(1928-40 "Marxism" period)
Different kinds of readings/criticism of Benjamin:
metaphysical, insterested in Hebrew mysticism--a good friend of Gerschom
materialist -- a critical Marxist
"The Author as Producer": Benjamin, discussing Brecht on politicized
Sketching a biographical account of Benjamin's experiences against crucial
years of Central European history, Demetz sees contradictions in Benjamin
between his interest in Baudelaire and "naive art," between being "quiet,
fastidious, extremely polite" and having a thirst for violence..(Peter Demetz's
Introduction in Reflections viii-ix).
Benjamin and Adorno: (Ref. The
Adorno-Benjamin debate on artistic autonomy)
Ardono's criticism of Benjamin:
- "The Paris of the Second Empire in the Works of Baudelaire" --
"undialectic," moved in materialistic categories, which by no
means coincide with Marxist ones," was "lacking in mediation" (Illumination
- "Adornoa pointed out that Benjamin's use of Marx's category of commodity
fetishism unwarrantably subjectivized it, by converting it from an objective
structure of exchange value into a delusion of individual consciousness."
. . . His general recommendation to Benjamin, in conclusion, was to radicalize
his method towards greater historical accuracy and maetrial evidence, and
more rigorous economic analysis of the objective bases underlying the cultural
configurations with which he was concerned (Aesthetics and Politics 103).
- "static" -- e.g. 1. Angel of history "does not dialectically move forward
into the future, but has his face 'turned toward the past.' . . . For just
as the flaneur, through the gestus of purposeless strolling, turns
his back to the crowd even as he is propelled and swept by it, so the 'angel
of history,' who looks at nothing but the expanse of ruins of the past, is
blown backwards into the future by the storm of progress."
- "The Work of Art" -- overstated the technicality
of "dependent art" while underestimating that of autonomous art.
- Entitled "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire," the new essay approached the decline
of aura, tradition, and integrated reflective experience as critically as
the "Work of Art" piece had celebrated it." (Marxism and Modernism 169)