I too love Benjamin. Not the obscurantist of post
modern manufacture but the guy who wrote like a dream
and the warp and weft of whose writing is often more
interesting than what it says ( see possibly the most
overrated of his works, beloved of media studies
departments- 'The work of art in the age of mechanical
reproduction'- wrong, wrong, wrong.)
The comparison with Hitler you quote is simply odious.
Benjamin died facing almost certain death at the hands
of the nazis as both a jew and a communist fellow
traveller and one of his more lasting observations is
a very telling one about the nazis' aestheticization
of politics ( which he did not like one bit and which
should still give pause for thought to anyone engaged
in either politics or art).
When in the marvellous 'Theses on the Philosophy of
he talked of blasting open the continuum of history he
was talking about neither nazi nor stalinist barbarism
but something else altogether - an extremely
idiosyncratic use of jewish messianism as a metaphor
for a revolution that would make possible real human
liberation and which it cannot be stressed too highly
for him had none of the connotations of Russian tanks
that it did for period of the cold war years.
That activist ( although that seems rather too strong
a word for a man who spent half of his life dithering
anout whether to learn hebrew or not) dimension has of
course been totally marginalised by both the post
modern confusion merchants and the 'end of history'
brigade but it's a -the- central axis of all his later
thought and writing.
--- Max Herman <email@example.com
> "Viewed from a certain distance, the great, simple
> which define the storyteller stand out in him, or
> they become visible in him, just as in a rock a
> human head
> or an animal's body may appear to an observer at
> proper distance and angle of vision."
> --Walter Benjamin, "The Storyteller," (83) *
> Sorry Nathaniel, I was responding to your post and
> went to Google and lost the post. So I have to
> guess a
> The phrase "Benjaminian Storytelling" jumped out at
> Benjamin thought that the novel was leading/has
> lead us
> to a bleak, mechanical, sterilized world in which
> dominates every single function and expression is
> For Benjamin, in his essay the Storyteller, the
> represents an implosion or collapse of expression
> its own gravity, like a black hole. He said that
> novel took narrative out of a data-mingling
> ecosystem and
> put it into an absolutist one. He thought that was
> However, most of the smart people of his day and
> ours say
> that it was WB who was bad! He promoted Messianic
> Jetztzeit. I stole the idea for Genius 2000 from
> from Walter Benjamin.
> I looked at your site briefly, Nathaniel, but I am
> at work
> so I don't care to load any Quicktime in case there
> sex sounds on it--sex in the workplace issues and
> I'll look again when I get home, and do a real
> After all, by rights I should support and praise
> expression that has a similar worldview to Genius
> insofar as we ascribe value (by fairness) to that
> which is
> similar to that which we value.
> Non-Aggressive Narrative, I hear that phrase too.
> I'm not
> certain that this is strictly Benjamin however--he
> struggled long and hard with the idea of "holy
> and "blasting open the continuum of history." NAN
> more of a Fluxus or Cageian math of indeterminacy.
> accept some Fluxus but I have to say I think that
> puts a huge-ass twist on Fluxus that
> never did. Benjamin is not a poststructuralist in
> opinion; he was not at all popular with the Great
> Theorists like Foucault, Derrida, and Baudrillard.
> I've based my academic career on trying to
> Benjamin. He's my main man. I'm backing him a
> WB was about storytelling, yes, and against the
> (which by absolutizing the novelist reduced
> expression and
> perception to a solid point, killing its mingling
> potentials). But where he got into some hot
> water, among both Hitler and the free french, was
> when he
> talked about blasting open the continuum of history
> holy violence.
> This dead-world hypothesis is a true one, according
> to some
> people. Who knows. When I was in school everyone
> Benjamin. There's an article in the New Republic
> 1999 or 2000, called "The Failed Messianism of
> Benjamin," good reading. They essentially compare
> Benjamin to Hitler--a utopian liberator who had
> "the ethics of responsibility." They argue that
> was insecure and unstable, and in the face of the
> certainty of National Socialism he reverted to a
> kind of
> mythic fetal position and gripped the methods of
> terrorizor--myth, heroism, apocalypse, redemption,
> spectacle--like a momma's boy would grab onto his
> dysfunctional loving habits.
> They also say Hitler was a momma's boy, who loved
> and creampuffs and other sweets more than any other
> He could not get into architect's school and spent
> allowance brooding and festering in Viennese music
> sticking a pin in his tie and starching his collar
> for a
> trip to hear Wagner 1900-1910. Getting angrier day
> day, so the story goes. Hitler was also fascinated
> blasting open the continuum of history by force.
> He was
> or became a "by any means necessary" kind of man,
> compulsive arrested teen, after WWI.
> Maybe the main difference between Hitler and
> Benjamin is
> that Hitler crowned himself Emperor, whereas
> Benjamin did
> not. This also ties in to the Anakin Skywalker
> Not sure if it ties into the Fox Mulder or the
> Atreides movies "X-Files" and "Dune: Desert
> I think Benjamin will become more popular as a
> critic and
> academic precedent as people accept that we are "in
> empire" literally not just theoretically. Maybe
> popular in the perfect way but nothing is perfect.
> May I ask in closing what your thoughts are,
> regarding Benjamin's Storyteller and his idea of
> violence"? I hear the non-aggressive narrative
> idea and
> think it has potential--like NN's idea "retreating
> in your
> direction"--but I'm not sure.
> Maybe one way to put it is that Benjamin's
> storyteller is
> nomadic and viral, less an author than a carrier
> mingler. The narrative then is non-aggressive,
> like 1001
> Arabian Nights, on one level but viral and
> apocalyptic on another.
> So, best of luck and I'll check the site again
> Meanwhile, if you care to check out my own version
> non-aggressive narrative, please go see
> Or, even my regular original website of
. You scratch
> my back
> and I'll scratch yours. We can be a team, a
> glorious team
> for peaceful non-aggression.
> More non sequiturs include Joey Ramone "sittin' here
> Queens, eatin' refried beans;" Woody Guthrie's
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