On Rimbaud, the Paris Commune, and Social Space

The Emergence of Social SpaceThe Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune by Kristin Ross seems to be more about Rimbaud than the emergence of social space or the Paris Commune, more literary criticism than a deeper meditation on the politics of space.

I find a tendency to over read into the acts of the Communards (like when she says that the demolition of the Vendrome Column is an instance of the Commune’s inherent ‘horizontality’ clashing with the old regime’s ‘verticality’ or when the Commune’s barricades are construed as ‘a special kind of bricolage’, etc.).

These seem to stem from a French Structuralist inflected ‘cultural studies’ framework mixing with an overzealous imputing of anarcho-communist elements into both the Commune and Rimbaud.

Nevertheless, the book’s strength lies in its in depth reading of the nitty gritty of Rimbaud’s verse and its intertexts (in Aime Cesaire, Bertolt Brecht, Walter Benjamin, Mallarme, Verlaine, and the various manifestos, memoirs, slogans, and cartoons from the participants and detractors of the Paris Commune) as can only be best understood in the context of the Commune and its reconfiguration of space as a highly politicized instance.


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