hektor

Posted by Max Herman | Thu May 16th 2002 1 a.m.

Viewed from a certain distance, the great, simple outlines
which define the storyteller stand out in him, or rather,
they become visible in him, just as in a rock a human head
or an animal's body may appear to an observer at the
proper distance and angle of vision."

--Walter Benjamin, "The Storyteller," (83) *

Sorry Nathaniel, I was responding to your post and then
went to Google and lost the post. So I have to guess a
bit.

The phrase "Benjaminian Storytelling" jumped out at me.
Benjamin thought that the novel was leading/has lead us
to a bleak, mechanical, sterilized world in which evil
dominates every single function and expression is dead.
For Benjamin, in his essay the Storyteller, the Novel
represents an implosion or collapse of expression under
its own gravity, like a black hole. He said that the
novel took narrative out of a data-mingling ecosystem and
put it into an absolutist one. He thought that was bad.
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 him,
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 are
sex sounds on it--sex in the workplace issues and all.
I'll look again when I get home, and do a real review.
After all, by rights I should support and praise
expression that has a similar worldview to Genius 2000,
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 violence"
and "blasting open the continuum of history." NAN seems
more of a Fluxus or Cageian math of indeterminacy. I
accept some Fluxus but I have to say I think that Benjamin
puts a huge-ass twist on Fluxus that poststructuralism
never did. Benjamin is not a poststructuralist in my
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 recuperate
Benjamin. He's my main man. I'm backing him a hundred
percent.

WB was about storytelling, yes, and against the novel
(which by absolutizing the novelist reduced expression and
perception to a solid point, killing its mingling
potentials). But where he got into some hot boiling
water, among both Hitler and the free french, was when he
talked about blasting open the continuum of history with
holy violence.

This dead-world hypothesis is a true one, according to some
people. Who knows. When I was in school everyone hated
Benjamin. There's an article in the New Republic from
1999 or 2000, called "The Failed Messianism of Walter
Benjamin," good reading. They essentially compare
Benjamin to Hitler--a utopian liberator who had abandoned
"the ethics of responsibility." They argue that Benjamin
was insecure and unstable, and in the face of the dismal
certainty of National Socialism he reverted to a kind of
mythic fetal position and gripped the methods of his
terrorizor--myth, heroism, apocalypse, redemption,
spectacle--like a momma's boy would grab onto his mom's
dysfunctional loving habits.

They also say Hitler was a momma's boy, who loved pastries
and creampuffs and other sweets more than any other food.
He could not get into architect's school and spent his
allowance brooding and festering in Viennese music halls,
sticking a pin in his tie and starching his collar for a
trip to hear Wagner 1900-1910. Getting angrier day by
day, so the story goes. Hitler was also fascinated with
blasting open the continuum of history by force. He was
or became a "by any means necessary" kind of man, or
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 mythos.
Not sure if it ties into the Fox Mulder or the Paul
Atreides movies "X-Files" and "Dune: Desert Planet."

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 not
popular in the perfect way but nothing is perfect.

May I ask in closing what your thoughts are, Nathaniel,
regarding Benjamin's Storyteller and his idea of "holy
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 and
mingler. The narrative then is non-aggressive, like 1001
Arabian Nights, on one level but viral and systemically
apocalyptic on another.

So, best of luck and I'll check the site again later.

Meanwhile, if you care to check out my own version of
non-aggressive narrative, please go see
www.electrichands.com/genius2000 or
http://www.geocities.com/genius-2000/SFMOMA82700.html.

Or, even my regular original website of
http://www.geocities.com/genius-2000. 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 in
Queens, eatin' refried beans;" Woody Guthrie's guitar
"this machine kills fascists;" Uncle Tupelo "are you are
you ready for that great atomic power?", Jesus "he who
loses his life shall find it," memetics, genetics,
genocide, memocide, Tarkovsky's "Solaris" Pts. I and II;
my own quote from Benjamin at
http://www.geocities.com/genius-2000/daily.html; black
helicopters, FEMA, and the decline of Western
Civilization.

