Textual conspiracies : Walter Benjamin, idolatry, and by Benjamin, Walter; Benjamin, Walter; Martel, James R

By Benjamin, Walter; Benjamin, Walter; Martel, James R

In Textual Conspiracies, James R. Martel applies the literary, theological, and philosophical insights of Walter Benjamin to the query of politics and the hindrance of the modern left. during the lens of Benjamin's theories, as prompted through Kafka, of the fetishization of political symbols and indicators, Martel seems to be on the ways that a number of political and literary texts "speak" to one another around the gulf of time and area, thereby making a "textual conspiracy" that destabilizes grand narratives of strength and authority and makes the narratives of other political groups extra apparent.
However, in line with Benjamin's insistence that even he's complicit with the fetishism that he battles, Martel decentralizes Benjamin's place because the key theorist for this conspiracy and contextualizes Benjamin in what he calls a "constellation" of pairs of thinkers and writers all through background, together with Alexis de Tocqueville and Edgar Allen Poe, Hannah Arendt and Federico García Lorca, and Frantz Fanon and Assia Djebar.

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Extra info for Textual conspiracies : Walter Benjamin, idolatry, and political theory

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With this idea in mind, let us turn to the ‹rst and foremost textual conspirator this book will consider, Walter Benjamin. As we move on to an engagement with the actual authors, it is worth mentioning a general semantic practice that I adopt throughout this book. While I will be distinguishing between any given author and her or his texts (beginning with Benjamin), to avoid being tiresome, and because of the ambiguity about the nature of authorship, I will sometimes use terms such as “Benjamin” and “Benjamin’s text” (or whichever other author I am considering at the time) more or less interchangeably although there will be times where I will have to specify which “author” I mean.

Even if Benjamin Introduction | 19 doesn’t always speak of conspiracy in his later work, I argue that it underlies, uni‹es, and explains what he is trying to do from a political perspective. 33 To think of Benjamin in terms of conspiracy is to think of him in clearly political terms; it is to bring an idea from an explicitly political vocabulary and apply it to this thinker for whom the connection to politics often appears tenuous or vague. And, by extending this analysis to include many other coconspirators, we can broaden and deepen our sense of what the political consists of.

Yet for Benjamin, to base a conspiracy purely on temporal or physical proximity risks reinforcing and being subject to the very certainties and inevitable fates of any one time and place that create the need for conspiracy in the ‹rst place. Benjamin con- 18 | Textual Conspiracies spires mainly with the dead (for “even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins”) and, by extension, with the not yet born. There are also ways that this conspiracy and method differ from more general understandings of politics in terms of the question of epistemology.

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