Benjamin's Passages: Dreaming, Awakening by Alexander Gelley

By Alexander Gelley

In transposing the Freudian dream paintings from the person topic to the collective, Walter Benjamin projected a "macroscosmic journey" of the person sleeper to "the dreaming collective, which, during the arcades, communes with its personal insides." Benjamin's attempt to transpose the dream phenomenon to the heritage of a collective remained fragmentary, even though it underlies the main of retrograde temporality, which, it really is argued, is primary to his thought of history.

The "passages" are usually not simply the Paris arcades: They refer additionally to Benjamin's attempt to barter the labyrinth of his paintings and concept. Gelley works via lots of Benjamin's later works and examines very important severe questions: the interaction of aesthetics and politics, the style of The Arcades Project, quotation, language, messianism, air of mystery, and the motifs of reminiscence, the group, and awakening.

For Benjamin, reminiscence is not just antiquarian; it features as a solicitation, a choice to a collectivity to return. Gelley reads this name within the motif of awakening, which conveys a certified yet the most important performative purpose of Benjamin's project.

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Indb 17 11/10/14 12:09:58 PM 18 Introduction of willed intention. Thus in Thesis XIV of “On the Concept of History”: “History is the subject of a construction whose site is not homogeneous, empty time, but time filled full by the now-time [ Jetztzeit]” (SW 4: 395). 21 The word also alludes to building and architecture, which Benjamin took account of in an early entry to The Arcades Project, “Attempt to develop Giedion’s thesis. ” (GS 5: 494 [K 1a, 7]; TAP 391). 22 Now in this letter Benjamin brings the two terms into close proximity.

Any theory of translation must be founded on this absolute division. For Benjamin the essential determination of Übersetzung is to reach out to what he terms the sphere of “pure language” (reine Sprache, GS 4: 19; SW 1: 261), in repeatedly renewed trials, even in the face of the impossibility of ultimate realization, so as to wrest something akin to response or confirmation from that sphere. Undoubtedly, pure language is never claimed as a substantial entity, as an existent. Benjamin refers to it variously as the end-point, the goal, the telos of a dynamic that is characterized in terms of a life-process (cf.

The densely layered fabric of the personal reminiscences which we find in works like the “Moskauer Tagebuch” (“Moscow Diary,” 1926 –27), the various city sketches, and those on his Berlin childhood (“Berliner Kindheit um Neunzehnhundert,” 1932–38) should be viewed in integral relation to the cultural-historical aims of the Paris project. In both types of writing, Benjamin is in search of an appropriate form for representing modernity by way of multiple incursions into the phenomenon of the city.

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