Moda jako alegoria „zrujnowanej” moderny. „Metafizyka mody” według Waltera Benjamina
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The essay, which is a part of Málek’s book Modern Melancholy. Allegory, Narrator, Death, is an attempt to analyze and develop the concept of allegory by Benjamin in the context of his interests in fashion, seen as a main phenomena of cultural modernity. Málek starts with describing Benjamin’s metaphor of allegory as a ruin and compares it with a similar concept by Georg Simmel. Then he appeals to the famous definition of “modern beauty” by Baudelaire (Benjamin’s favourite poet) which was essential for the concept of modern allegory, especially in Passagenwerke, although Benjamin emphasized rather the negative (temporal, passing, destructive) element of this notion. As the author shows, there is a lot of passages in the modern literature (ex. in Kafka, Mann, Rilke, Bernhard), where fashion as such, or particular piece of clothes (as they decay or come out of fashion) play a role of allegories of the time, death, and modern misery. Málek writes also about another figure of modernity in Benjamin’s writings – a woman, often described as a prostitute or even a bitch, as fragments from Passagenwerke, as well as from Proust and Kafka show. For Baudelaire and Benjamin a prostitute and a prostitution are the allegory of modern writer who is forced to sell his works and compete on the market not only with other artists, but also with rising popular culture.
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