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The shift to a capitalist industrial economy involved an ideological shift in moral values as well as physical relocation. Institutions such as wage labor and the factory system were initially denounced by many in the upper ranks as well as in the lower orders as shocking innovations that ignored the mutual obligations inherent in the relationships between property owners and those who worked for them. The idea that employers dispatched all their obligations to workers simply with a cash payment, regardless of the short-term or long-term needs of those workers or their families, might be one means by which the middle class was increasing its wealth, but it was not a value held by the gentry or the aristocracy. In arguing against such a system and for the reciprocal responsibility inherent in the relationship between workers and employers, the lower class was seemingly on solid ground. They could claim not only the sanction of religion but also that of long-standing upper-class practices that had governed most of rural life.

And yet, in this struggle over the fundamental economic relationship among the classes, the middle class succeeded in claiming the language of morality as its own. ... But it was the growth of the Evangelical movement within the Church of England, and the strong identification of the middle class with this rigorous version of the official faith, that allowed them to establish the ground of morality as their own. Although there were many working class Evangelicals, and the movement within the Church of England was pioneered by many powerful members of the upper class, such as William Wilberforce, in its emphasis on personal morality, responsibility to the family, and loyalty to established authorities, Evangelical religion was well suited to the economic and social interests of the middle class, and over time it became most strongly identified with that group. For Evangelical men, the test of a man's character was his personal morality and his success at supporting his family, rather than his fulfillment of obligations to the community at large, and in this way Evangelical religion helped create the first generations of Britain's industrial middle class. [Page 10--see original for two footnoted references.]
17 November 2008 @ 11:46 pm

"For [Walter] Benjamin, the city was an accumulation of historical traces, experienced through chance associations of the present with dreams and memories of the past. This generates in Benjamin's writing a kind of archaeology of modernity, in which the sites of the modern city stand on layer upon layer of an underground city, which maintains a hellish and ghostlike presence within modernity. It is in these moments, when the spectral past enters the spaces of the present that Benjamin identified the mythological dimension of modernity: 'the new in connection with that which has always been there.'" Note 10. (VB, p. 6).

"To shift the subject of study from [Walter Benjamin's depiction of Paris] to London in the nineteenth century, is to tell a different story of modernity. London's engagement with the new was equivocal and piecemeal. Confronted with the apparent spectacle of the total transformation of Paris in this period [1852-70 under Napoleon III and the Prefect of the Seine, Baron Haussmann], London offered a different model of urban planning; one that its supporters argued reflected principles of democratic government rather than autocratic rule that governed Paris. The conventions of the picturesque were reinvented to represent the contingencies of the modern metropolis, and through these cultural forms London produced a pictorial lexicon of modernity based on the conjunction of the old and the new; destruction and construction; antiquarianism and technology. London had its icons of the new: the pumping stations; gasworks; underground tunnels; and smart shopping streets; but even these could be drawn into an alternative world of dreams, memories and fantasies." (VB, p. 6).

See also her discussion of Michel Foucault ["This concept of ordered, legible space is contested, in Foucault's writings, by other kinds of phantasmatic spaces; spaces that are both mythic and contested, which he calls 'heterotopias.' These are types of spaces that resist social ordering and that obey their own rules and logics.  ...including brothels and boats..." ] and Michel de Certeau [who "opposes two views of urban space: the panoptic, aerial viewpoint of the mapmakers and city planners and the perception of the walker at ground level. The aerial viewpoint articulates a totalising mastery of urban space; it renders the city legible and comprehensible. At street level, however, space cannot be controlled in a single gaze, but is apprehended through a rhetoric of walking and its associated symbolic mechanisms of dreams, memories and fables. The poetic space of the pedestrian is, for de Certeau, a space of resistance, which defies the attempts of the planners and improvers to discipline the contingencies of everyday life. De Certeau's geography of resistance can be read alongside his work on the symbolism of history, generating a fascinating interplay of time and space. In Heterologies, de Certeau sees these structural ambiguities as signs of the torsions of everyday practice and of the discourse's relationship to its own historical moment of production. This begins to suggest a different way of posing the question of modernity."] on p. 7.

"There can never be a pure, clean modernity, for the discourses that constitute that historical temporality bear the ghosts of the past, of modernity's own other. " [ VB, p. 7].

"London's past had to be continually rewritten and re-imaged; contained through the conventions of text and image and assimilated within a manageable lexicon of the metropolitan picturesque.  ... Obscenity was one of the spectres that haunted modern London. Obscenity was improvement's other; but it was also the progeny of the modern city. Produced, consumed and sold in the shops and streets of the metropolis, obscene publications were a bold and dangerous reminder of modernity that resisted the rational structures of government." [VB, p. 8].

"...the multitemporality of history, or of any object or time. ... Modernity, in this context, can be imagined as pleated or crumpled time, drawing together past, present and future into constant and unexpected relations and the product of a multiplicity of historical eras. ...space is understood as an active agent of modernity...never a passive backdrop for the formation of historical identities and experiences, but...an active constituent of historical consciousness..." [VB, p. 8].