This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
(1998), pp. 5-13.
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space. after-lives6Storytelling is no simple form of time-passing.Esther Leslie Walter Benjamin: Traces of Craft This paper considers Walter Benjamin's theoy of the object in the industrial age. the stories they hear forego an existence on paper. Prominent in Benjamin's account of craft practice is the hand that feels and marks its objects. and each master had been a travelling journeyman before he settled down in his hometown or elsewhere. with the lore of the past. practical affinity between craft skills and storytelling. and their bodies are seized by the gentle rhythm of work. The wayfarer's imported ken is the key to Benjamin's ontology of experience. and it finds its root meaning in the word for travel.5 The habitat of the storyteller is the craft milieu. Benjamin's work is replete with images of craft practices. the artisan rank was their master class. Benjamin describes Wenzel as 'the perfect artisan' with 'access to the innermost chamber of the realm of created thing^'. and while their half-conscious minds are engaged in pot-throwing. It mirrors a 5 8 1998 The Design History Society . are the ones who have forgotten themselves. Through travel craftsmen have experience of the world and a world of experience. lured into workshops to graft while netting experiences transmitted from mouth to ear to mouth. Benjamin's delineation of modern. a practical knowledge. Benjamin writes: The resident master craftsman and the travelling journeymen worked together in the same rooms. and faced industrial technology as a stranger. such as the silversmiths of Tula whose expertise exceeded the most technologically advanced nation of the time. Often Leskov's stories would feature craftsmen. It combined the lore of faraway places. Pot-throwing and weaving appear as paradigms of authentic experience and the processes of memoy. impacts on modes of memoy and experience.' 'The Alexandrite' presents another craftsman. England." Benjamin's own braiding of craft and narration in 'The Storyteller' goes further to illumine a historical. He re-evaluates Dada and photography as manual craft processes that might rediscover a modern authenticity of experience and memoy. the skilful gem engraver Wenzel. Benjamin tells us. The best listeners. And so. that is experience born of wisdom. Keywords: Walter Benjamin-hand-industrial organization-material culture studies-Modernismtechnique Telling Stories In 1936 Walter Benjamin completed an essay on the nineteenth-century Russian storyteller Nikolai Leskov. with its growing redundancy of the hand in the processes of production. awaiting retransmissions. as it best reveals itself to residents of a place. is rooted in two factors. is Eufahrung. Leskov. The shift from artisan labour to industrial labour. 1 peasants and sailors were past masters at storytelling. industrialized experience is shown to be redemptive. travel to faraway places and knowledge of past local lore. 11 No. felt bonds with craftsmanship. they gain audiences. in which resident master craftsmen-who know the past. imprinting themselves into the listeners' fantasy. The ability to tell stories. authentic knowledge of the world is envisioned as a 'grasping hold' of the world.^ Craft and craftsmen do not just provide subject-matter and characters for Leskov's stories. insists Benjamin. Benjamin tells us. fahren. The German word for experience that is handed down. If Journal of Design History Vol. who know time--exchange experiences with travelling journeymen-who know distance. The very act of storytelling itself he declares to be a craft.' One theme of the essay is the assertion of storytelling's interlacement in craft. such as a much-travelled man brings home. Benjamin tells us. spinning and weaving.
