Weve become highly conversant in the language of crisis, we anxious souls of the 21st century. The shrinking postnational world has come to resemble the native catastrophe of a DeLillo novel, and weve taken to its new vocabulary and phrasing like paranoid savantsnot least because of a creeping sense of familiarity, the roteness of calamity.
Part shaggy intellectual ruin, part holy text of urban theology, the German cultural critic Walter Benjamins unfinished magnum opus The Arcades Projecta kaleidoscopic study of 19th-century Parisian city lifeis perhaps best read as a kind of cipher or secret code wherein the metropolis itself is revealed to be the critical document of modernity.
For many of us, the Internet has been normalized to the point of seeming benignity. Its integration with virtually every facet of contemporary existence has created a sort of homogenization of online expectations.
Geoffrey Scott, in his seminal work The Architecture of Humanism (1914), said that “the art of architecture studies not structure in itself, but the effect of structure on the human spirit.”
One of the many difficulties of writing a book about Dada (or, for that matter, writing a review of a book about Dada) is its very slipperiness, a resistance to the clean lines of demarcation and definition.
For an intellectual movement preoccupied with such august considerations as being, time, and death, existentialism has enjoyed an almost painless absorption into the popular culture since its grand Parisian heyday.
What possibilities lie within the exquisite coil of the aphorism? What truths, what horrors are condensed within these tightly-wound, enigmatic whorls? What if that perfect literary pressure was somehow released, allowed to stretch itself upon the white of the page, to simmer, to scream?