Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Pronunciation: flä-'n&r
Function: noun
Etymology: French flâneur
Date: 1854
: an idle man-about-town
In "On some motifs on Baudelaire" Walter Benjamin creates a new concept, le flaneur.
"The greater the sum of those who use any urban space, the more offensive the rude indifference for the others seems to be" The mist-space is itself a protective place.
"Le flaneur" (the wanderer) passes by with a certain skill in the human rumble of the metropolis. His
attitude is the opposite to that quoted above. He is fascinated by the other show performed and forgets
himself. His person is not the most important, as the blase's, but the possibility of anonymously
hiding in the crowd and of abandoning himself to its fascination.
"The street becomes a dwelling for the flâneur; he is as much at home among the facades of houses
as a citizen is in his four walls. To him the shiny, enameled signs of businesses are at least as good
a wall ornament as an oil painting is to the bourgeois in his salon. The walls are the desk against
which he presses his notebooks; news-stands are his libraries and the terraces of cafés are the
balconies from which he looks down on his household after his work is done."
Walter Benjamin, 1938

I read recently that the tradition of strolling around Paris has been in serious decline due to automobile and truck traffic. I am going to try it anyways in December.
Strolling around San Francisco is rarely fun due to cars rolling through stop signs and trying to get ahead of pedestrians. There is plenty of impatience.

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