objects is not stable enough to provide a complicated and coherent structure of meanings and values that would come close to what language can achieve in terms of discourse. Trademarks – whether c&a or b&c – are but stereotypes, inherently unable to produce a discourse on the system of objects that possesses the reflexivity at the heart of modernity. Even critical thought has become subsumed within the connotations attaching themselves to objects. Baudrillard observes a shift from political issues to themes of consumption within the ideology of Western society, a shift supported by the mass media. The principal claim within this ideology is that of the equality of all consumers. Primarily this articulates itself in the demand for a “happiness” that must show itself in visible form.

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In this context a need only counts as such if it can be satisfied by a use-value identical for everyone, whereas exchange-value marks individuals as socially distinct. Needs and satisfaction complement each other to form a powerful ideology that covers up historical and social difference. The originally political struggle over inequality moves into the field of consumption where – according to an implicit promise – equality, happiness, and pleasure will manifest themselves, as soon as the amount of goods reaches a level satisfying for all. Baudrillard diagnoses an analogous development in socialist societies: here as well, needs are conceived as supposedly devoid of social difference and class connotation, as anthropological. Here too, abundance becomes the principal value, reducing the social transparency of exchanges (1970, 59–62). The two novels, Gleisverwerfung and Blende, represent complex interpretations of the two antagonistic forms of consumer culture. A writer from the gdr chooses as a protagonist someone of his generation – someone old enough to have seen the West as an adolescent. The desirable objects imported from capitalism by this generation served as proof of misconduct and entailed punishment once discovered by parents or teachers. But the text maintains that those confronted with such admonitions became responsible members of socialist society after some adolescent conflicts. Nothing shows their being harmed or corrupted by rockabilly music or blue jeans. The general tone of this narrative is nostalgic, because the building of the Wall in the summer of 1961 put an end to activities such as Volker’s. Henceforth, he and his mates would have to rely on products from a popular culture that in their eyes would always remain the runner-up. The omniscient narrator neatly states this when commenting on display photographs at the local cinema showing an East German actress: “Some woman, even her upper parts were okay – but then again – if you compare her with Monroe – well, the East is always behind” (89). Blende, on the other hand, is an apprehensive reading of a consumer monoculture. Morshäuser mentions the East only once, in a historical reference to the time of the novel’s composition. While the text portrays consumption and its dangers with striking clarity, power relations in the realm of production and politics remain obscure. Blende sees a threat in the individual losing his or her will when faced with the choice of buying rather than being deprived of goods. The text expresses this most clearly in the passages taking

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place in the department store. This interpretation of capitalist intrusion resonates with Baudrillard’s bleaker premonitions from La société de consommation. A further parallel lies in the role both works accord to the mass media: they do not provide sound information as the basis for judgment but, rather, repeat the discourses of promotion. Both our literary sources accord a central role to the department store; both present it on an abstract plane as an important phenotype of capitalism. They amply document and describe the sheer force and suggestiveness that the market economy expresses through this institution. At the same time, the texts represent the stores as locations that generate complex responses in their fictional visitors. The novels differ in the way they assess their protagonists’ experiences. Höpfner portrays the department store as at once intimidating and pleasurable. Initially the teenaged Volker is disoriented when faced with the unfamiliarity of the store, but eventually his timidity subsides and he is carried away by the novelty and abundance of what he sees. Neither his conscience nor the omniscient narrator’s authority criticizes him for that. Any objections against this as the naïve portrayal of capitalist reality are deflected by the author’s decision to introduce the shop assistant and her complaint about the exploitation of the workforce. The possibilities of Morshäuser’s narrator are more restricted. In Blende the store is depicted from a single, subjective point of view, and thus we have nothing to counter his interpretation of it. Furthermore this narrator decides to keep aloof, resisting the impulse to communicate with people inside the store because he sees the desire for incessant consumption as contagious. Affluence has turned into a disease. Ultimately, the society that Morshäuser depicted in an apocalyptical vision prevailed. One German system of objects absorbed the other. After the fall of the Wall, Centrum was bought by the West German Kaufhof group, while the Karstadt group swallowed Hertie and the k ad ewe. Both department stores became part of internationally operating corporations trying to stand their ground against increased competition from shopping malls. Statistical data about the development of retail selling space shows East Germany’s speedy adjustment: in 1989 it had 5 million square metres, or 0.3 sqm per capita. At the same time there were 71 million sqm, or 1.0 sqm per person, in West Germany. Ten years later, the eastern

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part of Germany even narrowly surpassed the western, with a ratio of 1.3 square metres per person versus 1.2 sqm in the West. Simultaneously, we can observe an inverse ratio with respect to the location of large-scale facilities for consumption: whereas in the old federal states, 70 to 80 per cent of shopping malls and department stores are located within the inner city (as opposed to 20 to 30 per cent in the periphery), in the East three-quarters of its retail space is located outside of city centres.40 East Germany now possesses a spatial retail structure characterized by the features Baudrillard attributed some three decades ago to a hypermodern consumer culture based on the American model. By interpreting department stores as global forms, we hope to contribute to a decoding of the dialectical interplay between overarching systems of objects (and the values represented by them) and those local retailing practices that are the result of specific social and historical conditions. Centrum and k ad ewe served as ideal types, representing two systems of consumer culture interacting in a peculiar relationship. The chronic scarcity in one society, and its tendency to become entangled in the system of objects shaped by an opponent that touted its affluence led to contradictions that articulated themselves in the context of the Cold War. We can see the inter-German struggle between systems as an omnipresent, informal urban pacemaker and a major determinant of the rhythms of commodities in the divided city. In our attempt to employ Baudrillard’s theory to get beyond what he himself had to say about the Cold War struggle between the systems, we join Ina Merkel’s call for a sound methodology in dealing with East German consumer culture (1999, 24). Its evolution – like that of developing countries – should not simply be seen as a movement of catching up with the West and emulating it. Rather, we must come to understand the internal logic of that evolution. A systemic approach must account for the mutual interplay influencing both cultures while still being attentive to local particularities. The everyday realities of individuals can hardly be captured within a perspective that focuses solely on the interaction of large systems.

NOTES

1 For discussions of Baudrillard’s theory of consumption, see Peter Lunt and Sonia Livingstone, Mass Consumption and Personal Identity (Buckingham:

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Open University Press, 1992), 20–2; Celia Lury, Consumer Culture (Cambridge: Polity, 1996), 68–72. For example, see Colin Campbell, The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumption (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987); Helmut Frei, Tempel der Kauflust: Eine Geschichte der Warenhauskultur (Leipzig: Leipzig Edition, 1997); Sally-Anne Huxtable, “Seduction of Liberty: A Nineteenth Century Parlour Game,” Make 73 (1996/97): 6–9; Bill Lancaster, The Department Store: A Social History (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1995); Michael B. Miller, The Bon Marché: Bourgeois Culture and the Department Store, 1869–1920 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981); Klaus Strohmeyer, Warenhäuser: Geschichte, Blüte und Untergang im Warenmeer (Berlin: Wagenbach, 1980). See Mary Douglas and Baron Isherwood, The World of Goods (London: Routledge, 1978); Daniel Miller, ed., Acknowledging Consumption: A Review of New Studies (London: Routledge, 1996); Daniel Miller, Material Culture and Mass Consumption (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987); Daniel Miller, A Theory of Shopping (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998). For example, see Ulrike Gerhard, Erlebnisshopping oder Versorgungseinkauf? Eine Untersuchung über den Zusammenhang von Freizeit und Einzelhandel am Beispiel der Stadt Edmonton, Kanada (Marburg: Marburger Geographische Gesellschaft, 1998); Hans G. Helms, “Die Entstehung des Endverbrauchers: Aus der Geschichte der Konsumanlagen,” Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik 40 (1995): 1232–40; Jeffrey Hopkins, “West Edmonton Mall: Landscape of Myth and Elsewhereness,” Canadian Geographer 34 (1990): 2–17; Gerhard Keim, Magic Moments: Ethnographische Gänge in die Konsumwelt (Frankfurt: Campus-Verlag, 1999); Daniel Miller, ed., Unwrapping Christmas (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993); Daniel Miller et al., Shopping, Place and Identity (London: Routledge, 1998); Meaghan Morris, “Things to Do with Shopping Centres,” in The Cultural Studies Reader, ed. Simon During (London: Routledge, 1993), 295–319; Regula Stammbach, Corporate Identity: Verhaltenswissenschaftliche Grundlagen mit Fallbeispielen aus dem Bereich Einkaufszentren (Bern: Huber, 1993). Among the few historical approaches to the shopping mall: Kenneth T. Jackson, “All the World‘s a Mall: Reflections on the Social and Economic Consequences of the American Shopping Centre,” American Historical Review 101 (1996): 1111–21. In La société de consommation, Baudrillard’s critical interpretation of culture tends toward a paranoid vision of global culture and society that is totally homogenized. He thus interprets shopping malls as bridgeheads of an all-conquering capitalism (1970, 25–6). In a similar vein, French

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anthropologist Marc Augé argues that the shopping mall, among other “non-places” of “super-modernity” such as airports or theme parks, threatens to even out cultural differences on a global plane (Non-lieux: Introduction à une anthropologie de la surmodernité [Paris: Seuil, 1992]). Cf. Barthold Pelzer and Alexander Sedlmaier, “Marc Augé, Orte und Nicht-Orte: Vorüberlegungen zu einer Ethnologie der Einsamkeit,” Informationen zur modernen Stadtgeschichte 31, no. 2 (2000): 66–72. On the level of pure technical function, consumption does not exist, for in the absence of combinatorial variables there is neither model nor serial production. The realm of “pure” machines, like rolling mills or nuclear missiles, does not bring forth deluxe versions. A new generation of such objects is limited to an increase in technological sophistication (cf. Baudrillard 1970, 195–6). Karl Marx used the concept of “alienation” to describe the mental processes that systematically veil the origin of the objects as products of human labour. This concept was further elaborated by György Lukács under the Weberian notion of “reification.” Unfortunately the author does not further specify his source for the Allensbach survey. The overall system of objects and its representations in advertising function by virtue of their codes as stabilizers devoted to the service of society’s global structure (Baudrillard 1968, 248–9; 274). This idea can be related to Norbert Elias’s concept of the “civilizing process:” the forging and satisfying of new needs by serial-production and advertisement function as the immanent and omnipresent social arbiter of modern society. Cf. Norbert Elias, Über den Prozeß der Zivilisation (1939; Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2 vols: 1976). Baudrillard does not focus individual acts of consumption. Thus the interaction between subjective practices and the overall system of objects remains vague. In his account humans tend to appear reduced to passive functions performing processes of consumption and signification. For example: Richard Hinton Thomas and Wilfried van der Will, Der deutsche Roman und die Wohlstandsgesellschaft: Gaiser, Koeppen, Böll, Grass, Walser, Johnson (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1969). The name Kaufhaus des Westens dates back to the initial opening in 1907. It denoted the store’s location in the fashionable bourgeois districts close to the western city limits of imperial Berlin. There is little research on the history of the two stores. The literature focuses on the architectural history and the “golden epoch” of the Berlin department stores before World War Two. No historical treatment

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acknowledges the mere existence of the old Centrum department store prior to the erection of the 1970 building. See Architekten- und Ingenieur-Verein zu Berlin, ed., Berlin und seine Bauten, part 8: Bauten für Handel und Gewerbe, vol. a: Handel (Berlin: Ernst, 1978); G. Kunert, “Warenhaus ‚Centrum‘ in Berlin,” Deutsche Architektur 22 (1971): 465–75. “Skizzen aus dem k ad ewe,” Berliner Zeitung, 2 February 1955. “Pariser Chic im Kaufhaus,” Berliner Zeitung, 29 September 1964. For example, see “Mögen Sie Elefantenfleisch?” Berliner Zeitung, 29 April 1969; “Im k ad ewe am ersten Tage,” Der Tagesspiegel, 4 July 1950; “Glas in brillantem Rahmen,” Die Welt, 6 May 1967. In 1997 the k ad ewe’s public-relations manager responded to an internal inquiry from head office listing the six most expensive items on sale. The leading entry was a gold necklace with a nine carat diamond for 169,000 dm (letter, Karin Tauer to Frau Baumeister [Karstadt Pressestelle], 31 January 1997, k ad ewe archive. We thank the management, and especially Mr Werk (Organisationsleiter), for granting us access. See Ina Merkel, Utopie und Bedürfnis: Die Geschichte der Konsumkultur in der ddr (Köln: Böhlau, 1999), 88–119. Merkel’s substantial monograph pursues mail-order and chain stores but hardly mentions department stores. Also see Annette Kaminsky, Illustrierte Konsumgeschichte der ddr (Erfurt: Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Thüringen, 1999); Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (ed.), Wunderwirtschaft. ddr-Konsumkultur in den 60er Jahren (Köln: Böhlau, 1996). “Fachverkaufsstellen, die handelsübliche Ersatzteile für elektrische Haushaltsgeräte führen,” Berliner Zeitung, 25 December 1973. “Bestellisten für Ersatzteilwünsche,” Neues Deutschland, 14 July 1971. “centrum-Warenhaus Berlin, Alexanderplatz. Erfolge für die Bevölkerung,” Handelswoche, 16 April 1971. Horst Sindermann, member of the Politburo of the Socialist Unity Party, finished his tour of the premises with “a lively exchange of ideas” with the employees: “Many suggestions and hints were debated, how production and trade could in the future even more appropriately use the available capacities … for the benefit of the consumers” (“Gestern Besuch im Warenhaus am Alex,” Berliner Zeitung, 10 August 1971). “Wenn man reinkommt – geradeaus,” Berliner Zeitung, 6 March 1971. A similar argument may be made concerning the decrease and transformation of the department store’s gender specific aspects. See Mica Nava, Changing Cultures: Feminism, Youth and Consumerism (London: Sage, 1992).

