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Seeing DoubleBaudelaire's Modernity$
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Francoise Meltzer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226519883

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226519876.001.0001

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Beliefs (Assommons les pauvres!)

Beliefs (Assommons les pauvres!)

(p.11) Chapter One Beliefs (Assommons les pauvres!)
Seeing Double

Françoise Meltzer

University of Chicago Press

The chaos Baudelaire records in his world produces antinomies of every sort—visual, conceptual, experiential—as has been recognized by countless Baudelaire scholars, Benjamin foremost among them. One such antinomy is politics, which is constantly marked by original sin, guilt, and the impossibility of redemption. But it is not enough to talk of contradiction in Baudelaire; one needs also to recognize that his versed negatives were unreadable for him. He was too close, and, like all things too close to the eyes, the image is doubled. The poet's vision is thus telescoped (a term Benjamin liked to use)—that is, collapsed upon itself, overlapping. And no amount of effort, mental or visual, can parse the clashing superimpositions that inevitably follow.

Keywords:   Baudelaire, antinomy, politics, visual, beliefs, Benjamin

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