mirrors of true experience. sourchands on knowledge of those textures8 In 'The ing thereby social and collective structures of Storyteller'.stories relate a practical knowledge. Recurrent in Benjamin's deli. Pottery features Reflecting on Proust's flabelliform writings. world is to know the world. outlining ence of those hearing the tale. is to ponder the arabesque of labour. means 'something woven'. True experience is wisdom. too. and makes it the experi. setting himself within a tradition memory's continuum. objects alike are solid. for Benjamin. and Dream images and memories are the woven unique way.13 Neither plot nor personality It sinks the thing into the life of the storyteller. is central in authentic memory or the procedure of rendering Benjamin's comprehension of experience. touch. has practical writes: 'Counsel woven into the fabric of lived experience of life. such as is activated in dreams.language and fantasy. and reflects on the workings of remembering.storyteller hands on. The individual artistic voice and the The hand marks out authentic experience.'' Thinking.crafted pot could not be more removed from the tions of storytelling. In dreaming we in his aphorism. and the gesticulating storyteller. forget our conscious thoughts in order to access apparently brutal grip'. and.convolutions of plot are the reverse side of cates Benjamin. weaving of memory. to reflect on the opera. Benjamin tells us. The story and the pot are formed by a life that has something to tell.14 In the foreground. those of fine art. Lebenswerk. Weaving becomes a figure for That the hand. intermittences relegated of humanist anatomical thought that sees the by Benjamin to the pattern on the back of the faculty of stereognosis as reliant on touch. from our hands. Benjamin does not work in isolation. textum. weaving. his own or others. Such Handwerk is a throwing emerges as a figure of true experience. eye and hand. indi. unconsciously. For Benjamin." ornaments of self-forgetting. seeing. the hand is a political organ. But it where we left off the night before. The aesIt intimates how experiences pass into and out of thetics of the useful and unique story or the memory.mode of processing and reconstituting experience.life is wisdom. a carpet. but order to bring it out of him again. The storyteller takes what he tells from experi.writes. Benhere-as model and as metaphor-naturally jamin binds memory work. entails forgetting the illusion of self. as it enters English via the Latin tangere. useful.'12It is such woven wisdom that the neations of experience are the words tactile. curious and craftsman-fashioning his-mould their raw and surreal. Thus traces of the memory. He what is at hand. the or artisan labour. the 'few fringes' of the 'carpet of lived man. in a solid. Benjamin notes that the the transmission of experience and wisdom. human lifeBenjamin recognize are infinite. seiz.15 To access the crafted curlicues handling in tandem. The hand touches. a storyteller cling to the story the way the handprint tightly plaited skein tangling the linear passage [Spur] of the potter clings to the clay vesseL7 of time. To touch the correlates Proust's textual practice and weaving. pot. tac. specifically in Benjamin's vision of redemption or Proust verifies. in dispatch 'strict weaving regulations'. In 'The Image of Proust' (1929). which as Proust and Storyteller-fashioning his material.our memories.9 Grasping the truth. incubators of the Stories. or craft communication and attributes of cheap mass-reproduction. a web. or from experience. hand work work together in an image of handiwork. useful. entering German. Benjamin tics. When we wake we remember ing the future. or more the infinity of memory. Good experience and selfhood. thus: Latin word for 'text'. 'Salvation includes the firm. as in other essays by Benjamin.relate a wisdom based on praxis. Lntrinsic to the crafts. matter. dream work and text enough as it is a form of Handwerk. Benjamin describes storytelling. . this mesh grants a praxis. utopian. unique. with its tactility. and crafted story that forms itself like the pot. Proust as weaver touch that fingers the world's textures. is the existence that forgetting has woven in us' fall accord of soul. the textured and recovery of experience under threat. Here. memories. good potters ence. is intimated textual processes of memory. Benjamin's metaphorical language picks conceived as close and practised knowledge of up another type of craft labour. the tactical. of dream-truth.
" Benjamin quotes Marx: 'In working with machines workers learn to coordinate their own "movement to the uniform ~~ and unceasing motion of an a ~ t o m a t o n " . allude to a former pre-industrial mode of labouring. The modern unskilled worker. eye and hand are disjointed. In 'The Storyteller' Benjamin comments that the role of the hand in production has become more modest. This connection appears to the factory worker on an assembly line in a detached.'' and provoking a 'crisis in perception'. Benjamin's anthropology of industrialized humanity submits to the discussion of experience in modernity the neurological category of shock. . This is a different loss of self. comes within his range of action and moves away from him just as arbitrarily. is sealed off from experience as Eufahrung. 'That automaton mass has liquidated its weave of memories. Technology dictates a syncopated.24 Benjamin relates elsewhere the tale of the hand's redundancy for production. especially the factory drill. The division of labour compels a mechanical measure of labour time.'