You are on page 1of 30

Warburg's Haunted House

Georges Didi-Huberman Shane Lillis

Common Knowledge, Volume 18, Issue 1, Winter 2012, pp. 50-78 (Article)

Published by Duke University Press

For additional information about this article

Access Provided by UNICAMP Universidade Estadual de Campinas at 01/16/13 7:28PM GMT


Georges Didi-Huberman

Translated by Shane Lillis

We could legitimately regard the Mnemosyne Atlas of Aby Warburg as a tool for sampling, by means of juxtaposed images, the chaos of history. It would be a matter of producing, through the atlass black plates studded with gures of all kinds, transverse- and cross-sections of chaos, en route to nding new ways of thinking about social and cultural temporality. Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari give us a language in which to index the philosophical power and audaciousness the superior empiricism of Warburgs project: It is always a matter of defeating chaos by a secant plane that crosses it, they write, adding that it is as if one were casting a net, but the sherman always risks being swept away and nding himself in the open sea.1 In other words, Warburgs aptitude for the astra (concepts) always brought him in proximity to the monstra (chaos).

An earlier version of this text appears as part of an essay, Atlas, or the Anxious Gay Science, published in the catalog of the exhibition Atlas: How to Carry the World on Ones Back, organized by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofa, Madrid (November 26, 2010 March 28, 2011) in collaboration with Sammlung Falckenberg of Hamburg and ZKM Museum fr Neue Kunst of Karlsruhe.

1. Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari, What Is Philosophy?, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 203.

Common Knowledge 18:1 DOI 10.1215/0961754X-1456881 English translation 2010 by Shane B. Lillis


Caught in the pincers between his intellectual ambition which was to forge a Kulturwissenschaft encompassing every human science in one historical discipline and the intrinsic modesty of his attention to singular cases and the details of philological erudition, Warburgs project can be understood only in terms of its aims. The Mnemosyne Atlas stands between two horizons that its author evoked or invoked, without ever, or almost ever, naming them. Further back up the line, we nd the horizon of the Enlightenment and its Romantic turning point: Goya, or rather Baudelaire speaking about Goya, from the perspective of his sampling of chaos though it is Goethe, nally, whose notion of afnity opened up ways to rethink the practices of observing, anthologizing, cross-checking, and collecting that would be used in Warburgs atlas.2 Further down the line, among Warburgs contemporaries who were (more or less) unknown to him, we have August Sander with his atlas, Face of Our Time, Walter Benjamin with his dialectical images, and Sigmund Freud with his magisterial way of envisaging the power of the monstra.3 All of these, and others as well at that time, sampled chaos and retrieved visual sections from it, in the way that an archaeologist exhumes evidence in packets that are then made visible on what Deleuze has termed planes of consistency (or immanence).4 It was in this spirit that Goya, through the power of his etchings, inscribed Disparates, Caprichos, and Desastres across the pediment of modernity. The Disparates demonstrate the art of sampling the dispars chaos in space. Warburg does so too (and includes the playful or Witz dimension of chaos) when he risks bringing together, on the same plate, a sarcophagus and an aerial photograph, a dancing nymph and a dying old man, a small bronze coin and a triumphal arch, a bust of a child and a souterrain arranged for sacrices, a biblical scene and an anatomy lesson, the monument to Hindenburg and an advertisement for toilet paper.5 Warburgs practice pursues the kind of knowledge obtainable through montage the nonstandard kind recommended, practiced, and theorized in the same period by Benjamin in his Arcades and Georges Bataille in his journal Documents.6 The Mnemosyne Atlas, moreover, could be leafed through as a collection of Caprichos, presented explicitly as a sampling of the chaos in individual psyches and collective imaginations. There are almost as many monsters of reason in Warburgs atlas as there are in Goyas series: fearsome divinities of the ancient
2. Charles Baudelaire, Selected Writings on Art and Literature, trans. Patrice Edouard Charvet (London: Penguin, 2006), 237. 3. August Sander, Face of Our Time (Munich: Schirmer Mosel, 2008). 4. For planes of immanence [or consistency], see Gilles Deleuze, Pure Immanence: Essays on a Life, trans. Anne Boyman (New York: Urzone, 2001); Deleuze and Flix

Guattari, Mille Plateaux, vol. 2 of Capitalisme et Schizophrnie (Paris: Minuit, 1980). 5. Aby Warburg, Der Bilderatlas Mnemosyne: Gesammelte Schriften, II 1, ed. Martin Warnke and Claudia Brink, 2nd rev. ed. (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2000), 21 (pl. 4), 25 (pl. 6), 27 (pl. 7), 29 (pl. 8), 125 (pl. 75), 129 (pl. 77). 6. Cf. Georges Didi-Huberman, La Ressemblance informe ou le gai savoir visuel selon Georges Bataille (Paris: Macula, 1995), 333 83.

Didi-Huber man

Wa r b u r g s Ha u n t e d H o u s e


Oriental religions, titanomachias and psychomachias, female creatures with several breasts, monstrous serpents, hybrid creatures of the zodiac, deformed beings dancing together, cruel and proliferating metamorphoses, sadistic eroticism, dizzying falls, grotesque heads, and other multiform personications of the nightmare of reason.7 Walter Benjamin found that the surrealists took the monstra seriously and that they sought, in their own way and in the same period to make out an improbable inventory of the movements of the soul inscribed in movements of desire and of the body.8 The theoretical lesson common to these authors, who are nonetheless very different from one another, is that all knowledge of the disparate brings into play the very structure, as well as the montage character, of the images of thought. And nally, the Mnemosyne Atlas works like a collection of Desastres: the play of the astra and the monstra takes account of the cruelest and most violent aspects of human history. The samples of spatial (or gural) chaos bear witness to a psychic chaos with historical or political incarnations. For knowledge that comes through re-montage always reects on the de-montage of time in the tragic history of society. I am thinking in particular of the last plates of Mnemosyne, where Warburg arranged photographic documents of the Lateran Accords, approved by the tyrant Mussolini and Pope Pius XI (g. 2).9 Of course, in these montages, the salient question is one of cultural survivals. The montages operate like transverse sections in the longue dure of relations between power and image (for example, the throne of Saint Peter visible in Warburgs plate 79 refers subtly to the efgy of the sovereign already visible in plate 1). But the montages also treat the longue dure of the theologico-political paradigm: Eucharist, which is the principal theme of plate 79, refers, in its own way, to the divinatory livers in plate 1 (gs. 1 2). Both are mysterious and mystical props of belief and power.



Dislocation of the World and Tragedy of Culture There is also the issue, in this symptomatology, of political prophecy. In 1929 Hitlers Mein Kampf reached record sales in Hamburg, and the last plate in Mnemosyne displays the signs of a long, as well as recent, history of anti-Semitism, political propaganda, and upheaval.10 Here we are, once again (and despite differences of objects and styles), in the neighborhood of Warburgs anxious
7. Warburg, Der Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, 15 (pl. 1), 19 (pl. 3), 25 (pl. 6), 35 (pl. 22), 55 (pl. 32), 69 (pl. 39), 87 (pl. 47), 103 (pl. 56), 105 (pl. 57). 8. Cf. Walter Benjamin, Le surralisme: Le dernier instantan de lintelligentsia europenne, trans. Maurice de Gandillac, in Oeuvres, II (Paris: Gallimard, 2000), 113 34. 9. Warburg, Der Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, 131 33. 10. Cf. Charlotte Schoell- Glass, Aby Warburg und der Antisemitismus: Kulturwissenschaft als Geistespolitik (Frankfurt: Fischer, 1998), 233 46; Aby Warburgs Late Comments on Symbol and Ritual, Science in Context 12. 4 (1999): 621 42; Serious Issues: The Last Plates of Warburgs Picture Atlas Mnemosyne, in Art History as Cultural History: Warburgs Projects, ed. Richard Woodeld (Amsterdam: G and B Arts International, 2001), 183 208; Wolfram Pichler and Gufrun Swaboda, Gli spazi di

Figure 1. Aby Warburg, Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, 192729, Warburg Institute Archive, plate 1. Photo: The Warburg Institute, London

contemporaries in this case, Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Tucholsky, and John Hearteld. Benjamins magisterial organization of pessimism through images,11 Tucholsky and Heartelds striking political montages in their Bilderbuch titled Deutschland, Deutschland ber Alles, published at the same time as Warburg was preparing the last plates of his atlas,12 and Brechts several atlases of
Warburg: Topograe storico- culturali, autobiograche e mediali nellatlante Mnemosyne, Quaderni Warburg Italia 1 (2003): 99 105, 114 21; Georges Didi-Huberman, Limage brle, in Penser par les images: Autour des travaux de Georges Didi- Huberman, ed. Laurent Zimmermann (Nantes: Ccile Defaut, 2006), 24 38. 11. Walter Benjamin, Paralipomnes et variantes des thses sur le concept dhistoire, crits franais (Paris: Gallimard, 1991), 350. 12. Kurt Tucholsky and John Heartfield, Deutschland, Deutschland ber Alles: Ein Bilderbuch (Berlin: Neuer Deutscher Verlag, 1929; Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1973).

