Beacon of Thought

PASSAGES OF LIFE

Walter Benjamin was born in Berlin on 15 July 1892, the eldest of three children, into a wealthy Jewish family. His father, an art dealer, owned an antique shop. Benjamin recalled that his first contact with the power of words was of his mother, Pauline Schönflies, telling him stories as a small boy. At the age of 10 he started school at the Gymnasium Kaiser-Wilhelm in Berlin. He then studied philosophy, German literature and psychology at the universities of Freiburg and Berlin and published his first articles — about teaching — in the magazine Der Anfang. He travelled in Italy in 1912 and to Paris in 1913. In 1914 he chaired the Freie Studentenschaft free students’ association, highly critical of German nationalism. The following year, he began to translateBaudelaire and moved to Munich to continue his studies in philosophy at the university there, where he met Rainer Maria Rilke and the mathematician and philosopher Gershom Scholem, who became a close friend. Benjamin’s study of Hölderlin’s poetry dates from this time.

In 1917 he married Dora Sophie Pollak (née Kellner: 1890-1964) and enrolled at the University of Berne (Switzerland), where he met Ernst Bloch. His only son, Stefan (1918-1972), was born the following year. In 1919 Benjamin received his PhD cum laude with the thesis Der Begriff der Kunstkritik in der deutschen Romantik (The Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism). The following year he returned to Berlin for a short stay. In 1922 he moved to Heidelberg in an unsuccessful bid to pursue an academic career. From 1923 to 1925 he worked on his thesis Der Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (The Origin of German Tragic Drama), which was rejected by the University of Frankfurt but published in 1928, the same year as his Einbahnstraße (One-Way Street).

In 1929 he met Bertolt Brecht and his assistant Asja Lacis, with whom he began a relationship, and for whom he divorced Dora in 1930. With the growing power of the Nazi party, Benjamin left Germany for a while, spending several months in Ibiza and Nice before returning to Germany, but with Hitler’s electoral victory and the burning of the Reichstag on 17 March 1933 he left the country for good, taking refuge in Svendborg (Denmark) with Bertold Brecht and in San Remo with his ex-wife. He eventually settled in Paris, where he began working with Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer and received financial support from the Institut für Sozialforschung (Institute for Social Research). In contact with German artists, intellectuals and refugees in Paris, he became friends with Georg Lukács, Hannah Arendt, Hermann Hesse and Kurt Weill, and wrote tirelessly in very precarious economic conditions. In 1936 he published Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner Technischen Reproduzierbarkeit (The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction) and continued working on his monumental (and unfinished)Passagen-Werk (The Arcades Project). He met Georges Bataille and joined the Collège de sociologie. In 1938 he made his last visit to Bertold Brecht in Denmark.

In January 1938, in the port of San Remo, Walter Benjamin said farewell to his friends Theodor and Gretel Adorno, who were sailing to New York. When they advised him to do the same, he replied: ‘In Europe there are positions to defend.’ That same year Benjamin’s brother Georg, a physician and Communist municipal councillor in Berlin, was arrested. At the end of February 1939, the Gestapo stripped Walter Benjamin of his German citizenship, which meant that he could not leave France without a residence permit in the country of destination establishing his status as a German refugee. On the first of September 1939 he was interned in a collection camp and later in a volunteer labour camp at Nevers. In late November he was released thanks to the intervention of French friends and returned to Paris where he worked on his last completed work, Über den Begriff der Geschichte Theses (Theses on the Philosophy of History). In 1940 Vichy France signed an armistice with the Third Reich and as the Nazis advanced on Paris Benjamin left the city in a hurry (his apartment had been searched by the authorities). Hitler’s troops took Paris on 14, 1940, almost unopposed.

THE LAST PASSAGE

After seven years of exile in different parts of Europe (with 28 changes of address), the last passage of Walter Benjamin’s life was to Portbou. His death has been surrounded by unanswered questions and conflicting hypotheses. For many years the exact site where he was buried in the cemetery was not even known. Then in 1991, with the research involved in making the film The Last Frontier and the construction of the Memorial by Dani Karavan, official documents came to light in Portbou Town Hall that have cleared up some of the doubts about the exact circumstances of Benjamin’s death. However, a number of questions remain. The excerpts in italics below are from Lisa Fittko’s Escape Through the Pyrenees(Northwestern University Press, 1991), in which the activist who helped so many refugees over the Pyrenean border describes her crossing with Walter Benjamin. The most complete account of Benjamin’s death and the investigation of the various documents can be found in the book by Ingrid and Konrad Scheurmann, For Walter Benjamin (3 volumes), in Spanish, English and German (Bonn: AsKI e.v. and Inter Nationes, 1994).

