As part of my research and inspiration (and on recommendation of one of my teachers), I’m meandering through The Arcades Project. I can’t wait to get to the chapter on The Flâneur but for now I’m finding many wonderful tidbits in the intro:
The flâneur seeks refuge in the crowd. The crowd is the veil through which the familiar city is transformed for the flâneur into phantasmagoria. This phantasmagoria, in which the city appears ow as a landscape, ow as a room, seems later to have inspired the décor of department stores, which thus put flânerie to work for profit. In any case, the department stores are the last precincts of flânerie.
The flâneur plays the role of scout in the marketplace. As such, he is also the explorer of the crowd. Within the man who abandons himself to it, the crowd inspires a sort of drunkenness, one accompanied by very specific illusions: the man flatters himself that, on seeing a passerby swept along by the crowd, he has accurately classified him, seen straight through the innermost recesses of his soul – all on the bases of his external appearance. (Benjamin, 21)
– Benjamin, Walter, and Howard Eiland. The arcades project. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Pr. of Harvard U Pr., 2003. Print.