The Flaneur

Karin Wenz, Assistant Professor of English, University of Kassel

The inhabitants of the city are eye-minded persons, moving through a fragmented space. Their perception of the city's space is a constructing activity on the basis of imagination. Places in cyberspace are software constructions which create environments for interaction. You may go from place to place, but not by following physical paths but logical links. As Mitchell puts it: "Click, click through cyberspace, this is the new architectural promenade" (Mitchell 1995: 24). The idea of a promenade reminds us of the literary figure 'The flaneur' in Baudelaires famous essay "The painterof modern life" (1863). Baudelaire describes the flaneur as a man of the city. He strolled the boulevards to observe the city life and put himself on display. The flaneur functions as a means of linearization. The complexity of three dimensional space is projected onto a linear and therefore one-dimensional temporal structure. Space is experienced in the form of a path.