 

Benjamin left Paris in May 1940, passed through Lourdes, and in mid-September reached Marseilles, where he had friends. He met up with Hannah Arendt and her husband Heinrich Blücher, with Arthur Koestler and with Hans Fittko, an old acquaintance who dashed his few remaining hopes of sailing from there to the United States. I’ll give you the address of my wife, Lisa, who has settled in Port-Vendres. She will help you. The only way to get out of France is to do so clandestinely through the mountains. After many difficulties, in Marseilles Benjamin obtained a visa from the U.S. consulate authorizing his entry into the United States, where he hoped to join his friends Horkheimer and Adorno and resume the work of the Frankfurt School in America. He had only one option: to get into Spain over a pass in the Pyrenees, cross the whole country to reach Portugal, and from there sail for America. This was the route taken by many refugees.

 

With his visa, Benjamin took the train to Port-Vendres with the photographer Henny Gurland (who subsequently married Erich Fromm in the United States) and her son Joseph, whom he had met when applying for the visa in Marseilles. At Port-Vendres, Lisa Fittko told them that the Mayor of Banyuls, Monsieur Azéma, an old republican Socialist, had let her know about a little-used path across the border to Portbou. Despite the difficulties of the route and Benjamin’s poor physical condition (he was 48 years old and had heart disease) it was evidently the only way.

 

On the afternoon of September 24, Lisa Fittko, Walter Benjamin, Henny Gurland and her son Joseph made a discreet survey of the track. Benjamin, too tired to go back to Banyuls, decided to stay all night on the mountainside and start the climb again from there in the morning. He spent the night alone in a little stand of pine trees. At dawn on the morning of September 25, Lisa, Henny and Joseph set out on the path to meet up again with Benjamin. Azéma had impressed upon us: “Leave before sunrise, mingle with the vineyard workers, take nothing with you … and don’t speak!” They did just that. The road, fairly flat at first, soon got steeper. The term “path” gradually proved to be an exaggeration. Now and then there was a path to be seen, but increasingly it was just a barely recognizable, gravelly track between boulders. Until we came to the steep vineyard, which I can never forget. It was the last vineyard. From there, the road became a clamber over rocks up the shady side of the mountain. Benjamin had calculated that, given his state of health, he would have to stop every ten minutes and rest for one, a resolution he strictly adhered to, concentrating on his watch and his rests. On the last stretch his companions had to help him. After several hours, they got to the top of the ridge. Finally we reached the summit. I had gone on ahead and I stopped to look around. The spectacular scene appeared so unexpectedly that for a moment I thought I was seeing a mirage … the deep-blue Mediterranean … “There below us is Portbou!” At this point Lisa Fittko said goodbye. This had been her first crossing by this route on which she was to accompany so many other refugees. The rest of the party followed the path down into Portbou.

 

In Portbou the effects of the Civil War, which had ended 19 months before, were still very much in evidence. The bombing and shelling had been particularly destructive in the little border town. In Portbou, Benjamin and the Gurlands presented themselves to the police in the railway station, where they were told they were being refused entry into Spain. They would be handed over to the French authorities the following day, which meant their subsequent surrender to the Nazi authorities. Under police surveillance, they stayed the night at the Hostal França, now long closed. In room number 3, Walter Benjamin made some telephone calls, and then took a strong dose of morphine (he had brought it with him from Marseilles). The next morning — 26 September 1940 — his dead body was found on top of the bed. He was 48 years old.

 

If they had arrived a day earlier, they would not have been refused entry to Spain: a change of orders had been received that very day. If they had arrived a day later, they would probably have been allowed in. The Gurlands, at any rate, Benjamin’s travelling companions, were permitted to continue their journey, although perhaps this was due in part to the impact made on the local authorities and police by the death of ‘the German gentleman’. A few days later, Henny and her son Joseph boarded a ship for America.