~ Here he tells how. Benjamin continues: After all. physical and psychic. The collector Eduard Fuchs advises Benjamin to approach history as a materialist. de-skills operators. in its sensory aspect. The work process. Rather.as planned. . is alert to the fabrication of the past and the multithreaded nature of the present. notably in his most famous essay 'The Work of Art in the Age of its Technical Reproducibility' (1935-8). graspable experience. too-as material. wherein each act is an exact repetition of the last. claims Benjamin. storytelling. Machinery turns animate. and that war marks for Benjamin a re-editing of experience. this mode may be romanticized. of potting and weaving. historical or dialectical materialism. to tell a story of change. shot through with that past. From factory to battlefield the experience of shock. . The hand-so crucial to the Handwerker (artisan or craftsman)-is made redundant by technological advance. is by no means a job for the voice alone. that is to say. 'has this in common. and factory machinery gives this transposition a technically concrete form. but the instrument of labour that employs the workman. 'as the lines on the palm of our hand'. Work on the Body Benjamin's metaphors of craft. that it is not the workman that employs the instrument of labour. This former craft mode is submerged in mass industrial society. Again he draws the analogy with storytelling. it is a part of his most literally understood materialism. Here the role of the hand lays waste. while others are cushioned in the wellupholstered seats of management. as woven. humans become adjuncts to the machine.17 Materialism. too.23 Stories are lost. Benjamin says. subjecting the human sensorium to a complex training. reified form. not an ingress into reverie. but it allows Benjamin to shade in the tendencies of an epoch. until the arrival of mechanical . the voided. is lost because of the loss of the weaving and spinning activities that went on while they were heard. the object being worked upon. Technology has stormed the human body. But it is only in the factory system that this reversal for the first time acquires technical and palpable reality. and together with it begins to sink the mode of experience that it engendered.'20 Capitalist instruments of labour operate the worker.' writes Marx. The technofrenzy of the First World War was made possible by nineteenth-century technological advance.19 Soul. Of course. homogeneous time of manufacture. is no surprise. Independently of the worker's volition. 'Every kind of capitalist production . There are those who feel work's hard slaps on the body. an alienation. textured experience. not just from past to present. Industrial work processes are an 'automatic operation'. Benjamin remarks: Walter Benjamin: Traces of Craft Marx had good reason to stress the great fluidity of the connection between segments in artisan labour [Handwerk]. in genuine storytelling the hand plays a part which supports what is expressed in a hundred ways with its gestures learnt of work. but from present into future. dislocating rhythm to which workers and soldiers must permanently react. constitutes the norm. The web that cradled storytelling is unravelling at all its ends.16 That Benjamin conceives texts-and memory. adumbrating the entwinement of the warp [Textur] of the present and the weft [Einschuj3] of the past.
stones that are perfect in polish and engraving. Body accedes to machinery. For the post-bourgeois object of the new mass art. dead reiteration. modelling so capitalism's eternal return of the ever-same culture. Damaged life may heal itself. Mechanical reproduction in art. like the forms that cradled craft. basing reproduction not on the pace of a hand that draws. It is 'tactile'. The trajectory continues: from Handwerk to Kunstwerk to Kraftwerk. The invention of photography and film provokes a further speed-up effect. Idealist conceptions of culture are seen to be wound into a narcissistic ideology that argues art is born from itself. from craft to artfrom unauthored object to authentic authored valuable. a non-auratic multiple. Tactility and shock-forces that act on the bodynegate any ideal of artistic autonomy. Benjamin recoiled from the First World War. the ability to touch.27 The mode of repetition of the artisan's story as it is passed on from mouth to mouth. degrades here into a mechanical. These forms. The modem person only works at what can be abbre~iated. through tapping recuperative energies vented in industrial culture. the same metaphors re-surface as are encountered in 'The Storyteller'.'~ Industrial speed-up has transformed conditions of production and standardized what is produced. Benjamin's approach recovers the substratum of aesthetics sensuously. fan a spark of a life that is integrated harmoniously with labour. and he labels it a positivism that takes its measure from the human body. redone again and again. In 'The Storyteller' Benjamin quotes Paul ValQy on how once the artisan had imitated the patient processes of nature. closeness. For Benjamin. Locating sensuous perception as the root meaning of the Greek notion of aisthesis. indexicality. not the time of the hand. sacrificing effort are vanishing.28 This physico-spatial 'bringing closer' of new . advances sporadically. reworked through the unique experience of listeners. prefigured in photography and film. Benjamin dislodges from a bodiless idealist aesthetic based on beautiful illusion (schoner Schein). determines production. ValQy writes: Miniatures. The mass-reproduced copy can be manipulated. Tactility. but on the seeing eye in conjunction with the machinery of the lens. are sensuous concepts that relate new art to the physical presence of the collectively receiving body. the same painting. such a move is characteristic of Benjamin's behaviouristic anthropological materialism. and the time is past in which time did not matter. and its seed-bed was the technical present. Tactility. lacquer work or paintings in which a series of thin. Cult value is banished by authenticity-a calibre that is assured by a knowable author and translates into monetary and exhibition value. elaborated to the point of greatest perfection. transparent layers are placed one on top of the others-all these products of sustained. but further he sensed a beyond that was also in some ways a restoration or a rescue of experience. For Adorno. but now no longer. at