In reading through this convolute, I began to look for
instances in twentieth-century New York where idleness
intersected with leisure and immediate experience crossed
paths with work. Benjamin sites the news service and nightlife
as "two social institutions of which idleness forms
an integral part." [m2a,2] p.802
area of the city where all of these ideas seemed to intersect
was the subway. Underground is a place where those who
worked and those who are idle become one. Of course there
are those on the subway who experience leisure, but they
are by far outnumbered by those who have embraced idleness.
In considering ideas of the news service, the creation
of immediate experience and idleness I began to wonder
if through reportage one could create a documentary account
of idleness that would appear to be an immediate experience.
To capture the images I rode the subway both during rush
hour to capture the workers and in the early morning hours
to capture the idlers of nightlife. I took multiple photographs
of the same people over a short period of time and then
edited them together to give a slight feeling of movement
or changing experience.
I chose to edit them to Joshua Redmen’s song "Hide
and Seek", because in this song Redman creates a
light hearted tempo that in the beginning feels like the
immediate experience or phantasmagoria of the idler, but
in the end turns out to be well-contemplated leisure.
I chose the passage about reportage because it summarized
the idea I was trying to illustrate by marry-ing immediate
experience and reportage, or immediate experience and
idleness as reportage being the main vocation of the news
service was eqated in Benjamin’s writings to idleness.
Thus, the reporter creating “a documentary account
of immediate experience,” is essentially recording
and reporting on idleness.
Multi-Media Essay Notes To help bridge the space between art and scholarship
each author has put together a series of notes to
his and her film.
These include the voiced-over words of Benjamin
(Narration) with appropriate
citation, other text where appropriate, and a discussion of the author's
intent (Author's Note).
Narration "The authentic field of operations
for the vivid chronicle of what is happening is the
documentary account of immediate experience, reportage.
It is directly aimed at the event, and it holds fast
to the experience.
This presupposes that the event also becomes an immediate
experience for the journalist reporting on it…The
capacity for having an experience is therefore a precondition…of
good… professional work." [m3,4] p. 803
My aim in creating this film was to illustrate some of
the ideas brought forth in convolute "m." of
Walter Benjamin’s "The Arcades Project"
entitled Idleness. Benjamin begins this convolute with
Narration "Plato in the Laws (VIII, 846), decrees
that no citizen shall engage in a mechanical trade;
the word banausos, signifying ‘artisan,’
becomes synonymous with ‘contemptible’…;
everything relating to tradespeople or to handwork carries
a stigma, and deforms the soul together with the body.
In general, those who practice these professions…are
busy satisfying…this ‘passion for wealth…which
leaves none of us an hour’s leisure.’"[m1,1] p.800
Throughout the convolute, Benjamin juxtaposes ideas
of work and leisure, idleness and fortune. He rec-ognizes
a transformation in bourgeois society’s ability
to appreciate or experience leisure. Instead they have
turned to idleness. In the following passage, he illustrates
the idea that those who embrace idleness rather than
leisure, like the figure of the flaneur, have already
forsaken true fortune. It is only the
poet, the true intellectual, who can fully embrace leisure
and in his rejection of fortune have access to her full
Narration "Whoever enjoys leisure escapes
Fortuna; whomever embraces idleness falls under her
power. The Fortuna awaiting a person in idleness, however,
is a lesser goddess than the one that the person of
leisure has fled." [m1,2] p.800
Benjamin goes on to address the ideas of experience and
immediate experience. Like leisure and idleness each is
the result of a different level of engagement.
Narration Experience is the outcome of work; immediate
experience is the phantasmagoria of the idler. [m1a,3]
The idea here is that to have a true experience takes
time and intellect. A true experience comes only to one
who seeks to know, not those waiting for the experience
to idly come to them. As with leisure and idleness, within
the realm of immediate experience Benjamin also sees a
Narration "The intentional correlate of 'immediate
experience' has not always remained the same. In the
nineteenth century, it was 'adventure.' In our day,
it appears as 'fate,'… [m1a,5] p. 801