 

Benjamin left a suitcase with a small amount of money in dollars and francs, which were changed into pesetas to pay for the funeral four days later. In the judge’s documentation the dead man’s possessions are listed as a suitcase leather, a gold watch, a pipe, a passport issued in Marseilles by the American Foreign Service, six passport photos, an X-ray, a pair of spectacles, various magazines, a number of letters, and a few papers, contents unknown, and some money. The medical certificate gave the cause of death as cerebral haemorrhage. Probably due to some confusion about his identity, Walter Benjamin was buried on 28 September in the Catholic section of Portbou cemetery, in a leased niche, number 563. In the summer of 1945, his remains were moved to the common burial ground.

 

In October 1940, four weeks after Benjamin’s death, Max Horkheimer sent a letter to the local authorities requesting precise details of the death of ‘the German gentleman’, thus providing a clue to his identity. Horkheimer received a reply noting the death from heart failure of Sr. Walter and that he had some few paperswith him. In October of the following year Hannah Arendt visited Portbou with the idea of paying her respects to her dead friend, but found no gravestone in the cemetery with his name and no one who could tell her anything, as she explained in a letter to Gershom Scholem: I have found nothing, his name was nowhere.

 

In Portbou Walter Benjamin put an end to seven years of exile and the possibility of a new future in America. For the local people, the death of the mysterious foreigner became shrouded in legend, but for others it was a freely chosen exit, an authentic rebellion against the Nazi terror by one of the most lucid thinkers of modernity. However, no aspect of Benjamin’s death is definitively closed. One hypothesis holds that Benjamin was killed by Stalinist agents (the full arguments of this hypothesis is collected by Stuart Jeffries in his article ‘Did Stalin’s killers liquidate Walter Benjamin’ (The Observer, 8 July 2003). What is more, his guide across the mountains, Lisa Fittko, who died in 2005, referred on many occasions to the suitcase with a manuscript that Benjamin jealously guarded as a valuable treasure. Did it contain his final manuscript? The suitcase was never found: its fate is unknown, and in the judge’s report of the property of the deceased there is no mention of any manuscript.

ANGELUS NOVUS

Angelus Novus is a watercolour painted by Paul Klee in 1920 which Walter Benjamin bought the same year and adopted as an emblem of his work. In Talmudic tradition anew angel is a creature created to sing a new song. In the Christian tradition, the Thomist strand of mediaeval scholasticism holds that each species of angel consists of a single individual.

 

If the intellectual stature of a mind is measured by the doors it has opened, Walter Benjamin is extraordinary: one of the great thinkers of modernity. Benjamin’s work has opened up new fields in literary studies, aesthetics and the theory of art, in sociology and social studies, in philosophy and history. His concepts and insights have illuminated much of our contemporary mental landscape: exile and memory, art and image, criticism, language, the city and urban life… The plaque in the cemetery at Portbou reads: German philosopher. Two of his great friends, the sociologist and philosopher Theodor Adorno and the mathematician and philosopher Gershom Scholem, would have agreed. Hannah Arendt thought differently; for her, Benjamin was a creative writer — ein Dichter.Essayist, literary critic, member of the Frankfurt School, unorthodox Marxist and translator of Balzac, Proust and Baudelaire: though he enjoyed no academic or public recognition in his lifetime, Walter Benjamin was prescient about the fate of the twentieth century as very few others were. He was a thinker on the borders, in every sense, as much in the issues he addressed and the intellectual approach he proposed as in his relationship with writing and language.

 

A writers’ writer, Benjamin’s work embodies a personal form of discourse, fragmentary, unfinished and deliberately unsystematic. He was able to move at will between many different styles (poetic, academic, aphoristic…), even inventing new genres with his postcards communicating condensed observations and the monumental archive of index cards with quotes and images he compiled for The Arcades Project. As he himself said of Proust and the multiplicity of his styles: All great works of literature either dissolve a genre or invent one: they are, in other words, special cases. Benjamin wrote every sentence as if it were the first. Or the last.

