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By Susan Buck-Morss

Walter Benjamin's magnum opus was once a publication he didn't reside to write down. In The Dialectics of Seeing, Susan Buck-Morss deals an artistic reconstruction of the Passagen-Werk, or Arcades Project, because it may have taken shape.

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Extra resources for The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought)

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F» . r lu i / • -nit ' '•i ; o i n ) *? % 'mm i • i¡ : ; . jü. 3 Falsified photograph of violence against the clergy by the Paris Communards, photomontage by E. Appert, 1871. tion makes visible the gap between sign and referent, or fuses them in a deceptive totality so that the caption merely duplicates the semiotic content of the image instead of setting it into question. 39 When historical referents are called "natural" in uncritical affirmation, identifying the empirical course of their development as progress, the result is myth; when prehistoric nature is evoked in the act of naming the historically modern, the effect is to demythify.

C o n s t r u c t i o n within the c o m p l e t e elimination of theory. W h a t only G o e t h e in his morphological writings a t t e m p t e d . " 6 2 I t w a s b e c a u s e of B e n j a m i n ' s belief t h a t m e t a p h y s i c a l essences were i m m e d i a t e l y visible within the facts t h a t A d o r n o w a s w a r y of t h e notion of "dialectical i m a g e s . " H e took literally B e n j a m i n ' s c o n t e n t i o n : " M e t h o d of this work: literary m o n t a g e . I h a v e n o t h i n g to say, only to s h o w , " 6 3 a n d p r e s u m e d t h a t a completed PassagenWerk w o u l d h a v e consisted of n o t h i n g m o r e t h a n a "shocklike m o n t a g e of the m a t e r i a l .

Not only nature, but all the categories in Benjamin's theoretical constructions have more than one meaning and value, making it possible for them to enter into various conceptual constellations. Adorno, in his speech on "Natural History," showed the influence of Benjamin when he spoke of a "logical structure" different from that of traditional philosophy, where concepts like nature and historv. mvth and transiencv had been distinp-uished from one another 67 3 Natural History: Fossil by "invariants" in their meaning.

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