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23 See Andrzej Kozminski, “Consumers in Transition from the Centrally Planned Economy to the Market Economy (Eastern Europe),” Journal of Consumer Policy 14 (1991/92): 354. 24 “Bericht des Zentralkomitees an den VIII: Parteitag der Sozialistischen Einheitspartei Deutschlands/Berichterstatter: Genosse Erich Honecker,” Neues Deutschland, 16 June 1971: 5; “Kooperationsstände in centrum-Warenhäusern?” bz am Abend, 12 August 1985. 25 “Der 80 jährige Konsumpalast, der östliche Besucher ‘erschlägt,’” Welt am Sonntag, 29 March 1978; “Für die Berliner mehr als nur ein Ort zum Einkaufen,” Die Welt, 7 August 1990. The information about the deliveries to the East was confirmed by the k ad ewe management. 26 Baudrillard suggests that the critical stance articulated by our narrator is functionally integrated into the system: “Ce code est totalitaire, nul n’y échappe: y échapper à titre privé ne signifie pas que nous ne participions pas chaque jour à son élabouration sur le plan collectif. Ne pas y croire, c’est encore croire assez que les autres y croient pour entrer même ironiquement dans le jeu. Même les conduites réfractaires à ce code sont tenues en fonction d’une société qui s’y conforme” (Le système des objets, 271–2). 27 More passages prove the centrality of “consumption” as a theme in Morshäuser’s text. The author uses italics to point at slogans, be it in the realm of politics or promotion, speech acts praising or boosting something. Various instances share this quality: the advertising texts in the bathroom section, quoted above, a statement from a football coach “We play to win!” (62), a slogan uttered by the narrator “High sein, frei sein, Konsumterror muß dabei sein!” (Be high, be free, consumption terror must be part of it!) (105) and the inscription on a plastic bag he sees on the plane: “See-buy-fly” (11). All go to demonstrate propaganda advocating a hostile system of objects. The italics highlight utterances inviting people to consume, meant to increase consumption or to share stereotypical political points of view. On the other hand, consumer goods, even brand-name products, in the hands of characters are never typographically marked, because they are appropriated. 28 “Reklame für Ulbricht,” Berliner Zeitung, 10 April 1962. 29 “Reizvoller Import,” Berliner Morgenpost, 27 March 1965. 30 Landespressedienst Berlin, “Britische Woche” in Berlin eröffnet, no. 55 (15 March 1968). “Bobbys [sic] wandeln durch das Kaufhaus,” Die Welt, 16 March 1968. 31 “Ein Schmuckstück im Warenhaus,” Der Morgen, 14 August 1975; “Bulgarische Verkaufswochen im centrum-Warenhaus,” Berliner Zeitung,

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8 May 1976. Business reports of the Centrum department stores can be found at Bundesarchiv, Berlin (ba ). Here: Ministerium für Handel und Versorgung, Abt. Einzelhandel, Geschäftsbericht 1986 ve Warenhäuser centrum, dl 1–870: 3.3 „Entwicklung des Konsumgüteraustausches.” “Ostergruß für Vietnam,” Berliner Zeitung, 25 March 1971; “Was bringt der centrum-Frühling,” bz am Abend, 7 March 1972. “Drei Festnahmen nach Demonstrationen,” Der Tagesspiegel, 16 December 1969; “Anheizen für die heutige Demonstration,” Der Abend, 14 December 1968; “5000 Teilnehmer in Berlin bei Demonstration gegen RehseUrteil,” Der Tagesspiegel, 15 December 1968; “Nach dem Protestmarsch klirrten die Scheiben,” Berliner Morgenpost, 19 January 1969; “König Kunde war der Dumme,” Berliner Morgenpost, 27 August 1967. “Wir geben gern für Ihre Mitarbeit,” k ad ewe advertisement, Berliner Morgenpost, 9 January 1966; “Nordafrika am Wittenbergplatz,” Der Tagesspiegel, 15 January 1952; “Das Schweizer Buch,” Der Telegraf, 13 March 1954; “Europa in Berlin,” Berliner Zeitung, 15 April 1958; “Kimonos, Kirschblüten und Kameras,” Die Welt, 15 May 1962; “Anregungen für das Tischdecken,” Berliner Morgenpost, 27 April 1963. “Sie laufen, tänzeln und schreiten,” bz am Abend, 3 February 1971; “Kudamonadango und Kimonos,” Der Tagesspiegel, 15 May 1962; “Im centrum wird gebucht,” Berliner Zeitung, 19 August 1971; “Zuschnitt gleich am Ladentisch,” Bild-Zeitung, 22 October 1965; “Guter Zuschnitt für das neue Stück im centrum,” Berliner Zeitung, 10 February 1984. An album showing some thirty black-and-white interior stills from before the reopening in 1950 can be found in the k ad ewe firm archive “Vom Hersteller direkt auf den Ladentisch,” bz am Abend, 12 March 1987. Geschäftsbericht 1986 ve Warenhäuser centrum, ba, dl 1–870: 1.3, “Ergebnisse bei Erhöhung des Niveaus der Verkaufskultur.” “Warum ein Warenhaus ohne Fenster?” Berliner Zeitung, 11 March 1971. Kunert, “Warenhaus ‘Centrum’ in Berlin,” 474. Volker‘s enthrallment by the architecture of the West Berlin department store he visited in 1958 points in the same direction: “Like a bizarre pyramid ascending in steps, rising enormously on the opposite side of the street into the remainder of the sky, windowless, cased with thousands of strangely bent and broken tiles, a building of the most colossal size rose in front of them” (Gleisverwerfung, 168–9). Data from Anja Schäfer, Cityentwicklung und Einzelhandel: Hintergründe und Ansatzpunkte eines kommunalen Citymarketings zur Steigerung der Urbanität des “Einkaufszentrums City” (Hamburg: Verlag Dr Kovacč, 1999), 100–5).

10 Modern Heroics: The Flâneur in Adolfo Bioy Casares’s El sueño de los héroes AMANDA HOLMES

The flâneur of Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin – the idle urban walker of mid-nineteenth-century Parisian modernity, the male observer whose gaze deciphers the multiple impressions of the city – has been reconceived by Elisabeth Wilson as “invisible,” indeed “impotent.” In an influential work, Janet Wolff (1985) has contrasted the supposed power and visibility of this flâneur to the invisibility of the unrecognized female urban dweller, the “invisible flaneuse,” dwelling amidst the shadows and labyrinths of the city. For Wilson, however, the male flâneur himself exists within the Benjaminian labyrinth of the city, subject to an attenuation of his masculine power: “The flâneur represents masculinity as unstable, caught up in the violent dislocations that characterized urbanization. In the labyrinth the flâneur effaces himself, becomes passive, feminine. In the writing of fragmentary pieces, he makes of himself a blank page upon which the city writes itself” (1995, 74–5). Wilson concludes that it is “the flâneur, not the flâneuse, who is invisible,” as for her the passive stance relegated typically to the characterization of the feminine becomes the definition of this male personality (75). Yet whether the walker is male or female, the flâneur’s gaze remains the same: it does not dominate the surroundings but passively assimilates the city. Urban space becomes an accumulation of impressions acting upon the mind of the walking individual. Wilson stages the encounter between the flâneur and the urban scene as one in which the environment is clearly in control. The city impresses itself so forcefully upon this figure that he stares, in awe,

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disbelief or miscomprehension, at the urban object of desire. We expect the city to speak to the flâneur; urban space should inspire the observer to creativity and artistic expression, as in the case of Balzac’s flâneur-artiste. In Wilson’s interpretation, however, the productive aspect of this flâneur-city relationship is missing. In the most positive outcomes, artistic creation still occurs but, due to the diminished persona of the urban walker, falls short of the heroism that a creative act claims to embody. In framing the city as an object of desire, the penetrating gaze of the flâneur means to dominate this space, but in its failure to dominate, only traces of heroism remain. For the flâneur, to become a hero is an unfulfilled dream. Buenos Aires, with its European architectural and cultural models, also adopted the Parisian figure of the flâneur. While that figure stood for urban sophistication, it came into question during the first volatile era of Peronism. Under the first two terms of Juan Domingo Perón’s leadership (1946–55), with the support of his influential wife, Eva Duarte, new labour-backed social policies including women’s suffrage, a minimum wage, and a state system of pensions and health benefits were introduced in Argentina. Industries were nationalized and employment opportunities created. The new social orders reconstrued the spatial codes that had previously defined Buenos Aires. From a downtown clearly dominated by middle and upper class traffic, the city now became a regular site for mass gatherings and worker demonstrations. In an early short story, “Las puertas del cielo,” in a passage that he later regretted having written, Julio Cortázar pejoratively describes the members of the Peronist crowd as “monstruos” Asoman con las once de la noche, bajan de regiones vagas de la ciudad, pausados y seguros de uno o de a dos; las mujeres casi enanas y achinadas, los tipos como javaneses o mocovíes, apretados en trajes a cuadros o negros, el pelo duro peinado con fatiga, brillantina en gotitas contra los reflejos azules y rosa, las mujeres con enormes peinados altos que las hacen más enanas” (129). [They appear at around eleven at night. They come down from undefined regions of the city, slow and assured in ones or twos; the women coarse and dwarfish, the guys like Javaneses or Mocovíes (an indigenous group from the Argentine region), pressed together in suits – either black or checkered – their hair

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stiff and wearily combed, drops of hair gel against the blue and pink reflections, the women with enormous hairdos that make them even more dwarfish.] (my translation) Cortázar’s reaction to the masses and his frustration toward such Peronist policies as censorship led him to emigrate to Paris. His reaction was shared perhaps even more vehemently by other porteño authors of the time, who congregated primarily around the literary journal Sur, most notably Jorge Luis Borges, Victoria Ocampo, and the focus of this study, Adolfo Bioy Casares.1 The publication date of Bioy Casares’s El sueño de los héroes (The dream of heroes) (1954) suggests the probability of links between the novel’s thematic content and the Peronist government, a connection that has been observed in several critical analyses. Bioy himself admits in an interview, “El Buenos Aires descrito en El sueño es el que yo viví en mis primeras salidas … antes del treinta y también el Buenos Aires de la época en que escribí la novela” (quoted by Bastos 1980a, 21). [The Buenos Aires described in The Dream is one that I lived in my first outings … before 1930 as well as the Buenos Aires from the era in which I wrote the novel]. Despite specific references to the period between 1927 and 1930, the novel presents a thinly disguised critique of Peronist characters, casting Doctor Sebastián Valerga as the obvious villain who, reminiscent of Perón himself, leads his working-class victims in reprehensible criminal behaviours. The undefined identity of the protagonist Emilio Gauna becomes the novel’s focus, as Bioy recounts the indecision of this twenty-one-year-old orphan, who, upon moving to Buenos Aires, vacillates between joining the evil forces of Valerga and his compadritos and the respectable influence of the Sorcerer Taboada and his daughter, Clara. Throughout the novel Gauna is haunted by the experience of the carnival of 1927, certain that it was the site of a crucial life-changing event that he cannot recall. He attempts to piece together his memories of the carnival, returning to locales that he remembers visiting with his friends in 1927, and finally organizing a recreation of that experience during this carnival of 1930. During the second carnival, it is revealed that in 1927 Gauna had averted his true destiny, which was to die in a knife fight with Doctor Valerga. He had dreamt this death before, and in the 1930 event he does die.

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This article seeks to develop the typology of the urban figure in relation to Buenos Aires. Wilson’s claim about the invisibility and impotence of the flâneur serves as a starting point to define urban experience under Peronism as represented in El sueño. From this context, Bioy characterizes the Parisian figure of the flâneur by a vacuous sophistication, and the urbanized gaucho as stripped of his ideal heroism. Instead, Bioy develops a new urban figure to characterize the Buenos Aires inhabitant during the Peronist era: the shadow. This persona, a shifting follower without a stable identity, attaches himself to the preferred figure of the moment. As the novel’s protagonist represents Bioy’s perception of the urban personality under Perón we realize that here modern heroism is merely a dream. THE UNLIKELY FLÂNEUR

Bioy parodies the Parisian flâneur in the figure of an unnamed man at the carnival dance who recounts his experiences as a student in Paris. This man describes the Concorde as a flâneur would, enchanted by the impression of the city scene: “Pues bien, yo descubrí esa noche la Concorde. Ahí estaba, con toda la iluminación, con las fuentes funcionando y nadie más que yo la veía” (199).1 [Well, I discovered the Concorde that night. There it was, all lit up, the fountains playing and no one except me to see it (Thorold 1988, 202)].2 This man’s excitement at being alone to gaze on the urban spectacle, the description of him as “como un artista avesado” (199) [like a skilled artist (Thorold 202)], and his final flourish – a bow – at the end of the dance number underscore his flâneur-like qualities. Bioy continues this characterization through the figure’s equating of Buenos Aires and Paris: “Qué ciudad padre, Buenos Aires. He llegado ayer y todavía no acabo de conocerla. Es la París de América, ¿no le parece?” (198). [Buenos Aires, what a great city. I arrived yesterday and I still haven’t finished getting to know it. It is the Paris of America, don’t you think? (my translation)]. That this idle visitor considers the two cities surprisingly similar, finding in Buenos Aires a complexity that he is unable to decipher in a oneday visit, results in a comparison welcomed by a Buenos Aires that prides itself on its European sophistication. However, Bioy has been careful throughout the novel to recodify the city, highlighting those aspects of Buenos Aires that subvert its image as Parisian spectacle.

