September 17th, 2006

Bring Me the Time Machine

I picked up Walter Benjamin, On Hashish in the Borders in Redmond Town Center last week. I initially thought it was just a translation of pieces I'd already read in German. But it turns out that a lot of it is from previously unpublished material, thereby overcoming my resistance to reading him in English. I started by flipping through the book and lighting on random passages, as is my wont with non-fiction texts. Now I've started from the beginning in earnest. And I've already learned things I hadn't realized about the link between his literary and pharmaceutical experiments. Here's one of the notes he made after his first time, dated 3:30am, December 18th, 1927:
One is very much struck by how long one's sentences are. This, too, connected with horizontal extension and (probably) with laughter. The arcade is also a phenomenon of long horizontal extension, perhaps combined with vistas receding into distant, fleeting, tiny perspectives. The element of the diminutive would serve to link the idea of the arcade to laughter. (Compare the Trauerspiel book: miniaturizing power of reflection.)
In other words, the byways of the Passagenwerk he was at this point commencing to write were filled with more than one flavor of smoke from the get-go. I suppose Lance Olsen is right to transpose the spirit of the Aracdes Project to a fictional take on the Mall of America. I'm trying to imagine what it would be like to browse the racks at Hot Topic with Walter.