5 Matching Annotations
  1. Jan 2019
    1. The hupomnemata contribute one of the means by which one detaches the soul from concern for the future and redirects it toward contemplation of the past.

      I'm reminded here of Walter Benjamin's note on the "Angelus Novus" illustration: "His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees on single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurts it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the peril of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress" (Theses on the Philosophy of History).

  2. May 2017
    1. In the ebb and flow of its changing rhythms—additions, revisions, reformulations and retrievals—Benjamin's Arcades Project provides an extraordinary case study in the labour of conceptual construction via the configuration and reconfiguration of archival materials. The voluminous ‘Notes and Materials’ that make up the Arcades as it has come down to us remained unpublished until 1982, finally appearing in English only in 1999 (GS V; AP). Only since their publication has it been possible to get a clear sense of the overall trajectory of Benjamin's thought during this period—rendering redundant, or at least displacing, many of the polemics associated with previous cycles of reception. The notes and materials are organized into twenty-six alphabetically designated ‘convolutes’ (literally ‘bundles’) or folders, thematically defined by various objects (arcades, catacombs, barricades, iron constructions, mirrors, modes of lighting…), topics (fashion, boredom, theory of knowledge, theory of progress, painting, conspiracies…), figures (the collector, the flaneur, the automaton…), authors (Baudelaire, Fourier, Jung, Marx, Saint-Simon…) and their combinations.
    2. The Arcades was a vast and ambitious project, not simply in terms of the mass and breadth of its archival sources (sought out by Benjamin in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris), but also—indeed, primarily—with respect to its philosophical and historical intent, and the methodological and representational challenges it posed. Its sprawling, yet minutely investigated historical object was to act as the point of entry into the philosophically comprehended experience of metropolitan capitalism—not some past experience, or the experience of a past phase of capitalist development, but the experience of the capitalist metropolis in Benjamin's own day—through the construction of a specific series of relations between its elements ‘then’ and ‘now’. The practice of research, conceptual organization and presentation that it involved was self-consciously conceived as a working model for a new, philosophically oriented, materialist historiography with political intent.
    3. One-Way Street, a quasi-constructivist collection of fragments written between 1923–1926 and dedicated to Lacis on its publication in 1928, and the unfinished Arcades Project, begun in the late 1920s, both exhibit a modernist experimentation with form that can in part be attributed to Lacis' influence