Etymology: French flâneur
: an idle man-about-town
In "On some motifs on Baudelaire" Walter Benjamin creates a new
concept, le flaneur.
"The greater the sum of those who use any urban space, the more offensive the rude indifference for the others seems to be" The mist-space is itself a protective place.
"Le flaneur" (the wanderer) passes by with a certain skill in
the human rumble of the metropolis. His
attitude is the opposite to that quoted above. He is fascinated by the other show performed and forgets
himself. His person is not the most important, as the blase's, but the possibility of anonymously
hiding in the crowd and of abandoning himself to its fascination.
"The street becomes a dwelling for the flâneur; he is
as much at home among the facades of houses
as a citizen is in his four walls. To him the shiny, enameled signs of businesses are at least as good
a wall ornament as an oil painting is to the bourgeois in his salon. The walls are the desk against
which he presses his notebooks; news-stands are his libraries and the terraces of cafés are the
balconies from which he looks down on his household after his work is done."
Walter Benjamin, 1938
“The reader, the thinker, the loiterer, and the flâneur
are types of illuminati just as much
as the opium taker, the dreamer, and the ecstatic. It is noteworthy that these figures of
secular enlightenment are simultaneously figures of movement, especially the figure of
the flâneur. The flâneur does not require things to come to him. Instead he goes to
things. In this sense, the flâneur does not destroy the aura of things. Rather, he observes
them or, more accurately, he allows them to come into being.”