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The reaction of the Parisian flâneur to Buenos Aires contrasts markedly with the response of Gauna to this same city – one of miscomprehension and uneasiness. His uncanny experience of piecing together events that he does not fully recall heightens his discomfort with the urban environment. For Gauna, Buenos Aires hovers on the limit between familiar and unfamiliar space, a city with two faces that, like the Freudian doppelgänger, causes a feeling of uneasiness. It is not surprising, therefore, that while the Parisian flâneur delights in his idle gaze on fellow city dwellers and street scenes, Bioy’s character travels through the city at breakneck speed, finding himself exhausted in unfamiliar settings, consistently misreading the modern city and allowing these misinterpretations to inform and construct his volatile identity. While Gauna thinks little about questions of art and literature, the Parisian flâneur finds himself seduced by the modern city, captivated and engaged by his surroundings as if they were a book to be read. A clear example of this textualization of Paris may be found in the work of one of the earliest German author-flâneurs, Ludwig Börne. In his Schilderungen aus Paris [Depictions from Paris] (1822), Börne describes Paris as an “unfolded book[;] wandering through its streets means reading. In this instructive [lehrreich] and delightful [ergötzlich] work, illustrated in such plenitude with images true to nature [naturtreu], I browse every day for several hours” (quoted in Gleber 1999, 10). In Berlin, flânerie consisted in the “reading of the street,” according to Franz Hessel in Spazieren in Berlin (1929): “Flanieren ist eine Art Lektüre der Straße, wobei Menschengesichter, Auslagen, Schaufenster, Caféterrassen, Bahnen, Autos, Bäume zu lauter gleichberechtigten Buchstaben werden, die zusammen Worte, Sätze und Seiten eines immer neuen Buches ergeben” (103). [Flânerie is a sort of reading of the street in which people’s faces, window displays, café terraces, trams, cars, trees become valid letters of the alphabet, which together constitute words, sentences, and pages of an ever-new book (my translation)]. Buenos Aires does not entirely escape this textualization of urban space. Authors from the third and fourth decades of the twentieth century, from pre-Peronist Argentina, also portray this city as a legible text. For example, Roberto Arlt’s sketches of Buenos Aires, Aguafuertes porteños – originally published between 1928 and 1935 as articles in the Buenos Aires newspaper El mundo – engage in a series of readings of this city. Bioy, on the other hand, represents a

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Peronist space that escapes the interpretation of its inhabitants. In marked contrast to images associated with the European and prePeronist flâneur, neither the Peronist city nor its urban figures possess the characteristics needed to make their spaces readable. Gauna does not have the creativity of the artist’s gaze; Peronist Buenos Aires is not a legible text. Indeed, Gauna’s perceptions of the street scenes undo our expectations of an artist’s observing eye. In a moment of concentrated study, he “miró con insistencia de pintor … ese árbol corpulento y retorcido, cuyo ramaje, de una tonalidad azul verdosa, parecía doblegarse en una lluvia de hojas sutiles, y se preguntó por qué no lo habrían derribado” (81) [gazed with the intentness of a painter at a stout gnarled tree whose foliage, green shading into blue, seemed to lean over in a cascade of delicate leaves, and wondered why it had not been cut down (Thorold 1988, 77)]. A gnarled old tree, a vision that would inspire a painter to pick up his brush, causes him to consider, rather, why it has not been destroyed. Instead of pondering artistically on how to maintain the image, he seeks to disassemble the vision and hack down the tree. Constantin Guys, the painter who is the prototype of the flâneur for Baudelaire, would never respond to a spectacular city tree like this. Gauna does not consciously engage in marvelling at the city. Rather, he walks through the urban space as though he were dreaming: “Caminaba como sonámbulo, no veía nada, o involuntariamente concentraba la atención en un objeto” (81). [He wandered on like a sleepwalker, at one moment seeing nothing, at another concentrating his attention involuntarily upon a single object (Thorold 1988, 77)]. Like a sleepwalker, he perceives his surroundings through tired eyes.3 The cityscape continues as if part of a dream, as he moves through the spaces reflecting anxiously upon his preoccupations. Not as skilled a reader as the flâneur, he is aware of his surroundings only inasmuch as they interject themselves into his thoughts. On other occasions, Gauna’s spatial illiteracy is exacerbated because he does not stop long enough to ponder the city as a space to be read. Images of streets and neighbourhoods flash past as he moves quickly through them, concerned only with the faithfulness of his girlfriend. The intense movement and his frustration are both apparent in the snap descriptions of the cityscapes he travels past:

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Caminó un tiempo que podía ser la eternidad; bordeó el paredón del cementerio de la Chacarita, cruzó vías y distinguió, entre las casas, vagones ferroviarios, pasó por corralones, y por hornos de ladrillos y con recogimiento avanzó por fin por la calle Artigas, bajo árboles oscuros que parecían formar una cúpula más allá del cielo. Cruzó otras vías, llegó a la plaza de Flores. Advirtió súbitamente que estaba cansado; debía sentarse, debía entrar en un café o en un restaurante y sentarse a tomar algo. Pero había demasiada gente. Había tanta gente, que se enojó. (82) [He walked for a time which seemed endless; he skirted the wall of the cemetery of the Chacarita, crossed railway-lines and saw between the houses railway carriages; he passed timber-yards and brick-kilns and finally, self-absorbed, he followed Artigas, beneath dark trees which seemed to form a vault beyond the sky. He crossed more railway-lines and reached the plaza de Flores. He suddenly noticed that he was tired; he had to sit down, he had to go into a café or a restaurant and sit down and have something to drink. But there were too many people. There were so many people that he got fed up.] (Thorold 1988, 78) Gauna’s route is marked by the signifiers of work (the timberyards and brick-kilns), travel (the railway lines he crosses), and death (the cemetery and the trees that form a vault), three essential elements of the human experience. This city is very different from the flâneur’s cosmopolitan image of modern urban space in which art, literature, and culture prevail. This is a city that belongs to those who work and move through it, and who are confronted by their own mortality. Gauna crosses the railway tracks but does not follow them. He moves around the wall of the cemetery but not through it, implying a detachment from his surroundings. As if trying to supersede his mortality, he traverses the city to the point of exhaustion. The tiredness comes to him suddenly, as if the city had kept him mobile beyond his control, as if his perception of his own being were in some way impaired by the urban journey. He does not possess sufficient insight to recreate the city in art, nor does he know how to concentrate his gaze in such a way as to decipher the urban space as flâneurs are expected to do. In Bioy’s version, the walk through the city gains a new intensity as the modern urban stroll presents itself as a way of claiming the self. A

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strange new sort of flânerie is enacted in his search to fulfill this goal. Instead of merely walking and observing, he strives to actually reproduce previous events in order to decipher the meaning of the spaces that determined their occurrence. His flâneur-like creativity surfaces in this act as he stages an urban scene – a reproduction of the 1927 carnival – that reveals his identity. THE NEW MODERN HERO

Heroism figures prominently in Charles Baudelaire’s interpretation of the flâneur and this personality’s connection to the modern world. In the final section of “The Salon of 1846,” Baudelaire defines the “heroism of modern life,” insisting that both “beauty” and “heroism” can be found in modern society, making it unnecessary to turn to historical models. Arguing against the dismissal of the contemporary landscape as an inspiration for modern artists, he exclaims that “there are such things as modern beauty and modern heroism!” and that furthermore “life of our city is rich in poetic and marvelous subjects” (119). In “Le peintre de la vie moderne,” a later version of his ideas on the artist, Baudelaire describes the flâneur as the hero, indeed a last form of heroism that emerges out of contemporary decadence, in that this character manages to perceive and recreate the modern urban experience (1922, 91).4 This curious displacement of the hero from the object of the flâneur’s gaze to the flâneur himself demonstrates the ambiguous subject position of this figure. That the seeker of the heroic object can at the same time be the hero casts the figure of the hero as one rooted in instability. It is this ambiguity that, for Elizabeth Wilson, betrays a feminizing of this modern figure. We must question the significance of a heroism that defines itself through the mere assimilation and representation of the urban object. In Peronist Buenos Aires, the feminized hero takes shape through the urbanization of the classical Argentinean counter-figure to the Parisian flâneur: the gaucho. The gaucho embodies the heroic element in Jorge Luis Borges’s 1955 interpretation of El sueño de los héroes: Aquí el hombre del secreto es el gaucho. Cargas de caballería y vastas empresas nos propone la historia, pero la figura en la que el argentino encuentra su símbolo es la del hombre solo y valiente,

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que en un lance de la llanura o del arrabal se juega la vida con el cuchillo. Sarmiento, Hernández, Ascasubi, del Campo, Gutiérrez y Carriego, han forjado ese mito de peleador. (88–9) [Here the secret man is the gaucho. History suggests gallant tasks and elaborate undertakings for the hero, but the figure that gives the Argentinean his symbol is the one of the courageous and solitary man who, in a quarrel in the prairie or the slum, wages his existence with the knife. Sarmiento, Hernández, Ascasubi, del Campo, Gutiérrez, and Carriego have carved that myth of the fighter.] (my translation) In Borges’s analysis, the hero evolves from the Argentine myth of the gaucho in a manner that recalls the thematics of many of Borges’s own short stories, in which urban ideals collide with dreams of the pampa. In “El Sur,” for example, the city inhabitant seeks to reconcile his urban identity with that of the gaucho. As Juan Dahlmann is dying in a sanatorium, he imagines travelling to the mythical Argentine South and its pampas. There in a tavern some labourers pick a fight with him, and he is forced into a duel. One of the significant features of this story is the figure of the dishevelled gaucho – part of the “eternity” of the South – who passes Dahlmann the knife for the fight. Dahlmann upholds this gaucho’s mythic presence in the dreamed tavern by fighting the courageous fight and dying the honourable death. Although the narrator lives in the city and is a part of urban reality, his conception of honourable death involves a knife fight in the South. This conception of honour is overturned in Bioy’s interpretation of the knife fight. Bioy shows us the dishonour of the gaucho myth once it has become urbanized, and the glorification of the movement from country to city as rooted in an elitist, intellectual perception of contemporary Argentine politics, one that judged the Peronist movement as a vestige of barbarism imposed on a civilized Buenos Aires. Indeed, in resistance to his flâneur-like attributes, and only grudgingly adopting the posture of the urban figure, Gauna associates the city with a space that forces on him the gruelling task of interpretation. Like Borges’s Juan Dahlmann, he longs to escape Buenos Aires for the paradise of open spaces, the pampa. He feels he can lose himself – “perderse” – in the Argentine countryside, away from the city’s vast illegibility:

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Asomado a esa vaga extensión urbana, a ese crepúsculo de techos, de patios y de follajes, Gauna sintió las nostalgias que despierta la contemplación del mar desde la costa; pensó en otras lejanías; recordó los dilatados ámbitos de la República y deseó emprender largos viajes ferroviarios, buscar trabajo en las cosechas, en Santa Fe, o perderse en la Gobernación de La Pampa. (77) [Gazing out over the indistinct sprawl of the city, that dusky vista of roofs, yards and foliage, Gauna felt the sort of yearning that one feels when one looks out to sea from the coast; he thought of other distant places; of the vast boundaries of the Republic, and he wanted to go on long railway journeys, to look for work in the harvest, in Santa Fe, or lose himself in the reservation of La Pampa.] (Thorold 1988, 74; translation modified) Bioy points to the pre-Peronist Argentine past with nostalgia, using the term “Gobernación” [reservation] to describe the political affiliations of the Pampas region. As Perón changed the nomenclature from “reservation” to “province,” Bioy, by using the former term, conflates Gauna’s desired flight to the country with an escape from an explicitly Peronist city. The idealization of the pampa endows Gauna’s final duel in urban Buenos Aires with a brutality that stems in part from its disconnection from the traditional setting. The honour attributed to the knife fight in the pampa is undermined in the city, where such valiance has lost its respect. That the city is feminized in the novel only serves to further undermine the heroism of the urbanized gaucho. Urban sophistication, marked by cultural production and an incisive awareness of the city environment, is embodied by Clara (“clear” in Spanish). This female protagonist represents the seer in the text: she perceives her surroundings intuitively, even inheriting her father’s magical gift of clairvoyance. Associated with intellect and urban culture – the blind musician’s rendition of “Claire de lune,” an allusion to Clara’s name, causes Gauna to wish to be more artistically adept and play the violin. Her intelligence is described as “más dúctil” (117) (more intuitive) than that of the male characters.5 She remains childless, affirming her urban symbolic role in her disassociation from “natural” fertile womanhood, working instead as lead actress in the production of the Ibsen play The Lady and the Sea, an activity that alienates Gauna and highlights his lack of sophistication.6 Through

