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Which clippings match 'Historical Image' keyword pg.1 of 1
22 JULY 2014

The Arcades Project: a world of secret affinities

"the entire Arcades complex (without definitive title, to be sure) remained in the form of several hundred notes and reflections of varying length, which Benjamin revised and grouped in sheafs, or 'convolutes;' according to a host of topics. Additionally, from the late Twenties on, it would appear, citations were incorporated into these materials–passages drawn mainly from an array of nineteenth–century sources, but also from the works of key contemporaries (Marcel Proust, Paul Valery, Louis Aragon, Andre Breton, Georg Sinunel, Ernst Bloch, Siegfried Kracauer, Theodor Adorno). These proliferating individual passages, extracted from their original context like collectibles, were eventually set up to communicate among themselves, often in a rather subterranean manner. The organized masses of historical objects–the particular items of Benjamin's display (drafts and excerpts)–together give rise to 'a world of secret affinities;' and each separate article in the collection, each entry, was to constitute a 'magic encyclopedia' of the epoch from which it derived. An image of that epoch. In the background of this theory of the historical image, constituent of a historical 'mirror world;' stands the idea of the monad–an idea given its most comprehensive formulation in the pages on origin in the prologue to Benjamin's book on German tragic drama, Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (Origin of the German Trauerspiel)–and back of this the doctrine of the reflective medium, in its significance for the object, as expounded in Benjamin's 1919 dissertation, 'Der Begriff der Kunstkritik in der deutschen Romantik' (The Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism). At bottom, a canon of (nonsensuous) similitude rules the conception of the Arcades."

(Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin, p.x)

Benjamin, Walter (2002). "Das Passagen–werk [The Arcades Project]", US: Harvard University Press. 0674008022
Fig.1 Edizioni Brogi (circa 1880). No.4608 "Ottagono della Galleria Vittorio Emanuele", Milano.



193519th century • a world in miniature • a world of secret affinities • affinityAndre Bretonarcadescitationcollectibles • convolutes • department stores • documentary synopsis • encyclopaedia • epoch • Ernst Bloch • expose • Georg Sinunel • historical image • historical objects • Institute of Social Research • Louis Aragon • magic encyclopaedia • Marcel Proustmirror worldmonad • monadology • nostalgic tributenostalgic yearningnotes • original context • Parispassages couvertsPaul Valery • reflections • sheafs • Siegfried Kracauer • similitudeThe Arcades ProjectTheodor Adorno • topics • Walter Benjamin


Simon Perkins
27 JANUARY 2012

Adorno's ambitions for the constellation

"17. But I am eliciting these implications of Adorno's reservations about Gestalt because what they imply is what Adorno leaves unsaid here, namely the contrast with his ambitions for the constellation. I should caution here that Adorno sometimes uses the word 'constellation' to designate historically given, that is, already familiarized, ideological arrays or Gestalts [for example, Critical Models 138, 260]; my usage henceforth will connote 'constellation' in the sense Adorno valorizes, as a device with the potential to be turned, in somewhat the manner of the Brechtian V–effect, against such familiarizations (though just this dissident potential, of course, is what mid–century avant–gardists were seizing on in Gestalt). And as we'll see, the word's 'antithetical' reversals of meaning are themselves indices of the 'dialectical'–ness of Adorno's immanent critique. We might say that these 'antithetical' meanings––'constellation' as unconscious ideological synthesis versus 'constellation' as consciousness–raising estrangement; 'constellation' as object of critique, or as subject of it––are themselves a kind of constellation implying or encoding, concealing or de–familiarizing a narrative, that of the classic Enlightenment project summarized by Freud in the formula, 'making the unconscious conscious.' Adorno may 'repeat' an over–familiar constellation and then reliquify (or, Medusa–like, petrify) its 'congelations'; or he may present an unfamiliar and even shocking juxtaposition, whose estrangement is to provoke a new and heightened consciousness of the ideological condition in which we are entrapped. The historical image that results, ideological and critical all at once, appropriates the critical force we saw Adorno ascribing to the Benjaminian dialectical image, turning it, immanently, to estranging or defamiliarizing, sc. critical or (Hegel) 'negative' purposes."

(Steven Helmling, 2003)

Steven Helmling (2003). "Constellation and Critique: Adorno's Constellation, Benjamin's Dialectical Image", Postmodern Culture, Volume 14, Number 1, September 2003 | 10.1353/pmc.2003.0030


antithetical • avant-garde • avant-gardists • Benjaminian • Bertolt Brecht • Brechtian V-effect • concealing • congelations • consciousconsciousness • consciousness-raising estrangement • constellations • critical force • critical models • critique • de-familiarising • defamiliarising • dialectical • dialectical image • encodingEnlightenment project • estrangement • estranging • familiarisations • Georg Hegelgestalt • gestalts • historical image • historically given • ideological arrays • ideological condition • juxtaposition • making the unconscious • Medusanarrative • object of critique • Sigmund Freud • subject of critique • Theodor Adorno • unconscious ideological synthesis • Walter Benjamin


Simon Perkins

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