Multiplication of traces through the modem administrative apparatus. Balzac draws attention to this: “Do your utmost, hapless Frenchwomen, to remain unknown, to weave the very least little romance in the midst of a civilization which takes note, on public squares, of the hour when every hackney cab comes and goes; which counts every letter and stamps them twice, at the exact time they are posted and at the time they are delivered; which numbers the houses . . . ; which ere long will have every acre of land, down to the smallest holdings . . . , laid down on the broad sheets of a survey – a giant’s task, by command of a giant.” Balzac, Modeste Mignon, cited in Regis Messac, Le “Detective Novel” et l’influence de la pensee scientifique (Paris, 1929), p. 461.
– Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project (p. 221)