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237

Walter Benjamin: Angel in the City

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Berman, M. (2001). Walter Benjamin: Angel in the City. In Berman, M. Adventures in Marxism. Verso, pp. 237-252

250

There is a profound problem with much of the literature on Benjamin, and on Central European culture as a whole. The young men and women who came of age in that culture - from the Age of Goethe way up to the 1930s - grew up on German romanticism, with its cosmic nostalgia, its soulful, heavy-laden yearning for dark forests, its willful isolation from the modern world, its suicide pacts and Liebestod. This is Brodersen's culture; his heart leaps up when he hears those tragic chords. For Parini, it is the heart of Benjamin's story. I would never deny that it is part of Benjamin's story. But in the culture of Central Europe's Jews, from Mahler to Freud to Kafka to Benjamin himself to Lubitsch, Ophuls, Sternberg, Stroheim, Billy Wilder, romantic doom always coexists with a comic and ironic spirit, cosmopolitan and urbane, seeking light on the modern city's boulevards and in its arcades and music halls and cafes, and in its displays of fashion and advertising and its endless proliferation of new media. Benjamin thrived on the contradiction between the doom in his soul and his joy on the streets. [...]

weirdly beautiful

—p.250 by Marshall Berman 6 years, 2 months ago

There is a profound problem with much of the literature on Benjamin, and on Central European culture as a whole. The young men and women who came of age in that culture - from the Age of Goethe way up to the 1930s - grew up on German romanticism, with its cosmic nostalgia, its soulful, heavy-laden yearning for dark forests, its willful isolation from the modern world, its suicide pacts and Liebestod. This is Brodersen's culture; his heart leaps up when he hears those tragic chords. For Parini, it is the heart of Benjamin's story. I would never deny that it is part of Benjamin's story. But in the culture of Central Europe's Jews, from Mahler to Freud to Kafka to Benjamin himself to Lubitsch, Ophuls, Sternberg, Stroheim, Billy Wilder, romantic doom always coexists with a comic and ironic spirit, cosmopolitan and urbane, seeking light on the modern city's boulevards and in its arcades and music halls and cafes, and in its displays of fashion and advertising and its endless proliferation of new media. Benjamin thrived on the contradiction between the doom in his soul and his joy on the streets. [...]

weirdly beautiful

—p.250 by Marshall Berman 6 years, 2 months ago