This is an old post I've been saving as a draft for some (no) reason. I actually forgot about it, and since I feel too lazy to write anything new.... I have examples to add from Benjamin and Darwin, but that'll have to wait since I don't have the books here in Ithaca.
The dialectic of public/private space is key to understanding Benjamin's style and theory. Interior spaces: the mind, apartments, rooms, dreams, are always immediately and complexly juxtaposed and interwoven within and alongside public frames of reference. What I find very interesting about the use of space is the half-finished or incomplete quality not only of the spatial dialectic employed but the material incompleteness of the spaces he chooses to focus on, i.e., their constructedness. The incompleteness or the open-ended construction of his work and the works he valorizes are what I would call, sites of imperfection. Imperfection is not meant here in the pejorative sense; rather, it is a pre-condition for the evolution of forms. By aligning imperfection with incompletion a series of dialectical constellations appear: interiority/exteriority: complete/incomplete, open/closed, these all have different,yet complementary, spatial valences. Thus, as correspondences, these constellations produce the mutable forms of Benjamin's critical/aesthetic work; they serve as both critical content and aesthetic form; that is, the works politics as well as its poetics is an ever-evolving (and necessarily imperfect) mode of production/construction--a dialectical evolution of form and content.
To my mind, the efficacy of multiple sites of imperfection is all over, to begin with, Darwin's theory of evolution. This is nowhere, as far as I know, explicitly stated in Darwin's theory. That is, he doesn't ever simply say evolution = imperfection. But it is everywhere implied. (It was in Cannon Schmitt's seinar on epistemologies of evolution that I first started thinking about imperfection as a useful tool for approaching aesthetic/cultural forms.) And it is in the radical forms of the avant garde that I think we may be able to put the concept to use. There are a lot of implications here, which I will try to unfold at some point. For now I'll just make a sweeping and general claim: for Benjamin, the perception/cognition of these imperfect sites produces modernity as the ground for new forms of living. Thus we have Benjamin the Surrealist.
(Justin, I'd like to hear what you have to say on this. I had you in mind when I wrote it, in a way.)