handness mark out this new potential art for and by the masses. parallel to the manufacture of goods before the development of industrial machinery. This technical multiple does not squash out authentic experience but translates it into objectforms and forms of experience appropriate for a modem age. ivory carvings. An allegory from The Trial by Kafka evokes for Benjamin the endlessly returning bad infinity of mass reproduction. until it attains a qualitatively new stage in lithographic reproduction. Benjamin's 'Work of Art in the Age of its Technical Reproducibility' traces the transition from Handwerk to Kunstwerk. Do not think that this is a tragic tale of irreversibility and that Benjamin's animus is a frustrated nostalgia for the past world and past work of Handwerk. Lithographic duplication permits mass quantities and speedily changing forms. a mass-reproduced art. But Benjamin's essay also scents possibilities for a post-bourgeois object. pictures had been made by hand. Culture's co-ordination with the body has transformed. aesthetics and art are charted along the development of the human sensorium.reproduction. the mass appropriation of art signals literally a manhandling of cultural products. propelled thereby to revile the economic system that he saw blasting its destructivity into being. beginning with wood cut technology. The insistent painter-dealer Titorelli impresses on Josef K. The time of the machine.
based in shock and mass-reproduction. the web of time and space is interrogated. Leskov. serviceable. in the quotidian. once more in the form of collective experience: through mediated mass-produced things. confronted by excerpted splinters from the material world. but technical reproduction reimburses that change. and if not unique. becoming useful. Benjamin contrasts the magician who heals through the laying on of hands to the surgeon who intervenes in the body. into which the modern culture producer penetrate^. And that too was the lesson of low . objects whose very basis is technological-there can no longer be a significant notion of an originality that is valued for its inviolate authenticity. scraps of textile such as the tatters of lace used by Hannah Hoch. by a camera. In 'The Author as Producer' (1934) Benjamin reports that the 'revolutionary strength of dadaism' lies in its 'testing art for its authenticity' Authenticity rests on the incor(A~thenfizitaf).~~ poration into cultural artefacts of real-life fragments-cigarette stubs. for instance. Dada-mo~zteurby night and lace designer by day. as legible.32It reveals traces (Spuren). then the experiences to be had with them are. For Benjamin. sometimes she used her lace patterns in her photomontages. The photographic object brings objects closer for inspection. E~hfheif. but of the objective modern world. in 'Art as Technique' (1917)~ wrote in colloquialisms. modern weavers and throwers of experience. new modes of reproducing experience. not high-flown literary language. instituting new potential for a familiarity between receivers and producers. but uses the Latin-derived word Authenfizitat. Fingerprints and the handprints of the potter are not signatures.34Poetic truth is found in the ordinary. 'tactile re~eption'. its chemical connection to actuality that captures a moment in time and exports it into the future.'^ Analysed.cultural forms allowed by mass reproduction provides a 're-modelling' of pre-industrial folkloric relations of space. recounting a modern version of the potter's handprint. 'The Work of Art in the Age of its Technical Reproducibility' professes the displacement of the authentic object under new conditions of mass reproduction. The reproduction of an object on celluloid stands as a copy of itself. not the sublime. providing an imprint of traces of the world.~' although it must be said that their role in cultural production is somewhat brutal. The artist refitted as producer is a slogan drawn from the realms of industry rather than the painter's studio. The public. bus tickets. 'A Small History of Photography' underscores the indexicality of the photograph. Shklovsky informs us. such traces differ from the individuating. Their virtue lies in their hinge with actuality. In technically reproduced art-that is.~' presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity. and no Walter Benjamin: Traces of Craft longer a unique representation. Dada and Co. cotton reels. Dada frames a found segment of the world. glossing over a surface. Benjamin proposes modern objects that smash through the contemplative. itself a penetrable space that is experienced through Hands feature again then. the modern work of culture finds its template in architecture. augmented by machinery. The web (Gewebe) that Benjamin had spun as a cat's cradle of memory is evoked again as figure of reality. In 'A Small History of Photography' (1931) Benjamin also speaks of authenticity. His rendition of the new authenticity of modem montage art recounts how its use of traces of the objective world is as significant. not their market value. a fingerprint that says more than the page's text. Crucial to the earlier epic tradition is a reliance on the propinquity of a collective of listeners. as evidencing as the bloody fingerprint (Fingerabdruck) of a murderer on a page of a book. not of the potter's handprint. Space is recovered technically. Industrial capitalist relations corrode the oral communicability of experience. are modern storytellers. learns that 'the tiniest authentic fragment of everyday-life says more than painting'. The essay speaks of the non-reproducible quality of authenThe ticity-in German. The magician is like a painter. or made knowable. but differently to the way that the travelling journeyman and the resident artisan knew it. and spawns thereby parameters for new ways of telling stories. Here again Benjamin brings in the hand. authenticating autographs of high art. indeed invasive. the surgeon is like a filmmaker who cuts in to the web of reality.