Didi-Huber man

Wa r b u r g s Ha u n t e d H o u s e




Figure 2. Aby Warburg, Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, 1927 29, Warburg Institute Archive, plate 79. Photo: The Warburg Institute, London

images on the tragedies of contemporary history, composed from a communist point of view, are all strikingly relevant projects.13 It is no coincidence that Brecht, too, invoked a cultural longue dure from Homer or Aeschylus to Voltaire or Goethe in order to substantiate his strik13. Cf. Georges Didi-Huberman, Quand les images prennent position: Loeil de lhistoire, 1 (Paris: Minuit, 2009).

A world at war? Should we not read the history of art, rst of all, as a history of forms? Warburgs atlas did not neglect this point of view and indeed can be regarded as a collection of diagrams for visually sorting the world, its innite variability and formal invention: Disparates of circular forms and frontal walls, uid movements and tabular arrangements, horizontal confrontations and vertical falls. . . .15 But Warburg, the founder of an anthropology of images and an iconology of their intervals, referred any formal singularity to the play or conict of corporeal, psychological, and cultural movements. Hence the importance of those gestures and Pathosformeln whose constellations are displayed by the atlas like so many Caprichos or psychomachias those powers of the imagination at the crossroads between madness and reason, pathos and ethos.16 The history of images according to Warburg must be thought of as a tragic story that always comes back to a point between the worst of the monstra and the best of the astra, between suffering and sophrosyne, between dislocation and re-montage, in order to make a transverse- or cross-section in chaos, which is to say using Warburgs own term a thought space (Denkraum). There is, therefore, no form that is not, whether explicitly or implicitly, the response to a war or, in any case, to historical pathos.17 The treasury of forms is always, however cruel this conjunction of words may seem, a treasury of sufferings (Leidschatz).18 Hence the anxious nature and melancholic roots of the

14 . Bertolt Brecht, Exercices pour comdiens, trans. Jean-Marie Valentin, in LArt du comdien: crits sur le thtre (Paris: LArche, 1999), 121; translation modied. 15. Aby Warburg, Der Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, 11 (pl. B), 17 23 (pl. 2 6), 37 45 (pl. 23 26), 49 51 (pl. 28 30), 77 (pl. 42), 103 (pl. 56). 16. Cf. Salvatore Settis, Pathos und Ethos, Morphologie und Funktion, Vortrge aus dem Warburg-Haus 1 (1997): 31 73.

17. Aby Warburg, Mnemosyne: Grundbegriffe II (London: Warburg Institute Archive, 1928 29), III.102.3 and III.102.4., 25, 80, etc. 18. Cf. Martin Warnke, Der Leidschatz der Menschheit wird humaner Besitz, Der Menschenrechte des Auges: ber Aby Warburg (Frankfurt: Europische Verlagsanstalt, 1980), 113 86.

Didi-Huber man

The dislocation of the world: that is the subject of art. It is impossible to afrm that, without disorder, there would be no art, nor that there could be one: we know of no world that is not disorder. No matter what the universities whisper to us regarding Greek harmony, the world of Aeschylus was full of combat and terror, and so were those of Shakespeare and of Homer, of Dante and of Cervantes, of Voltaire and of Goethe. However pacistic [art] has been said to be, it speaks of wars, and whenever art makes [a peace treaty] with the world, it is always signed with a world at war.14

Wa r b u r g s Ha u n t e d H o u s e

ing formula, according to which war, and the dislocation of the world or the world out of joint (die Welt aus den Fugen), is the bottom-line subject of art (das Thema der Kunst):


nameless science that Warburg invented.19 Hence too the afnity of his undertaking with that of Benjamin, who wrote of history as the history of universal suffering (Geschichte als Leidensgeschichte der Welt).20 Many aspects of their thinking would require retrieval and comparison for us to establish the scale and depth of this afnity and to restore Warburgs work,21 not only to the context of the German science of the mind, but also to the offbeat constellation of heterodox Jewish thinkers to which, however discretely, he fully belongs.22 In an apt and moving testimony, Klaus Berger described Warburg as a man who, in spite of his humor and constant punning, saw everything from the perspective (or on the plane of consistency) of pain: He never said: this is right, this is wrong. He said: this is veiled by suffering.23 His theory of Pathosformeln was founded on his thinking perhaps Attic, perhaps Nietzschean about tragedy; his ideas about memory were aimed at a psychohistorical theory of the conicts between the monstra and the astra.24 Ernst Cassirer, in his magnicent funeral eulogy for Warburg in 1929, perfectly expressed how his friend sought to understand forms in terms of forces conguring energies that were in turn seen as in the center of the storm and of the whirlwind of life itself :
He did not rstly cast his eyes upon works of art, but he felt and saw the great conguring energies behind the works. . . . Where others had seen



19. Cf. Konrad Hoffmann, Angst und Methode nach Warburg: Erinnerung als Vernderung, in Aby Warburg. Akten des internationalen Symposions Hamburg 1990, ed. Horst Bredekamp, Michael Diers, and Charlotte SchoellGlass (Weinheim: VCH-Acta Humaniora, 1991), 261 67; Bernd Villhauer, Aby Warburgs Theorie der Kultur. Detail und Sinnhorizont (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2002), 112 14; Marco Bertozzi, Il detective melanconico e altri saggi losoci (Milan: Feltrinelli, 2008), 95 137. 20. Walter Benjamin, Origine du drame baroque allemand, trans. Sibylle Muller (Paris: Flammarion, 1985), 179. 21. Cf. Roland Kany, Mnemosyne als Programme: Geschichte, Erinnerung und die Andacht zum Unbedeutenden im Werk von Usener, Warburg und Benjamin (Tbingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1987), 179 85; Jochen Becker, Ursprung so wie Zerstrung: Sinnbild und Sinngebung bei Warburg und Benjamin, in Allegorie und Melancholie, ed. Willem van Reijen (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1992), 64 89; Marianne Schuller, Bilder Schriften zum Gedchtnis: Freud, Warburg, Benjamin: Eine Konstellation, Internationale Zeitschrift fr Philosophie 2.1 (1993): 73 95; Matthew Rampley, From Symbol to Allegory: Aby Warburgs Theory of Art, Art Bulletin 79.1 (1997): 41 55; Rampley, Archives of Memory: Walter Benjamins Arcades Project and Aby Warburgs Mnemosyne Atlas, in The Optic of Walter Benjamin, vol. 3 De-, dis-, ex-, ed. Alex Coles (London: Black Dog, 1999), 94 117; Rampley, The Remembrance

of Things Past: On Aby M. Warburg and Walter Benjamin (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2000), 73 100 ; Beatrice Hanssen, Portrait of Melancholy (Benjamin, Warburg, Panofsky), MLN 114.5 (December 1999): 991 1013; Adi Efal, Warburgs Pathos Formula in Psychoanalytic and Benjaminian Contexts, Assaph, no. 5 (2000): 221 38; Villhauer, Aby Warburgs Theorie der Kultur, 87 103; Cornelia Zumbusch, Wissenschaft in Bildern: Symbol und dialektisches Bild in Aby Warburgs Mnemosyne-Atlas und Walter Benjamins Passagen-Werk (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2004), 31 127 and 246 81. 22. Cf. Michael Lwy, Juifs htrodoxes: Messianisme, romantisme, utopie (Paris: ditions de lclat, 2010). 23. Klaus Berger, Souvenirs sur Aby Warburg, Trac, no. 45 (2003): 100. 24 . Cf. Kurt Forster, Aby Warburgs History of Art: Collective Memory and the Social Mediation of Images, Daedalus 105.1 (1976 ): 169 76 ; Marianne Schuller, Unterwegs. Zum Gedchtnis: Nach Aby Warburg, in Denkrume: Zwischen Kunst und Wissenschaft, ed. Sylvia Baumgart, Gotlind Birkle, and Menthchild Fend (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1993), 149 60; Ulrich Port, Katharsis des Leidens: Aby Warburgs Pathosformeln und ihre konzeptionellen Hintergrnde in Rhetorik, Poetik und Tragdientheorie, Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift fr Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 73 (1999): 5 42.

