Homelessness

Further reading today, the essay Shelter for the Homeless by Siegfried Kracauer (1889-1966) ur-visual culture critic and mass culture critic of Weimar Germany.

The shelter he writes of is that provided to those spiritually homeless denizens of the middle class, those living the lifestyle of the salaried employee. He writes they “are living at present without a doctrine to look up at or a goal to ascertain. (88)” The closest thing they can associate with something “higher” is instead glamour. This shallow version of what there is to attain in life is attained “not through concentration, but in distraction.”
The lower middle class escape from their workaday lives, from their horrid existences into the “homeless shelters” of taverns, clubs, department stores, and other houses of social intoxication. They cannot bear their own lives, and so prefer endless distractions, expensive hobbies and entertainment that lets them rub elbows with their image of the lives of leisure of the leisure classes while remaining more or less content enough with their lot to not attempt to actually achieve or usurp the leisure class from its denizens. Kracauer describes this flight into leisure and images of the Weimar middle class as depoliticizing. “The flight into images is a flight from revolution and from death.”