It confesses a psychoanalysis of things. characterized by contemplation and per- . These panels are loose and shift. Urban technological debris is most charged in this regard. according to how the ribbons are pulled. It is to be found in a long dream. Collectors are people with tactical instinct. just like the animals that made up Noah's ark. and sometimes he interested journal editors enough to get them published. the Collector and Historian'. By the way.~~ yet at the same time. are people with tactical instinct. The toy lured me to it. In notes to the Passagenwerk. now stepping out to greet their audiences. which he wrote down. of books and of children's toys. Benjamin writes: I see myself in Wertheim department store in front of a flat little box with wooden figures. as found in many magic boxes: with little panels around which are wound colourful ribbons. These dreams were on the trail of social and political wishes as they sparkled en route through his psyche. closeness and intimacy. themselves turned producers [of meanings]. he seems to be seeing through them into their distant past as though inspired. Then I make a difficult decision not to buy. As he holds them in his hands. knows about them in a way that appears archaic in an And age of mass-reprod~ction. In the Esther Leslie Merrily Benjamin asserts that the epoch of the optical. who engage in practical remembering. But the houses and the children on the street are brightly coloured. the metro-modernism of Joyce. I ask the salesgirl the price and am astonished that it costs more than seven marks. Benjamin foresees a democratic age of appropriation. What could be a more obscure object of desire than this strangely crafted magical object that beckoned Benjamin one night in 1932. Searching out the origin and durational existence of things. the weft (Einschup) of the past stiflingly entangled in the warp (Textur) of the present. given the recent turn away from naturalism. unpainted wood. As I turn to go. called 'The Initiate'--so regard this as a story and me as the storyteller. in his efforts to divine a redemption of mass-reproduction. He was also a collector of images and objects that had been tom free of the epochs that produced them. my gaze falls on something unexpected. as a sloping plane. is on the way out as the epoch of handling comes in. and once more frames his theme as one of touch. at one end is a gate. It is filled with a mirror. That is why he rummaged through archives and flea markets. As the salesgirl shows it to me. But this little sheep is much flatter and made of a rough. it would seem. Benjamin also collected his own dreams. a wholesale handling. the collector. has ceased. Witchcraft and the Dream Collector Whilst writing 'The Storyteller'. Benjamin was a collector. specifically of reproducible and reproduced cultural artefacts. fondles them as emblems that promise memory and knowledge about circumstances of production. titled 'Eduard Fuchs. things congested. Collectors. Benjamin was engaged in another study. Benjamin sets the tactical collector in opposition to the optically oriented fllineur: Ownership and possession are related to the tactical and stand in specific contrast to the optical. with the contents of a desirous social consciousness. and a utopian future can be glimpsed. Here he focuses on collecting. Benjamin tells us. As Benjamin writes in an article on book-collecting called 'Unpacking my Library' (1931): One only has to watch a collector handle the objects in his glass case. all turning blue or red. Otherwise it is empty. handling things that are loved both for their own sake and as windows through which the past might be understood.modernism. All this is under glass. snatchng up words and things that throbbed for him with unfulfilled and utopian energies from the past. the primacy of the optical. Now I can no longer resist. Duchamp or Max Ernst. so dominant in the previous century. In this mirror I am able to see what is taking place on the sloping plane that is a street: two children are walking on the left hand side. such as a little sheep. This flat magic toy pleases me all the more after I see how it works. 'physiognomists of the object world'. beyond capital.37 ception at a distance.35 The true collector loves things. I pay the price and put it about my person. The construction has transformed itself. The flat panels stand stiffly upright. it transpires that it is constructed like a magic tile.
