Saturday, October 23, 2010

'The Passant' ...

... for every passer-by is a secret ...  Pierre-Jules Stahl
... A passer-by is someone who looks like everyone else
and who cannot be distinguished from anyone.
A passer-by resembles nothing so much as another passer-by ...

Pierre-Jules Stahl physiognomy of that modern urban figure,
'the passant', published in the fall of 1844 in the anthology
'Le Diable à Paris'.
The passer-by was characterized above all by his invisibility,
by his perfect similitude to everyone and no one in particular.
This condition was of course understood as a product of
the metropolis anonymity.
... Passers-by only exist in Paris. Someone of the provinces
has no idea, or only a slight idea, of what a passer-by is.
A man you know is certainly not a passer-by. In the
provinces you always more or less know a man who
 passes by and where he is going, but a passer-by is
a man whose destinations is unknown to you ...
 In the capital, the crowd was composed of individuals
whose varied trajectories would never meet, whose goals
would remain unknown, unable to be guessed.
Within the crowd the passant was engulved in solitude,
unaware of the other lives that swirled around him, or
aware of them only as obstacles to his progress.
... Passers-by are people who meet, who pass each other,
and who - as long as they do not bump to each other -
carry on without even noticing that they ever met.
The passer-by is someone who is alone and who
remains alone amidst everyone else, who does not care
about you and to whom you yourself are indifferent, 
wrongly perhaps, for every passer-by is a secret ...