Walter Benjamin and the past disassociating with present

analytical Essay
2191 words
2191 words

In Walter Benjamin’s Berlin Childhood Around 1900, he applies a variety of concepts with respect to time: past, present, and future. The concepts are highlighted in his vignettes: “Victory Column”, “The Telephone”, and “Butterfly Hunt”. Benjamin attempts to imbue his writing with a different structure of time from what was conventional. He perceives history as a section of moments, and each moment is an integral whole in its own right, making it equal to the present (Knights). Benjamin also notes that the ignoring of the past and the focus on the progression of the future causes harmful effects to nature (Knights). The concept of technological progress appears to give grounds for the domination and abuse of nature (Patke). Subsequently, Benjamin is arguing that modernization has produced an inauthentic experience of time. He further contends that the redeeming of history is not correlated with a new future. Benjamin's key ideals are regarded to be restorative. This ideology emphases that hope is set in the past and its memory. There is a very traditional aspect to this viewpoint. It considers that the wishes of the former generations must be preferred. Another of Benjamin's concerns is to remove the impression of continuity in history that is attainable if the past and the present are separated. Benjamin searches for the past with the ability to reform in a manner to halt the exchange of present satisfaction for past misery, capable of suspending the reproduction of past tribulation and injustice. Benjamin’s rhetoric in Berlin Childhood around 1900’s vignettes, “Victory Column”, “The Telephone”, and “Butterfly Hunt”, assert that the past contains an immense power of unrealized potentialities, that is unable to associate with the ...

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...mes the norm, it will be replacing something from the past that when lost will be irretrievable. Furthermore, being that the future is unknown, Benjamin suggests that this is when there should be a focus on the past to potentially uncover any poor choices to help the future refrain from repeating them. Thus, Benjamin contends that the limitlessness of the past is una ble to conform to the present or uncertainty of a progressive future.

Works Cited

Benjamin, Walter. Berlin Childhood Around 1900. Cambridge: President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2006. Print.

Freud, Sigmund. On Murder, Mourning, and Melancholia. London: Penguin Books, 2005. Print.

Knights, Wayne. Class Lecture. Humanity 360: Great Themes in Humanistic Tradition. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC. 22 Feb 2012.

Patke, Rajeev. “Benjamin’s Theses ‘On the Concept of History”

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how benjamin's berlin childhood around 1900 applies a variety of concepts with respect to time: past, present, and future.
  • Analyzes how benjamin's vignette, "victory column", is a moment of his past where he perceives himself in utopia like state, before the overbearing present has oppressed him.
  • Analyzes how benjamin's "victory column" depicts a utopian world where he is amused and entertained by building blocks and little figures in paste-on picture sheets.
  • Analyzes how benjamin's vignette, "the telephone," marginalizes the past to make room for a progressive future.
  • Analyzes how benjamin asserts that technology and the future are directly affecting the norms of the past.
  • Analyzes how benjamin's "butterfly hunt" is an image of the past that is filled with ambiguity.
  • Analyzes how benjamin's description of the hunting ground is peculiar for the aftermath of a child attempting to capture the butterfly.
  • Analyzes how benjamin attributes present anxiety into past images, reinforcing the universal application of remembrance of the oppressed.
  • Analyzes benjamin's notion of the past as limitless and must be recovered and realized.
  • Describes benjamin's berlin childhood around 1900. cambridge: president and fellows of harvard college, 2006.
  • Explains knights, wayne, and humanity 360: great themes in humanistic tradition, simon fraser university, burnaby, bc.
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