I have not forgotten my dainty. an obscure power. in the postrevolutionary Soviet Union. represented. fulfilled. organized around play. in feverish consultation we survey all the other caMs. however.~' Benjamin's surrealist-tinged psychoanalysis of objects returns our object. Africa is gripping everyone too much. pistons and cylinders. colourful. stories in which the little people learn how to liberate themselves through crafty cunning and in complicity with nature. despite new conditions of production. not work. venting a concealed reality subtending everyday subject/object commer~e. such intimacy and imaginative investment in objects may still be possible. and the trickiness of words. It is still to be found in this sense in the word crafty. These avant-gardes set off magical experiences. back to the beginning and thoughts on pots and telling stories. as manifested in Freud's talkingcure. if profane illumination. achieved. not unlike Benjamin's. Here we return to Leskov. objects are both objective and dreamt). but they need not be like one another. The second: a web of fine Little cogs. mass-reproduced objects-includes essentially an understanding of experiences to be had with objects. as in incantations. In the case of the modern mass reproduced object. Benjamin divulges. whirling together in one level. positively infantile.40 Benjamin's dreams too are fairy stories about a possible future state Walter Benjamin: Traces of Craft of freedom. of transmitting a story unaltered from one language to another. the weave of past and present experience and utopian possibility. ~ " The magical dream-object. and memories evoked by objects or encoded in objects-memories of objects in all possible senses. not unlike the wooden Russian toys he collected. He shows how those objects are invested with social utopian desire.43 . There it is night. Craft as mode of activity translates into craft as a power. This is in the course of contending the impossibility of literal translation. rollers and transmissions. the vision of a new order in Soviet R ~ s s i a . In an early essay. Leskov's craft was that of telling fairy-tales. He speaks here of translation as the gluing together of fragments of a vessel. Frequently this sense of craft was endowed with magical or devious connotations. The first panel. Broken Pots And to end then. but he wishes to salvage the power of enchantment for the purposes of social metamorphosis. provide a model of authentic experience. These fragments must match one another in the smallest details. force or strength-in German this is the meaning of the word Kraft. Witchcraft accents the uncanniness of objects. Evfahrungen. craft. And finally the third panel. surrealism use magical strategies. What emerges from all this is a sense in which Benjamin's understanding of objects-craft objects. a thing that fascinated Benjamin and which he analysed. and in the word witchcraft. the experience of a person imprinted on to the objects that he or she brings into being. such as charms. reveals itself to have reference to a fantasized ideal social order. Craft stems from the Saxon word for power. And I wake up before I can reveal the secret which I have subsequently come to understand: the three phases into which the toy falls. titled 'The Task of the Translator'.42 Witchcraft proposes a special relationship with objects and words. to its etymological origin.evening I intend to show it to friends.~~ Benjamin's dream. bright. dada. So we make an expedition into the desert. if it can be achieved. The mob is threatening to storm the caf6 where we have met. nestling in the imaginatively conceived object. but none appear to offer protection. all of wood. and the world of the fairy-tale. through the cashing in of objects' magic significance~. for essentially. tents are erected. at least in tendency. But the opportunity does not arise. in its being dreamt and in its retelling. Crafted objects. Futurism. lions are close by. to collide with the snags of enchantment and a fascination with marvellous. without person or noise. and tapestry offers a model of authentic memory. specifically the pot. Benjamin says. But there is unrest in Berlin. causes the tools of Enlightenment rationalism. Benjamin's objects may be real or imagined (for as the surrealists intuited. Benjamin alludes to pottery. Benjamin's materialism of objects solicits a liberation of objects from the fetishizing snares and deadening repetitions of capitalism. that colourful street with the two children. which I want to show everyone.