As a professional writer, Benjamin barely scraped a living. He was not awarded the academic qualification that would have allowed him to teach at the university, and he saw only five of his numerous texts published. Supported first by his father and then by his wife, he wrote many pieces of literary criticism for the press (especially the Frankfurter Zeitung and the magazine published by Rowohlt until 1933 or so) and radio scripts (85 broadcasts between 1929 and 1933) and envisaged a future as a journalist, translator and literary critic that was never to materialize. He never became actively involved in politics, though he at one time considered joining the German Communist Party and visited the Soviet Union at the end of 1926. During Benjamin’s years in Paris Adorno arranged for a grant from the Institut für Sozialforschung in exile which greatly eased his situation, and would no doubt have found a job for him had he made it to the United States. However, his relationship with critical Marxism was not an easy one: he was excessively heterodoxy even for unorthodox Marxists.

 

These days it is hard to open a magazine of ideas without finding at least one reference to this thinker of modernity who received so little recognition in his lifetime. In fact, he was largely forgotten until the 1960s and 1970s. Since then, his readership has grown year on year. This thinker on the borders  who, among other names, signed himself Angelus Novus; this writers’ writer with an extraordinary ability to take language and thought to the limits: in his intellectual acuity he reread the history of European culture in new terms and clearly foretold the shape of the twentieth century. Walter Benjamin was one of the most lucid minds of modernity.

GLOSSARY

Aesthetics

Aesthetics must produce a truth content that will liberate revolutionary energies. In order to do this it creates illuminations — revelations by which we grasp the existence of something hitherto unseen which is liberating for the given historical moment. This is the knowledge potential of aesthetics.

Angel

Angelus Novus is a watercolour by Paul Klee which Benjamin bought in 1920 and adopted as an emblem of his work. The Thomist strand of mediaeval scholasticism holds that each species of angel consists of a single individual. In Talmudic tradition a new angel is a being created to sing a new song. So must be art and literature, as unique creations, and so must be the angel of history.

Arcades

With a name known writings of Benjamin passages about the Paris arcades and their architecture of cast iron as a metaphor for modernity and the city. The Arcades Projectwas to have been Benjamin’s book on Paris, a vast and never completed collection of quotes and commentaries concerning the material and symbolic dimensions of thepassages, those long glass-roofed galleries of shops on the right bank of the Seine. These bazaars of cast iron and glass are the great allegorical element in its historical analysis of capitalist society and its cultural expressions.

Art

Most of Benjamin’s work revolves around the concept of art, which he approaches from a perspective that is both materialist and messianic: art connects us with the past and is a liberating force. In his historical analysis, art undergoes a radical change when mechanical reproduction come to occupy a strategic place among artistic processes. The year 1900 is a moment of structural transformation of aesthetic perception and the role of the image.

Aura

This concept is treated at length in ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, though it first appears in the ‘Brief History of Photography’. The traditional work of art has an aura that derives from its unique existence and endows it with symbolic authority. With the aura there is a phenomenon of distance, that of the past and tradition. By extension, the aura is all that is fascinating in the artwork. With the possibility of technical reproduction, the aura decays and disappears. What we have here is the conflict between repetition and the unique event.

Author

Benjamin read out his text ‘The Author as Producer’ in April 1934, at the Institute for the Study of Fascism, which Germans driven into exile by Nazism had founded in Paris. In the essay Benjamin speaks on behalf of the most radical revolutionary vanguard and invokes the transformative capacity of creating art, presenting the author as the new rebel of history.

Baudelaire

Benjamin was one of the great interpreters of the French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) and provided a new key to his work, centred on its social dimension. Benjamin put forward an allegorical reading of Baudelaire and adopted him as his guide in The Arcades Project and in his criticism. He read him as the poet of the destruction of modern life and the social abstraction of the capitalist economy, and borrowed his derivation of the concept of the flâneur.

City

No one before Benjamin had thought of culture as being so deeply immersed in its material urban environment. One of his great intuitions was to grasp the scope of the changes in urban culture. The Benjaminian city is the distinctively modern experience and an emblem of the transience of modern times that requires a new way of being. The paradigm of this new city is Paris.

