The lunar frigidity of electric light: atmosphere and infrastructure in Haussmann’s Paris

In his Arcades Project (1999), Benjamin cites Georges Laronze:

“The visual effect was thus very striking, with the swirling branches of the fifty-six great streetlights along the avenue, the reflections from the surfaces below, and the flickering of flames from the five hundred thousand jets of gas” (128-29).

And Georges Montorgueil:

“A dreamlike setting, where the yellowish flickering of the gas is wedded to the lunar frigidity of electric light” (562).

Light exemplifies the relationship between atmosphere and infrastructure in Haussmann’s Paris. Atmosphere and infrastructure, while seeming to belong to two different worlds, are actually two sides of the same coin.

Benjamin, W. (1999). The Arcades Project. Harvard University Press: Cambridge.

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