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the feminization of urban space, the city becomes mysterious and unfamiliar, a labyrinth to conquer in a heroic trial.7 It is therefore not surprising that Gauna’s walks through the city involve a constant preoccupation with his conquest of Clara. Urban space and female love object conflate in his mind as two indecipherable elements that require interpretation. Heroism in both subject and object remains elusive: the subject (Gauna) searches incessantly for the meaning of his surroundings, hoping to identify a road toward heroism; the object (the city) finally influences him to embrace the values of the gaucho, a figure who only retains a sense of honour in the rural setting. Baudelaire’s ambiguous definition of the modern hero and Wilson’s interpretation of this hazy entity would both aptly describe Gauna and his interaction with the Peronist city. Instead of capably linking the identities of both flâneur and gaucho, Gauna rather breaks down both personas. As he never manages to fully adopt either, but at the same time is reluctant to reject either one, his character never forms. His quest toward heroism fails in his inability to define his identity without killing himself. IDENTITY AS SHADOW

While Buenos Aires provides two exemplary identities in the Parisian flâneur and the Argentine gaucho, both remain foreign to the Peronist urban experience. The alternation between his estrangement and his adoption of both entities marks Gauna as a character lost in this urban space, indecisive, vacillating, but also alienated from his surroundings. Through this ambivalent subject, Bioy conceives of a new urban personality with which to characterize Peronist Buenos Aires: the prototypical follower or shadow figure, who moves fleetingly from one urban lifestyle to another. Adhering to the mood of the moment, the shadow falls in step behind a crowd, passively accepting the prescriptions of the leaders. This figure pursues others in and out of urban locales and, never constructing an active individualized relationship with his surroundings, always fails to define himself as an independent subject. That this shadow identity represents Gauna comes as no surprise, since his social environment relentlessly forces him to adopt one personality or another. Indeed, the shadow figure suits Bioy’s characterization of the Peronist followers. Unthinkingly attached to a domineering paternal

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figure, the compadritos are cast as a derogatory allegory of the Peronist masses in pursuit of their leader. In this case, the symbol of Perón – Doctor Valerga – recognizes that his own influence undermines the individuality of his followers as he urges on his boys during the first carnival: “Parecen la sombra de ustedes, muchachos, pero Gauna y este viejo siguen con ánimo” (25). [You look mere shadows of yourselves, my boys, whereas Gauna and I – old as I am – are still full of energy (Thorold 1988, 18)]. Shadow appearances multiply as the narrative repeatedly reveals incidents in which one character functions as a double of another. At one point Gauna comments that the Sorcerer Taboada sometimes reminds him of Doctor Valerga (61). This doubling of opposite personas conveys the deceptive quality of Gauna’s vision. The symbolic role of father that these men play for Gauna taints his perception of them, causing him to see their figures but not their complete identities as he shifts his loyalty between one and the other. 8 Simulated identities abound, from Clara, the “masked girl” at the carnival, to Valerga, whose status as doctor is called into question. Because the gang is going to the carnival with Valerga, the boys do not disguise themselves, implying that they already have masked identities. However, it is Gauna who most frequently appears doubled or shadowed. His relationship to Doctor Valerga in the novel’s first chapters is so close that at one point he even seems to have become Valerga himself: “Alguien podría sugerir que soñando una íntima y apenas perceptible fantasía alcohólica el joven Gauna se convertía en el viejo Valerga” (19). [One could suggest that, when he experienced a personal and barely perceptible alcoholic fantasy, the young Gauna would turn into the old Valerga (my translation)]. After the carnival, in the intimacy of Doctor Valerga’s home, the old man shows Gauna photographs of his youth and family, allowing Gauna entrance into his identity as a father would a son (57–8). Taboada confirms this doubling when he tells Gauna his fortune: “Allí usted murió la semana pasada y allí está viviendo para siempre. Allí usted se ha convertido en un hombre razonable y también se ha convertido en Valerga” (39). [There you died last week and there you are alive forever. There you have become a reasonable man and you have also become Valerga (my translation)]. The emptiness and the ambiguity of Gauna’s identity is underscored by his constant imitation of one personality or another – either he is Valerga or he is Taboada, or later he is his best friend Larsen.9

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While the shadow figure comes to exemplify the urban personality of the Peronist city, Buenos Aires itself also adopts a masked identity that implies a series of spatial imitations. As Francisca Suárez Coalla has recognized, the city wears a disguise: “Buenos Aires es, así, una ciudad realmente ‘enmascarada,’ cuya fisonomía no podemos identificar, pues sus predicados reales se han suspendido durante esos días. Bajo el signo de la fiesta y de lo extraordinario se esconde el verdadero rostro que, entretanto, permanece oculto a nuestra mirada” (Suárez Coalla, 229). [Therefore Buenos Aires is a city that is really masked, whose physiognomy we cannot identify, since its real predicates have been suspended during those days. Beneath the sign of the festivities and of the extraordinary the real face hides that, for the moment, remains obscured to our gaze (my translation)]. A third city also exists in the text through the novel’s adoption of Buenos Aires to signify the urban setting. For the reader, the fictional city faithfully resembles the real urban space in the names of neighbourhoods, streets, and locales. In this sense the real, experienced urban space is suggested, as the characters move through this representation. As several critics have observed, the scripted local speech patterns also serve to underscore the mimetic reality of the text.10 Colloquial dialogue marks the social classes of the characters as well as signalling the verisimilitude of the Buenos Aires of the novel. The uncanniness of the urban environment for Gauna as he traverses it also affects the reader through the doubled cities. That a shadow figure moves through a simulated city highlights a sense of uneasiness in the perception of Peronist Buenos Aires, a feeling elicited by both the inhabitants and their urban habitat. A DESPERATE HEROISM

The restaging of the carnival in the final scenes of the novel incorporates a dual heroism, or anti-heroism: the projects of both flâneur and gaucho are enacted in their fullest, ultimately subverting the heroism of each figure inside this shadowed urban setting. To be heroic, for the flâneur, is to creatively represent the impressions of the city; heroism for the gaucho involves confronting the enemy in a knife fight. Although Gauna superficially accomplishes both projects, he fundamentally fails at each. Unable to read the civilizing lesson of the city in his personification of the flâneur, he follows the gaucho’s inappropriate code of honour, which causes his death. An

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identity that floats between two figures never forms completely; by pursuing the models of Parisian sophistication or traditional Argentine codes of honour, the inhabitants of Peronist Buenos Aires, who are represented by Gauna, walk through the city in quest of a dream that cannot be resolved. Gauna’s attraction to various forms of entertainment reflects his struggle to choose between the Peronist and Parisian modes of interpretation of the city. Urban artistic expression has a dramatic impact on the inexperienced Gauna. When the entertainment becomes the vertiginous reality of the carnival, he finds himself passionately enticed by its mystery. He has had no experience of theatre or acting until he watches Clara rehearsing the Ibsen drama. The music of the blind singer at the carnival also impresses him, so that each time he meets the man, he wants to hear another tune. However, it is cinema that is the cultural form that endows the city with a new aura for him. Leaving the cinema, he finds himself overcome by the fiction of the film: Había gente demasiado buena, gente demasiado mala y como un ensañamiento del infortunio. Gauna salió con una sensación de recogimiento y de repugnancia que, ni siquiera el regreso al mundo de afuera y la aspiración del aire de la noche, atenuaron. Con vergüenza comprobó que estaba asustado. Le parecía que todo, repentinamente, se había contaminado de penas y de infelicidades y que no podía esperar nada bueno. Trató de cantar Adiós, muchachos.” (71) [There were exaggeratedly good characters and exaggeratedly wicked ones, and a sort of frenzy of misfortune. Gauna left the cinema with a feeling of suffocation and of unease that not even the return to the outside world and the night air could dispel. He realizes to his shame that he was scared. It suddenly seemed to him that everything was contaminated with sorrow and anxiety and that nothing good could be hoped for. He tried to sing Adiós, muchachos.] (Thorold 1988, 67–8) The emotion and the anxiety that the film aroused in him remain as he moves to the outside world, unable now to dispel the effect of a fiction that taints his perception of the city. Trying to sing the words of a tango, he seeks to reconcile his experience in the movie with an

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art form associated with the lower classes. The film has helped him to reflect on the negative character of his relationships with Doctor Valerga and his cohorts. Through the tango he hopes to brush aside his thoughts and return to the city he imagines that he understands. For a character with Gauna’s sensitivity to culture, the carnival cradles an overflow of urban impressions. With its outpouring of artistic expression from dancing and singing to parades, masks, and disguises, the carnival and its intense entertainment put Gauna in a trance of sorts, as he moves through the spaces of the city repeatedly stimulated by his surroundings. The carnival setting in El sueño develops and exaggerates the image of the city described by Wilson as a labyrinth for the flâneur: “an agoraphobic, giddy space, productive of hysteria, terror … causing whomsoever ventures into it to become totally destabilized” (1995, 75). Through its constant movement of people from one space to another, and its days of popular artistic activity that sculpt the city into a space of art, an imaginary creation rather than a place of real experience, the carnival scene embodies perfectly the reversal of reality that Bioy finds in Peronist Buenos Aires. By sending Gauna on repeated walks through the city, Bioy highlights Gauna’s drifting identity, moving him through spaces to which he does not belong, where he is effectively “nowhere.“11 In avoiding his old neighbourhood during the carnival (21), in yearning for the countryside, or in setting out to sea, he seeks to evade his identity. The “nowhere” of the spaces he traverses in his three long journeys through the city – during the two carnivals and his therapeutic walk when he stews over his relationship with Clara – is perpetuated by the speed of his movement through the city, his failure to develop any sense of belonging. In these episodes he has a distinct desire for a “nowhere” that will leave him undefined, independent, solitary, always hovering in the uncanny edge between familiar and unfamiliar as he struggles to unmask himself and uncover his identity. To understand the experiences of his first carnival, Gauna has to adopt the attributes of the flâneur and recreate the events of the first festival. In a magical act of creativity, he orchestrates a reconstruction of an urban experience that shifts the significance of the interactions between people and spaces. His movement through the same sites three years later reminds him of the events of the first occasion, as some situations repeat themselves and others merely jog his

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memory: the farm is really a junkyard, the courageous Valerga is really a thug, the masked girl is really his wife. During the first carnival, the image of Gauna is of a carouser who ends up in Palermo Park unaware of how he arrived. The second carnival portrays a man feminized by the city through his marriage to Clara; at one point he feels dizzy and almost faints. His perception shifts, the city impressions change, and the personalities of the characters are transformed. Bioy Casares presents the prototype of an unreal space to accompany Borges’s depiction of the Peronist era as “una época irreal” (an unreal era; quoted in Borello 1981, 63). The layers of urban space, the feminization of the gaucho, the flâneur-like movement through the nowhere spaces of the city, the blending of real and imaginary all serve to create a space in El sueño de los héroes that revels in uneasiness. This city houses characters who perceive counterimages of the spaces that surround them. Gauna’s gaze resembles that of both the flâneur and the displaced gaucho but at the same time comprises neither of these identities. A shadow figure in search of heroism, Gauna embodies the sleepwalker, the mechanic, the orphan who looks to the city as a home and finds rather the confusion of shifting identities. Constantly drifting, this character moves through the city, hoping to find the answers to his existential questions. But neither the flâneur nor the gaucho can represent the modern urban experience of Buenos Aires. The city will find its hero elsewhere.

NOTES

1 See Rodolfo A. Borello, “Borges y los escritores liberales argentinos” (1981) for an interpretation of the Peronist metaphors in literary production of this period. Borello also expounds on the parodies of cultural production and the political scene in the work of David Viñas in “Viñas y los escritores liberales argentinos” (1980). Beatriz Sarlo provides an incisive overview of the literary phase of one of the leading journals of the time, Contorno, and its ideological perspectives in “Los dos ojos de Contorno” (1983). In Contorno: Literary Engagement in Post-Peronist Argentina, William H. Katra provides a detailed historical analysis of the journal. 2 Adolfo Bioy Casares, El sueño de los héroes (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1999). All subsequent references in the text are to this edition.

