Goldsmith’s Capital moves Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project to New York and remixes it for the digital age. But what does it tell us about Goldsmith’s project – and his “appropriative” style?
By bringing Capital into conversation with David Kishik’s The Manhattan Project, I attempted to find an answer.
To the extent which The Arcades Project and Capital both move “capital” away from the sovereign and toward commercial culture, they also fortify the latter with responsibility, and to take them seriously necessitates examining their own place in the culture industry. From here in England, where Goldsmith is not the celebrity poet he is in the US, it is sometimes hard to appreciate his cultural power. Several of the friends I spoke to about this piece suggested that his blunders are perhaps more naïve than calculated. Yet it is surely not accidental that Capital is published by Verso, the radical house whose list includes a good number of books by and about Benjamin, including most recently an edit of his archive. The Arcades Project is no autopsy report, but it is still difficult to imagine Goldsmith and his publishers not envisioning the censure that might reasonably follow this particular writer taking the unfinished work of a refugee and adopting its form without including what Lauren Elkin, writing in the Financial Times, calls “the analysis.”