Friday, November 12, 2004

Charles Baudelaire’s flâneur

“To the perfect spectator, the impassioned observer, it is an immense joy to make his domicile amongst numbers, amidst fluctuation and movement, amidst the fugitive and infinite. To be away from home, and yet to feel at home; to behold the world, to be in the midst of the world and yet to remain hidden from the world -- these are some of the minor pleasures of such independent, impassioned and impartial spirits whom words can only clumsily describe…the observer is a prince who always rejoices in his incognito.”

The flaneur was the ultimate modern subject: the solitary urban dweller who is mobile because he walks around town and observes and thinks about what he sees. And the observer who is incognito, someone who can get lost in a crowd, remain anonymous in a public situation and observe what is happening around him.