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Anteroom of the Event

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From what’s called, in the 4th volume of the Harvard UP edition Benjamin’s
works, “Paralipomena to ‘On the Concept of History” (basically some of the stuff that
didn’t make it in to the theses): 

In the idea of classless society, Marx secularized the idea
of messianic time. And that was a good thing. It was only when the Social
Democrats elevated this idea to an ‘ideal’ that the trouble began. The ideal
was defined in Neo-Kantian doctrine as an ‘infinite [unendlich] task […] Once the classless society is defined as an
infinite task, the empty and homogenous time was transformed into an anteroom,
so to speak, in which one could wait for the emergence of the revolutionary
situation with more or less equanimity.

Interesting stuff… But isn’t the problem (and the interest)
located in the fact that both versions of history turn the present into a sort
of antechamber, a waiting room, where one attends the ever-receding event?
However secularized Benjamin’s messianism is, it wasn’t ever going to be free
and clear of the meaning-evaporating boredom of waiting for the advertised
product to arrive…

Written by adswithoutproducts

February 18, 2005 at 1:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. It depends on how one’s sees messianism. If it’s in the Derridean/Levinasian sense, then yes, it does involve a sort of purgatory, a ‘keeping oneself forever open to the abyssal Other’. Even when one decides and acts, it is ultimately ‘the Other making a decision in/of/about me’, to paraphrase Derrida. I think – though am not sure – Benjamin’s messianism, via the Angel of History, functions this way, though I am certain the use of the Angel by Benjaminian scholars does work this way. In other words, there is a sort of fantasy about Benjamin’s messianism in the academy at present, one that allows a Beautiful Soul e/a/ffect of believing oneself to be on the revolutionary side without anything effectively changing.


    February 26, 2005 at 4:11 pm

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