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3 María Luisa Bastos in “La topografía de la ambigüedad: Buenos Aires en Borges, Bianco, Bioy Casares” (1980) also notes the numerous references to Gauna?s exhaustion in the novel (43). 4 Using the interpretation of Georg Simmel, Janet Wolff observes that along with Baudelaire’s flâneur, another hero of modernity emerges in the figure of the stranger (1985, 40). 5 Javier de Navascués notes the connections between Gauna and Clara’s relationship and the moon, observing that their meetings almost always occur at night and that full moons repeatedly light the scenes. For de Navascués, the full moon becomes an ambivalent symbol for the novel in its double signification of death and woman (1993, 458). 6 The choice of destinies that Ibsen’s character Ellida Wangel undergoes in the play finds a parallel in Bioy Casares’s novel. Ibsen’s Ellida has to choose between two men and two lifestyles: the wild man of the sea or the stable doctor of the land. This decision resonates with the choice Gauna has to make regarding which destiny to follow. While Ellida chooses the safe road of marriage to the doctor, Gauna makes the contrary decision by following Doctor Valerga. 7 Interestingly, many of the male characters have also absorbed female traits. Larsen, Gauna’s best friend, is feminized through his motherly treatment of the orphaned Gauna. When Gauna regrets the fact that he will not be coming to the carnival, Larsen responds maternally, “Bueno, Emilito – contestó Larsen persuasivamente. No bebas demasiado” (21). [‘Right, Emilito,’ replied Larsen, in an encouraging tone. ‘Don’t drink too much’ (Thorold 1988, 14)]. Even the first description of Doctor Valerga evokes a feminized man: “Era un hombre corpulento, de rostro amplio, rasurado, cobrizo, notablemente inexpresivo; sin embargo, al reír – hundiendo la mandíbula, mostrando los dientes superiores y la lengua – tomaba una expresión de blandísima, casi afeminada mansedumbre” (11; my italics). [“He was a stout man, with a large, well-shaven, bronzed but singularly inexpressive face. However, when he laughed – dropping his jaw and revealing his upper teeth and tongue – he had an expression of gentle, almost effeminate softness” (Thorold 1988, 4; my italics)]. 8 Francisca Suárez Coalla repeatedly refers to Gauna as “el nuevo Edipo” (the new Oedipus), a title that seems especially apt in Gauna’s search for knowledge that is at the same time a search for his identity and his destiny (1994, 228, 230, 235). Also, the metaphors and images associated with sight and perception abound in both stories, as both Oedipus and Gauna are blind to their destinies.

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9 Even his role as husband is doubled through his friend Larsen who stays with Clara when Gauna continues to visit his friends after his marriage. 10 See Bastos’s article “Habla popular/discurso unificador” (1983) for a discussion of the functions of colloquial speech in the novel. Also Suárez Coalla draws the connection between the speech of the characters and the urban space: “La reproducción literal del ‘habla’ se relaciona con la intención o función verosimilizadora que se sigue en una obra donde operan, con la misma intención, los espacios reconocidos de la ciudad de Buenos Aires.” [The literal reproduction of “speech” is related with the verisimilar intention or function that is followed in a text where the familiar spaces of the city of Buenos Aires function with the same intention] (1994, 240). 11 This analysis follows Michel de Certeau’s intriguing interpretation of walking as a way of being nowhere: “To walk is to lack a place. It is the indefinite process of being absent and in search of a proper. The moving about that the city multiplies and concentrates makes the city itself an immense social experience of lacking a place” (1984, 103).

11 Temple Bar, Density and Circulation: The City as a Terrain of Many Voices1 KIERAN BONNER

THE GOOD CITY

Simmel opens his essay “Metropolis and Mental Life”: “The deepest problems of modern life flow from the attempt of the individual to maintain the independence and individuality of his existence against the weight of historical heritage and the external culture and technique of life” (1971, 324). He concludes: “It is the function of the metropolis to make a place for the conflict and for the attempts at unification of both our “general human quality” and the struggle to maintain and develop our “qualitative uniqueness and irreplaceability.” The “peculiar conditions” of the modern metropolis, he says, are the “occasion and stimulus for the development of both” (339). Simmel here alerts us to the potential of a city for conflict, unification, and development between our “general human quality” and our “qualitative uniqueness and irreplaceabilty.” With his help, we can begin to articulate what the development of one without the other would look like. An environment focused only on “general human qualities” could result in “activities and reciprocal relationships being organized and coordinated in the most punctual way into a firmly fixed framework of time which transcends all subjective elements” (328). Over-emphasis on the uniqueness of the urban individual, on the other hand, could lead to “metropolitan extravagances of self-distanciation, of caprice, of fastidiousness, the meaning of which is no longer to be found in the content of such activity itself but rather in the form of ‘being different’ – of making oneself noticeable” (336). That is, there are developments that by their focus on the objective spirit (calculatingly rational, punctual, commercially

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focused) risk making us appear less unique. And there are developments that by their focus on the subjective spirit highlight our uniqueness and, as such, risk outcomes that make us as urbanites less connected to others when we become pretentiously different (blasé, capricious) (330–6). The good city, as Simmel implies, should challenge its residents to avoid succumbing to the Scylla of a well-planned rational organization and the Charybidis of a superficial cosmopolitan pretentiousness. These twin dangers can be symbolized in the personality of the city, which becomes defined by the separation of production and reproduction, spatially organized between the central business district (abandoned in the evening) and a dormitory suburb (abandoned during the day) (Hale 1990, 106–36). This “objectified” city is in effect an altar to materialized instrumentality emptied of any subjective spirit. A smoothly functioning and efficient city, “organized and coordinated in the most punctual way into a firmly fixed framework” (Simmel 1971), threatens to erase its identity. The alternative extreme, that of metropolitan extravagance, like Las Vegas, is both stimulating and superficial, leaving no trace of its own happening (“what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”) outside of its appearance. When change is organized around spectacularization, it threatens to make the identity of the city into a stereotype of itself. The good city for Simmel is not one that resolves this tension; rather, it makes a place for the conflict between these two possibilities while also providing an “occasion and stimulus for the development of both” (1971, 339). It is because of this conflict that the culture of a city needs to be conceptualized dynamically. Culture is the ground of this conflict and also an expression if it. Culture is therefore not so much an object to be manipulated and rationally produced as an indeterminate whole to which theorizing is subject; in this sense it is not a factor among other factors but an elemental core of understanding that pervades our very being in the world (Gadamer 1975). In this article I address the struggle and debate around the regeneration of downtown Dublin – the now-famous Temple Bar area – through the prism of the phenomena of density and circulation. As I examine this development and the debate it has generated, I want to show that the shared ground of the debate lies in the belief in the positive effects of density – in the assumption that a lively downtown is one that is dense. However, the issue of density has generated its own debate. According to Wirth in his classic essay “Urbanism as a

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Way of Life” (1938), density is one of the three defining characteristics of the city (the other two being size and heterogeneity), and its effect, he says, is negative. Jane Jacobs also recognizes density as a defining urban characteristic but in contrast sees it as a necessary and positive aspect of a healthy city. I develop the relation between density and circulation as it shows itself in the circulation of visitors to Temple Bar and in opinions about its development. Density, I argue, intensifies the circulation of influences, people, and things, and this intensification increases division and movement. The debate generated by the Temple Bar regeneration rests on a ground that is itself debated, resting as it does on the question of the good of the city (as a site that facilitates intellectual freedom and diversity), the characteristics of a good city (that makes a place for the conflict between the objective and subjective spirits), and the spectre of the void that haunts all making (McHugh 1993, 41–51). As this paper will show, the attempts to control and plan the development of Temple Bar, through the increase in density and circulation, come into conflict with unintended outcomes, revealing a notion of the culture of the city that transcends (and even undermines) rational control. The approach I have taken here is that developed by the Culture of Cities project (Blum 2003; Bonner 2004; Bonner 2007), building, as it does, on the analysis (Blum and McHugh 1984) or radical interpretive (Bonner 1997) perspective in social thought. In this case, the city is understood to be a site “over which the encounter between different interpretations and action over time and space come to view in the mundane ethical collisions regarding the circulation of influences, people and things” (Blum 2003, 294). In turn, “theorizing examines interpretations, reviewing them not as arguments to rebut but as a conversation of speakers, views, and standpoints made to constitute a discourse” (15). The approach is essentially dialectical in that it seeks to expose tensions and negations in the objects being addressed (Temple Bar, density) in a way that invites a reversal of consciousness required for a re-cognition of the object of analysis, or to put it another way, so that the grasp of the reality of the object is enlarged (Gadamer 1986; Bonner 2007). D U BL IN ’S TEMPLE B AR

Temple Bar, a cobbled street area covering approximately twentyeight acres running roughly from Trinity College to Christchurch and from Dame Street to the River Liffey, has a long and storied

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history. Fishamble Street, marking its western boundary, is the oldest street in Dublin, dating back a millennium to Viking times. The area is considered to be one of the last in Dublin where an image of the medieval imprint can still be observed. As The Lonely Planet (Hughes and Davenport 2004, 79) colourfully describes it, “The land was acquired by William Temple (1554–1628), after Henry VIII dissolved all the monasteries in 1537 and turfed out the Augustinian friars.” The area’s name, although it was not acquired until the seventeenth century, is said to derive from Temple, whose mansion and gardens backed onto the Liffey, creating a “bar” or river walkway (Kincaid 2006, 191). The eighteenth century has often been called Dublin’s “golden age,” when it developed its Georgian character as the second city of the British Empire. During this time, before the Home Rule Act of 1800 abolished the nearby Irish (ascendancy) Parliament, the Temple Bar area “attracted a blend of craftsmen – tailors, watchmakers and bookbinders – stockbrokers, and general traders. Their traces live on in the locale’s street names: Merchant’s Arch, Exchange Street, Copper Alley, Fishamble Street and Crow Street” (ibid., 193). However, its narrow lanes and alleys also gained Temple Bar a reputation as a disreputable area of loud taverns and bawdy houses, raucous theatre and music halls. This unsavoury character led Jonathan Swift, dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, to try to prevent his choir from taking part in the first performance of Handel’s Messiah there in 1742. He relented, and today an annual performance marks that date and place (Hegarty, London Daily Telegraph, 5 April 2008, 17). In the latter half of the eighteenth century the area began to develop “a commercial character with small craft and trade businesses” (Hughes and Davenport 2004, 79), but during the nineteenth century it slowly fell into decline as the demand for the specialized trades dropped. As we will see, this decline was followed by a series of initiatives that led to its subsequent regeneration. In the words of Mary Corcoran (1998, 9) this “geographically demarcated entity” has now come to represent “a centre for culture and the arts, a tourist attraction, a building site … it has become synonymous with the concept of urban renewal and also functions as a metaphor of cultural renaissance.” Marked by its history and by the history of change, Temple Bar concentrates the story of Dublin, its Viking beginnings, Irish Catholic roots, its subjection to Tudor oppression, its sociability, its seedy

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decline in a city rebuilt in Georgian fashion and subsequent revival and reclamation as a commercial area. The Temple Bar signifier connotes adventurism, colonial expropriation, disrepute, commerce, and historic eventfulness. As Montgomery (1995, 138) describes it, “there are many layers of building here, which tell a tale of trade and commerce, Georgian elegance and a gradual slide into poverty and decline. Temple Bar is a place full of time.” Its “regeneration history has been played out against a noisy soundtrack of opinions” (Irish Times 5 April 2004, 12), but beneath that “noisy soundtrack” is the mortality and unpredictability of human initiatives (Arendt 1958, 19) and the desire of the city to remake itself in the face of these limits. The story of Temple Bar is the story of the way a city’s culture – one that is greater than the sum of its parts – shows its intangible unpredictability, despite great efforts to plan its growth and development. Through the Temple Bar story, Dublin can be seen to make a place for the conflict between the rational control that development plans seek to put into place and the eccentricity of irreplaceable individuality that, as Simmel says, marks the potential of the metropolis. In this conflict, images of the past as either a “golden age” or a disreputable “no-go” area circulate and recirculate as expressions of Dubliners’ desires and fears for the fate of their city. From around the 1950s to the 1980s, Temple Bar (along with many other areas in central Dublin) was “run-down, occasionally dangerous and believed by many to be on its way to becoming a new Monto for the south side” (Boran 2000, 135).2 Its potential fate was to become a fragment of its past – raising, in the words of Peter McHugh, the “portentous, baleful” question: “Does what we [make] not have the power to endure?” (1993, 45). Then, beginning in the early 1980s, the national transportation company cie (Comhras Iompar Eireann) began purchasing property with the intention of turning the area into Dublin’s central bus depot (Kincaid 2006; Boran 2000; Corcoran 1998). (Ironically, as far back as the early 1900s it was slated to be a new traffic terminal [Kincaid 2006, 193]). Over time, and with enough land purchased and planning permission in place, the existing structures were to be torn down and replaced by modern rational structures: “This original development plan was … quite typical of the institutional approach to inner-city renewal plans, which concentrated on encouraging the construction of new buildings and afforded little protection to

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the existing fabric of the city” (Rains 1999, 4). As with other cities in the 1960s and ’70s, the modernist rebuilding dream saw the existing fabric not as a fragment of a past undone but as a commercial site to be cleared of waste in order to create new commercial or residential possibilities. In this approach to development, the objective spirit of rational calculation – the spirit that, according to Simmel, threatens to overwhelm the subjective spirit of uniqueness – dominates. In line with this spirit of rational calculation, and because of delays in getting planning permission, cie rented the rundown buildings to those willing to accept short leases at cheap rates. The opportunity was taken up by artists, musicians, and cultural groups who opened studios, flea markets, galleries, and restaurants. In unintended and unforeseen ways, Temple Bar thus developed into Dublin’s alternative bohemian quarter: “What was meant to be only a temporary stay of execution ended up saving the neighbourhood” (Kincaid 2006, 193). The tenants organized and joined forces with the national heritage society, An Taisce, to oppose the cie development plan. “Their actions eventually brought about a change of heart among policy-makers about the potential use of Temple Bar. In 1991, both national and local government committed themselves to the preservation of the Temple Bar area and its redevelopment as a distinctive … cultural area in the capital … administered by Temple Bar Properties Ltd.” (Corcoran 1998, 10). Under Temple Bar Properties the area and the building fabric in the area were now to be conserved and restored where possible; where not, newer buildings were to be designed to fit in with the existing design. Group 91, thirteen young Irish architects strongly influenced by Rossi and Krier, won the competition to restore the older buildings and appropriately design newer ones (Kincaid 2006, 189–202). Frank McDonald, the architecture critic for the Irish Times, stated in an interview with the group, “Their breakthrough came with Temple Bar. For years the area had been threatened with demolition for a new transportation centre. ‘But Charlie Haughey then decided that Temple Bar was going to be his popular legacy to the city, and three of us were invited to come into the Cabinet room and suggest what could be done with it,’ says O’Toole [one of the thirteen] … Group 91’s plan for Temple Bar was streets ahead, so there was little surprise that it won the day. ‘All of us believed in architecture; we hadn’t become cynical,’ says [another of the group]

