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Walter Benjamin's magnum opus was a book he did not live to write In The Dialectics of Seeing Susan Buck Morss offers an inventive reconstruction of the Passagen Werk or Arcades Project as it might have taken form Working with Benjamin's vast files of citations and commentary which contain a myriad of historical details from the dawn of consumer culture Buck Morss makes visible the conceptual structure that gives these fragments philosophical coherence She uses images throughout. This is a highly accessible explanation of one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century Walter Benjamin s essays are closely examined in light of the work he toiled at for most of his career The Arcades Project Essentially the Arcades Project was an attempt to understand 19th century Arcades of Paris as allegory Buck Morss explains Benjamin s use of allegory in light of the Trauerspeil investigation of Baroue Tragic Drama Through it she connects Benjamin s uniue but well founded interepretation of Marxism and marxist social criticism to his interpretation of the nineteenth century consumer culture and ultimately to the social situation of Germany and Europe in the twenties and thirties This web of social historical politic

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The Dialectics of Seeing Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project

Elaire's poetry to Grandville's cartoons as anticipations of social utopia and simultaneously as clues for a radical political critiue Buck Morss plots Benjamin's intellectual orientation on axes running east and west north and south Moscow Paris Berlin Naples and shows how such thinking in coordinates can explain his understanding of dialectics at a standstill She argues for the continuing relevance of Benjamin's insights but then allows a set of afterimages to have the last wo. Seriously breathtaking scholarship

Susan Buck-Morss Þ 2 Review

The book to demonstrate that Benjamin took the debris of mass culture seriously as the source of philosophical truth The Paris Arcades that so fascinated Benjamin as they did the Surrealists whose materialist metaphysics he admired were the prototype the 19th century ur form of the modern shopping mall Benjamin's dialectics of seeing demonstrate how to read these consumer dream houses and so many other material objects of the time from air balloons to women's fashions from Baud. There s a lot I didn t understand but what I did was fascinating Buck Morss does a great job of contextualizing and engaging with what is an unfinished project and by doing so points out both the failure and promise of Benjamin s work as a cultural theorist I especially appreciated how she situated Benjamin in relation to his Jewish ness his Marxism his German ness his connection to Paris and his connection to the Frankfurt School


10 thoughts on “The Dialectics of Seeing Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project

  1. says:

    A tour de force through one of the most puzzling books of the 20th century Readers who do not have the time nor

  2. says:

    This is a highly accessible explanation of one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century Walter Benjamin's essays are closely examined in light of the work he toiled at for most of his career The Arcades Pr

  3. says:

    This book blew me out of the water Got me really into turn of the nineteenth century Paris Haussmann's reshaping of Paris and flaneurs which I later picked up in my art history classes

  4. says:

    My friend bought this for me for my birthday with an epigram Don't read this

  5. says:

    Such a well written and interesting academic book Contextualizes Benjamin's Arcades project in his own vision the ideas that influenced him and finally in the modern post WW2 context

  6. says:

    There's a lot I didn't understand but what I did was fascinating Buck Morss does a great job of contextualizing and engaging with what is an unfinished project and by doing so points out both the failure and promise of Benjamin's work as a cultural theorist I especially appreciated how she situated Benjamin in relation to his Jewish

  7. says:

    A stimulating and exciting introduction to what is one of the most obscure uniue and mysterious texts I've encountered Benjamin truly is unlike any other thinker

  8. says:

    Seriously breathtaking scholarship

  9. says:

    An erudite beautifully written overview of Benjamin's work I recommend reading Benjamin's major essays —particularly Theses on the Philosophy of History The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction and the Baudelaire essays — before starting this book It's not an easy read but anyone immersed in B

  10. says:

    This is one of the most insightful philosophical commentaries around not merely exclusive to Benjamin commentaries I mean to say it is one of the most insightful commentaries period This book opened up Benjamin as well as dialectical reasoning and critical social theory to me in ways unanticipated Highly recommend