Shadows Between the Signs


Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University


The following experimental text is drawn from my most recent research project War Machines: Utopia and Allegorical Poetics in the Twenty-First Century. The project is an adaptation of the allegorical poetics developed by the French poet Charles Baudelaire in his scathing attacks on the sweeping transformation of Paris being conducted by Napoleon III’s right-hand man, Baron Haussmann. This small excerpt from my new book is a demonstration of my critical and poetical re-framing of Benjamin’s work that orients itself more towards the overlooked elements of Benjamin’s Marxism, as well as his “weak messianic” perspective, in order to re-assert a more radical orientation of his poetics and critical method with the utopian perspectives found in the work of that other great Marxist outlier of the twentieth century, Ernst Bloch, especially as outlined in his book, The Principle of Hope. Thus, unlike the postmodern appropriation of Baudelaire and Benjamin, I want to propose the possibility of bridging the gap between allegorical poetics, Marxism, and utopianism once again as a rigorous, critical option in the twenty-first century.

Keywords: modernity, progress, agency of language, recognizability, liberal terror, corporate fascism, totality, subjectivation, negative ideal of democracy