Posts tagged "Walter Benjamin"
Legends of the Fall

Legends of the Fall

As a practical matter, it seems to be very difficult to write a book about the Frankfurt School (or any of its related figures) which is not hagiographical, impenetrable, interminable, or some combination of the three. I can count on one hand the number of titles on this topic that did not prompt me to the immediate consumption of alcohol or some sort of stimulant. More»

The Wu-Tang Clan’s Failed Experiment

The Wu-Tang Clan’s Failed Experiment

Last year, the world was treated to an unexpected announcement from one of the most famous acts in hip hop. The Wu-Tang Clan revealed that it had secretly recorded a massive 31-track album that supposedly brought the band back to its roots and the raw, rugged, ominous sounds that made its debut, Enter the 36 Chambers, an instant classic upon its release in 1993. More»

Night Politics

Night Politics

Several years ago, I spent the night carousing in Prenzlauer Berg. As things broke up after two, I realized that I had stayed out too late – which meant until after the north-south U-Bahn lines had stopped running. In those days, I was living in Neukölln which, for those unfamiliar with Berlin, is a considerable distance. More»

The Shame of Malls

The Shame of Malls

For my birthday last week, I received three T-shirts featuring Walter Benjamin. It’s hard to imagine a better example of “long tail” marketing. I was delighted. But one of them made me uneasy. Playing off the now-ubiquitous religious slogan, it asks, “What would Benjamin do?” The truth, though, is that few thinkers have been less invested in getting things done. More»

Berlin as Jerusalem

Berlin as Jerusalem

Compared to other German cities or metropoles like Paris and London, Berlin has benefited from its lack of meaningful antiquity. Little more than a village prior to Prussia’s ascendancy in the 1700s and still not very impressive in Germany’s early years as a unified nation, it was free to develop as a fully modern city. Not only cartographically and architecturally, but ideologically. More»

The Past-Perfect Thing

The Past-Perfect Thing

It made me feel sad, seeing the “perfect thing” reduced to such a pedestrian function. Impersonally repurposed, devoid of caché, the antithesis of the iPod’s glory years. Worse still, it had been caged next to instructions on how to use it, as if the average consumer would have forgotten, in stark contrast to the portable phonograph displayed by the cash register for Record Store Day. More»

Now is Not Forever

Now is Not Forever

Sometimes the Internet surprises us with the past or, to be more precise, its own past. The other day my social media feed started to show the same clip over and over. It was one I had seen years before and forgotten about, back from the bottom of that overwhelming ocean of content available to us at any given moment. Why was it reappearing now, I wondered? More»

Too Much Metal

Too Much Metal

Metal today is in crisis. Metal’s crisis doesn’t feel like a crisis. In fact it sometimes feels like quite the reverse. This is a crisis in which most are unaware that there is a crisis – and that is the crisis. The crisis is one of abundance. More»

We Are All Edward Snowden

We Are All Edward Snowden

The slogan sounds so good that it’s hard, at first, to register its strangeness: “We are all Edward Snowden.” Consider how many people had access to the same information he did, whether at the NSA or the private contractor where he was employed. But only he made it public. More»

A Muslim Meditation on Violence

A Muslim Meditation on Violence

It is Muharram again, the beginning of the Islamic lunar year, literally meaning ‘sanctified,’ as it is one of four months in the Muslim calendar when fighting is forbidden. Its first ten days also mark the garrison and slaughter – 1,373 years ago this month – of the Prophet’s grandson, Imam Hussain, and other members of his family by the armies of the despotic Umayyad ruler, Yazid. More»

Monsters Are Real

Monsters Are Real

Are you prepared for a zombie apocalypse? It seems like everyone has something to say on the topic. From box office hits like 28 Days Later to video games and zombie walks, over the last decade the meme has displayed an especially widespread appeal. How do we explain it? Is it just a silly trend, or is it a sign of something more complex? More»

A South Asian Meta-Utopia

A South Asian Meta-Utopia

Intizar Husain is repetitive. A small set of themes and phrases are the motus animi continuus of his oeuvre. Repeated locutions are marked by their colloquiality: khave se khava chilta tha (“shoulder rubbed against shoulder,”) which he uses to signify bygone spaces, ye ja vo ja (“now here and gone,”) marking sudden departures of idiosyncratic individuals in the past. More»