By Benjamin, Walter; Weber, Samuel; Benjamin, Walter

ISBN-10: 0674028376

ISBN-13: 9780674028371

ISBN-10: 0674033957

ISBN-13: 9780674033955

“There isn't any global of notion that isn't an international of language,” Walter Benjamin remarked, “and one purely sees on the planet what's preconditioned by way of language.” during this ebook, Samuel Weber, a number one theorist on literature and media, unearths a brand new and effective element of Benjamin’s idea through concentrating on a little-discussed stylistic trait in his formula of innovations.

Weber’s concentration is the severe suffix “-ability” that Benjamin so tellingly deploys in his paintings. The “-ability” (-barkeit, in German) of suggestions and literary varieties traverses the entire of Benjamin’s oeuvre, from “impartibility” and “criticizability” in the course of the famous formulations of “citability,” “translatability,” and, so much famously, the “reproducibility” of “The murals within the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility.” Nouns shaped with this suffix, Weber issues out, check with possible or potentiality, to a ability instead of an present fact. This perception enables a constant and enlightening studying of Benjamin’s writings.

Weber first situates Benjamin’s engagement with the “-ability” of assorted ideas within the context of his complete corpus and relating to the philosophical culture, from Kant to Derrida. next chapters deepen the results of using this suffix in a wide selection of contexts, together with Benjamin’s Trauerspiel publication, his relation to Carl Schmitt, and a examining of Wagner’s Ring. the result's an illuminating viewpoint on Benjamin’s proposal in terms of his language—and probably the most penetrating and entire money owed of Benjamin’s paintings ever written.

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But its very secondariness makes it the exemplary manifestation of art as a “medium of absolute reflection” since the individuation of reflection in the work arrests the process at the same time that it determines it. If criticism arises out of the work, and in that sense depends on it, the work in turn depends on an “idea” of absolute reflection that it restricts and dissimulates by giving it finite shape. This restriction is raised and reflection reinstated through the process of criticism. The problems that emerge from such an account are of course obvious and not neglected by Benjamin.

It only “is” in and as the immediacy of that which is impartable, mitteilbar. Immediate means here: without additional intervention from without. Language is (immediately) the ability or the capacity to impart without recourse to anything else. 14 This relation to something or someone else is underscored in German by the prefix mit- (mit-teilen: to separate and share with). Therefore the impartable cannot simply be equated with that which is actually communicated or the act of communication itself.

It is such calculable repetition that explains the effect of formal irony in assuring a certain survival of the work: “What disintegrates in the ironic ray is strictly the illusion, what remains indestructible however is the nucleus of the work, consisting not in ecstasy, which can be decomposed, but in the unassailably [unantastbar] prosaic figure” (GS1, 106; SW1, 176). Everything depends, we discover, on the way in which the “calculable laws” and rhythms of a certain repetitive language—both prosaic and poetic—are to be conceived, and even more, practiced.

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Benjamin's -abilities by Benjamin, Walter; Weber, Samuel; Benjamin, Walter


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