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Farrell. ‘We believed architecture could make an incredibly powerful, even poetic contribution. But you also need to be clever enough to manipulate other forces’” (Irish Times 2 September 2006, Magazine, 16). As Mulvin, another group member, notes, Dublin was a “blitzed city” at the time, and Group 91 was “very concerned not to knock down buildings unless they really needed to be knocked. So new public spaces, such as Temple Bar Square, Meeting House Square and Curved Street, were earmarked for sites that were already vacant.” In the process Temple Bar became a celebrity case for what is now called cultural-led regeneration (McCarthy 1998). This development in urban regeneration makes the idea of circulation prominent. To use Straw’s terms (see “Spectacles of Waste,” this volume), the buildings are recirculated, transformed from the rundown remnants of a colonial past into a valuable heritage that needs to be preserved. For this particular relation to circulation to take hold in Dublin, a reconceptualization of the meaning of the past became necessary. The previous public and private ambivalence – if not downright antipathy – toward architecture embodying the presence of a dominating British ascendancy class was now transformed into a perspective that embraced Temple Bar, in the words of the Taoiseach (Irish Prime minister), Charlie Haughey, as “one of the most important, traditional, attractive and noteworthy parts of the city” (cited in Rains 1999, 5). What was once described as “the expendable leftover of an arrogant and alien ruling class” (Lincoln 1993, 212) was reinterpreted as a valuable heritage that must not be destroyed. As Stephanie Rains remarks, “The decision to designate Temple Bar as an entire area worthy of conservation along with harmonious new development, combined with the frequently stated desire to maintain and enhance the district’s function as a cultural quarter, represents a definitive and comprehensive shift in what was recognized as being of value in urban culture” (1999, 5). This reconceptualization of the built environment in turn required a reorientation (or transformation) in consciousness from a nationalist horizon to a more cosmopolitan horizon, a reorientation that was seen to be symbolic of contemporary Dublin.3 The cosmopolitan horizon was wrestled from the previous dominant relation to the past, which saw this particular built environment in terms of an Irish nationalist identity. That more immediate past, with its nationalist and Catholic focus, was now seen as insular and regressive. “What we are

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witnessing,” says Frank McDonald, “is the reclamation of the city by a new generation of Irish people who have traveled widely and, working in European cities, shed their cultural baggage [i.e., narrow sectarian and insular interests], and now returned home to demand the same sort of lifestyle they experienced elsewhere. They see no reason why the Hibernian metropolis should be less civilized or interesting to live in than, say, Amsterdam, Paris or Barcelona” (as cited in Kincaid 2006, 198). Temple Bar was to represent and be a home for this new Europeanized Irish identity. Though the phenomenon of a culturally led urban regeneration was not new, the self-proclaimed cosmopolitan horizon had to be forged out of a more nationalist and religious background that had been antipathetic to what the deteriorated building fabric represented. Temple Bar now came to embody a different relation to the built environment, transformed from one of replacement to one of upgrading (Lincoln 1993, 216). While the first relation, replacement, “destroys the link of site to action by substituting a new kind for the old in a relation between two artifacts different in kind [in this case, a new transport centre for a deteriorated core], the second redefines the site in a way that preserves its link to the action [here, the old trading and business centre], but in a modified form [here, a cultural centre for locals and tourists] that could redefine the nature of the activity” (Blum 2003, 248–9). Upgrading is the promise of new life in the old, remaking the fragment of the past in a way that shows the defiance of the desire to produce in the face of our human anxiety regarding the fated finitude of all human products (McHugh 1993). It is precisely in this remaking or production that the human desire for a sense of permanence, even immortality, makes itself observable, the effect of which goes into constituting what Arendt calls the public realm or the “world.” Such a world, she says, “transcends our life-span into past and future alike; it was there before we came and will outlast our brief sojourn in it. It is what we have in common not only with those who live with us but also with those who were here before and with those who will come after” (1958, 55). As we will see, the cosmopolitan impulse implied in this “care for the public realm” is decisively different from the claim to cosmopolitanism grounded in the translation of the culture of a building into an aesthetic object of heritage to be recirculated.

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The apparent transformation in Irish consciousness from nationalist to cosmopolitan (Rains 1999; Kincaid 2006), enabling in turn the reinterpretation of the fragments of the past from “the expendable left-over of an arrogant and alien ruling class” to valuable heritage, involves a reserve toward (if not a denial of) the identity of the British Empire whose culture created this heritage: “The Georgian period, which was the ‘high point’ of colonial Dublin, a time of great wealth, monumental architecture, and, indeed, of gentrification, was also the zenith of British repression of Irish Catholics – not a time, one would think, that would lend itself to Irish glorification” (Kincaid 2006, 201–2). And while it is narrow and reductive to see artifacts from the past solely in terms of an insular and self-defensive (nationalist) consciousness, the political and ethical content embodied in this heritage is marginalized if not occluded in the attempt to interpret these buildings as neutrally valuable heritage, as mere and pure architecture. It is this conceptualization that allows the architecture to circulate as an aesthetic heritage object, subject to the desire to recreate, in postmodern fashion, the premodern intimate and walkable city. Temple Bar was now to be a symbol of a new cosmopolitan Dublin. In the words of Temple Bar Properties, the non-profit company set up in 1991 to develop the area, it was to be “Dublin’s cultural quarter” (1996, 3). The self-conscious use of the term “quarter” to designate this area of the city already suggests the kind of associations that the developer sought to nurture – with the image of the French Quarter in New Orleans or the Latin Quarter in Montreal, suggesting an indigenous vibrancy attached to a particular part of the city. The term “cultural quarter” immodestly suggests that this part of Dublin will be culturally vibrant while the other three-quarters of the city will have to make claims on the basis of something else. This air of “confident individualism” that “pervades much of the conversation about Temple Bar” is “presented as a superior ethos to the worn-out nationalism that held Ireland down in previous decades” (Kincaid 2006, 196). From the perspective of 1996, “the new beginning” of Dublin promises cultural vibrancy but also puts into play the limits of human power to control the future. As we will see, future outcomes may expose the pretentiousness of the claim and the limits of the confidence behind this planning reason, precisely because circulation and density mark the area “as a new site of consumption and

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sociability” (Blum 2003, 260) and so make the indeterminacy and unpredictability of the culture of the city observable as an ethical encounter. Hermeneutic (moral/practical) lessons concerning both circulation and rebuilding arise from an unreflective surrender to the promise of the rebuilt fabric “to expand spheres of communication by bringing people to the sites in unprecedented quantities, combinations and for pleasures conceived as new and liberating” (ibid.), a surrender that seeks to avoid the ethical and political content the buildings embody by draining (rather than engaging) its problematic relation to its political past, and thus by recirculating the built environment as if it were an aesthetically differentiated object (Gadamer 1975) now without “cultural baggage.” TEMPLE BAR AND THE ATTRACTION OF DENSITY

The stated aim of Temple Bar Properties (tbp) was “to develop a bustling cultural residential and small business precinct that will attract visitors in significant numbers” (1996, 3). That is, the development of the cultural quarter has been intertwined with the development of business, residence, and tourism. What they are all supposed to be is “bustling,” and visitors are central to the creation of that energy. “Bustling” is clearly a city image, a term often used in contrast with the quiet countryside. The city is a kind of place that is busy and crowded. This is not just a city image but a downtown or city centre image. Jane Jacobs articulates this shared cultural assumption: “Everyone is aware that tremendous numbers of people concentrate in the city downtown and that, if they did not, there would be no downtown to amount to anything” (1961, 201). “Tremendous numbers of people” rather than built fabric per se are what makes a downtown amount to something. Density, according to both tbp and Jacobs, is central to the character of a city’s downtown. The tbp plan almost seems to be taking a page from Jacobs’s (408–9) approach to urbanism: “Planning for vitality must stimulate and catalyze the greatest possible range and quantity of diversity among uses and among people throughout each district of a big city; this is the underlying foundation of city economic strength, social vitality and magnetism.” The Temple Bar district is to be the “bustling cultural, residential and business precinct,” and success will be measured in relation to this goal of having a bustling area. A dictionary definition of bustling as “full of energetic and noisy

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activity” gives as an example “a bustling city.“4 Perhaps this innocent use of the word “bustling” itself points to a limited conception of a lively city, a limited conception that may help make sense of the unintended outcome of the tbp initiative. Simmel (1971, 325) says that the essence of the experience of the metropolis is “the intensification of emotional life due to the swift and continuous shift of external and internal stimuli.” This urban characteristic means that “the mutual reserve and indifference and the intellectual conditions of life in large social units are never more sharply appreciated in their significance for the independence of the individual than in the dense crowds of the metropolis because the bodily closeness and lack of space make intellectual distance really perceivable for the first time” (334). Bodily closeness and lack of space actually create a space for the mind, in this case a mind that reveals itself in the action of reserve. Because density creates a social requirement of reserve in order to resist being paralyzed by excessive stimulation, a space is created for intellectual freedom. Does an unreserved surrender to the attraction of bustling risk the intellectual freedom that density makes necessary?5 In 1996 Temple Bar Properties issued a report congratulating itself on its success (15–16) in terms of renewing the architectural environment, consolidating and increasing the activity of cultural organizations, increasing the tourist activity significantly, increasing the residential population from two hundred to nine hundred, and so on. Later, in its 2003 annual report, noting that there were now three thousand residents and one hundred businesses in the twentyeight acre patch, it stated that its mission was “to ensure the area remains a bustling cultural, residential and small business district” (Irish Times, 5 April 2004, 12; my emphasis), indicating in its selfpresentation that it had achieved its objective of “bustling” and now needed to maintain it. However, that report also acknowledged that cultural success was more uneven. Many of the cultural ventures had failed (Viking Museum, Arthouse, Design Yard), and this new report, issued in April 2004, was greeted with the headline “Bringing Culture Back to Temple Bar” (Irish Times, 5 April 2004, 12), evoking, in Blum’s words, “the constant specter of the fragility of what we construct” (2003, 234). However, in one very apparent sense, Temple Bar has become “a new site of consumption and sociability” and as such has enhanced “spheres of communication and contact,” as well as increased the “circulation of information,

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and mixing of strangers” (260), a testament to the collective attraction to, and fear of, the phenomenon of density. BUSTLING AND THE DENSITY DEBATE: WIRTH VERSUS JACOBS

The Temple Bar discourse shares with Simmel’s and Wirth’s classic formulations of the city the recognition of both density and diversity as key elements that make it what it is. Wirth (1938, 8) defines the city as a “relatively large, dense, and permanent settlement of heterogeneous individuals.” Density, as one of these three defining characteristics of the city, “reinforces the effect of numbers in diversifying men and their activities and in increasing complexity of the social structure” (14). But Wirth was not optimistic about the effects of high density. He saw its consequences as a greater specialization of functions, greater standardization of behaviour, greater spatial differentiation of space into work, residence and commercial spaces, and greater segregation of space along the lines of class, race, ethnicity, occupation, and other factors. Seen from the perspective of Simmel’s account of the good city, density thus threatens to create the worst of both worlds in the city – the objectified, automated, and mathematically rational organization combined with the superficiality of tenuous social relationships and fragile interactions. The city, Wirth says, “consequently tends to resemble a mosaic of social worlds in which the transition from one to the other is abrupt” (15–16). More provocatively he says, “the close living together and working together of individuals who have no sentimental and emotional ties fosters a spirit of competition, aggrandizement and mutual exploitation … The necessary frequent movement of great numbers of individuals in a congested habitat gives occasion to friction and irritation.” High density, it seems, has negative social effects. When we have all classes and manner of people living cheek by jowl and on top of one another, we end up not with a bustling space but with a spirit of competition, aggrandizement, and mutual exploitation. The new urbanism of Jane Jacobs (1961) and her followers also recognizes density as a key characteristic of city life but, in contrast to Wirth, interprets this as positive rather than negative, to be embraced rather than avoided. Without a concentration of people, according to Jacobs, a city will not be able to develop both diversity

