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PHILOSOPHICAL
LITERARY
JOURNAL
ISSN 0869-5377
The Logos Journal

The Aura of History and the Dialectical Imagination in Walter Benjamin’s Passages


Author: Travnikov Semyon

About author:
Postgraduate Student, travnikov.semyon@gmail.com. State Institute for Art Studies of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, 5 Kozitsky ln, Moscow 125009, Russia.

Annotation:
The article investigates Walter Benjamin’s early notes, Protocols of Drug Experiments (Protokolle zu Drogenversuchen, 1927–1934), which describe direct impressions of the “aura” phenomenon. The reading of these texts sheds light on the subsequent descriptions of the notion of aura in Passages (Das Passagen-Werk) and other works by Benjamin, and also clarifies certain elements of the subsequent discussions of the aura in contemporary aesthetics. In these discussions, the aura is characterized as an “ornamental halo” around all things, which completely changes with each of their movement, and “things” are described as “mannequins” clothed in “historical events.” Comparing these and other descriptions with the concepts of the synesthetic sys¬tem of sensuality (Susan Buck-Morse), the loss of the aura as the liberation of meaning (Jurgen Habermas), and the inspiration of the consumption experience (György Markush), we come to the interpretation of the aura as the perceived historicity of things. The theory of the aura is here part of the program of “saving history for philosophy.” Such a conception allows us to rethink the methodology of the dialectical imagination in the historiography of the Arcades Project.

Keywords: Walter Benjamin; Ernst Bloch; “Passages”; aura; ornament

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