Being a subject, unlike an object, is a rather embarrassing affair, for reasons inseparable from its occasional moments of glory.
Jennifer Fleissner, Maladies of the Will 13
Against the elite notion of the ‘continuous present,’ which positions time as an unvarying and unchanging natural phenomenon impervious to human action, the crowd gathers to restore time as a site of contestation and struggle; a moving continuum with a past, present and future that they can call their own. The crowd is both proof that their time sense cannot be entirely killed – they still hold memories of time past, hopes to a different future – and an attempt to puncture that present. They gather to demand that something, someone, must break this intolerable settlement.
Rebecca Liu, “John Berger, Time Traveller,” Critical Quarterly 65.1, p60
“Everyday life,” properly speaking, first comes into being only at the moment, midway through the nineteenth century, when European cities began to swell with the arrival of large numbers of newcomers, the moment—and this is crucial—when Marx conceptualized and systematized the “work day” of the wage laborer. When the lived experience of those new urban dwellers became organized, channeled, and codified into a set of repetitive and hence visible patterns, when markets became common between the provinces and the capital, when everything—work hours, money, miles, calories, minutes—became calculated and calculable, and when objects, people, and the relations between them changed under the onslaught of such quantification, then and only then and only there, in large Western metropolises, did the world, in Lefebvre’s words, “turn to prose.”
Kristin Ross, Politics and Poetics of Everyday Life, 98-99
The Novel is a Death; it transforms life into a destiny, a memory into a useful act, duration into an orientated and meaningful time. But this transformation can be accomplished only in full view of society. It is society which imposes the Novel, that is, a complex of signs, as a transcendence and as the History of a duration.
Roland Barthes, Writing Degree Zero, 39
Of all the gifts it offers, this is the most certain: the end. The novel certainly does not need to say it. And yet, the novel is not important because it portrays the fate of a stranger for us, but because the flame that consumes that stranger’s fate warms us as our own fates cannot. What draws the reader to the novel again and again is its mysterious ability to warm a shivering life with death.
Walter Benjamin, “The Storyteller”