Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"Down with Dawdling!"

In his engrossing essay "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire", Walter Benjamin discusses in part Baudelaire's attitude towards city crowds, comparing it with Poe's, and the idea of the flâneur ("a detached pedestrian observer of a metropolis, a 'gentleman stroller of city streets'"). In this context we are sent to footnote number 6:
A pedestrian knew how to display his nonchalance provocatively on certain occasions. Around 1840 it was briefly fashionable to take turtles for a walk in the arcades. The flâneurs liked to have the turtles set the pace for them. If they had had their way, progress would have been obliged to accommodate itself to this pace. But this attitude did not prevail; Taylor, who popularized the watchword "Down with Dawdling!," carried the day.

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