Paris and Berlin: On City Streets and Loggias

  • Stéphane Symons

Abstract

This review article probes a conceptual duality that can be recognized as central to two of Benjamin’s essays on cities: his essay ‘Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century (Exposé of 1935),’ and his autobiographical text Berlin Childhood around 1900. On the one hand, Benjamin renders numerous analyses and descriptions of buildings and experiences that present themselves as absolute and internally unified, giving the impression of being autonomous and immutable. On the other hand, Benjamin interrogates objects and perceptions that present themselves as transient and in flux and are therefore experienced as contingent and incomplete. These latter objects and perceptions derive their significance from something that is inevitably external.

References

Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2004

Walter Benjamin, Briefe 2 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1978

Walter Benjamin, ‘Little History of Photography’ in Walter Benjamin. Selected Writings. Vol. 2, ed. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1999)

Walter Benjamin, Berlin Childhood around 1900, transl. Howard Eiland (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2006

Walter Benjamin, ‘On the Concept of History’ in Walter Benjamin. Selected Writings. Vol. 4

Gilles Deleuze, Proust and Signs, trans. Richard Howard (New York and London: Continuum, 2000)

Eli Friedlander, Walter Benjamin. A Philosophical Portrait (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2012)

W. G. Sebald, Austerlitz, trans. Anthea Bell (New York: Random House, 2001)

Author Biography

Stéphane Symons

Stéphane Symons is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Philosophy (KU Leuven) in Belgium. His main field of research is continental, nineteenth and twentieth century philosophy of culture. He has published the volume Walter Benjamin. Presence of Mind, Failure to Understand (Brill), edited the volume The Marriage of Aesthetics and Ethics (Brill) and co-edited the collections Walter Benjamin and Theology (Fordham UP) and Theological Genealogies. Twentieth century, German thought on secularization (forthcoming).

How to Cite
SYMONS, Stéphane. Paris and Berlin: On City Streets and Loggias. FOOTPRINT, [S.l.], p. 121-128, apr. 2016. ISSN 1875-1490. Available at: <https://journals.open.tudelft.nl/index.php/footprint/article/view/972>. Date accessed: 24 mar. 2019. doi: https://doi.org/10.7480/footprint.10.1.972.
Published
2016-04-18