# HISTORY /// The Emergence of Social Space. Rimbaud and the Paris Commune by Kristin Ross
Quand viennent sur nos fourmilières
Crouler les jaunes cabochons
Dans des aubes particulières
Thiers et Picard sont des Eros
Des enleveurs d’héliotropes,
Au pétrole ils font des Corots
Voici hannetonner leurs tropes…
More than ever we carouse
As onto our ant-hills come
Tumbling the yellow heads
On those extraordinary dawns:
Thiers and Picard are Cupids
And ravishers of heliotropes too;
They paint Corots with petrol
Here their tropes buzz about…
I heard that the interesting French publisher La Fabrique is going to publish very soon the French version of Kristin Ross‘ The Emergence of Social Space. Rimbaud and the Paris Commune (1988), and I therefore decided to post an excerpt of it.
This essay associates Arthur Rimbaud’s poetry and Paris Commune in 1871 (see former post) and propose a very accurate dissection of the poet’s work in order to perceive the strong political involvement of it. Ross is also emphasizing the notion of swarm used by Rimbaud to describe the Communards and that Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt are re-interpreting in their book called Multitude (see former post).
The book is published with Verso and I really recommend to explore their books (Zizek, Jameson, Badiou, Ranciere etc.). Great great publisher!
Here is the excerpt I chose:
The breakdown of spatial hierarchy in the Commune, one aspect of which was the establishment of places of political deliberation and decision making that were no longer secret but open and accessible, brought about a breakdown in a temporal division as well. The publicity of political life, the immediate publication of all the Commune’s decisions, and proclamations, largely in the form of affiches, resulted in a “spontaneous” temporality whereby citizens were no longer informed of their history after the fact but were actually occupying the moment of its realization. If the city and its streets were in fact reappropriated by the Communards, this undoubtedly entailed a Communard reinvention of urban rhythms: white nights and “revolutionary days” that are not simply certain days marked off on a calendar, but are rather the introduction to and immersion in a new temporal movement. […]
The workers who occupied the Hotel de Ville or who tore down the Vendome Column were not “at home” in the center of Paris; they were occupying enemy territory, the circumscribed proper place of the dominant social order. Such an occupation, however brief, provides an example of what the Situationnist have called a détournement – using the elements or terrain of the dominant social order to one’s own ends, for a transformed purpose; integration actual or past productions into a superior construction of milieu. Détournement has no other place but the place of the other; it plays on imposed terrain and its tactics are determined by the absence of a “proper place”. Thus, the détournement of churches: using them to hold the meetings of women’s clubs or other worker organizations. Détournement is no mere Surrealist or arbitrary juxtaposition of conflicting codes; its aim, at once serious and ludic, is to strip false meaning or value from the original.