Speaking at Walter Benjamin Now, an event at Whitechapel Gallery marking the 75th anniversary of Benjamin's death, Esther Leslie thinks through Benjamin's concepts, in particular the ‘microcosm’, to reflect on the contemporary migrant crisis at the borders of Fortress Europe. These ‘millions of nameless movers’ give Benjamin’s own death a contemporary resonance, as well as endowing his memorial with new meaning in ‘the Now’.
Esther Leslie is a translator of Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Storyteller’ and author of ‘Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory and the Avant-Garde’.
In the above video, Andrew Feenberg discusses his new book The Philosophy of Praxis: Marx, Lukács and the Frankfurt School. The talk was held at the Vancouver Institute for Social Research on 27 October, 2014. Within Feenberg covers a range of issues, from Lukács’ theory of reification to technology, crisis capitalism, and contemporary social movements.
Originally published as Lukács, Marx and the Sources of Critical Theory (1981), The Philosophy of Praxis represents a substantial revision of Feenberg's earlier text. Chris Cutrone reviews the revised text here. The introduction to Feenberg's updated work is excerpted below.
The Philosophy of Praxis is available directly through the Verso website, with a 30% discount and postage and an ebook included free.
McKenzie Wark assesses the uses of Walter Benjamin today.
"Benjamin practiced his own version of what I call low theory, in that the production of knowledge was not contemplative and was disinterested in the existing language games of the disciplines. Knowledge has to be communicated in an effective manner. 'The task of real, effective presentation is just this: to liberate knowledge from the bounds of compartmentalized discipline and make it practical.'
"Benjamin has a genius for using the energies of the obsolete. But one has to ask if the somewhat cult-like status Benjamin now enjoys is something of a betrayal of the critical leverage Benjamin thought the obsolete materials of the past could play in the present."
"For Benjamin, radio, like film, carries the potential for redistributing the means of aesthetic production, dissemination, and consumption. That its potential would not be fulfilled in Brechtian terms, or in the arrival of a “two-way medium,” is a possibility Benjamin was acutely aware of."
In an exclusive interview, Lecia Rosenthal speaks to Kester John Richardson-Dawes about editing Radio Benjamin, the first volume to focus comprehensively on Benjamin’s works for radio with many pieces translated into English for the first time. They also discuss Benjamin's critical pedagogy and financial precarity, the auditory aura and questions of citation and obscurity, and what the digital archive has done to our experience of forgetting, loss, and the severing of text from context.
KR: Could you give an outline of Radio Benjamin for readers unfamiliar with the new collection?
LR: Between 1927 and early 1933, Walter Benjamin delivered approximately ninety radio broadcasts on the regional radio stations in Berlin and Frankfurt. Of these on-air performances, some forty to fifty typescripts remain. The great majority of these texts have never been translated into English, and, even within Benjamin scholarship, have been largely ignored. Radio Benjamin, the first volume to focus comprehensively on Benjamin’s works for radio, provides translations of these fascinating materials.