The Paris Review

The Ragpicker: Frédéric Pajak’s Uncertain Manifesto

In his monthly column Archive of Longing, Dustin Illingworth examines recently released books, with a focus on the small presses, the reissues, the esoteric, and the newly translated. Read an excerpt of the book discussed below, Uncertain Manifesto, here

Is collage a fantasy of wholeness or a revolt against its possibility? Walter Benjamin, eclectic aesthete, commodity historian, theorist of shards, often wrote in fragmentary forms—most notably the or “thought-image”—in order to forgo the possibility of finished work, which he considered the death mask of conception. The representative figure of modernity for Benjamin was the ragpicker, who “early in the morning, bad tempered and a tad tipsy, spears remnants of discourse and fragments of language with his stick and throws them, grumbling, into his cart.” A

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