Cassirer here obviously refers to two crucial and inseparable episodes in Warburgs life. The most deeply felt experience of which Cassirer speaks is Warburgs madness, which kept him enclosed, howling, and powerless, between the walls of the Kreuzlingen sanatorium. Cassirer was one of the very few to visit Warburg in the asylum (on April 10, 1924) and therefore knew at rsthand the visceral war that Warburg had to wage against his most intimate monstra. But Cassirer did not forget the historical context in which this conict took place. That Warburg kept himself in the center of the storm meant that his monstra, however deep, were not merely subjective but cultural as well. He might not have had his visceral war to wage, had there not been the social, obsidional, and sidereal war that Warburg, between 1914 and 1918, experienced intensely to the point of madness. It is no coincidence that in the midst of World War II, in 1942, Cassirer would devote himself to a study of the tragedy of culture, which is a notion, found in Hegel and Goethe as well as in Georg Simmels classic essay, that converges naturally with the anthropology of images dear to Warburg.26 Like Cassirer, Carl Georg Heise insisted on Warburgs indescribable suffering in the face of what he called the Weltkatastrophe.27 Warburg carried the war on his shoulders as a pagan Atlas or a Hebraic tzaddik would do: some 9 million dead and 21 million injured crippled, disgured surrounded the historian of the Nachleben in 1918 (g. 3). It is likely that Warburg grasped, as he always did with the episodes of art history, the events of the war from the perspective of a terrify25. Ernst Cassirer, loge funbre du professeur Aby M. Warburg, in Oeuvres, XII, crits sur lart (Paris: Le Cerf, 1995), 55 56. 26. Ernst Cassirer, Logique des sciences de la culture (Paris: Le Cerf, 1991), 211 12. See also Georg Simmel, Le concept et la tragdie de la culture, in La Tragdie de la culture et autres essais (Paris: ditions Rivages, 1988), 177 215. 27. Carl George Heise, Persnliche Erinnerungen an Aby Warburg (New York: Eric M. Warburg, 1947), 42 44.

Didi-Huber man

determined and delimited forms, self-contained forms, he saw moving forces; he saw what he called the great Pathosformel that Antiquity had created and left as a lasting patrimony to humanity. . . . But this capacity was not only the gift of the researcher, nor that of the artist. He delved here into his own, most deeply felt experience. In himself, he had experienced and learned what he was capable of grasping and interpreting, from the center of his own being and his own life. Early on he read the harsh words he was familiar with suffering, familiar with death. But from the heart of this suffering there came the force and the incomparable particularity of the gaze. Rarely has a researcher more deeply dissolved his deepest suffering into a gaze and thereby liberated it. . . . Warburg was not a scientist and a researcher in the impassive sense in which he might have contemplated, from on high, the playing out of life, or delighted aesthetically in the mirror of art. He always remained in the center of the storm and the whirlwind of life itself; he penetrated into its ultimate and deepest tragic problems.25

Wa r b u r g s Ha u n t e d H o u s e



Figure 3. Ernst Friedrich, Krieg dem Kriege! (Berlin, Internationales Kriegsmuseum, 1924), 214 (Gueule casse). Photo: Georges Didi-Huberman


ingly long dure, that of a European civil war in which the monstra threatened all human life and culture.28 That Warburg should sometimes have imagined that he was responsible for this war should not be interpreted solely in terms of his madness. Warburg, the man of culture, was at the center of a family of bankers who participated directly in the goals of the German economic war while acting, at the same time, on the level of global nance.29 Hence World War I, that tragedy for culture, was equally, in Aby Warburgs eyes, a tragedy in culture. We can imagine, for example, the upheaval he must have felt at the embrace of the word Kultur by German military propaganda, beginning in 1914, in contrast to the word Zivilisation the former meaning the eternal values of Germanic culture, and the latter the AngloFrench world of technological and economic utilitarianism. We can imagine, too, how Warburg, who understood culture in terms of spatial and temporal migrations (Wanderungen), would have regarded the aggressive closure of borders, the
28. See Enzo Traverso, feu et sang: De la guerre civile europenne, 1914 1945 (Paris: Stock, 2007), 9 21, 35 127. 29. Cf. Georges-Henri Soutou, LOr et le sang: Les buts de guerre conomiques de la Premire Guerre mondiale (Paris: Fayard, 1989), 33, 104 , 120 27, 373 76, 743 44 ; Ron Chernow, The Warburgs: The Twentieth- Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family (New York: Vintage, 1993), 141 90 ; Niall Ferguson, Max Warburg and German Politics: The Limits of Financial Power in Wilhelmine Germany, in Wilhelminism and Its Legacy: German Modernities, Imperialism, and the Meaning of Reform, 1890 1930, ed. Geoff Eley and James Retallack (Oxford: Bergham, 2003), 185 201.

development of trench warfare, and the immobility of the front lines, which he recorded, sometimes with a fevered anxiety, in his notebooks. The 1914 18 war was both a Kulturkrieg and a Bilderkrieg, mobilizing entire civil societies but above all the cultural elites.30 A great number of intellectuals joined the two fronts of the conict, more often than not with a patriotic and nationalist energy (to which even Warburg contributed).31 When discussing the European crisis that Pierre Renouvin has diagnosed,32 we should mention foremost the crisis of the mind to which Paul Valry pointed in 191933 (and which, in the era of World War II, was even more ruthlessly analyzed by Jewish thinkers of the next generation, such as Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Hannah Arendt, and Leo Strauss).34 The scale of this psychomachia may be measured, for instance, by the prodigious quantity of publications, testimonies, reections, and narratives devoted to the war as it was actually happening. The critic Julius Rab, who produced several anthologies during the war, estimated that there were 50,000 war poems sent every morning to the German newspapers during World War I. Toward the end of the rst year of the conict, some two hundred volumes of Kriegslyrik had been published in Germany,35 to say nothing of the war narratives produced, in which the entire spectrum of styles, from factual testimony to novels, was to be found in vast quantities.36
30. Cf. Jrgen Kocka, Facing Total War: German Society, 1914 1918 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984); Christophe Prochasson, La guerre en ses cultures, in Histoire culturelle de la Grande Guerre, ed. JeanJacques Becker (Paris: Armand Colin, 2005), 255 71; Prochasson, 1914 1918. Retours dexpriences (Paris: Tallandier, 2008), 51 67. 31. See Roland N. Stromberg, Redemption by War: The Intellectuals and 1914 (Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, 1982); Aviel Roshwald and Richard Stites, eds., European Culture in the Great War: The Arts, Entertainment, and Propaganda, 1914 18 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); Vincenzo Cali, Gustavo Corni, and Giuseppe Ferrandi, eds., Gli intellettuali e la Grande guerra (Bologna: Societ Editrice Il Mulino, 2000); Philippe Soulez, ed., Les Philosophes et la guerre de 14 (Saint-Denis: Presses Universitaires de Vincennes, 1988); Martha Hanna, The Mobilization of Intellect: French Scholars and Writers during the Great War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996 ), 78 105; Christophe Prochasson and Anne Rasmussen, Au nom de la Patrie: Les intellectuels et la Premire Guerre mondiale, 1910 1919 (Paris: La Dcouverte, 1996); Prochasson, 1914 1918: Retours dexpriences, 273 361; John A. Moses, Pan-Germanism and the German Professors, 1914 1918, Australian Journal of Politics and History 15.3 (1969): 45 60; Wolfgang J. Mommsen, ed., Kultur und Krieg: Die Rolle der Intellektuellen, Knstler und Schriftsteller im Ersten Weltkrieg (Munich: R. Oldenbourg Verlag, 1996); Peter Jelavich, German Culture in

the Great War, in Roshwald and Stites, European Culture in the Great War, 32 57; B. Vom Brocke, La guerra degli intellettuali tedeschi, in Cali, Corni, and Ferrandi, Gli intellettuali e la Grande guerra, 373 409. 32. Pierre Renouvin, La Crise europenne et la Premire Guerre mondiale (1904 1918) (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1969), 5 130. 33. Paul Valry, La crise de lesprit, in Oeuvres, I, ed. Jean Hytier (Paris: Gallimard, 1957), 988 1000. 34 . Cf. Walter Benjamin, Critique de la violence, in Oeuvres, I (Paris: Gallimard, 2000), 210 43; Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, La Dialectique de la raison: Fragments philosophiques (Paris: Gallimard, 1974), 13 20; Hannah Arendt, La crise de la culture: Sa porte sociale et politique, in La Crise de la culture: Huit exercices de pense politique (1972; Paris: Gallimard, 1989), 253 88; Leo Strauss, La crise de notre temps, in Nihilisme et politique (2001; Paris: Payot and Rivages, 2004), 81 117. Cf. Corine Pelluchon, Leo Strauss: Une autre raison, dautres Lumires. Essai sur la crise de la rationalit contemporaine (Paris: Vrin, 2005), 7 39. 35. Christophe Didier, Orages de papier: 1914 1918 (Paris: Somogy, 2008), 18. 36. For generals works, see Lon Riegel, Guerre et littrature: Le bouleversement des consciences dans la littrature romanesque inspire par la Grande Guerre (littratures franaise, anglo- saxonne et allemande), 1910 30 (Paris:

