Alexander Gelley - Weak Messianism: Recovery and Prefiguration in Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project

9/15/2008; 55 minutes

Alexander Gelley, Professor of Comparative Literature at UC Irvine, talks about his book on Walter Benjamin, with particular focus on Benjamin's conception of history and urban culture. Walter Benjamin, the German-Jewish thinker of the Weimar period, left his Arcades Project unfinished when he died in 1940. Its aim was to awaken a collective subject, heir of the Marxist proletariat, a collective not yet actual and still under the spell of the "phantasmagoria" of the nineteenth-century. Benjamin's "weak messianism" is best conceived as a form of writing designed to incite a readership by means of image, example, anecdote, citation. (#14864)

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