Critical Theory

Benjamin took this concept far beyond its formulation by his friends Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, leading philosophers of the Frankfurt School. Critical thought must be understood in such a way that politics is seen as its continuation by other means. Benjamin’s sociology of culture emphasizes the concept of social experience; as a theorist of culture, his interest centred on the changes in the structures of social interaction brought about by the process of capitalist modernization.

Dialectics

Benjamin’s interpretation of the post-Hegelian Marxist use of the term as a form of historical understanding is highly distinctive. His dialectical reading of the past relates formerly neglected elements — arcades, streets, exhibitions, barricades… — as a course in tension that must be integrated if we are to understand the spirit of the time. Significantly, Benjamin’s approach incorporates symbols and elements of the social imaginary that have no place in Marxist historical materialism.

Experience

Benjamin established a correlation between the effects of the First World War and the transformation of the concept of experience. 1914 marks a turning point in our idea of space and time and thus of experience. The war silenced those who returned from the battlefield, leaving them bereft of experience. The twentieth century has stripped us of our ability to tell stories and with it the trace of the experience, imposing a new and definitive poverty that dispenses with the past: a new form of barbarism. These are the new forces of the modern malaise, which experience can provide with no content.

Flâneur

Benjamin derived his use of this term from Baudelaire. The strolling urban consumer, neurasthenic, a bit of a dandy, sums up the anonymity of the modern city and its economy, which have imposed new conditions of experience. Strolling the streets is almost a new way of philosophizing, and the tireless aimless drifter knows that the city has an underground history that only he can connect to. At the same time the flâneur is a militant radical in so far as his idleness is opposed to the model of capitalist productivity. Strolling around is a way of taking in the story of things.

Goethe

Benjamin’s great essay on Goethe’s Elective Affinities is an example of criticism as Benjamin believed it ought to be practised. He dissociates himself from what he sees as a false totality in art, to which Goethe aspired; declaring a fragment of a symbol to possess more truth than any supposedly universal symbol, he rejects an entire cultural tradition of myth and symbol of which Goethe is the paradigm.

History

The image of the angel gazing on a pile of wreckage is the best summation of Benjamin’s conception of history, which he regarded not as a science but as a form of memory. Where science aseptically records, memory modifies. For Benjamin, the past persists like a scattered debris in the present and the new emerges as a fragment. Benjamin looks for the diverse and silenced prehistories of the present. He looks for traumas of memory (violent irruptions of the past in the present) in order to follow the trail of exploitation and barbarism and so redeem its possibilities.

Ibiza

Ibiza occupied an important place in Benjamin’s life: he first visited the island as a tourist in 1932 and returned as an exile the following year. As a flâneur on Ibiza he gathered remnants of the oral tradition and in his diary, alongside reflections on the landscape and the traditional architecture of the island, he began to formulate the concept of aura. His reflections on the use value of the traditional Ibizan house and new modern dwellings provided him with a metaphor of two opposing worlds. He also wrote ‘Experience and Poverty’ on Ibiza.

Illuminations

Benjamin’s illuminations, in contrast to those of religion, are secular. They reveal the poetic work of the image, the association of apparently disparate elements, the discovery of which results in a revelation and an impulse to transform historical time.

Image

Benjamin is highly critical of the indiscriminate new commercial uses of the image, which reveal the conflict between the unique (auratic) event and serial reproduction. The image’s loss of aura is associated with an aesthetic impoverishment, a loss of cultural value and a severing of the connection with the past. The autonomy of the image is one of the fetishes of capitalism.

Italy

Benjamin wrote about his tour of Italy in the nineteen-twenties in Travel Diary (Italy), in which he chronicles his encounters with the Pinacoteca in Brera, Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper and the Arena in Verona. A book of impressions and memories of a formative journey.

Language

In Jewish tradition, the word comes into being when God creates a thing, and language thus has a sacred element. Benjamin was opposed to modernity’s instrumental conception of language, which voids the word of its sacral dimension.

Library

Benjamin was a great bibliophile, with a special interest in old children’s books. He spent months in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. In his 1931 essay ‘Unpacking My Library (A Talk about Book Collecting)’ he tells us that packing and unpacking books has a symbolic value. The collector’s gesture becomes a philosophical gesture that reflects the dialectic between the chaos of memory and the order of the collection, and a metaphor for the relationship between present and past.