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and vitality. High density is crucial in order to generate a range of services, which in turn fosters diverse uses and activities. What is taken to be exemplary of the city is a dense diversity.6 Density as interpreted by Jacobs offers the promise of the best of both city worlds, where rational order is combined with meaningful human contact. In the argument over the positive or negative effects of density, it is generally agreed that Wirth’s conclusions and fears are misplaced. Research has shown that when such factors “as poverty, unemployment and racial discrimination … are taken into account, there is little or no evidence that crowding has any negative effects” (Maciones and Parillo 2001, 122–8).7 As the concern with density has generated its own debate, so too has the densification of Temple Bar. Perhaps the ground for the difference between Jacobs and Wirth is that Wirth saw density in the context of a static and determinist system while Jacobs understood it in the context of circulation. Without circulation, with its accompanying sense of spatial freedom, high density brings the risk of aggression and spatial competition. Without density, on the other hand, circulation would be mechanical (like the circulation of blood in the body) and uninterrupted (like the circulation of the planets). A densely populated area interrupts the circular movement of people and slows the functional navigation of the streets. In this sense “bustling” can be formulated as an attempt to integrate density with circulation. The aim of Temple Bar Properties to be bustling seeks to integrate both the desire that circulation represents (freedom) and the urban figure that density symbolizes (unavoidable contact). And yet, while we know that the formulations of Wirth are not predictive, in many ways the flight to the suburbs, a defining development of the modern Western city in the second half of the twentieth century, is understandable as a response to the fear not only of density itself but also of its effects. It seems as if urban residents, with the support of urban planners, have agreed with the spirit of Wirth’s thesis by voting with their feet – or their cars. This is to say that Wirth can be better interpreted in terms of the fears his work responds to than the predictions he appears to make (Bonner 1997, 176–200). The fear of density and the consequent flight to the suburbs, as we now know, have had a deleterious effect on downtowns, leaving many derelict and abandoned. In fact, it was the demise of the industrial core and the trend toward suburban living that led to the dereliction of the Temple Bar district during the 1950s and

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1960s. In the circulation of opinions concerning the anxieties and hopes surrounding density in the city, the rise of the suburbs can be interpreted as confirming Simmel’s thesis that “the development of modern culture is characterized by the predominance of what one can call objective spirit over the subjective,” leading to a regression of urban culture and civility in terms of “spirituality, delicacy and idealism” (1971, 337). Whatever may be said for the spacious comforts of suburbia, centres of “spirituality, delicacy and idealism” they are not. Urban renewal projects like Temple Bar are therefore efforts to renew the core of the city, to give the city a downtown that amounts to something. TEMPLE BAR: COMMERCIAL SUCCESS AND/OR CULTURAL FAILURE

If nothing else, the discourse on Temple Bar illustrates that Dublin “is a site that fertilizes interpretive energies,” raising “the question of the voice of the city through its desire to recreate this object (the city) as a terrain of many voices” (Blum 2003, 47). Temple Bar has been part of public and theoretical debate regarding its health and purpose since its renewal began (Rains 1999; Corcoran 1998; McCarthy 1998; Laushway 1996; Montgomery 1995; O’Toole 1998; Keohane 2002; Kincaid 2006). Critics are highly divided on the Temple Bar achievement. As Boran summarizes it, “Depending on one’s standpoint, Temple Bar is either one of the great successes or one of the great failures of vision in the recent history of Dublin” (2000, 134) Similarly, a report in the Irish Times (5 April 2004, 12) says: “Temple Bar, depending on who you talk to, is either a cultural centre or just another shopping district, a commercial disaster or a money-spinner, a nightlife Mecca or a vomit-strewn nightmare, a tourist magnet or an antisocial no-go area.” Corcoran (1998, 10) observes that on one level Temple Bar “represents the artistic and architectural aspirations of Dublin’s cultural cognoscenti.” On another, more “banal level, it works as a minitheme-park processing punters through purpose-designed eating establishments and public houses, playing host to what one journalist recently described as ‘drunken stag parties, lost tourists, gangs of teenagers, and out-of-tune buskers.’” Corcoran goes on to argue that Temple Bar is really “about harnessing the twin motifs of arts and culture in the interests of capitalist development” (24) at the

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cost of the indigenous inner-city communities, now largely excluded. Rains notes that “despite the emphasis in Temple Bar’s development plan and action on cultural production and residential use, the predominant attraction and most obvious activity within the district is that of tourist leisure and consumption in the numerous and very visible restaurants and bars” (1999, 10). On the other hand, Keohane (2002, 33) says that Temple Bar is “an interesting and vestigial modern city space,” although acknowledging Corcoran’s critique, he notes that it is one “in imminent danger of erasure.” Because of some of the “social antagonism” it had in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, arising from “all classes and manner of people living cheek by jowl and on top of one another,” it still is a space in which density and circulation create the possibility of the encounter with alterity. He cites several examples: “The visitor might enjoy a latté while reading the New York Times or La Monde, and immediately outside the door have to give a junkie a wide berth – Dublin’s heroin addicts have found easy pickings among the yuppies and tourists.” He goes on to observe that, in the middle of Temple Bar’s high-end ($500,000) apartment zone, one finds the “Focuspoint drop-in centre for the homeless, where coffee is one-tenth of what it costs next door” (ibid.). Boran, in the more popular A Short History of Dublin, notes that “many argue that the area … is today dominated by loud, quick turnover bars and clubs, and that the alternative arts and music scenes which were the area’s real attraction are now all but marginalized” (2000, 134). He calls it “a kind of cross between the Left Bank in Paris and a Majorcan Holiday resort.” However, “On the other hand, there can be no doubt that the commercial success of Temple Bar and Temple Bar Properties has helped in the revitalization of the city centre in general and it may be just a matter of time before this still very young experiment finds that elusive but critical balance between commercial and leisure activities” (137). The Lonely Planet describes Temple Bar as “Dublin’s prime tourist district” and notes that “while many Dubliners preferred the area when it was ramshackle, genuinely boho and slightly edgy – before it became a holding pen for stag parties and hen nights – it’s a hugely successful model of urban renewal, thanks in part to the young Group 91 Architects who provided the frame for the project” (Hughes and Davenport, 2004, 48). Does the phenomenon of density have something to do with this interpretive division?

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CIRCULATION, BUSTLING, AND THE DESIRE FOR STIMULATION

A report in The Guardian states that while “Temple Bar, with 400 businesses including pubs, restaurants and design shops, is firmly planted on the tourist maps … it is suffering a severe image problem. A reputation for stag and hen parties and weekend trips from England have turned it into one of Europe’s top drinking destinations, turning off Dubliners, annoying the residents and sending councilors [municipal politicians] into bouts of soul-searching about Irish culture” (8 November 2004, Home, 11). Many reports satirize the cultural quarter signifier “Temple Bar,” referring to it as a place of “Temple bars,” where “Temple barbarians” “Temple barf” at 3 am. Ironically, with respect to the question of circulation, in the twenty-first century the motif that associates Irishness and alcohol consumption circulates again, but now it is Dubliners who are turned off by the alcohol-consuming English, rather than the English being turned off by the alcohol-consuming Dubliners. The reversed roles are a testament to the power of a culture to reassert itself, despite the efforts to plan and control culture. This idea of the circulation of images, identities, and brands is highlighted in the following description in an in-flight travel magazine: My walking tour guide described the dozen square block area as the former Irish prime minister “Charlie Haughey’s big Left Bank idea.” But it is more easily understood as a kind of hangover after the intoxicating success of the broader Brand Ireland. “Left Bank” to Haughey might have implied future Nobel laureates scribbling first novels into Moleskines over Chablis and raw oysters in smoky art nouveau cafes. But it turns out “Left Back” to the English who stampeded here on 5 pounds Ryanair flights, meant stag-and-hen party central. So now – in the heart of what used to be a real poet’s bohemia spilling from the Liffey quays up the ramshackle streets around the u2-owned Clarence Hotel – you may find a zone of sanctioned yobbery where every pub is a double-size facsimile of an Irish pub, where every door is presided over by bouncers, where Bud Longnecks are the drink of choice and the cops bump along the cobblestones in cars gridded over entirely with protective mesh, anticipating the flight path of those same bottles as early as 4 o’clock on a Friday afternoon. (Taylor 2005, 118)

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All of this, the author goes on to say, symbolizes the new Dublin, a symbolization that places Ireland in the driver’s seat of consumerism: “Having effectively seeded the global market with generations of emigrants disposed to consume a romantic vision of old Ireland,” he says, the Irish “are only selling back to us precisely what it is we nostalgically demand” (ibid.). Yet the image of Temple Bar as “a playground for drinkers with L-plates [learner plates] around their necks” is challenged as a misperception by “tascq, a consortium of around 50 Temple Bar businesses, including publicans and hoteliers … A report in 1999 showed that stag and hen parties accounted for 2% of business in Temple Bar. Of the 60,000 footfall in the area every day, 70% is Irish” (The Guardian, 8 November 2004, 11). Similarly, in another report, “Annette Nugent of Temple Bar Properties reiterates that the fundamental problem lies with the negative perceptions of the area and believes ‘that Temple Bar is a metaphor for all that is good and bad.’ It is hailed as dirty yet has won awards for having the cleanest street in Ireland. It is seen as tarnished and dangerous yet per capita, the crime rate is way below average. She asks its critics ‘to bear in mind that it is a pressurized area of the city, unique in the fact that it provides entertainment, culture, tourism and daytime and evening commerce in a very concentrated space’” (Irish Times, 16 June 2004, city edition, 42). Here it seems that density creates problems, not those anticipated by either Wirth or Jacobs but rather problems of perception. The fact that it provides for a variety of activities “in a very concentrated area” creates a high-pressure atmosphere. This atmosphere lends itself to misperceptions producing an image problem when 2 per cent of the activity comes to define the area. “If the city … works to lure its privatized inhabitants into its streets by virtue of the theatricality of its public life” (Blum 2003, 272), the perverse theatricality of hen and stag parties (the costumes, the excess, the self-absorbed reveries – all in the context of a patterned conventionality) comes to stereotype an otherwise multi-use, diverse area. Perhaps the lesson here has to do with the danger of surrendering to the attractions of “bustle” as an idea. The tbp’s desire to be bustling can be interpreted as a narrow vision of production oriented toward stimulation rather than permanence, to a consumer cosmopolitanism rather than care for a cosmopolitanism of the pubic realm. Temple Bar is, in the dictionary definition of the term,

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bustling, full of energetic and noisy activity. Here, an idea of circulation is shown to rest on a consumer relation to desire, which is always aroused, sated, and in need of further arousal. It is ironic that the circulation of objects, people, opinions, and desire that Temple Bar currently symbolizes, insofar as it deeply rests on a narcissistic relation to desire, should end up being consumed by its own image. tbp are now reaping what they have sown, but in a way that was not intended, suggesting the irony of the unintended consequences to which all actions, including well-meaning ones, succumb (Arendt 1958). Temple Bar, part of the story of a city in search of the lively stimulation that bustling brings, is now enjoying the commercially successful regeneration of a downtown area, one that now looks like a victim of a stereotyped version of itself. The image of Dionysian poets with their reputation for intoxicating inspiration has become one of a place where stimulation substitutes for inspiration and drunkenness for intoxication. The attempt to eschew the moral and political content of the architecture in the area, and of the area itself, in order to turn it into “a bustling cultural residential and small business precinct that will attract visitors in significant numbers,” has now returned to comically undermine the pretension of an aestheticized consciousness. In the conflict between the confidence behind the objective spirit of rational control and the subjective spirit of spirituality and idealism, is this the victory of extravagance and caprice? Keohane argues that the “juxtaposition of social differences” is crucial for the vitality of congestion, while Corcoran sees the bohemianism and the alternative culture that existed in the area as having been marginalized by the “interests of capitalist development.” The mandate of Temple Bar Properties to increase the cultural, business, residential, and tourist activity in a way that can be developed and managed, and the constant undermining of the plan by the image of excessive drinking (“Temple barf”) rather than culture is a good lesson in the unanticipated consequences of action (Arendt 1958). The irony is that, despite the pretentiousness behind the plan to develop Temple Bar as Dublin’s “cultural quarter” or “Left Bank,” the dynamic character of the culture of Dublin returns in an image that subverts its confident self-portrayal as a city of civilized and cultured Europeans. Kincaid characterizes the project of regeneration in the following way: “In Temple Bar, a particular urban mood – at once nostalgic and technological, premodern and

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cosmopolitan – has been placed at the centre of national life in the hopes that it an perform a particular cultural task: to further integrate Ireland’s economic fortune with the trends of European and global capital” (2006, 196). It is an ironic if not an undeserved unintended consequence that the urban mood would be one of boozy excess. However, it would be too easy to dismiss the Temple Bar urban experiment from the perspective of its failure to live up to its promise to be Dublin’s “cultural quarter.” Recent reports suggest that its bachelor party reputation has significantly lessened. Strict pub rules, a new campaign of “play nice,” and bouncers enforcing a “no drunks allowed” policy all seem to have taken the edge off the excess. The travel section of Australia’s Sunday Age reports that “the cacophony of buck’s and hen’s parties has diminished somewhat (apparently, they now weekend in Poland and Slovenia), so Temple Bar is again a friendly place in which to study Irish beverages and learn the difference between a bodhran and a bongo” (14 September 2008, m17). CONCLUSION

