Tagged: Walter Benjamin

The Frankfurt School

The “Frankfurt School” refers to a group of German theorists who developed powerful analyses of the changes in Western capitalist societies that occurred since the classical theory of Marx. Working at the Institut fur Sozialforschung in Frankfurt, Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s, theorists such as Max Horkheimer, T.W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, Leo Lowenthal, and Erich Fromm produced some of the first accounts within critical social theory of the importance of mass culture and communication in social reproduction and domination. The Frankfurt School also generated a critical cultural studies program that analyzes the processes of cultural production...

Benjamin: The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. 1936

This text was written in 1936. “Our fine arts were developed, their types and uses were established, in times very different from the present, by men whose power of action upon things was insignificant in comparison with ours. But the amazing growth of our techniques, the adaptability and precision they have attained, the ideas and habits they are creating, make it a certainty that profound changes are impending in the ancient craft of the Beautiful. In all the arts there is a physical component which can no longer be considered or treated as it used to be, which cannot remain...

Walter Benjamin: Theological-Political Fragment

Quoted from: “Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings.” Translated by Peter Demetz. P. 312. “Only the Messiah himself consummates all history, in the sense that he alone redeems, completes, creates its relation to the Messianic. For this reason nothing historical can relate itself on its own account to anything Messianic. Therefore the Kingdom of God is not the telos of the historical dynamic: it cannot be set as a goal. From the standpoint of history it is not the goal but the end. Therefore the order of the profane cannot be built up on the idea of the Divine Kingdom, and...

Angelus Novus

In: Walter Benjamin: „Über den Begriff der Geschichte“: “Es gibt ein Bild von Klee, das Angelus Novus heißt. Ein Engel ist darauf dargestellt, der aussieht, als wäre er im Begriff, sich von etwas zu entfernen, worauf er starrt. Seine Augen sind aufgerissen, sein Mund ist offen und seine Flügel sind ausgespannt. Der Engel der Geschichte muß so aussehen. Er hat das Antlitz der Vergangenheit zugewandt. Wo eine Kette von Begebenheiten vor uns erscheint, da sieht er eine einzige Katastrophe, die unablässig Trümmer auf Trümmer häuft und sie ihm vor die Füße schleudert. Er möchte wohl verweilen, die Toten wecken und...

Walter Benjamin: On the Concept of History

From Walter Benjamin: Illuminations. p. 253 This text was written in 1940 and is published in German in “Gesammelten Schriften I:2. Suhrkamp Verlag. Frankfurt am Main, 1974.” I It is well-known that an automaton once existed, which was so constructed that it could counter any move of a chess-player with a counter-move, and thereby assure itself of victory in the match. A puppet in Turkish attire, water-pipe in mouth, sat before the chessboard, which rested on a broad table. Through a system of mirrors, the illusion was created that this table was transparent from all sides. In truth, a hunchbacked dwarf who...

Walter Benjamin – Biography

Walter Benjamin, born on July 15, 1892, studied philosophy in Freiburg, Munich, Berlin, and Bern. Earning a degree with his Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism, he was not successful in his attempt to become a university professor. His Habilitationsschrift, On the Origins of the German Trauerspiel, was rejected by Frankfurt University only to become a canonized classic of 20th Century literary criticism. Benjamin made his living as a free-lance author and translator in Berlin, where he also took part in German psychopharmacological research. A prolific critic, he was forced into exile by the Nazis in 1933. Emigrating to France,...