Constellation : Friedrich Nietzsche and Walter Benjamin in by James McFarland

By James McFarland

Constellation is the 1st prolonged exploration of the connection among Walter Benjamin, the Weimar-era innovative cultural critic, and the unconventional thinker Friedrich Nietzsche. The affinity among those noncontemporaneous thinkers serves as a restrict case manifesting the precariousness and potentials of cultural transmission in a disenchanted present.

In 5 chapters, Constellation offers the altering determine of Nietzsche as Benjamin encountered him: an proposal to his pupil activism, an expert for his skeptical philology, a manifestation of his philosophical nihilism, a significant other in his political exile, and eventually a subversive collaborator in his efforts to imagine past the hopeless temporality--new and consistently the same--of the current second in history.

By excavating this missed dating philologically and elaborating its philosophical implications within the surviving texts of either males, Constellation produces new and compelling readings in their works and during them triangulates a theoretical restrict within the current, a fractured "now-time" suspended among insanity and suicide, from which the collective destiny regains a degree of consequential and transformative vitality.

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Additional resources for Constellation : Friedrich Nietzsche and Walter Benjamin in the now-time of history

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In recent weeks I’ve been reading in Zarathustra,” he writes. As a complete work of art it cannot hold a candle to “Prometheus and Epimetheus,” but it strives more powerfully for the Idea. The greatness [das Größe] of the book goes without saying—but it is boundlessly dangerous [grenzenlos gefährlich]; I mean that not in Mortal Youth 37 the banal sense that Nietzsche’s tone might overwhelm the mediocre; rather it is boundlessly dangerous there where Nietzsche himself remains caught in a sublimated [vergeistigten] philistinism.

11 For the particular Nietzsche to whom Benjamin relates would never be simply provided to him by the extant culture, which is as much Mortal Youth 21 as to say that Benjamin took Nietzsche seriously from the start, read him, and pondered him in the context of his own most profound concerns, and reacted to his writing and his example in these terms. Out of Benjamin’s engagement with the Nietzschean precedent emerges an image of the philosopher that can be introduced to the monumental expositions produced contemporaneously by Heidegger and Jaspers that have largely secured Nietzsche’s philosophical status in the present.

Rather, such topoi are entirely unpredictable and tangential, “the most endangered, excoriated and ridiculed creations and thoughts embedded deeply in every present,” as he would say in his eventual farewell to the Youth Culture Movement, “The Life of Students” (GS, 2:75; SW. 1:37). Far from being an autonomous venue in which an ideal receptivity could reinterpret its entire social and cultural inheritance, the actual Sprechsaal was conditioned by all the moral inexperience and class myopia that characterized its attendees, and hence was intellectually irredeemable; this Benjamin would later insist upon.

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