Location: Lobby of the Langham, London
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Placeholder for a desire to think more about hotels.
Perhaps it comes from participating in Precarious Gossips last month at Hotel Zoo, Berlin - or seeing that Helen Hester has been writing about them lately too (on rather more defensible, labour relations grounds). Or perhaps it’s because I’m reading ‘Tender Is The Night’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald, about a caste defined by the fact they live out of them, anywhere and nowhere.
The department store of the 1880s was instrumental in the production of modern subjectivity: it was “conceived as a technology of self-invention” through consumer choice, says Joanne Finkelstein (2007). Pace Lukacs she notes how “the inner self has been hollowed out and made into a subjectivity that becomes an object - to be groomed and improved.” Felix Guattari writes of the court of Versailles that subjectivity itself is understood to be a commodity. It’s all a performance of sensibility and taste; the flâneuse, rather more than the flâneur, “the real model for the modern consumer subject” – Kevin Hetherington, 2011.
The hotel, though… It seems as though it should be the same sort of space as the department store, a cosmopolitan public - and perhaps its bars and restaurants are, but the hotel really is not. It is something the opposite, a place of escape and avoidance.
But it’s nonetheless also productive of a subjectivity too. So of what sort?