Have you ever thought about the origin of the word "Benjamins"?


A strong silent type, yet once you get to know him, the goofy side comes out. He is full of grace, very handsome, and gives the best hugs! He is tender, gentle, an incredible love maker, enduring-the best to cuddle with. He is zealous in spirit and has a talent for building things. Eyes like the ocean,- you could get lost in them forever.

welcoming and open. I was skeptical at first of coming in but I’m so glad I did. God knew what he was doing when he brought me to her. Mental health is not something to take lightly and I’m so glad that she made sure to provide me comfort and understanding while also giving me a safe place to talk about anything else I may need to get off my chest. It isn’t just about medicine or money with her. It’s about being WHOLE. Thank you Ciara for what you’ve helped give me back. (Source: www.benjamins-bhs.com)


The delayed appearance of Benjamin’s collected writings has determined and sustained the Anglophone reception of his work. (A two-volume selection was published in German in 1955, with a full edition not appearing until 1972–89, and a 21-volume critical edition has been in production since 2008; English anthologies first appeared in 1968 and 1978, and the four-volume Selected Writings between 1996 and 2003.) Originally received in the context of literary theory and aesthetics, only in the last decades of the 20th century did the philosophical depth and cultural breadth of Benjamin’s thought begin to be fully appreciated. Despite the voluminous size of the secondary literature that it has produced, his work remains a continuing source of productivity. An understanding of the intellectual context of his work has contributed to the philosophical revival of Early German Romanticism. His philosophy of language has played a seminal role in translation theory. His essay on ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technical Reproducibility’ remains a major theoretical text for film theory. One-Way Street and the work arising from his unfinished research on nineteenth century Paris (The Arcades Project), provide a theoretical stimulus for cultural theory and philosophical concepts of the modern. Benjamin’s messianic understanding of history has been an enduring source of theoretical fascination and frustration for a diverse range of philosophical thinkers, including Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben and, in a critical context, Jürgen Habermas. The ‘Critique of Violence’ and ‘On the Concept of History’ are important sources for Derrida’s discussion of messianicity, which has been influential, along with Paul de Man’s discussion of allegory, for the poststructuralist reception of Benjamin’s writings. Aspects of Benjamin’s thought have also been associated with a revival of political theology, although it is doubtful this reception is true to the tendencies of Benjamin’s own political thought. More recently, interest in Benjamin’s philosophy of education has been fueled by the translations of his Early Writings in 2011 and the transcripts of his radio broadcasts for children (Radio Benjamin) in 2014.

Leaving aside for now the methodological introduction (referred to in English as the ‘Epistemo-Critical Prologue’), the first part of Benjamin’s thesis is concerned with repudiating the dogmatic attempt by later critics to impose onto these plays the external criteria of Aristotelian aesthetics, which are rooted in classical tragedy. Benjamin’s understanding of tragedy here (and his approach to the mourning-play in general) is partially influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy. Benjamin claims that The Birth of Tragedy substantiates the critical insight that the empathy of undirected modern feeling is unhelpful for properly grasping ancient tragedy (OGT, 93). Instead, Nietzsche undertook a metaphysical inquiry into the essence of tragedy as a dialectical interplay of the contrasting aesthetic impulses of Apollonian semblance and Dionysian truth. This dialectic is central to Benjamin’s own philosophical investigations, particularly his claim—derived from his discussion of Goethe’s Elective Affinities—that an expressionless moment is constitutive of art, in which the limits of semblance are broached precisely in order to illuminate an artistic truth. (Source: plato.stanford.edu)


A chronicler who recites events without distinguishing between major and minor ones acts in accordance with the following truth: nothing that has ever happened should be regarded as lost for history. To be sure, only a redeemed mankind receives the fullness of its past-which is to say, only for a redeemed mankind has its past become citable in all its moments. Each moment it has lived becomes a citation a l'ordre du jour — and that day is Judgment Day.

To historians who wish to relive an era, Fustel de Coulanges recommends that they blot out everything they know about the later course of history. There is no better way of characterising the method with which historical materialism has broken. It is a process of empathy whose origin is the indolence of the heart, acedia, which despairs of grasping and holding the genuine historical image as it flares up briefly. Among medieval theologians it was regarded as the root cause of sadness. Flaubert, who was familiar with it, wrote: ‘Peu de gens devineront combien il a fallu être triste pour ressusciter Carthage.’* The nature of this sadness stands out more clearly if one asks with whom the adherents of historicism actually empathize. The answer is inevitable: with the victor. And all rulers are the heirs of those who conquered before them. Hence, empathy with the victor invariably benefits the rulers. Historical materialists know what that means. Whoever has emerged victorious participates to this day in the triumphal procession in which the present rulers step over those who are lying prostrate. According to traditional practice, the spoils are carried along in the procession. They are called cultural treasures, and a historical materialist views them with cautious detachment. For without exception the cultural treasures he surveys have an origin which he cannot contemplate without horror. They owe their existence not only to the efforts of the great minds and talents who have created them, but also to the anonymous toil of their contemporaries. There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism. And just as such a document is not free of barbarism, barbarism taints also the manner in which it was transmitted from one owner to another. A historical materialist therefore dissociates himself from it as far as possible. He regards it as his task to brush history against the grain. (Source: www.sfu.ca)


The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism. One reason why Fascism has a chance is that in the name of progress its opponents treat it as a historical norm. The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are ‘still’ possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge—unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable.

In contrast, the pre-Enlightenment concept of experience invested the world with a deeper and more profound significance, because the Creation assumes a revelatory religious importance. This is apparent not only in the deeply Christian world-view of mediaeval Europe, but survives in secularized form in Renaissance and Baroque humanism, and in “Counter-Enlightenment” thinkers such as J. G. Hamann, Goethe, and the Romantics. Benjamin suggests that the “great transformation and correction which must be performed upon the concept of experience, oriented so one-sidedly along mathematical-mechanical lines, can be attained only by relating knowledge to language, as was attempted by Hamann during Kant’s lifetime” (SW 1, 107–8). In the essay ‘On Language as Such and the Language of Man’ (‘Über Sprache überhaupt und über die Sprache des Menschen’, c. 1916), Benjamin offers a theological conception of language which draws on Hamann’s discussion of Creation as the physical imprint of the divine Word of God, to claim that there “is no event or thing in either animate or inanimate nature that does not in some way partake of language” (SW 1, 62–3). This implies that all experience—including perception—is essentially linguistic, whilst all human language (including writing, typically associated with mere convention) is inherently expressive and creative. Language is privileged as a model of experience in these early essays precisely because it undermines and transgresses the neat divisions and limitations operating in the Kantian system, including that fundamental one that distinguishes between the subject and object of sensations. If both are constitutively linguistic, language serves as a medium of experience that binds the ostensible “subject” and “object” in a more profound, perhaps mystical, relationship of underlying kinship. More generally, Hamann’s metacritique provides Benjamin with a sense of the hypocrisy of the Kantian separation of understanding and sensibility on the basis of an empty and purely formal notion of pure reason, which can itself only be postulated according to the concrete, aesthetic content of language. (Source: plato.stanford.edu)



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