Tag Archives: Walter Benjamin

The Artwork in Our Time

Miklos Legrady, an artist in Toronto who has a penchant for polemic, has just published on e-flux conversations what he thinks of as a rebuttal to Benjamin’s famous artwork essay. It takes the form of a close reading with commentary. … Continue reading

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Chaos Shimmering Through

In an old copy of the NYRB I just found an article about Alfred Brendel, who quotes the poet Novalis: “Chaos, in a work of art, should shimmer through the veil of order.” So now I can see where Ehrenzweig … Continue reading

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A Real Change

Recently I’m rediscovering the absolute genius of Walter Benjamin, including reading some texts I had a hard time with years ago. In “The Task of the Translator” he confirms remarks made in an earlier post about how artworks change over … Continue reading

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Art in the Age of Reproduction

I’ve long thought that Benjamin’s famous essay was the worst thing he ever wrote, but whether I would admit it to myself or not, it’s probably because of the bad use made of it in the art world. Looking more … Continue reading

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Experience

This blog has quoted Emerson’s great essay, “Experience,” more than once. Here’s Benjamin on the same topic: “Most people have no wish to learn by experience. Moreover, their convictions prevent them from doing so.” How true. That is the truth … Continue reading

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Science and Aesthetics

From Walter Benjamin: The place occupied in Goethe’s writings by his scientific studies is the one which in lesser artists is commonly reserved for aesthetics. This aspect of Goethe’s work can be appreciated only when one realizes that, unlike almost … Continue reading

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Up to Date

It’s always a good thing to be reminded of how little our world changes, contrary to the rhetoric of innovation. Anyone who has glanced at a self help book or success manual will find Benjamin’s observations familiar, though deeper than … Continue reading

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Boredom

More from Benjamin’s “Storyteller” “If sleep is the apogee of physical relaxation, boredom is the apogee of mental relaxation. Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away. His nesting … Continue reading

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The Storyteller

Been reading Walter Benjamin’s very great essay “The Storyteller.” When I read it years ago I found it too theoretical, or something like that—it didn’t speak to me. But what he is saying has become more vivid, more truthful in … Continue reading

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No Aura

A critic should be judged by the quotient of pain he or she can inflict. Here again is Boris Groys: “For those who devote themselves to the production of art documentation rather than artworks, art is identical to life, because … Continue reading

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Aura

The concept of aura is a beautiful one; as Groys and others have pointed out, it is an aspect of the here and now experience of a particular object, or more properly of the loss of such an experience, and … Continue reading

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Angelus Novus

If we accept Benjamin’s reading of Klee’s Angelus Novus, that it is moving backwards into the future while watching the increasing pile up of wreckage we call modernity, then it is also looking at us, who are a little further … Continue reading

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Future Retrospect

Backstory as context stays in the here and now, and so keeps faith with modernism. Backstory as nervous anticipation of future criticism is a retrospective literary mode, and as such recalls Benjamin’s angel, who is always looking backward as he … Continue reading

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