Marxism

Benjamin declared that he was not a Marxist but a dialectical materialist. He came to Marx through his reading of Lukács, and his Marxism was always unorthodox. In Benjamin’s view, Lukács does not invalidate Judaism: on the contrary, it completes it with its new economic and social consciousness. In his ‘Paralipomena to “On the Concept of History”’ he wrote: ‘A genuinely messianic face must be restored to the concept of a classless society and, to be sure, in the interest of furthering the revolutionary politics of the proletariat itself.’ The last text Benjamin wrote, ‘On the Concept of History’, is a compendium of his particular conception of historical materialism.

Memory

For Benjamin, the concept of memory embraces an epistemological content, a philosophy of history and a political project. As an epistemological concept, it entails addressing the past not only as what was but as what failed to realize itself. This approach places us in a different position in relation to the present, as we contemplate both the forgotten past and those aspects of the present which are in danger of being excluded. A new knowledge transforms the philosophy of history: the history of the victors suffers from a significant omission, the truth of the vanquished. In Benjamin’s theory of history, forgetting is far greater and more structural than remembering, which is an exceptional adventure of oblivion. Benjamin invalidates the thesis progress and announces a new political project: the danger of forgetting persists. His essay ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’ emphasizes the liberating capacity of memory.

Modernity

The embodiment of hell and at the same time the promise of revolution. Benjamin dismisses the fable of progress with which modernity has been presented, and notes that not even its great catastrophes, such as World War I, have served to remove the veil of faith in progress. Only revolution can put an end to the form of violence that is modernity.

Moscow

Benjamin travelled to Moscow in the winter of 1926, not only to be with Asja Lacis, with whom he was in love, but also to reach a decision about whether to join the German Communist Party. He stayed there for two months, and hisMoscow Diary, testimony to his time there, is the most intimate of his writings.

Narrative

Narrative is shared memory. In ‘Experience and Poverty’ and ‘The Storyteller’ (1936) Benjamin warns us that the denial and destruction of the mechanisms that enable us to inherit the memory and experience of those who went before us lead to a new form of barbarism, that of silence or the impossibility of communication. The crisis of narration and thus of the ability to communicate personal experience is an essential characteristic of the twentieth century.

Paris

Emblem of the new physical and mental space of modernity. In Benjamin’s work, Paris is not so much a city as the spatial embodiment of capitalism and modern art, forms that impose new conditions of experience on the subject. Benjamin planned a book on Paris, to be called Paris: Capital of the Nineteenth Century, which he never finished. The preparatory materials make up the 1,000 pages of The Arcades Project.

Photography

Benjamin warned of the danger inherent in the political use of the new means of reproducing images such as film and photography. Photography, and the portrait photograph in particular, has been instrumentalized to satisfy bourgeois taste and the desire to belong to a particular social group. In his ‘Brief History of Photography’Benjamin began to articulate the concept of aura and put forward a critique of the modern media of image reproduction.

Portbou

The last passage of Walter Benjamin’s life. At the northern extreme of the Catalan coast, on the border with France, where he died attempting to escape the Nazis. Portbou, symbol of the border of all the borders, is where the sculptor Dani Karavan raised his memorial to Benjamin.

Quotation

A form of writing much favoured by Benjamin, especially in The Arcades Project, in which he created a new genre: a mosaic of quotations with his comments on them, paraphrases, quotes decontextualized and skilfully combined with other quotes. Benjamin attribute an epistemological function to the art of the textual mosaic.

Revolution

A messianic event, the only one capable of preventing disaster. The revolution is made not on behalf of the future but of the past. Nor is it the outcome of a linear historical evolution; rather, it is born of the pain of those humiliated and exploited by progress. It is the only violence capable of ending the violence of history.

Stories

The art of storytelling is disappearing, along with the ability to listen to the ancient wisdom that has been handed down through the generations from memory to memory in the form of stories and tales. With the advent of the mass media, the new form of understanding communication displaces the possibility of entering into contact and dialogue with the past and time. As Benjamin put it in ‘Experience and Poverty’: ‘Every morning brings us news from all over the world. Yet we are poor in remarkable stories.’