In this discourse of competing opinions about Temple Bar, we have simultaneously a picture of the city in general as the “terrain of many voices” and of the particular voices that circulate in Dublin. The image of Dublin as a literary centre with poets and writers like James Joyce and Brendan Behan who lionized the reputations of Dublin pubs is now struggling with the image of Dublin as stimulating because it is a site of excessive drinking, and thus overcome by the conventionality of those for whom that excess is a safely bracketed moment (teenage drinking, stag parties) rather than a life exemplifying the inspiration of the Muses. Yet, as McCormack points out in the London Sunday Times, “There is a reason that Dublin became renowned as a city for the lost weekend. Part of the romanticism of the Dublin pub is the mythology surrounding the dissolute antics of the nation’s most famous writers and raconteurs – particularly in the era of Behan, Kavanagh and Flann O’Brien. Anthony Cronin’s telling portrait of the time, Dead as Doornails, portrays the boozy pub-centred milieu as a place where the attitude and drinking seemed nihilistic and alcoholism and underachievement were rife. It was a time that encapsulated both the positives and

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negatives of Irish pub culture: not only the witty repartee and the pursuit of a good time, but also the begrudgery, bitterness and selfdestruction” (13 November 2005, 14). In other words, the dream of Dublin’s “Left Bank” is the dream of romantic idealists whose romantic intoxication is in danger of blinding them to the dialectical nature of social life. The Temple Bar story illustrates the way in which the irony of human action exposes the pretension of human power (Bonner, 1998). Its widely portrayed failure has now become an alibi for disingenuous expressions of taste from a position of high culture. Condemnation of the Temple Bar Properties experiment is an easy way of showing a yuppie distaste for what apparently deserves repulsion, and for showing distance from those (stag and hen) people who seem to lack such taste and the developer who allowed this distasteful activity to happen. Yet civility and taste are complex virtues. In what way does the bustling activity of an historic area of the city provide the opportunity to develop tact and taste, as one way, in Simmel’s terms, of unifying our general human qualities with our individuality? Perhaps the real challenge the Temple Bar offered by story (as a “cultural quarter” subverted by its own success in attracting consumers) concerns sustaining civility in the face of the anti-social behaviour to which the city provides a stage. Perhaps, as well, the theorist also needs to display this civility or courteousness toward Temple Bar as an object of analysis. In this light, and unlike the academic portrayals, the more popular descriptions of the area, while acknowledging that Temple Bar is no longer the ramshackle, bohemian, and edgy place that gave rise to its revitalization, acknowledge that the commercial and consumer focus still contributes to a downtown Dublin that amounts to something. Dublin has made a place for the conflict between a rationally planned, if pretentious, urban cosmopolitanism and an image of the “traditional, backward, or atavistic that this movement thought it had surpassed.” The very element that was to be overcome in the representation of a new European identity returns in a repressed form. Arendt’s description of the educated philistine is apt: “It has always been the mark of educated philistinism to despise entertainment and amusement, because no value could be derived from it. The truth is we all stand in need of entertainment and amusement in some form or other and it is sheer hypocrisy or social snobbery to deny that we can be amused and entertained … As far as the sur-

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vival of culture is concerned, it is less threatened by those who fill vacant time with entertainment than by those who fill it with some haphazard educational gadgets in order to improve their social standing” (1968, 206). Is the story of the Temple Bar struggle in danger of exposing the Europeanized Dubliners as educated philistines? Does not such a story – of the new cosmopolitan Dubliners and their horror at the unintended results of their grand experiment (Temple Bar as Dublin’s cultural quarter) – help us appreciate the tragicomedy of life, a tragicomedy that the commitment to theorizing culture brings to light? (Blum and McHugh 1980).

NOTES

1 I would like to thank Carolyn Dirks for her library research for me on this topic. As well, I would like to thank Will Straw, Margaret O’Shea Bonner, and Alan Blum for comments on earlier drafts of this paper. 2 In the nineteenth century, Monto, which James Joyce calls “Nighttown” in Ulysses, was notorious as a place of drunkenness, illicit entertainment, and prostitution. 3 For more discussion, see the articles in the special issue on Dublin of the Canadian Journal of Irish Studies 30, no 1. 4 See http://www.wordreference.com/definition/bustling. 5 Thackeray’s reflections on the idea of bustling in Vanity Fair are apropos here: “As the manager of the Performance sits before the curtain on the boards and looks into the Fair, a feeling of profound melancholy comes over him in his survey of the bustling place. There is a great quantity of eating and drinking, making love and jilting, laughing and the contrary, smoking, cheating, fighting, dancing and fiddling; there are bullies pushing about, bucks ogling the women, knaves picking pockets, policemen on the lookout, quacks (other quacks, plague take them!) bawling in front of their booths, and yokels looking up at the tinseled dancers and poor old rouged tumblers, while the light-fingered folk are operating upon their pockets behind. Yes, this is vanity fair; not a moral place certainly; nor a merry one, though very noisy.” Bustling, in this case is neither merry nor moral though it is noisy and that can be said of Temple Bar. He goes on to say: “A man with a reflective turn of mind, walking through an exhibition of this sort, will not be oppressed, I take it, by his own or other people’s hilarity.” (http://thackeray.thefreelibrary.com/Vanity-Fair/0-1#bustling). Here the narrator takes on the reserve toward bustling that is missing in

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the tbp literature, a lack that issues in the unintended but not undeserved outcome of falling victim to a stereotyped image of itself. 6 According to the Toronto urban designer and architect Ken Greenberg, who is credited by Bob Rae, the former Ontario premier, with being “at the core of the new urbanism” in Toronto (Ideas That Matter 1, no. 3: 3), Toronto gives us an image of what a city “might look like when Jane’s ideas are put into practice, even partially”: “Toronto’s density and diversity, the making of streets, buildings and parks, and the sense of being of a city region, have all been affected by Jane’s ideas” (2000, 5). Greenberg goes on to say that Jacobs, as if speaking in opposition to Wirth, “admonished [planners] not to be afraid of density, which is an abstraction, but to look at its form, to see the potential to add while still respecting the grain and structure of the city. Jonathan Barnett, an urban designer from New York, captures this very simply by saying, “It’s not how dense you make it, it’s how you make it dense.” The exemplary Toronto neighbourhood, representing the successful implementation of Jacobs’s approach to urbanism, is the St Lawrence neighbourhood and market. Says Greenberg, “We had extraordinary success in making new neighborhoods by building on obsolescent industrial and railway lands” (6). To Greenberg, a sign of the vitality of a city like Toronto is that its downtown population has grown denser by almost 7 per cent. Thus the fact there that there are “6730 per square kilometer in the city of Toronto versus 3790 if you take all of Metropolitan Toronto” is a “very impressive achievement” (ibid.). In this light, Dublin City does not fare as well in comparison, having one of the lowest population densities of the major European cities (4,215 persons per km in contrast with Paris’s 19,870). However, when walking the crowded streets of downtown Dublin, whether on O’Connell Street, Moore Street, Henry Street, Grafton Street, Dame Street, or in the Temple Bar area itself, the experience is one of high density. 7 Ironically, Wirth based much of his approach to urbanism as a way of life on a vast amount of empirical research done by the Chicago School and hoped that the thesis would be validated by further empirical research. Yet, as Flanagan (1993, 165) says, assessing Wirth’s thesis and the research findings according to this narrow empirical frame, “It is difficult to envision a prominent place in the future of urban sociology for the classical tradition that culminated in the Chicago school concepts of ecology and urbanism. The models are too narrowly deterministic, too committed to finding causality within the urban area as a closed system. The respective market-based equilibrium and mass society models upon which each is based are today almost universally perceived as oversimplifications.”

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Wirth, Louis. 1938. “Urbanism as a Way of Life.” American Journal of Sociology 44, no. 1: 1–24. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1953. Philosophische Untersuchungen – Philosophical Investigations. Translated by G.E.M. Anscombe. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Wolff, Janet. 1985. “The Invisible ‘Flâneuse’: Women and the Literature of Modernity.” Theory, Culture and Society 2, no. 3: 37–46. Zizek, Slavoj. 2008. Violence. New York: Picador. – 2008a. The Ticklish Subject. London: Verso. – 1997. The Plague of Fantasies. London and New York: Verso.

Contributors

alan blum is the director of the Culture of Cities Centre located in Toronto and the principal investigator of the City Life and WellBeing: The Grey Zone of Health and Illness research project, funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. Dr Blum teaches graduate courses at York University and University of Waterloo. He is the author of numerous books, including The Imaginative Structure of the City, Theorizing, and On the Beginning of Social Inquiry (with McHugh, Raffel, and Foss). He is currently completing Being Sick: The Grey Zone in Health and Illness (Intellect Press, forthcoming 2010) and a collection of essays entitled “Secret Space, Sacred Place.” amanda boetzkes is assistant professor in the Department of Art and Design at the University of Alberta. She completed her PhD in art history at McGill University and held a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. Her book The Ethics of Earth Art (University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming 2010) discusses the ecological implications of the earth art movement. She has published on contemporary art, ethics, and historiography in the journals Art History and Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture. Her current research focuses on the topic of waste, consumption, and contemporary art. kieran bonner is professor of sociology at St Jerome’s University in the University of Waterloo. He was a co-investigator on the Culture of Cities: Montreal Toronto Berlin Dublin sshrc project and chair of its executive committee, 2000–05. He is currently a

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co-investigator on the interdisciplinary research project, City Life and Well-Being: The Grey Zone of Health and Illness, funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research, 2006–11. He is the author of books and articles on the urban rural distinction, power and parenting, the culture of Dublin, of Montreal, and of Toronto, phenomenology, hermeneutics, analysis, symbolic interaction, reflexivity, Socrates and dialectic, interdisciplinary dialogue, and student motivation. Currently, he is director of the Human Sciences Initiative at St Jerome’s University and associate chair of graduate studies in sociology at the University of Waterloo. alexandra boutros is an assistant professor in communication and cultural studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her work is generally concerned with the intersection of media, technology, and identity within the context of social, cultural, and religious movements. Her recent publications have appeared in the Canadian Journal of Communication and Wadabagei: A Journal of the Caribbean and Its Diasporas, and essays are forthcoming in two anthologies focusing on religion and media, Deus in Machine: Religion and Technology in Cross Cultural Perspective (Fordham), and Religion, Media, Globalization (Routledge). A manuscript, “Visible Vodou: Travel, Technology and Transcendence in a Diasporic Religion,” is currently under consideration. jenny burman is assistant professor of communications in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University, where she works on diasporic urban culture, critiques of multiculturalism, and transnational cultural studies. She has written about Caribana, migrant remittances, anti-deportation activism, and the diasporic city of Toronto. She is the author of Transnational Yearnings: Tourism, Migration, and the Diasporic City (ubc Press, forthcoming 2010). michael darroch is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, Media, and Film at the University of Windsor, Canada. His research explores Canadian and German theories of media and materialities, with a focus on practices of media and art in a variety of urban contexts. He has published on aspects of technology, theatre, language, sound, and translation and is co-editing the volume Urban Mediations, an interdisciplinary collection that

Contributors

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situates different historical and methodological currents in urban media studies. He has translated widely from German and French to English. jennifer gabrys is program leader for the ma in Design and Environment at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is currently completing a study of electronic waste, “Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics.” Through her collaboration with the research and arts organization Weather Permitting, she is co-authoring a study on creative practice and climate change, tentatively titled “Zero Degrees: Arts, Sciences and Climate Change.” Her ongoing research, practice, and writing focus on the intersection of environments and communication technologies. amanda holmes is an associate professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies at McGill University. She is the author of City Fictions: Language, Body, and Spanish American Urban Space (Bucknell up, 2007), an exploration of the literary representation of the city in the late twentieth century. She has published articles on topics in Latin American literature such as the contemporary exotic, political violence and the city, and autobiography and regional identity, as well as the urban uncanny in comparative perspectives. barthold pelzer has worked as a researcher in the fields of literary history and recent cultural history. He has been the editor responsible for three volumes of the ten-volume edition Gesammelte Werke (Collected works) of Friedrich Schiller for the Berlin Aufbau-Verlag. alexander sedlmaier is a senior lecturer in modern history at Bangor University in Wales. He is a historian of modern Germany and the United States with a wide range of interests in transnational exchanges, foreign policy, consumer society, and political ideas over the past two hundred years. He has published a book on transatlantic diplomacy during the First World War. Currently, he is working on the historical relationship between political violence and “regimes of consumption.” will straw is a professor in the Department of Art History and Communications Studies at McGill University. He is currently

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principal investigator on a research team studying media and urban life in Montreal, funded by the Government of Quebec. With Douglas Tallack, Dr Straw is the co-editor of Global Cities/Local Sites (Melbourne University Publishing/Universitas 21, 2009.) He is the author of Cyanide and Sin: Visualizing Crime in 50s America (ppp Editions, 2006) and of more than eighty articles on cinema, music, and urban culture. tobias c. van veen is a doctoral candidate in philosophy in Communication Studies at McGill University, a renegade theorist, and a turntablist practitioner of the technology arts. Since 1993 he has disseminated and exhibited work in sound, radio, and net-art, performing and intervening with laptop and turntables, renegade sound systems, and sonic rituals (controltochaos.ca). His writings on philosophy of technology, Afrofuturism, and technoculture have been disseminated worldwide. His next publication, an edited volume tentatively titled Afrofuturism: Interstellar Transmissions from Remix Culture, is forthcoming from Wayne State University Press. He also mixes a mean absynthe martini (quadrantcrossing.org/blog).