How to read (with) Benjamin: From cultural history of materialism to materialist history of culture

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    Abstract

    Only images in the mind vitalize the will. The mere word, by contrast, at most inflames it, to leave it smouldering, blasted. There is no intact will without exact pictorial imagination. No imagination without innervation. (Benjamin, 1920s)
    Someday, when the prospect of an angel doesn’t get readers hot and bothered to identify with it at any price, Benjamin’s chastened scrutinizers will realize they’d been had, and that the too-renowned Angel of History Benjamin gives a sentence or so to before literally annihilating it in his Theses was a front and bait for the very identificatory and recuperative takes on him he disowned in the first theses – that, say, of the Marxist dialectician (Adorno) and the theo-hebraic allegorist (Scholem). Benjamin had already identified Klee’s ‘new angel’ with something more ferocious, without anthropomorphic accoutrement (no ruddy cheeks, nice wings, no fake sorrowful back glances at his own hypocrisy toward the dead readers looking to his face). (Cohen, 2016)
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages9
    JournalFootprint
    Volume10
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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