Tuesday, March 15, 2005


The flaneur is old hat and dependant on the male gaze; the street is alive differently now. I had always found the concept of the flaneur insubstantial. The notion of bricoleur is more rewarding. In 1973, Claude Lévi-Strauss introduced the notion of the bricoleur who appropriates pre-existing materials that are ready-to-hand. We use things to hand and improvise our lives, actions, behaviours from short cuts through buildings, down alleyways, via favourite views to ways of being in the city not covered in the guidebooks. It is cumulative, involves unintended uses, economical (using a small number of tools) and has unintended consequences and fits the process of evolution, as well as cultural change.

And perhaps poets, should be alert to bricolage a feature of language which Wittgenstein compared to 'an ancient city: a maze of little streets and squares, of old and new houses, and of houses with additions from various periods; and this surrounded by a multitude of new boroughs with straight regular streets and uniform houses.' How to write the city into poetry? The experience of the city shares affinities with the cinema which has been more involved in working with cities than poetry. But the experience also has affinities with the hypertextual experience. The city resists closure, the self-contained lyric and linear narrative. Mireille Rosello in an essay, 'The Screener's Maps: Michel de Certeau's "Wandersmanner" and Paul Auster's Hypertextual Detective', explores the wanderer/ flaneur figure of reading and navigating to describe hypertextual reading. She denies the need for formal navigational aids and metaphors like ‘traveling’ or ‘exploring’ preferring that of ‘the wanderer’. Meaning happens in the process not from reaching some journey’s end. Poetry like hypertext can subvert official structures and narratives, can ‘La perrugue’ as bricolage does and as diaries can.

John Bennett http://home.primus.com.au/jbandbr/index.html
Upon his shoes must be written Tetragrammaton

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