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Benjamin, Walter - On Hashish

Benjamin, Walter - On Hashish

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Walter BenjaminOn HashishProtocol I. Highlights of the First Hashish Impression [by Walter Benjamin:]Written 18 December [1927]. 3:30 a.m.1. Apparitions hover (vignette-like) over my right shoulder. Chill in thisshoulder. In this context: "I have the feeling that there are 4 in the room apartfrom myself." (Avoidance of the necessity to include myself.)2. Elucidation of the Potemkin anecdote<1> by the explanation, be it suggestion:to present to a person the mask of their own face (i.e., of the bearer's ownface).3. Odd remarks about aetheric mask [thermaske], which would (obviously) have
 mouth, nose, etc.4. The co-ordinates through the apartment: cellar-floor/ horizontal line. Spacioushorizontal expanse of the apartment. Music is coming from a suite of rooms. Butperhaps the corridor [is] terrifying, too.5. Unlimited goodwill. Suspension of the compulsive anxiety complex. The beautiful"character" unfolds. All of those present become comically iridescent. At the sametime one is pervaded by their aura.6. The comical is not only drawn out of faces but also out of situations. Onesearches out occasions for laughter. Perhaps it is for that reason that so much ofwhat one sees presents itself as "arranged", as "test": so that one can laughabout it.7. Poetic evidence in the phonetic: for a while at one point, no sooner had I madean assertion than I'd have used the very word in answer to a question merely bythe perception ( so to speak) of the length of time in the duration of sound ineither of the words. I sense that as poetic evidence.8. Connection; distinction. Feeling of little wings growing in one's smile.Smiling and flapping as related. One has among other things the feeling of beingdistinguished because one fancies oneself in such a way that one really doesn'tbecome too deeply involved in anything: however deeply one delves, one alwaysmoves on a threshold. Type of toe dance of reason.9. It is often striking how long the sentences one speaks are. This, too,connected with horizontal expansion and (to be sure) with laughter. The arcadephenomenon is also the long horizontal extension, perhaps combined with the linevanishing into the distant, fleeting, infinitesimal perspective. In suchminuteness there would seem to be something linking the representation of thearcade with the laughter. (Compare Trauerspiel book: miniaturizing power ofreflection).<2>10. In a moment of being lost in thought something quite ephemeral arises, like akind of inclination to stylize [a few words here illegible] one's body by oneself.11. Aversion to information. Rudiments of a state of transport. Considerablesensitivity towards open doors, loud talk, music.12. Feeling of understanding Poe much better now. The entrance gates to a world of
 
grotesques seem to open up. I simply prefer not to enter.13. Heating-oven becomes cat. Mention of the word 'ginger' in setting up thewriting table and suddenly there is a fruitstand there, which I immediatelyrecognize as the writing table. I recalled the 1001 Nights.14. Thought follows thought reluctantly and ponderously.15. The position which one occupies in the room is not held as firmly as usual.Thus it can suddenly happen --to me it transpired quite fleetingly --that theentire room appears to be full of people.16. The people with whom one is involved (particularly Jol and Frnkel) are very
 inclined to become somewhat transformed: I wouldn't say that they become alien nordo they remain familiar, but rather resemble something like foreigners.17. It seemed to me: pronounced aversion to discuss matters of practical life,future, dates, politics. The intellectual sphere is as spellbinding as is thesexual at times to persons possessed, who are absorbed in it.18. Afterwards with Hessel in the cafe. Departure from the spirit-world. Wavefarewell.19. The mistrust towards food. A special and very accentuated instance of thefeeling which a great many things occasion: "Surely you don't really mean to lookthat way!"20. When he spoke of 'ginger', H[essel]'s writing table was transformed for asecond into a fruitstand.21. I associate the laughter with the extraordinary fluctuations of opinion. Moreprecisely stated, it is, among other things, connected with the considerable senseof detachment. Furthermore, this insecurity which possibly increases to the pointof affectation is to a certain extent an outward projection of the inner feelingof ticklishness.22. It is striking that the inhibiting factors which lie in superstition, etc.,andwhich are not easy to designate, are freely expressed rather impulsively withoutstrong resistance.23. In an elegy of Schiller's it is called "The Butterfly's Doubting Wings" ["DesSchmetterlings zweifelnder Flgel"].<3> This in the connection of being
 exhilarated with the feeling of doubt.24. One traverses the same paths of thought as before. Only they seem strewn withroses.Protocol II. Highlights of the Second Hashish Impression [by Walter Benjamin:]Written 15 January 1928. 3:30 p.m.The recollection is less vivid although the reverie [Versunkenheit] was of adiminished intensity compared to the first time. To be precise, I was not as lostin thought [versunken], but more profoundly inward. Also, the gloomy, strange,exotic passages of the rausch haunt the recollection more than the luminous ones.I recall a satanic phase. The red of the walls became the determining factor forme. My smile took on satanic features: although it assumed more the expression of
 
