The Arcades Project Project by Heather Marcelle Crickenberger
This essay introduces an online experiment in the composition of scholarly hypertext that resulted in a website entitled The Arcades Project Project. My argument in favor of such endeavors begins with a discussion of “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” which I examine alongside “The Author as Producer” and “A Program for a Proletarian Children’s Theatre,” focusing on Benjamin’s distinction between progressive and regressive compositional and educational techniques. In these essays, Benjamin identifies a way of thinking about progress that is “totally useless for fascism.” This involves a refashioning of the apparatus of perception as a means of eliciting change. I argue that Benjamin makes this argument structurally in The Arcades Project by adopting passages as its title concept, providing an image of thought that lends itself easily to structural modification, improvisation and adaptation that is diffused throughout his structural apparatus. In this way, The Arcades Project serves as an example of what Benjamin identifies as “the structure of awakening.” This concept of structure is then combined with the call by many Benjamin scholars to respond to his work, not through analysis and argument, but through continuation. My response takes the form of this website.