By Benjamin, Walter; Weigel, Sigrid; Benjamin, Walter
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Extra info for Body-and image-space : re-reading Walter Benjamin
This attribute of the body should be seen as fundamental. The body as a discriminatory instrument [Differenzierungsinstrument] of vital reaction, and only the body, can simultaneously be understood in terms of its psychic animation. All psychic activity can be differentiatedly localized in the body, as the anthroposophy of the ancients attempted to set out, for example in the analogy of body and macrocosm. One of the most important determinants of the body’s differentiatedness [Differenziertheit] is perception.
Where the body’s aids to memory—one speaks today of Körpergedächtnis, corporeal memory— have disappeared, the author shifts his work of recalling and deciphering onto the world of things as the material of the collective unconscious—what is nowadays called the social imaginary. l, 494). 20 ‘BODY-AND IMAGE-SPACE’ IN BENJAMIN’S WORK’ In the Surrealism essay he attempted to eliminate this difference between framework and covering, and between construction and art— perhaps because the basic structure and that which covers it cannot be clearly distinguished in body-space, but perhaps also to introduce, within the revolutionary gesture of the text, the notion that the artistic process is itself a construction, thereby implicating it in the processes of history.
Similarly no greater contrast could be imagined than that between the professor of the History of Thought Systems at the renowned Collège de France, whose lectures were often transmitted by loudspeaker to the foyer because of the overflow from the lecture theatre, and the freelance writer who failed in his attempt at the Habilitation at the University of Frankfurt, who—not only after 1933 as a Jewish exile—was obliged to expend considerable diplomatic effort every time he sought to publish, and for whom his material conditions became such a concern that by the time of the Paris exile the loss of his fountain pen drove him to the brink of despair.