Types


Pattern recognition and types: find out what Benjamin says about “types”—it is connected with the physiognomies that were prevalent in the 19th century, the small pamphlets that would over-simplify and outline the city and its inhabitants, turning the city into a kind of marketable commodity of tourism.

Transience and Surface Perception: The flâneur reads for amusement, the prostitute reads for clients, the gambler reads ______ . City life functions on the level of surfaces. Because of the high populations of cities, the individual is devalued. Because the individual is devalued, the system rises in significance; thus the practice of typing becomes useful, necessary, desirable—differentiating borders and boundaries within the flow of humanity—these borders and boundaries being oftentimes limited to the clothes people wear (see Benjamin on fashion—see parasite). Think of the importance of fashion in Gibson's Pattern Recognition, the way it functions as a sort of hieroglyphic vocabulary. Think of John Dos Passos' character Bud in Manhattan Transferthe soft farmer's shirt is traded for the sharp arrow collar (get quote).

“Prostitution opens a market in feminine types” (AP 515)

From Benjamin's chapter titled "Prostitution, Gambling" in The Arcades Project:

Hasn’t his eternal vagabondage everywhere accustomed him to reinterpreting the image of the city? And doesn’t he transform the arcade into a casino, into a gambling den, where now and again he stakes the red, blue, yellow jetons of feeling on women, on a face that suddenly surfaces (will it return his look?), on a mute mouth (will it speak?)? What, on the baize cloth, looks out at the gambler from every number—luck, that is—here, from the bodies of all the woman, winks at him as the chimera of sexuality: as his type. This is nothing other than the number, the cipher, in which just at that moment luck will be called by name, in order to jump immediately to another number. His type—that’s the number that pays off thirty-six-fold, the one on which, without even trying, the eye of the voluptuary falls, as the ivory ball falls into the red or black compartment. He leaves the Palais-Royal with bulging pockets, calls to a whore, and once more celebrates in her arms the communion with number, in which money and riches, absolved from every earthen weight, have come to him from the fates like a joyous embrace returned to the full. For in gambling hall and bordello, it is the same supremely sinful delight: to challenge fate in pleasure. Let unsuspecting idealists imagine that sensual pleasure, of whatever stripe, could ever determine the theological concept of sin. The origin of true lechery is nothing else by this stealing of pleasure from out of the course of life with God, whose covenant with such life resides in the name. The name itself is the cry of naked lust. This sober thing, fateless in itself—the name—knows no other adversary than the fate that takes its place in whoring and that forges its arsenal in superstition. Thus in gambler and prostitute that superstition which arranges the figures of fate and (AP 489) fills all wanton behavior with fateful forwardness, fateful concupiscence, bringing even pleasure to kneel before its throne. (AP 490)

The Arcades Project Project is part of Heather Marcelle Crickenberger's doctoral dissertation entitled "The Structure of Awakening": Walter Benjamin and Progressive Scholarship in New Media which was defended and passed on June 27, 2007 at the University of South Carolina. The committe members are as follows: John Muckelbauer, Ph.D, Judith James, Ph.D., Dan Smith, Ph.D, Brad Collins, Ph. D., and Anthony Jarrells, Ph.D. Copyright 2007 by Heather Marcelle Crickenberger. All rights reserved. lems concerning what you find here, feel free to contact me at marcelle@thelemming.com. You are also invited to leave a message for me and other visitors HERE. The Arcades Project Project or The Rhetoric of Hypertext