July 01, 2004

Botany Bay in The Arcades

"Nadar’s self-characterization: 'Formerly a maker of caricatures..., ultimately a refugee in the Botany Bay of photography.'" -- Benjamin quoting Alfred Delvau quoting Nadar in The Arcades Project (p 681 in my copy). The complexities here in the use of "Botany Bay" -- what can Nadar be alluding to here? The metaphor doesn't carry over to me at all, except in images of container cranes, refineries, sand dunes, the approach into Kingsford Smith, the departure back to London... exploration? Backwater? New World? The antipodes (to Paris, to caricature, ...)? Exile? The Penal Colony (ah, the echoes...)? And what can Benjamin be thinking in quoting this? What was Botany Bay (or "Botany Bay"...) for Benjamin? (The fruitful dangers of dipping into the Arcades randomly like this...).


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