Surrealism

Benjamin embraced the legacy of Surrealism as a form of moral and social liberation, a truly revolutionary force with the power to transform the world. He regarded it as a genuine historical illumination. In his 1929 text ‘Surrealism. The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia’ and in The Arcades Project he hailed the revolutionary potential of Surrealism’s oneiric axioms.

Tragic Drama

The Origin of German Tragic Drama (completed 1925, published 1928), the habilitation thesis that Benjamin submitted to qualify as a teacher, was rejected by Frankfurt University. More than a study of aesthetics, it is an exposition of his own philosophical method. Romanticism’s dismissal of allegory and its cultivation as a positive aesthetic resource in Baroque art are used here to vindicate the value of the allegory: the value of the concrete and the fragment that is capable of connecting with the whole.

WALTER BENJAMIN ONLINE

Revue CONTRETEMPS

http://www.contretemps.eu/walter-benjamin-marxiste-libertaire/
https://www.contretemps.eu/histoire-memoire-utopie-entretien-traverso/

 

Cahiers d’HISTOIRE
Walter Benjamin, précurseur de l’écosocialisme
Michael Löwy
https://journals.openedition.org/chrhc/4909

 

Revue APPAREILS
Walter Benjamin. Politiques de l’image, Sous la direction de Alain Naze

https://journals.openedition.org/appareil/1927

 

L’architecture comme «distraction» Traduire Benjamin avec Benjamin
Jacques Boulet
https://journals.openedition.org/appareil/1256

 

Mort pour être photographié: Le fonctionnement politique des photographies pendant les purges staliniennes
Denis Skopin
https://journals.openedition.org/appareil/1958

 

Les corps fondamentaux
Alexandre Costanzo
https://journals.openedition.org/appareil/1954

 

Le don du passé
Susan Buck-Morss
https://journals.openedition.org/appareil/1930

 

La moralité, le droit et la place de la critique: «La signification du temps dans le monde moral» de Walter Benjamin
Andrew Benjamin
https://journals.openedition.org/appareil/194

 

L’innervation gestuelle-et-politique de la perception et du cinéma
Philippe Roy
https://journals.openedition.org/appareil/1939

 

De la compénétration des espaces chez W. Benjamin aux Unités d’habitation de Le Corbusier
Jean-Louis Déotte
https://journals.openedition.org/appareil/1934

 

Un cinéma des passages – les fantasmagories du cinéma de Jacques Demy
Alain Naze https://journals.openedition.org/appareil/1549

 

REVUE TUMULTES
Le lointain et le proche : Brèves notes sur Walter Benjamin
Guy Petitdemange
https://www.cairn.info/revue-tumultes-2001-2-page-91.htm

 

Rompre avec le Messianisme : Notes sur le rapport de Günther Anders à Ernst Bloch
David Munnich
http://www.cairn.info/revue-tumultes-2007-1-page-155.htm

 

Messianisme et utopie : la philosophie et le « possible » selon T. W. Adorno
Daniel Payot
https://www.cairn.info/revue-tumultes-2001-2-page-179.htm

 

REVUE CITES
Walter Benjamin politique
https://www.cairn.info/revue-cites-2018-2.htm

 

Benjamin ou le point d’interférence du théologique et du politique
Yves Charles Zarka
https://www.cairn.info/revue-cites-2018-2-page-3.htm

 

REVUE LIGNES
Les intellectuels et l’antifascisme . Pour une historisation critique.

Enzo Traverso www.cairn.info/revue-lignes0-1998-2-page-119.htm

 

REVUE VARIATIONS
Walter Benjamin, ou la possibilité de ne pas trahir l’enfance
Soizic Bonvarlet
https://journals.openedition.org/variations/503

 

REVUE LE PORTIQUE
Marxisme et mémoire. De la téléologie à la mélancolie
Enzo Traverso
https://journals.openedition.org/leportique/2726

REVUE ASTERION
Sous le signe de l’allégorie. Benjamin aux sources de la Théorie critique?
Jacques-Olivier Bégot
https://journals.openedition.org/asterion/1573

 

REVUE NOESIS
Contrer la barbarie. Walter Benjamin et la notion de « barbarie positive »
Christine Schmider

https://journals.openedition.org/noesis/1746

 