Benjamin also predicted the apocalypse, by the way. The
end of the world. Hell on earth. He was sorta sad that
he didn't know how to prevent it. Oh well. Fuck him
right in the ear.

Max Herman

p.s.--did you Nathaniel get the idea to use Benjamin from
me, or someone else, and if so, who, in what context, how
did you catch the viral-storyteller bug (viruses are
always passive-aggressive)? I need to know who's teaching
what, it helps me.

++

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  • Michael Szpakowski | Thu May 16th 2002 1 a.m.
    Max
    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
    History'

    http://www.tasc.ac.uk/depart/media/staff/ls/WBenjamin/CONCEPT2.html

    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.
    best
    michael

    --- Max Herman <maxherman@zipmail.com> wrote:
    >
    > "Viewed from a certain distance, the great, simple
    > outlines
    > which define the storyteller stand out in him, or
    > rather,
    > they become visible in him, just as in a rock a
    > human head
    > or an animal's body may appear to an observer at
    > the
    > proper distance and angle of vision."
    >
    > --Walter Benjamin, "The Storyteller," (83) *
    >
    >
    > Sorry Nathaniel, I was responding to your post and
    > then
    > went to Google and lost the post. So I have to
    > guess a
    > bit.
    >
    > The phrase "Benjaminian Storytelling" jumped out at
    > me.
    > Benjamin thought that the novel was leading/has
    > lead us
    > to a bleak, mechanical, sterilized world in which
    > evil
    > dominates every single function and expression is
    > dead.
    > For Benjamin, in his essay the Storyteller, the
    > Novel
    > represents an implosion or collapse of expression
    > under
    > its own gravity, like a black hole. He said that
    > the
    > novel took narrative out of a data-mingling
    > ecosystem and
    > put it into an absolutist one. He thought that was
    > bad.
    > 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
    > him,
    > 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
    > are
    > sex sounds on it--sex in the workplace issues and
    > all.
    > I'll look again when I get home, and do a real
    > review.
    > After all, by rights I should support and praise
    > expression that has a similar worldview to Genius
    > 2000,
    > 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
    > violence"
    > and "blasting open the continuum of history." NAN
    > seems
    > more of a Fluxus or Cageian math of indeterminacy.
    > I
    > accept some Fluxus but I have to say I think that
    > Benjamin
    > puts a huge-ass twist on Fluxus that
    > poststructuralism
    > never did. Benjamin is not a poststructuralist in
    > my
    > 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
    > recuperate
    > Benjamin. He's my main man. I'm backing him a
    > hundred
    > percent.
    >
    > WB was about storytelling, yes, and against the
    > novel
    > (which by absolutizing the novelist reduced
    > expression and
    > perception to a solid point, killing its mingling
    > potentials). But where he got into some hot
    > boiling
    > water, among both Hitler and the free french, was
    > when he
    > talked about blasting open the continuum of history
    > with
    > holy violence.
    >
    > This dead-world hypothesis is a true one, according
    > to some
    > people. Who knows. When I was in school everyone
    > hated
    > Benjamin. There's an article in the New Republic
    > from
    > 1999 or 2000, called "The Failed Messianism of
    > Walter
    > Benjamin," good reading. They essentially compare
    > Benjamin to Hitler--a utopian liberator who had
    > abandoned
    > "the ethics of responsibility." They argue that
    > Benjamin
    > was insecure and unstable, and in the face of the
    > dismal
    > certainty of National Socialism he reverted to a
    > kind of
    > mythic fetal position and gripped the methods of
    > his
    > terrorizor--myth, heroism, apocalypse, redemption,
    > spectacle--like a momma's boy would grab onto his
    > mom's
    > dysfunctional loving habits.
    >
    > They also say Hitler was a momma's boy, who loved
    > pastries
    > and creampuffs and other sweets more than any other
    > food.
    > He could not get into architect's school and spent
    > his
    > allowance brooding and festering in Viennese music
    > halls,
    > sticking a pin in his tie and starching his collar
    > for a
    > trip to hear Wagner 1900-1910. Getting angrier day
    > by
    > day, so the story goes. Hitler was also fascinated
    > with
    > blasting open the continuum of history by force.
    > He was
    > or became a "by any means necessary" kind of man,
    > or
    > 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
    > mythos.
    > Not sure if it ties into the Fox Mulder or the
    > Paul
    > Atreides movies "X-Files" and "Dune: Desert
    > Planet."
    >
    > 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
    > not
    > popular in the perfect way but nothing is perfect.
    >
    > May I ask in closing what your thoughts are,
    > Nathaniel,
    > regarding Benjamin's Storyteller and his idea of
    > "holy
    > 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
    > and
    > mingler. The narrative then is non-aggressive,
    > like 1001
    > Arabian Nights, on one level but viral and
    > systemically
    > apocalyptic on another.
    >
    > So, best of luck and I'll check the site again
    > later.
    >
    > Meanwhile, if you care to check out my own version
    > of
    > non-aggressive narrative, please go see
    > www.electrichands.com/genius2000 or
    >
    >
    http://www.geocities.com/genius-2000/SFMOMA82700.html.
    >
    > Or, even my regular original website of
    > http://www.geocities.com/genius-2000. 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
    > in
    > Queens, eatin' refried beans;" Woody Guthrie's
    > guitar
    >
    === message truncated ===

