521.6 The blind flaneur

Friday, August 3, 2012: 12:00 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Siegfried SAERBERG , Blinde und Kunst, Wiehl, Germany
The Blind Flâneur

It is not without good reason that both, sighted and blind Flâneurs, carry a cane. Like Walter Benjamin has elaborated, strolling people do not have a defined destination. Strolling is an equivalent to faineance, to just walking around with a distance to people and things. And in order not to lose contact to the ground completely, the Flâneur uses his cane.

So the sighted Flâneur and the blind Flâneur share an identical situation. However, they clearly differ in their form of appearance.

For a blind flaneur, urban space is constituted through a blind way of walking, the blind style of perception. Soundscapes, smellscapes and the footing in the ground open The city as a landscape close to the body as an instrument of sensually enjoying and perceptually controlling the environment.

The sighted Flâneur enquires on the encountered pedestrians’ physiognomies visually.

the blind Flâneur enquires on steps and voices. Brief conversations with strangers are important.

Benjamin has described, how the sighted flâneur walks incognito amidst the anonymous crowd in order to observe others more easily. Most of the time he is hidden in the crowd and for this reason becomes a sort of invisible man. This gives him a certain feeling of being invincible.

In contrast, the Blind Flâneur Is not invincible. The crowd is invisible for him. The blindman’s cane makes visible.

Following Simmel, the sighted Flâneur represents a typical product of modern individualism. He remains invisible and silent.

In contrast to this, the Blind Flâneur  occasionally becomes a speaker. Strolling is less a game of being visible or invisible but more of  audibility and speech. His individuality is aimed at the exchange with strangers.

Is this a new form of individualism?

An interactive mode of individualism that could characterize modern visualism too?