Didi-Huber man

Wa r b u r g s Ha u n t e d H o u s e


The intrinsic content of the psychomachia is difcult to formulate, but, given Warburgs arguments for a methodological broadening of boundaries, we could say that a parallel war was being waged in Europe over the boundaries of thought.37 Numerous writers and intellectuals sought to reclose boundaries that had already begun to open and to join the ghting in the trenches, where perspectives were entrenched on the historiographical front lines. In his ction Ernst Jnger, for example, glories immemorial warriors and justies combat as an inner experience and as the advent of a new world, while celebrating the dark magic of a total mobilization guided by the spirit of heroism.38 Even after the war, he argued that the essential thing is the saving of a particular nomos, a mode of being that afrms itself in culture and that we protect in combat.39 Jngers ideas are close to those of Carl Schmitt on sovereignty and on the nomos of the earth, which must be defended from any invasion, any contamination, and every enemy.40 Likewise Oswald Spengler, in his preface to the rst edition of The Decline of the West (dated December 1917), hoped that his book might not be entirely unworthy of the military sacrices of Germany.41 Warburg, on the other hand, extended a hand to intellectual friends in countries at war with Germany, for instance, through the publication of a Rivista
37. Aby Warburg, Art italien et astrologie internationale au Palazzo Schifanoia Ferrare, Essais orentins (Paris: Klincksieck, 1990), 215. Cf. Georges Didi-Huberman, LImage survivante: Histoire de lart et temps des fantmes selon Aby Warburg (Paris: Minuit, 2002), 35 50. 38. Ernst Jnger, Orages dacier: Journal de guerre (Paris: Christian Bourgois, 1970), 5 and 31; Jnger, La Guerre comme exprience intrieure (1997; Paris: Christian Bourgois, 2008); Jnger, Le Boqueteau 125 (2000; Paris: Christian Bourgois, 2008), 8 9 ; Jnger, Feu et movement [original title: Mathmatique guerrire], in Le Boqueteau 125, 195 208; Jnger, La mobilisation totale, in Ltat universel, suivi de La Mobilisation totale (Paris: Gallimard, 1990), 17; Jnger, Das Antlitz des Weltkrieges (Berlin: Neufeld and Henius Verlag, 1930); Jnger and Edmund Schultz, Die vernderte Welt: Eine Bilderbel unserer Zeit (Breslau: Wilhelm G. Korn, 1933). 39 . Jnger, Le Mur du temps (1963; Paris: Gallimard, 1994), 98. 40. Carl Schmitt, Thologie politique. Quatre chapitres sur la thorie de la souverainet, in Thologie politique (Paris: Gallimard, 1988), 1 75; Schmitt, Le Nomos de la Terre dans le droit des gens du Jus Publicum Europaeum (2001; Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2008), 70 86 (on nomos) and 256 78 (on the Great War). 41. Oswald Spengler, Le Dclin de lOccident: Esquisse dune morphologie de lhistoire universelle (1948; Paris: Gallimard, 1976), 11.



Klincksieck, 1978); Jean Kaempfer, Potique du rcit de guerre (Paris: Jos Corti, 1998), 211 73; Nicolas Beaupr, crire en guerre, crire la guerre: France, Allemagne, 1914 20 (Paris: CNRS, 2006). For works about wartime France, see Jean Vic, La Littrature de guerre: Manuel mthodique et critique des publications de langue franaise (aot 1914 aot 1916) (Paris: Payot, 1918); Andr Ducasse, La Guerre raconte par les combattants: Anthologie des crivains du front (1914 18) (Paris: Flammarion, 1932); Maurice Rieuneau, Guerre et rvolution dans le roman franais de 1919 1939 (Geneva: Slatkine Reprints, 2000), 11 215; Leonard V. Smith, Le corps et la survie dune identit dans les crits de guerre franais, Annales: Histoire, sciences sociales 55.1 (2000): 111 33; Bernard Giovanangeli, ed., crivains combattants de la Grande Guerre (Paris: Bernard Giovanangeli-Ministre de la Dfense, 2004); Prochasson, 1914 1918: Retours dexpriences, 161 272. For works about wartime Germany, see Maurice Boucher, Le Roman allemand (1914 1933) et la crise de lesprit: Mythologie des inquitudes (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1961); Klaus Vondong, ed., Kriegserlebnis: Der Erste Weltkrieg in der literarischen Gestaltung und symbolischen Deutung der Nationen (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1980); Hermann Korte, Der Krieg in der Lyrik des Expressionismus: Studien zur Evolution eines literarischen Themas (Bonn: Bouvier, 1981); Hans-Harald Mller, Der Krieg und die Schriftsteller: Der Kriegsroman der Weimarer Republik (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1986).

illustrata in 1914 and 1915 (gs. 4 and 5).42 His suffering in the face of the conict, though, never brought him farther than a defense of deserters and pacists, and a refusal to participate in war-related activity himself.43 But Warburgs inuence is detectable in the more vehement reections on the war of, for instance, Karl Kraus the anti-Jnger par excellence. Kraus depicted the Great War in mythological terms:
What mythological confusion is this? Since when has Mars become the god of commerce and Mercury the god of war? . . . I understand sacri-

42. Aby Warburg, Georg Thilenius, and Giulio Pancon celli- Calzia, eds., La Guerra del 1914 15: Rivista illustrata dei mesi Novembre Dicembre Gennaio Febbraio (Hamburg: Broschek, 1915). Cf. A. Spagnolo-Stiff, Lappello di Aby Warburg a unintesa italo-tedesca: La guerra del 1914 1915. Rivista illustrata, in Storia dellarte e politica culturale intorno al 1900: La fondazione dellIstituto Germanico di Storia dellArte di Firenze, ed. Max Seidel (Venice: Marsilio, 1999), 249 69 ; Dorothea McEwan, Ein Kampf gegen Windmhlen: Warburgs pro-italienische publizis-

tische Initiative, in Kasten 117: Aby Warburg und der Aberglaube im Ersten Weltkrieg, ed. Gottfried Korff (Tbingen: Tbinger Vereinigung fr Volkskunde, 2007), 135 63. 43. Cf. Luc Rasson, crire contre la guerre: Littrature et pacismes, 1916 38 (Paris: LHarmattan, 1997); Andr Loez, 14 18. Les refus de la guerre, 19141918. Une histoire des mutins (Paris: Gallimard, 2010).

Didi-Huber man

Wa r b u r g s Ha u n t e d H o u s e

Figure 4. La Guerra del 1914. Rivista illustrata for the rst three months, August, September, October (Hamburg: Broschek, 1914)



Figure 5. La Guerra del 1914 15. Rivista illustrata for the months of November, December, January, February (Hamburg: Broschek, 1915)


cing cotton for ones life. But the other way round? People who adore fetishes will never go so low as to think that the commodity has a soul. . . . Each state is at war with its own culture. Instead of being at war with its own unculture. . . . What is undertaken for the prot of the state is often achieved at the cost of the world.44

By 1909, long before he tied the rise of Nazism to the Last Days of Mankind,45 Kraus had shown how the motifs of progress and apocalypse can combine.46 In opposition to the politics of classing other nations as enemies and closing ones borders to them, Kraus (among others) embodied a genuine cosmopolitanism of the Warburgian kind. In offering the most rigorous and abundant formulations of cosmopolitan politics, Benjamin publicly defended Kraus and, at the same

44. Karl Kraus, La Nuit venue (Paris: Lebovic, 1986), 105, 109, 123. 45. Karl Kraus, The Last Days of Mankind (New York: Ungar, 1974). Cf. Jacques Bouveresse and Gerald Stieg, eds., Les Guerres de Karl Kraus, special issue of Agone: Histoire, Politique et Sociologie, nos. 35 36 (2006 ); Jacques

Bouveresse, Satire et prophtie: Les voix de Karl Kraus (Marseille: Agone, 2007), 39 120. 46. Karl Kraus, Le progrs, in La Littrature dmolie (1990 ; Paris: Payot and Rivages, 1993), 137 46; Kraus, Apocalypse, in La Littrature dmolie, 147 64.