La dialectique de l’authenticité chez Walter Benjamin. Enjeux politiques et esthétiques
Christine Schmider
https://journals.openedition.org/noesis/1884

 

AUTRES
La flexibilité historique de l’aura : de Walter Benjamin à Radiohead
Fernand Hörner

https://www.cairn.info/revue-communication-et-langages1-2015-2-page-61.htm

 

Compte rendu de L’âge de la traduction, «La tâche du traducteur» de Walter Benjamin, un commentaire,d’Antoine Berman
Gisèle Berkman

https://www.cairn.info/revue-rue-descartes-2009-3-page-122.htm

 

Walter Benjamin critique
https://www.cairn.info/revue-cahiers-philosophiques-2019-1.htm

 

La mémoire des vaincus: Entretien avec Enzo Traverso https://vacarme.org/article434.html

 

Archaïsme et modernité : Benjamin, Kafka et la loi Marc Sagnol
https://www.cairn.info/revue-les-temps-modernes-2002-2-page-90.htm

 

Chiffonnier contre flâneur : Construction et position de la Passagenarbeit de Walter Benjamin
Marc Berdet

https://www.cairn.info/revue-archives-de-philosophie-2012-3-page-425.htm

 

L’utopie romantique de Walter Benjamin
Michael Löwy
Raison présente, n°121, 1er trimestre 1997. L’utopie.

https://www.persee.fr/doc/raipr_0033-9075_1997_num_121_1_3379

 

Nouveautés de Walter Benjamin
http://www.les-lettres-francaises.fr/2010/04/n%C2%B0-70-les-lettres-francaises-du-3-avril-2010/

 

Conjurer le désespoir
https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2019/06/FONDU/59955

 

COLLOQUE EN LIGNE

Enfance. Autour de Walter Benjamin : Enfances Journée Walter Benjamin
15 février 2013
Université de Lille III
Journée organisée le 15 février 2013 à l’université de Lille III dans le cadre du séminaire trans-disciplinaire littérature et histoireCréer l’/Histoire (Dominique Dupart et Mélanie Traversier, Université de Lille III, Laboratoires Alihtila et Irhis)

Site du séminaire : http://crehist.hypotheses.org

https://www.fabula.org/colloques/index.php?id=2273

 

FILMS
13, un ludodrame sur Walter Benjamin
Réalisation : Carlos Ferrand [Qué., 2017, 78 min, DCP, VOF]

https://www.cinematheque.qc.ca/fr/programmation/projections/film/13-un-ludodrame-sur-walter-benjamin-nouveaute

M.S. Vargas: LA VIDA DESPUÉS DE LA VIDA. EL CONCEPTO DE “NACHLEBEN” EN BENJAMIN Y WARBURG
https://revistascientificas.us.es/index.php/themata/article/view/312

 

E. Maura: BENJAMIN Y EL TIEMPO
https://eprints.ucm.es/15163/1/90828846-Maura-Benjamin-y-el-tiempo.pdf

 

E. Maura: «Las modernas políticas del cuerpo: dialéctica entre cosa-a-la-venta y cosa-a-la-moda en Walter Benjamin»,
http://www.latorredelvirrey.es/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/6.eduardo.maura_.pdf

 

E. Maura: Crítica inmanente, alegoría y mito: la teoría crítica del joven Walter Benjamin (1916-1929)

https://eprints.ucm.es/14437/

 

CUESTA, M., «El origen del drama barroco alemán. Consideraciones epistemo-críticas», Observaciones filosóficas. n.8:

They offer a list of classic references to Benjamin like for example
Marxists.com or Walter Benjamin Berlín

https://walterbenjamindigital.wordpress.com/useful-links-on-walter-benjamin/

 

Circle of Fine Arts
https://www.circulobellasartes.com/benjamin/

 

Link of the University of Bern, research center named after Walter Benjamin
https://www.wbkolleg.unibe.ch/index_eng.html

 

London Goldsmith’s and its research network:
https://cpct.uk/about-2/

 

University Chair Walter Benjamin Argentina website
http://www.uba.ar/cga/contenido.php?id=18

Thanks to Claude Fages, Salvador Cuenca and Vicent Ordonez for the links.