Conceived as a catalogue of thoughts and images on 19th century Paris as the emblematic modern city, the Arcades Project brings incredible innovation not only stylistically – through the fragmentary nature of the text, which could be read and accessed in non-linear fashion – but also intellectually, by breaking the traditional frame of text which rests upon a necessary temporal and linguistic progression, and effectively establishing a new architecture which relies less on words and more on the images and material that those words conjure. Benjamin effectively reconstructs different Parisian frames, capturing them not unlike a photographer captures a scene. Each of these frames, as fragments of text, contains its own temporality, existing both in relation to but also independent from the others. By embedding the relevance of each frame into a temporality that emerges directly from the material it depicts – for example, by depicting the old Parisian arcades in ruin as a new type of architecture emerges – Benjamin creates a unique dialectic in which the present can never exist as independent from either the past or the future.
Cultural data analysts often adapt biological analogies to describe their work. Mr. Jockers, for example, called his research presentation “Computing and Visualizing the 19th-Century Literary Genome.”
Such biological metaphors seem apt, because much of the research is a quantitative examination of words. Just as genes are the fundamental building blocks of biology, words are the raw material of ideas.
A new study, by researchers at the University of Missouri, showed that the most important factor that predicted math success in middle school and upward was an understanding of what numbers are before entering the first grade. Having “number system knowledge” in kindergarten or earlier — grasping that a numeral represents a quantity, and understanding the relationships among numbers — was a more important factor in math success by seventh grade than intelligence, race or income.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, book production went into overdrive, while newspapers and advertising were inventing new ways to use words to jostle urban passers-by out of their stupor.
Reminds me of Mallarmé and others style that was far from the rigid, justified columns of newspapers and uniformity of mass market books.