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In Memory of Walter Benjamin

[Walter Benjamin] famously procrastinated on his “Arcades Project,” a colossal meditation on the cityscape of Paris where the figure of the flâneur — the procrastinator par excellence — would wander. Benjamin himself fatally dallied in escaping the city ahead of the Nazis. He took his own life, leaving the manuscript forever unfinished, more evidence, it would seem, that no avoidable delay goes unpunished.

Really love this piece on procrastination. Does modern life prevent us from creating what is tragically beautiful? Maybe we are just terrified by the violence of history :)

— Anna Della Subin’s essay — part of her counterinsurgency campaign against those who seek to defeat procrastination — in The New York Times. (via robertseshelman)

Work on a good piece of writing proceeds on three levels: a musical one, where it is composed; an architectural one, where it is constructed; and finally, a textile one, where it is woven.
Walter Benjamin, ‘Mind the Steps’, One Way Street (via mptskies)
The work of memory collapses time.
Walter Benjamin (via journalofanobody)
Strength lies in improvisation. All the decisive blows are struck left-handed.
Walter Benjamin (via swiftfence)
In the nights of annihilation of the last war, the frame of mankind was shaken by a feeling that resembled the bliss of the epileptic. And the revolts that followed it were the first attempts of mankind to bring the new body under its control. The power of the proletariat is the measure of its convalescence. If it is not gripped to the very marrow by the discipline of this power, no pacifist polemics will save it. Living substance conquers the frenzy of destruction only in the ecstasy of procreation.

To the Planetarium, 1923-1926, published 1928. 

In this short fragment, Benjamin puts on his post-war Marxist hat, citing technology as a fetish of the ruling class which leads to violence (here Benjamin uses technology as a thingified item, alluding to Marxist reification). What’s beautiful here is the melding of Marxist theory with an understanding of man’s quest for meaning in the cosmos. The quest for understanding the outside world has led to the creation of technology, and when put in the wrong hands, leads to violence and destruction. Benjamin doesn’t, however, showcase what happens after the violence—which as we can see by the date is the First World War, the Great War or the Great Patriotic War. What happens once the violence has hit us? Are there plans to change the course of human history?

There is no existential study about the meaning of mankind after violence. Classic Benjamin and Messianic Violence! 

 If anyone ever questions Benjamin as a Marxist, show them this piece. 

menbathing:

Flâneur III: Benjamin’s Shadow

Danish director Torben Skjødt Jensen and writer Urf Peter Hallberg

publicobsessions:

“For play and nothing else is the mother of every habit. Eating, sleeping, getting dressed, washing have to be instilled into the struggling little brat in a playful way, following the rhythm of nursery rhymes. Habit enters life as a game, and in habit, even in its most sclerotic forms, an element of play survives to the end. Habits are the forms of our first happiness and our first horror that have congealed and become deformed to the point of being unrecognizable.” 
Benjamin, “Toys and Play,” Selected Writings, 1927-1930. Image: Walter Benjamin’s Archive, Verso, 2006. The caption reads: “Old wooden horsey from the governorate of Vladimir.”

publicobsessions:

“For play and nothing else is the mother of every habit. Eating, sleeping, getting dressed, washing have to be instilled into the struggling little brat in a playful way, following the rhythm of nursery rhymes. Habit enters life as a game, and in habit, even in its most sclerotic forms, an element of play survives to the end. Habits are the forms of our first happiness and our first horror that have congealed and become deformed to the point of being unrecognizable.” 

Benjamin, “Toys and Play,” Selected Writings, 1927-1930. Image: Walter Benjamin’s Archive, Verso, 2006. The caption reads: “Old wooden horsey from the governorate of Vladimir.”

Nietzsche, for example, wrote aphoristically, characterizing himself moreover as the enemy of system; yet he thought through his philosophy in a comprehensive and unitary manner in keeping with his guiding ideas, and in the end began to write his system.
Walter Benjamin, ‘The Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism’ in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings Vo.1. (via smallexit)

(Source: jenngodiva)


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