58311. 1992 or 'Der Erzahler'. Fontana. in One-Way Street. p. See also Benjamin's 1939 review of the histories as a type of 'excavation'.~ O ) Fuchs. 'The is inscribed in the novel like one of his characters. the angel of history. storyteller' was written at the same time as Benjafigured in the carpet. G. P. industrial societies. and his 'Theses on the philosophy of history' (igjg-40). p. formerly New Left Books). p. or the restorative practice of Benjamin's Angelus Novus.. a paper-author: his life is no longer the This essay is also included in Illuminations. 'The storyteller'. as it were. 645. film and photography theory. audience. interest in the fragment. he Schrijten (hereafter G. p. work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction'. Nikolai Leskov. In 'From work to text' (1971) he tions. p. there is a reversion of the work on to the life (both Verso. it is the work of Proust. 53. about mass-reproduction and its consequences for design. p. p. 8 See footnote 9 in J. the fascination with pas. p. p.S. consumption. good cross-section of Benjamin's wide-ranging writof Genet which allows their lives to be read as a ings.S. This German-Jewish writer's influence is manifest not only in thinking 16 'The image of Proust'. 1996. 1 12 'The storyteller'. p. no longer privileged. H. 631. 90-1 or 'Der ErzWler'. the broken pots and t o m scraps. p. p. I:2. in Act 2 . 322. Ways of Seeing (1972) introduced since John Berger's its theses to a book-reading public and television P P 944-5.. 7 'The storyteller'. I have modified Harry Zohn's translation of Benjamin. 4 'The storyteller'. 1973. as deployed in Benjamin's uncompleted Arcades Project ( I & ~ . M u c h like the meshing of shards of montage. der Sammler und der Historiker'. pp. Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) has also 15 'The image of Proust'. 463. in The Enchanted Pilgrim (translated by David Margarshack). pp. John A. hands-off aestheticism. contributed to design theory. 311. pp. 4467.). and the attention directed towards spaces of Baudelaire'. p. the pots remade. on occasion. iography in a number of areas: writing design p. 479. ESTHER LESLIE lo 'The storyteller'. New Left Books. p. in Gesammelte writes of the 'textual' novelist: 'If he is a novelist. 198 or 'Zum Bilde Prousts'.in G. edited by in art. 464. Blackwell. for example here. 107 or 'Der Erzahler'. min's most famous essay. 1979. p. p. 464. 1989) records Capitalism. 106 or 'Der Erzahler'. 1992. p. p. p.S. 14 Barthes uses a similar metaphorical language in 1 See Walter Benjamin. 5 'The storyteller'. 86 or 'Der Erzahler'. vessels of God's attributes were broken a n d this breaking of the vessels scattered divine sparks i n fragments throughout the material world. 592. p. bei Baudelaire'. 1946. II:2. p. 147 or 'ijber einige Motive bei tiche. 630. the erotics of shopping and questions 20 Charles Baudelaire. 132 or 'ijber Benjamin's influence on design history and historeinige Motive bei Baudelaire' (1939). According to the doctrine of t i k k u n . using debris a n d rubbish. 1991. London. 362 or 'Eduard objects in urban.19 Charles Baudelaire. 208 or 'Zum Bilde Prousts'. p.' See Barthes' text reprinted in Art In Theory has received enormous amounts of critical attention 1900-1990: A n Anthology of Changing Ideas.This image d r a w s on Issac Luria's cabbalistic concept of t i k k u n . p. p. p. not the high. 6 'The storyteller'. Suhrkamp. his inscription is ludic. New Left Books. U n i v e r s i t y of East L o n d o n 1 See 'The storyteller'. 111. known in English as 'The aletheological. 3 'The storyteller'. 91 or 'Der Erzahler'. the theoretical Encyclope'die Fran~aise. in G. He becomes. II:2. Note that. the world is to b e p u t back together-but it is a montage praxis. p. in G. 442. 447. 'The left-handed artificer'. but also in techniques of writing histories of 17 'Eduard Fuchs. paternal. Hutchinson International Authors. Benjamin's essay on art and mass-reproduction text.. sublime reordering of harmony i n a bloodless. collector and historian'. 85 or 'Der Erzahler'. Notes pp.. 91 or 'Der Erzahler'. edited by Juliet Steyn. provides a (and no longer the contrary). Pluto Press. 107 or 'Der Erzahler'. 13 'The image of Proust'. in Illuminadiscussing Proust. 132-3 or 'ijber einige Motive of aesthetic pleasure. 440. origin of his fictions but a fiction contributing to his together with One-Way Street and Charles Baudelaire work.S. p.S. a task both secular a n d divine. which. in the years Paul Wood and Charles Harrison. Prynne's 'A Discourse on Willem de Kooning's RosyTfingered Dawn at Louse Point'. V:I. These fragments m u s t be brought together. 311-12. 447. Esther Leslie 2 See . Walker's Design History and the 18 See Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet i n the Era of High History of Design (Pluto Press. 9 See Passagenzoerk. 198 or 'Zum Bilde Prousts'.