satanic knowledge, satanic satisfaction, satanic repose than the satanic,destructive effect. The sense of those present in the room as being submergedintensified: the room became more velvety, more glowing, darker. I named itDelacroix.The second, quite intense observation was the game with the adjoining room. Ingeneral, one begins to play games with spaces. Beguilements of one's sense ofdirection arise. What's recognized in an alert state in the quite unpleasantdisplacement which is accidentally conjured when, traveling at night on the rearseat of a train, one imagines one's traveling on the front seat or the reverse,can be experienced as beguilement from the translation of motion into the static.The room disguises itself before our eyes, wraps itself up like an alluringcreature in the costumes of the dispositions. I experience the feeling that notonly the imperial coronation of Charlemagne, but the murder of Henry IV, theratification of the Treaty of Verdun and the murder of Egmont were enacted in thenext room. Things are only mannequins and even the great world-historical eventsare only costumes beneath which they exchange glances of assent with nothingness,with the base and the banal. They respond to the ambiguous winking of nirvanaacross the way. To resist becoming implicated in any way in such assent, then, iswhat accounts for the "satanic satisfaction" previously referred to. This is alsothe root of addiction, to immensely heighten the collusion with non-existence byintensifying the dosage. Perhaps it is no self-deception to say that in this stateone develops an aversion towards the free, so-to-speak uranian atmosphere in whichthoughts of the "outside" become almost agonizing. Unlike the first time, there isno longer the friendly, amiable lingering in the room out of pleasure in thesituation for its own sake. Rather, a thick, self-woven, self-spun spiderweb inwhich world affairs hang strewn about like the corpses of insects sucked dry.Here, too, the rudiments of a hostile stance towards those present in the roomtake shape; fear that they will become a bother or could drag one down.Yet despite its depressive elements, this rausch has its cathartic outcome which,if not blissful like the last, nonetheless has its ingenious side which is notwithout its charm. Except that this comes to a peak as the effect wears off, whichsets forth the context of depression more clearly. For this reason the increase ofdosage could, under certain circumstances, play a part in the depressivecharacter.Double structure of this depression: first fear and then indecision in relatedquestions of practicality. This indecision has gained mastery: suddenly a coercivetemptation is tracked down to a very concealed motive [Moment]. The possibility ofyielding to it somewhat with the prospect of overcoming it is therefore attained.Hunger set as an oblique axis through the system of the rausch.The great hope, inclination, longing to approach the new, the untouched in therausch can hardly be attained any longer in elated fluttering, rather in tired,self-absorbed, relaxed, idle, sluggish downhill mutation. In this descent, onestill believes in developing a certain friendliness, a certain attractiveness[Attrativa] in order to carry friends along with one's dark-edged smile, halfLucifer, half Hermes traducens, no longer the spirit and human being of the lastexperience. Less human, more daimon and pathos in this rausch.The bad simultaneity of the need to be alone and the desire to stay together withothers intensifies --a feeling which emerges in deeper fatigue, and which onewould have indulged. One has the feeling of only being able to abandon oneself tothis ambiguous winking of nirvana across the way entirely by oneself in theprofoundest silence, and yet needs the presence of others as gently shifting

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