Storyteller invokes immemorial survivals in the popular art of storytelling.50 These survivals he understands as a means of calling upon Mnemosyne across the tragedies of culture, in facing which Clio could only become sick sick (according to Charles Pguy in 1917) of modern barbarities.51

Warburg Facing the War: Notizksten 115 118 World War I left no one the opportunity to remain indifferent or unscathed. Some were plunged into the heart of combat. The ethnologist Robert Hertz, student and friend of Marcel Mauss, died at the front in the Meuse in April 1915, not without having left behind while on duty traces of his enlightened thinking.52 One of the two great founders of the Annales school, Lucien Febvre, fought on the fronts of Ourcq, in Reims and Douaumont: he was the initiator and theoretician of a method of combat called crossring, but meanwhile he never stopped lling notebooks, making maps of the front lines, drawing what he saw around him, collecting photographs (g. 6).53 He never really integrated this experience of the war into his later analyses except, perhaps not accidentally, in his text entitled

47. Walter Benjamin, Thories du fascisme allemand. propos de louvrage collectif Guerre et guerriers publi sous la direction dErnst Jnger, Oeuvres, II (Paris: Gallimard, 2000), 198 215; Benjamin, Karl Kraus, Oeuvres, II (Paris: Gallimard, 2000), 228 73. Cf. Michel Vanoosthuyse, Fascisme et littrature pure: La fabrique dErnst Jnger (Marseille: Agone, 2005). 48. Walter Benjamin, Experience and Poverty (1933), in Selected Writings, vol. 2, trans. Rodney Livingstone (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 731. 49. Benjamin, La crise du roman: propos de Berlin Alexanderplatz de Dblin, in Oeuvres, II, 189 97, 192.

50. Benjamin, Le conteur: Rflexions sur luvre de Nicolas Leskov, in Oeuvres, III (Paris: Gallimard, 2000), 114 51. 51. Charles Pguy, Clio (1932; Paris: Gallimard, 2002), 17. 52. Robert Hertz, Un ethnologue dans les tranches, aot 1914 avril 1915: Lettres sa femme Alice, ed. Alexandre Riley and Philippe Besnard (Paris: CNRS, 2002). 53. Cf. Henri Febvre, Lucien Febvre, mon pre, postface to Lucien Febvre, Vivre lhistoire, ed. Brigitte Mazon (Paris: Robert Laffont-Armand Colin, 2009), 993. I wish to thank Henri Febvre and Brigitte Mazon for giving me access to these documents.

Didi-Huber man

time, exposed the fascist component of Jngers writing, its glorication of war [made as] an unbridled transposition of the theses of art for arts sake.47 The author of One-Way Street did not confuse the scale of the European psychomachia with its actual content: he was able to diagnose a crisis of narrative corresponding to the crisis of history. Positivist historicity was not an epistemic model through which the present could any longer be deciphered and understood. In Experience and Poverty, Benjamin dared to say, contradicting the patriotic and heroic proprieties that in 1918 people returned from the front . . . not richer but poorer in communicable experience.48 In The Crisis of the Novel, he suggested, following the example of Alfred Dblin, that we can see in documentary montage an alternative to the dead ends of traditional narrative, including the war narrative of epic ambitions.49 Benjamins essay The

Wa r b u r g s Ha u n t e d H o u s e




Figure 6. Lucien Febvre, Carnet de guerre, 1914 18. Ink and colored pencils on paper, 16 x 25 cm. Collection Henri Febvre. Photo: DR

Living through History of 1943.54 Marc Bloch, Annaless other founder, elaborated on his experience in the trenches by accumulating plans, lists, reports of operations, stories, drawings of friends, and photographs of devastated nature (gs. 7 and 8).55 After World War I, he would publish Rexions dun historien sur les fausses nouvelles de la guerre (1921) and, after World War II, Critique historique et critique du tmoignage (1950).56 Blochs analyses are parallel to those of Warburg, whose work Bloch undoubtedly did not know. The parallels between the attitudes of Bloch and Warburg to the war have been well analyzed by Ulrich Raulff.57 It would be worth extending this analysis to questions of method; for example, their shared comparativism and their mutual interest in the historical content of images.58 As Reinhart Koselleck has shown, any muta54. Lucien Febvre, Vivre lhistoire, in Vivre lhistoire, 21 35. 55. Marc Bloch, crits et photographies de guerre, in LHistoire, la Guerre, la Rsistance, ed. Annette Becker and tienne Bloch (Paris: Gallimard, 2006 ), 111 292. I wish to thank Yves Bloch for giving me access to his notebooks. 56. Bloch, Critique historique et critique du tmoignage, in LHistoire, la Guerre, la Rsistance, 97 107. Bloch, Rexions dun historien sur les fausses nouvelles de la guerre, in LHistoire, la Guerre, la Rsistance, 293 316. 57. Ulrich Raulff, Parallel gelesen: Die Schriften von Aby Warburg und Marc Bloch zwischen 1914 und 1924, in Bredekamp et al., Aby Warburg, 167 78. 58. Cf. Bloch, Pour une histoire compare des socits europennes, in LHistoire, la Guerre, la Rsistance, 347 80 ; Bloch, Photographies ariennes, muses, arts populaires, in LHistoire, la Guerre, la Rsistance, 393 406. Bloch, Projet dun enseignement dhistoire compare des socits europennes: Candidature au Collge de France, in LHistoire, la Guerre, la Rsistance, 443 50.

Figure 7. Marc Bloch, Carnet de guerre, 1914 18. Photographs pasted on cardboard, 23 x 20 cm. Collection Yves Bloch. Photo: Georges Didi-Huberman

Figure 8. Marc Bloch, Carnet de guerre, 1914 18. Photographs pasted on cardboard, 23 x 20 cm. Collection Yves Bloch. Photo: Georges Didi-Huberman

Didi-Huber man

Wa r b u r g s Ha u n t e d H o u s e


tion of experience implies a change of method in the work of a historian.59 Of course, my own hypothesis regarding Warburg is that this change, which was of epistemological signicance, was embodied in the Mnemosyne Atlas and in the theoretical orientation that its compilation brought to light. It was as a man of the Enlightenment that Aby Warburg rst of all wanted to respond to the irrational fury of the world conict. While the family bank naturally participated in the German war effort, he himself had to attend painfully to the Jewish census ( Judenzhlung) ordered in October 1916 by army ofcers who wanted to expose the so-called underrepresentation of Jewish combatants on the front.60 Warburg thought, however, that the astra could ght efciently with the monstra on the ground of ideas and so devoted much energy to founding, with the ethnologist Georg Thilenius and the linguist Giulio Panconcelli-Calzia, the Rivista illustrata already mentioned, in order to maintain the European intellectual tissue so as, notably, not to cut German intellectuals off from their Italian colleagues.61 We can read, for example, in the Rivista a note by the director of the Berlin museums, Wilhelm von Bode, on the duty of protecting works of art in enemy territory, along with a factual account of religious persecutions on the Russian front.62 Faced with a war that he considered, on an anthropological and even metaphysical level, an Urkatastrophe, Warburg pursued his work as a struggle against certain ideas (those that set man against man, that seek to close borders or dig trenches) and, on the other hand, as a struggle on behalf of other ideas (those that open borders, that recognize the porosity of cultures and trace the perpetual migrations of intellect). He was enthusiastic about the idea of a League of Nations and about efforts toward the reconciliation of Germany and France. When, in 1926, Aristide Briand and Adolf Stresemann received the Nobel Prize for Peace in the name of that difcult reconciliation, Warburg undertook the publication of a postage stamp a cross-border image with a signicant motto: Idea vincit.63 This formulation appears as well in his manuscript for the