animals and birds. in One-Way Street. tables and chairs. Hans could never meet his obligations either to the devil or the butcher. in Illuminations.. 33 'The author as producer'. 23 'The storyteller'. p. They are frequently analysed in tandem and shown to provide quite contradictory. in G. 32 'A small history of photography'. II:2. as numerous as Noah got into the Ark.S. Strangely enough. 18.' His shop was full of the most wonderful things--of wooden men and women.S. pp. 31 For example.1. VII:l.. p. pp. p. Eleanor Marx relates how her father also told stories. 92 or 'Der Erzahler'. in One-Way Street. VII:2. 24 See 'The storyteller'. She relates in 'Recollections of Mohr' that Marx 'was a unique. p.227 or 'Der Siirrealismus'. 631. 42 See. in G. Schocken Books. 11~1. 422-3.S. p. 374. I:2. 91 or 'Der Erzahler'. in G. 437 and 476. p. Both were begun in the mid-1930s. 214 or 'Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit'. 256 or 'Kleine Geschichte der Photographie'. pp. in G. in Illuminations.) A strain of Gothic Marxism surfaces. 297. p. see 'The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction'.S. and G. p. Walter Benjamin: Traces of Craft . 27 See Passagenwerk... accounts of Benjamin's stance toward modernity. 352. 1973. See ibid. N:I. 389. 632. Telos Press. in G. p. in G. II:2.S.S. in G.. p. in G. IV:I. p. p.See Charles Baudelaire. kings and queens. p. See 'Surrealism'.. an unrivalled story-teller' and goes on to reveal the scenario of one of her favourites. p. 466 and 505. 25 'The work of art in the age of its technical reproducibility' was written in the same period as 'The storyteller'. These then went through wonderful adventures-always ending in a return to Rockle's shop. 464. p.S. P P 145-52. I:2. 1992... p.S.S. p. p. edited by Paul Wood & Charles Harrison. 227 or 'Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit'.. workmen and masters. 692. in G. P. 35 See 'Unpacking my library'. V:I. 11.S. giants and dwarfs.S. 274. and G.. 381. 'Hexenprozesse'. p. 686 and pp.. pp. pp. 29 See 'The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction'. in G. for example. 28 See Adorno's letter to Benjamin of 6 September 1936 in G. carriage. in G. 447. jo See 'The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction'. 'The storyteller'. 107 or 'Der Erzahler'. 132-3 or 'ijber einige Motive bei Baudelaire'. in Illuminations. 22 Charles Baudelaire. 34 See Shklovsky's text reprinted in Art In Theory 19001990: A n Anthology of Changing Ideas. and G. 459 and 496. in G. not dissimilar from Benjamin's dream.. 101-3 or 'Der Erzahler'.p. p. And though he was a magician. Blackwell.. boxes of all sorts and sizes. 43 See 'The task of the translator'. 147. 233 or 'Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit'. who kept a toy-shop. 62 or 21 36 37 38 39 40 41 'Ich packe meine Bibliothek aus: Eine Rede iiber das Sammeln'. p. IV:I. V:2. 'Hans Rockle'. 'Der Wissende'. p. and was therefore-much against the grain-constantly obliged to sell his toys to the devil. p. 457-8. 229 or 'Der Autor als Produzent'. See Passagenwerk. 385.).S.S. 448. VII:l. a tale that went on for months and months: Hans Rockle himself was a Hoffmann-like magician. and who was always 'hard up.. pp. p.S. Marx and Engels on Literature and Art. p. p.. indeed irreconcilable..S.S. 1986. VII:l. in Reflections. p. 279. p. 26 The storyteller'. 278. (From Lee Baxandall & Stefan Morawski (eds. I:2. p. 675-6. 79 or 'Die Aufgabe des ijbersetzers' (1921)..S. pp. VII:l. 864. in G.. 133 or 'ijber einige Motive bei Baudelaire'.
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