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  • Max Herman | Fri May 17th 2002 1 a.m.
    In a message dated 5/16/2002 5:49:22 PM Central Daylight Time,
    szpako@yahoo.com writes:

    > 'The work of art in the age of mechanical
    > reproduction'-

    http://www.geocities.com/genius-2000/conference.html

    Take a big fat bite out of reality. As from a center dart thy spirit's
    light.

    I deserve all the best.

    You'd be amazed if you met the Network in one room.

    I'm going to live,

    Max Herman

    ++
  • Max Herman | Fri May 17th 2002 1 a.m.
    > 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.

    Like the New York Intellectuals, go study them at Harvard and then get all
    jacked up.

    Saul Bellow
    Irving Howe
    Mary McCarthy
    Norman Podhoretz
    Irwin Kristol
    Delmore Schwartz

    ugdantrtkcmn

    jp
  • nathaniel stern | Tue Jul 9th 2002 1 a.m.
    Max, Michael, et al.
    Sorry not to get back to you sooner on this "hektor" thread (it
  • Michael Szpakowski | Tue Jul 9th 2002 1 a.m.
    Hi Nathaniel
    All I was really doing was making a point about the
    stripping of Benjamin's political context which seems
    to be a feature of so much academic work about him.
    He then appears as a sort of free floating intellect
    whose rather gnomic style lends itself to
    appropriation in a vast number of usually fairly
    arcane directions.( Gramsci's treatment is another
    example of this in my view rather dishonest process)
    Of course acknowledging his politics doesn't make him
    simple or straightforward but it does make him make a
    lot more sense.
    Then the 'Theses..' become a profoundly strange and
    wonderful but nontheless comprehensible account of the
    moment of social revolution filtered through the
    imagery of Jewish messianism and written by someone
    who despite his long term fellow travelling with the
    communist party cannot honestly stomach Stalinism.
    Anyway, thanks for taking the trouble to reply to the
    original post.
    best
    michael
    best
    michael
    --- nathaniel stern <nes212@nyu.edu> wrote:
    > Max, Michael, et al.
    > Sorry not to get back to you sooner on this "hektor"
    > thread (it
  • Max Herman | Tue Jul 9th 2002 1 a.m.
    In a message dated 7/9/2002 3:18:28 PM Central Daylight Time,
    szpako@yahoo.com writes:

    > a profoundly strange and
    > wonderful but nontheless comprehensible account of the
    > moment of social revolution filtered through the
    > imagery of Jewish messianism and written by someone
    > who despite his long term fellow travelling with the
    > communist party cannot honestly stomach Stalinism.
    >

    Hey me too. Benjamin was no flake, by Gar. My first middle name is
    Benjamin, it means "son of the right hand."

    It's got to be my Jesus,

    Robert

    ++
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