59 . Reinhart Koselleck, Mutation de lexprience et changement de mthode: Esquisse historico- anthropologique, in LExprience de lhistoire (Paris: Gallimard, 1997), 201 47. 60. Cf. Chernow, Warburgs, 141 90; Schoell-Glass, Aby Warburg und der Antisemitismus, 119 53; Mark A. Russell, Between Tradition and Modernity: Aby Warburg and the Public Purposes of Art in Hamburg, 1896 1918 (New York: Berghahn, 2007), 180 219. 61. Warburg, Thilenius, and Panconcelli- Calzia, La Guerra del 1914. Cf. Spagnolo-Stiff, Lappello di Aby Warburg; Dorothea McEwan, Idea Vincit. La volante e vottoriosa idea: Una commissione artistica di Aby Warburg, in Lo sguardo di Giano: Aby Warburg fra tempo e memoria, ed. Claudia Cierivia and Pietro Montani (Turin-

Racconigi: Aragno, 2004), 345 76; Paolo Sanvito, Warburg, lantagonismo Italia-Germania e la Guerra: Analisi di un cortocircuito politico e interiore, in Aby Warburg e la cultura italiana: Fra sopravvivenze e prospettive di ricerca, ed. Cierivia and Micol Forti (Rome: Sapienza Universit di Roma-Mondadori Universit, 2009), 51 62. 62. Warburg, Thilenius, and Panconcelli- Calzia, La Guerra del 1914, 16, 22 23. 63. Cf. Ulrich Raulff, Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg einer Idee Idea Vincit: Warburg, Stresemann und die Briefmarke, Vortrge aus dem Warburg-Haus 6 (2002): 125 62; McEwan, Idea Vincit, 345 76.

Grundbegriffe: The idea overcomes everything is possible (Idea vincit alles ist mglich).64 But the founder of modern iconology knew that any cultural psychomachia will be embodied in polarized images that, successively, translate and betray ideas, make them in turn accessible and incomprehensible, simplied or placed in mises en abymes. Thus Warburgs battle of ideas was accompanied by a battle of images: a struggle against certain images (propaganda, lies, antiSemitism) in favor of others (survivals, comparisons, deconstructions of ideology). This struggle presupposed, in Warburgs mind, collecting documentation on the war, and the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek began to accumulate an extensive collection of the kind at the very start of the hostilities. If we bear in mind the private or familial character of the research institution that Warburg founded, the amount of material it amassed regarding the war is considerable. At least fteen hundred such works were acquired by the Library between 1914 and 1918, and innumerable photographs around 5,000, according to the catalog, though many have been lost, probably during the transfer of the Library to London in 1933. Today one can consult some 1,445 war-related items, distributed in three catalogs. There are press photographs, images bought for use by the German army, postcards, postage stamps. . . . Even if reduced to a third of its original quantity, and even if Warburg seems to have given up organizing it into an atlas, this iconographic documentation gives one an impression like that given by the plates of Mnemosyne: both are brilliantly organized disorders, profusions of images in which extraordinary afnities appear, sending us back to the most fundamental motifs of the Warburgian Kulturwissenschaft. We are confronted in these images with monuments of a longue dure, collapsed under bombs, and with Doric columns speckled with the impact of machine-gun bullets (g. 9). There are aerial perspectives, most of a lunar or prehistoric appearance, suggesting that destruction leads to archaeology (g. 10). On the ground, the front is overrun with barbed wire and the vegetation devastated, as if in an exaggeratedly blackened engraving, a ghostly landscape in the manner of Hercules Segers, or the remains of an apocalypse drawn by an Expressionist painter (g. 11). Everywhere the stigmata of the Urkatastrophe, but everywhere, equally, we nd signs of the devastations technological management, as in documents where the military demands that the war be reproducible in photographic or cinematographic images (g. 12). In this nightmare collection, aerial explosions, the terrifying new technology of this war, disseminate pretty little white clouds in the sky, similar to those that art historians are accustomed to seeing in paintings of the Italian Primitives (g. 13). The image of a dirigible hit by a

64. Warburg, Mnemosyne. Grundbegriffe II, 1 (dated July 6, 1929).

Didi-Huber man

Wa r b u r g s Ha u n t e d H o u s e




Figure 9. Aby Warburg, Kriegskartothek, 1914 18, Warburg Institute Archive, A 2611. Photo: The Warburg Institute, London

Figure 10. Aby Warburg, Kriegskartothek, 1914 18, Warburg Institute Archive, T 4156. Photo: The Warburg Institute, London

Figure 11. Aby Warburg, Kriegskartothek, 1914 18, Warburg Institute Archive, T 3421. Photo: The Warburg Institute, London

Figure 12. Aby Warburg, Kriegskartothek, 1914 18, Warburg Institute Archive, T 3597. Photo: The Warburg Institute, London

Didi-Huber man

Wa r b u r g s Ha u n t e d H o u s e


ghter plane has both the implacable appearance of a technological document and the pathos of a mythological fall, somewhere between the chariot of Phaeton and the plunging of the damned into hell (g. 14). The image of a horse bizarrely suspended above the sea has the involuntary splendor of a shot by Sergei Eisenstein (g. 15). But batches of canes stacked in a carvers workshop remind us of how the war crippled, disgured, and reduced men (g. 16). Elsewhere appear, one after another, in an apparent jumble, military parades, the gestural language of maritime signaling, Hagia Sophia at Constantinople occupied by the German army, the searchlights of antiaircraft defenses at night, villages in ruins, mock-ups for battleeld strategy, catalogs for paper clothing, carcasses of tanks, women weeping farewells for departing sailors, church altars covered in military commemorative plaques, ships exploding, the equipment on gun turrets, the funeral of a Jew (killed in combat?), naval shipyards in full activity, bombs left on a beach, houses destroyed from the inside, bridges broken in two, monuments to the dead, army libraries, the meeting of the very latest submarine and a sailing ship from a previous century, the reprocessing of trash, subterranean vehicles, an elephant from a zoo requisitioned for the war effort, wide-open cofns, dismantled pylons, an orchestra at the front, eld ambulances, a blockhouse in the forest, breadmaking in a time of shortage, rations tickets, misery in the streets, a row of ayed cattle in an abattoir, a makeshift military cemetery, soldiers occupying a shtetl in central Europe, an Orthodox Easter procession on the Eastern front. . . . It is clear that, in Warburgs eyes, this iconographic cacophony meant as much as the gestural disorder of an attack of hysteria would have meant in the eyes of Freud. This visual kaleidoscope was for Warburg a collection of symptoms, working outside, crossing surfaces, swarming in depths. Given the necessity of interpreting the symptoms in all their manifestations, Warburg established, at the heart of his Library, a set of tools for archiving and classifying into les the innumerable motifs of this great modern psychomachia. His Kriegskartothek comprised, in 1918, seventy-two boxes, holding 90,000 les.65 What remains today, in the London archive, are three boxes of les (Notizksten), numbered 115, 117, and 118, that bear witness to the intense methodological enterprise the historical, archaeological, philosophical, and philological work carried out by Warburg and his collaborators on the iconographic materials that he collected. Claudia Wedepohl went through these boxes in 2002. Kasten 115 is titled War and Culture (Krieg und Kultur): it comprises a list of objects (medals, postcards, war museums), as well as theoretical tools necessary for the lists



65. Cf. Gottfried Korff, Einleitung, in Korff, Kasten 117, 11; P. J. Schwartz, Aby Warburgs Kriegskartothek: Vorbericht einer Rekonstruktion, in Korff, Kasten 117, 39 69.

