The Gesture of Inseparability. Walter Benjamin’s “Robert Walser” (1929)

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    The Gesture of Inseparability. Walter Benjamin’s “Robert Walser” (1929):

    The relation between image and critical reflection remains an unresolved problem in the writings of Walter Benjamin. On the one hand his critical vocabulary introduces various kinds of imagery: “dialectical images” (Das Passagen-Werk, 1928-1940), “thought images” (“Denkbilder”, 1930-32), “images of recollection” (“Zum Bilde Prousts”, 1929) “image-space” (“Der Surrealismus”, 1929) to mention just a few. On the other hand, Benjamin’s own philosophical style is constituted by numerous images and thought figures. The main argument in the paper will be that the philosophical vocabulary and the writing style of Benjamin is inextricable from each other and need to be analysed together. In order to discuss this interconnection of philosophical concept, image and writing style the paper will consult the short essay “Robert Walser” that Benjamin wrote in 1929. It can be argued that Benjamin in this text is investigating the potential of a critical mimicry through adopting Walser’s use of pronouns and chatty writing style, but also in the sense of quoting Walser without quotation marks. These quotes that unmistakably belong to Walser’s writing, point at the same time unmistakably at Benjamin’s own critical vocabulary. Most prominent is the word “Geschwätz”, [chatter] that is both central in Walser’s writings and an important component in both Benjamin’s treatise “On Language as such and on the Language of Man” (1916) and in “Karl Kraus” (1931). The question that the paper seeks to answer is how we are to understand this gesture of inseparability in Benjamin’s essay on Walser and what consequences this might have for our understanding of his philosophical writing style as such.
    Periode27. sep. 2017
    BegivenhedstitelWalter Benjamin and Method: International Walter Benjamin Society Conference 2017
    BegivenhedstypeKonference
    PlaceringOxford, StorbritannienVis på kort