1. Of the colony’s population of 60 million in 1930, almost completely native, “at
best 0.5 percent understood the colonial language.” Anderson, Under Three Flags,
2. Le Corbusier in 1929, quoted in Frampton, Le Corbusier, 23.
3. “Ten Poems from a Reader for Those Who Live in Cities,” in Brecht, Poems 1913–
4. Benjamin, Selected Writings, 4:389–400, 444.
5. Walter Benjamin, Bertold Brecht, or Franz Kafka, Jean-Luc Nancy, Marc Augé, or
Avital Ronell, or Le Corbusier, Theodor Adorno, and some others appear on the pages
of this book so pervasively not because they are more profound, articulate, impressive,
or, yes, closer to my Western ear than the Indonesians like Sosro, Soemardjan, Soe-
mitro, or Trimurti. The Westerners were not invited to “speak for the silent”; they fell
in (and sometimes with a thump), and they remained in the book by the force of their
fragility, their will or inability to resist their temptation to join in, their aﬄiction with
the modern, and the constant fear of homelessness in their own metropolises, just a step
aside, behind, or ahead of that in the colony. They are here as the other urban intellectuals
of this book.
6. Sartre, Baudelaire, 148.
7. “On Surrealism in Its Living Works,” 1953, in Breton, Manifestoes of Surrealism,
8. Krauss, Originality of the Avant-Garde, 253.
9. Blanchot, “Absence of the Book,” 326.
10. “The Sharing of Speech,” in Irigaray, Way of Love, 16, 28. It is a problem of lan-
guage. Even the kindest editor (and I met the kindest ones at Duke University Press)
would not allow me to keep in the book what the Indonesians said in Indonesian, the
Dutch in Dutch, the French in French, the Germans in German, and I in Czech. The
eﬀect of having all the quotations in English only was to flatten them into a weird kind
of contemporaneity: Franz Kafka chatting with Marc Augé, Marcel Proust with Ong