Figure 13. Aby Warburg, Kriegskartothek, 1914 18, Warburg Institute Archive, T 4632. Photo: The Warburg Institute, London

Figure 14. Aby Warburg, Kriegskartothek, 1914 18, Warburg Institute Archive, T 4809. Photo: The Warburg Institute, London

Didi-Huber man

Wa r b u r g s Ha u n t e d H o u s e




Figure 15. Aby Warburg, Kriegskartothek, 1914 18, Warburg Institute Archive, A 193. Photo: The Warburg Institute, London

Figure 16. Aby Warburg, Kriegskartothek, 1914 18, Warburg Institute Archive, A 383. Photo: The Warburg Institute, London

Toward a Critical Anthropology of the War The project in cultural history and iconology that Warburg undertook on the Great War belongs to those paper storms that, beginning in 1914, were unleashed around the European intellectual world. His undertaking belongs, more specically, to the German phenomenon of Kriegssammlungen, war collections, which ourished on a large scale; notably, at the Kaiserliche Universitts und Landesbibliothek of Strasbourg (which, by the end of the nineteenth century, had become a model for Warburgs future Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek), the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, the Deutsche Bcherei of Leipzig, and the university library of Jena. There were also the extraordinary private collections of Theodor Bergmann in Frth and of Richard Franck in Berlin and Stuttgart, the latter a veritable institution, employing no fewer than twenty-four people full time and in 1921 holding about 45,000 works (plus 2,150 periodical titles).68 A work by Albert Buddecke on the German Kriegssammlungen, which appeared in 1917, already listed 217 collections, public and private, devoted to the Great War.69 But what radically differentiates the Warburgian project from all of these collections, often put on show in public exhibitions for patriotic ends, is of course its critical content.70 Warburg opened the way to a genuine political iconology
66. Korff, Kasten 117. 67. London, Warburg Institute Archive, IV.64.1. 68. Cf. Didier, Orages de Papier, 16 27. 69. Albert Buddecke, Die Kriegssammlungen: Ein Nachweis ihrer Einrichtung und ihres Bestandes (Oldenburg: Gerhard Stalling, 1917). Cf. Anke te Heesen, Schnitt 1915: Zeitungsausschnittsammlungen im Ersten Weltkrieg, in Korff, Kasten 117, 71 85; Alexandra Kaiser, . . . das Material zu sammeln, das dieser Krieg in solcher Flle schuf wie keiner vorher: Kriegssammlungen und

Kriegssammler im Ersten Weltkrieg, in Korff, Kasten 117, 87 115. 70 . Cf. Susanne Brandt, Vom Kriegsschauplatz zum Gedchtnisraum: Die Westfront 1914 49 (Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 2000) and Exposer la Grande Guerre: La Premire Guerre mondiale reprsente dans les expositions en Allemagne de 1914 nos jours, in Becker, Histoire culturelle de la Grande Guerre, 139 55; Christine Beil, Der augestellte Krieg: Prsentationen des Ersten Weltkrieges 1914 1939 (Tbingen: Tbinger Vereinigung fr Volkskunde, 2005).

Didi-Huber man

interpretation (the sociology of Max Weber, for example). Kasten 117 is devoted more particularly to the superstitions of war (Aberglaube im Krieg) and gathers all kinds of material, both historical and ethnological, and has already been the subject of a conference (g. 17).66 Kasten 118 is entitled War and Art (Krieg und Kunst) and covers a considerable eld, from propaganda images to the futurist manifestos of F. W. Marinetti. A diary consisting of 134 pages on metal rings, completes this apparatus by establishing the basis for an index in which the various writings reveal their collective engagement in and around Warburgs project. The entries of this index range from the Prehistory of the war to the different geographical sectors of its occurrence, and from Religion to Techniques of Hygiene, Poetry, Ethics, Munitions Factories, War Literature, Celestial Figures, and Cinema.67

Wa r b u r g s Ha u n t e d H o u s e



Figure 17. Aby Warburg, Kasten 117, 1914 18, Warburg Institute Archive. Photo: The Warburg Institute, London


and, consequently, to all of the historical and anthropological analyses (which ourish today) of images produced in the time of the Great War.71 His war collection was guided, indeed, by anthropological concerns, which explains his early transcendence of the then-established hierarchy, in which works of art rank well above other images in a crowded visual eld. The works of war art acquired by
71. Cf. Bodo von Dewitz, Zur Geschichte der Kriegsphotographie des Ersten Weltkrieges, in Die letzten Tage der Menschheit: Bilder des Ersten Weltkrieges, ed. Rainer Rother (Berlin: Deutsches Historisches Museum-Ars Nicolai, 1994), 163 76; Thomas Noll, Sinnbild und Erzhlung: Zur Ikonographie des Krieges in den Zeitschriftenillustrationen 1914 bis 1918, in Rother, Die letzten Tage, 259 72; Alain Sayag, Wir sagten Adieu einer ganzen Epoche (Apollinaire). Franzsische Kriegsphotographie, in Rother, Die letzten Tage, 187 96 ; Dieter Vorsteher, Bilder fr den Sieg: Das Plakat im Ersten Weltkrieg, in Rother, Die letzten Tage, 149 62; Marie-Monique Huss, Histoires de famille: Cartes postales et culture de guerre (Paris: Nosis, 2000); Jean-Marie Linsolas, La photographie et la guerre: Un miroir du vrai? in Vrai et faux dans la Grande Guerre, ed. Christophe Prochasson and Anne Rasmussen (Paris: La Dcouverte, 2004), 96 111; Gerhard Paul, Bilder des Krieges, Krieg der Bilder: Die Visualisierung des modernen Krieges (Paderborn-Munich: Ferdinand Schningh-Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2004), 103 71; Paul, Visual History: Ein Studienbuch (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2006 ); Stephne Audoin-Rouzeau, Combattre: Une anthropologie historique de la guerre moderne (XIXe XXIe sicle) (Paris: Le Seuil, 2008), 99 145.

Dumzil, and Franco Cardini would later ground historically.76 Much recent historiography of the Great War has adopted this anthropological viewpoint.77 Some historians have written of the war from the perspective of myth,78 but by now most have at least taken account of the difculties intrinsic to distinguishing what are beliefs or rumors from what are facts or testimonies, notably on the controversial question of German atrocities.79 The historian can legitimately try to distinguish true from false in this generalized system of uncertainty, constantly interweaving its competing discourses; but the

72. Cf. Kriegsbilder, 1, ed. Garde-Reserve-Division (Selbstver, 1917); Konrad Escher, Kunst, Krieg und Krieger: Zur Geschichte der Kriegsdarstellungen (Zurich: Rascher, 1917); War Pictures, ed. Imperial War Museum (London: Walter Judd, 1919). 73. Warburg, intro. to Mnmosyne, 39 40. 74. Cf. Ralph Winkle, Masse und Magie. Anmerkungen zu einem Interpretament der Aberglaubensforschung whrend des Ersten Weltkriegs, in Korff, Kasten 117, 261 99. 75. Cf. Georges Bataille, La Sociologie sacre du monde contemporain, ed. Simonetta Falasca Zamponi (Paris: ditions Lignes and Manifestes, 2004); Roger Caillois, Quatre essais de sociologie contemporaine (Paris: Olivier Perrin, 1951), 75 153; Didi-Huberman, Ressemblance informe, 31 164; Denis Hollier, ed., Le Collge de sociologie, 1937 1939 (Paris: Gallimard, 1995), 403 59, 494 501, and 607 40. 76. Cf. Ernst H. Kantorowicz, Mourir pour la patrie (Pro Patria Mori ) dans la pense politique mdivale, in Mourir pour la patrie et autres textes (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1984), 105 41; Georges Dumzil, Heur et malheur du guerrier: Aspects mythiques de la fonction guer-

rire chez les Indo-Europens (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1969) (republished Paris: Flammarion, 1996); France Cardini, La Culture de la guerre, Xe XVIIIe sicle (Paris: Gallimard, 1992). 77. Cf. Antoine Prost and Jay Winter, Penser la Grande Guerre: Un essai dhistoriographie (Paris: Seuil, 2004), 209 33; Becker, Histoire culturelle de la Grande Guerre; Audoin-Rouzeau, Combattre. 78. Cf. Mario Isnenghi, Il mito della grande guerra (1989; Bologne: Societ Editrice Il Mulino, 1997), 179 260. 79. Cf. John Horne and Alan Kramer, German Atrocities, 1914: A History of Denial (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001); Olivier Forcade, Information, censure et propagande, in Encyclopdie de la Grande Guerre 1914 1918: Histoire et culture, ed. Stphane AudoinRouzeau and Jean-Jacques Becker (Paris: Bayard, 2004), 451 64 ; Prochasson, 1914 1918: Retours dexpriences, 13 14 and 69 121.

Didi-Huber man

the Library in Hamburg between 1914 and 1918 are outstanding for their mediocrity.72 A psychomachia, unlike the events treated by art history, is not susceptible to temporal or other limits that a careful methodology might impose, and it instead will launch a vast anthropology of images and an analysis of the beliefs that they recongure and ceaselessly retransform. Kasten 117 was the object of specialist attention because its subject, the superstitions of war, entered directly into such an anthropological design. It is clear, for example, that fundamental motifs of the Mnemosyne project like the unsettling duality of triumph and martyrdom, or the crucial notion of demonization73 were already at work in Warburgs Kriegskartothek.74 It is not by chance that the disastrous anthropomorphisms that Bataille and his friends examined in the journal Documents between 1929 and 1930 should have ended up under the inuence of Marcel Mausss work as the theme of a Collge de sociologie whose discussions, between 1937 and 1939,75 drafted an anthropology of war that Ernst Kantorowicz, Georges

Wa r b u r g s Ha u n t e d H o u s e


anthropologist or the archaeologist of discourses, la Michel Foucault will situate any critique of language and images on another level.80 Warburg characterized that level as Kulturwissenschaft and just as one must not confuse the Kriegskartothek of Warburg with the patriotic Kriegssammlungen that were its contemporaries, so one must dissociate the problems posed by Kasten 117 from the positivist issues raised in historical writings of the period that classed the superstitions of war as simply errors. Examples of this distinction abound. Contrast Waldemar Deonnas article of 1916, The Increase of Superstitions in Times of War, with Yves de la Brires critique, written in the same year, of prophetic oracles that proliferated from the beginning of the conict.81 Or again, contrast Lucien Roures 1917 Superstitions du front de guerre with Guillaume Apollinaires more cheerful and far less accusatory Superstitions de guerre, also of 1917.82 In 1918, Albert Dauzat devoted a book to the legends and superstitions of war, in which the positivist viewpoint, deriving straight from Auguste Comte or Gustave Le Bon, is clearly stated:
All troubled periods, and in particular in wartime, by increasing the general anxiety and credulousness, give birth to a great number of false rumors that, since they correspond to the general state of mind, are quick to be accepted by the simple minds of the masses. Acting on weak and sensitive brains, these rumors provoke hallucinations, even prophetic visions. Finally, as dangers multiply, the rumors tend to waken and develop ancestral superstitions. Despite the advanced state of our civilization, the global conict could not escape this law. To the curious observer it has offered an abundant and picturesque selection of the most varied facts, of which we would not have suspected, ve years ago, the possible and fast, as well as multiple appearance around us.83



Against this simplistic viewpoint (which is an evolutionist perspective, in the trivial sense of the term), the Warburgian analysis of the Nachleben rendered possible an understanding, at a much more fundamental level, of the anachronistic coexistence of a hypermodern war with so many archaisms of social behavior. The psychohistorical viewpoint associated with the Nachleben made such paradoxes of temporality intelligible, with Warburg showing himself in 1916 17 to be once again close to Freuds analyses, in this case dening the indissoluble
80. Cf. Prochasson and Rasmussen, Vrai et faux, 9 32. 81. Waldemar Deonna, La recrudescence des superstitions en temps de guerre et les statues clous, LAnthropologie 27 (1916): 243 68. Yves de La Brire, Le destin de lEmpire allemand et les oracles prophtiques (Paris: Beauchesne, 1916). 82. Guillaume Apollinaire, Contributions ltude des Superstitions de guerre, in Oeuvres en prose compltes, II, ed. Pierre Caizergues and Michael Dcaudin (Paris: Gallimard, 1993), 492; Lucience Roure, Superstitions du front de guerre, tudes 153 (1917): 708 32. 83. Albert Dauzat, Lgendes, prophties et superstitions de la Guerre (Paris: La Renaissance du Livre, 1918), 7.

anthropology or psychohistory in order to verify the survivals at work in each cultural symptom as it was added to the Kasten 117 collection. Hence it is essential to recall the coexistence of this Kriegskartothek with Warburgs research, in the same years, on the religious and political imagery of another period of schism and cultural crisis the Reformation, haunted as it was by chimerical beings, popedonkeys, monk-calves, and other monstrous sows of Lutheran propaganda.89 But as Nietzsche had done in his time, and as Bataille would soon do as well, Warburg played dangerously with the conagration he was investigating. Arranging and rearranging on his worktable the images of his Kriegskartothek, was Warburg not making himself the soothsayer or haruspex of the psychomachia that enfolded and passed through him? Like the rst plate of Mnemosyne, relating to divination (g. 1), so the last plate, relating to contemporary history (g. 2), appears to be an exercise in political divination or presentiment.

84. Sigmund Freud, Confrences dintroduction la psychanalyse (Paris: Gallimard, 1999), 431 53. 85. Walter Benjamin, Les armes de demain: Batailles au chloractophnol, au chlorure de diphnylarsine et au sulfure dthyle dichlor, in Romantisme et critique de la civilisation (Paris: Payot, 2010), 107 11. 86. Warburg, Mnemosyne. Grundbegriffe II, 3 (dated July 2, 1929). 87. Cf. Gottfried Korff, Im Zeichen des Saturn: Vorluge Notizen zu Warburgs Aberglaubensforschung im Ersten Weltkrieg, in Korff, Kasten 117, 181 213. 88. Claudia Schlager, Seherinnen und Seismographen: Ausschnitthaftes zur Trouvaille Barbara Weigand aus Aby Warburgs Kriegskartothek, in Korff, Kasten 117, 215 43. Cf. Annette Becker, La Guerre et la foi: De la mort

la mmoire, 1914 1930 ( Paris: Armand- Colin, 1994), 15 55 and 103 38; Jay Winter, Entre deuil et mmoire: La Grande Guerre dans lhistoire culturelle de lEurope, trans. Christophe Jaquet (Paris: Armand Colin, 2008), 25 38, 67 91. On Claire Ferchaud: Ferchaud, Notes autobiographiques, II. Mission nationale (Paris: Librairie Pierre Tqui, 1974); Claude Mouton, Au plus fort de la tourmente: Claire Ferchaud (1978; Montsurs: ditions Rsiac, 1983). 89. Aby Warburg, La divination paenne et antique dans les crits et les images lpoque de Luther, Essais orentins (Paris: Klincksieck, 1990), 245 94 . Cf. Claudia Wedepohl, Agitationsmittel fr die Bearbeitung der Ungelehrten: Warburgs Reformationsstudien zwischen Kriegsbeobachtung historisch-kritischer Forschung und Verfolgungswahn, in Korff, Kasten 117, 325 68.

Didi-Huber man

relations between psychical evolution and regression.84 In 1925 Walter Benjamin would rethink how a war so technologically novel brought on a psychotic state in which chemical weaponry clouds of gas came to seem like ghosts, as unfathomable as they were ruthless.85 Warburg, who dened the history of images as a history of ghosts for grown-ups, thus approached the Great War not only as a struggle against and in defense of certain ideas, but also as a struggle with ghosts a struggle in which the whole of European civilization was engaged, whether consciously or not.86 His analysis of war superstitions doubtless led to his revising his ideas about the Nachleben at work in the psychomachia of his time.87 We should not be surprised to nd in the les of Kasten 117 analyses of wartime spiritualist phenomena (apparitions of the dead) and mystical phenomena (the symmetrical cases of Barbara Weigand in Germany and Claire Ferchaud in France) that have since been studied in detail by historians.88 Warburg situated these phenomena in an

Wa r b u r g s Ha u n t e d H o u s e


We might say, then, that Warburgs atlas (and his own role as a modern Atlas) came about to show, despite the dangers inherent in the realization, that the varied meanings of the Latin word superstes all point in the same direction. The word means survivor and testimony but also superstition. Emile Benveniste showed that superstes signies, foremost, the one who remains, not above but beyond or after some occurrence. Superstes involves specically the act of surviving, of getting over, as we say of someone who survived an ordeal or got over a bereavement and thus has been a witness to it.90 The superstes assumes the suprestitio as the property of being present as a witness to an event from which he or she is far away in space and time. Hence the superstes is the soothsayer of a history (whether past, present, or future) in which he or she did not physically participate. This capacity for presence is fascinating and worrisome at the same time. Does it not characterize the poetics of all great historians? Whatever the case, we know that it is the capacity for presence that brought the Romans for whom divination was an exogenous, alien practice: a Babylonian or Etruscan practice to distinguish the dangerous supertitio from their own ofcial religio.91 By approaching the extremes of the Great Wars cultural phenomena, Warburg withdrew to an area of thought above questions of truth and falsity, and far away from any religion. His Kriegskartothek in this way differs radically from the German Kriegssammlungen and from the epic narratives of Jnger, with their patriotic and bellicose religion. Still, it must be said that Warburg came unsettlingly close to his objects of study the images that he regarded as so many busy ghosts. His Library remains haunted to this day, and tampering with it is inadvisable.



90. mile Benveniste, Le Vocabulaire des institutions indoeuropennes, 2 vols. (Paris: Minuit, 1969), 2:276. 91. Benveniste, Vocabulaire, 2:276 79.