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ISSN 0869-5377
Author: Richter Gerhard

Richter Gerhard

Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature, Chair of German Studies, Brown University, 190 Hope str., Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.


Straying, Drifting, Inheriting: Walter Benjamin’s The Moscow Diary / Logos. 2018. № 1 (122). P. 157-178
annotation:  This essay investigates the relationship between, on the one hand, Walter Benjamin’s concept of cultural, theoretical, and personal inheritance, and, on the other hand, his phenomenologically inflected account of Moscow as it emerges in his Moscow Diary (written in the winter months of 1926–1927). Here, nothing safeguards the conceptual or experiential redemption of Benjamin’s drifting through the streets of Moscow or his enigmatic encounters there with Mayakovsky, Bely, and Lelevich. Instead, the act of inheriting is intricately bound up with the permanent possibility of absolute failure, radical loss, uncircumventable finitude, and inconsolable mourning — much like Benjamin’s experience of Moscow itself, in which, as he writes, “nowhere does Moscow look like the city itself.” On the far side of systematicity and closure, the time of inheritance, like Benjamin’s time of history itself, emerges as infinite and open, unfulfilled and therefore radically other-directed. These new forms of inheriting and their attendant acts of reading will wish to show themselves receptive both to the demand for slowness, care, and circumspection and to the irrepressible political urgency that not only suffuses Benjamin’s image of Moscow but also inflects his subsequent image, two years later in the essay on Surrealism, of the historical alarm clock that accompanies the movement of straying by ringing, not occasionally, but for sixty seconds every minute.
Keywords:  Walter Benjamin; The Moscow Diary; inheritance; philosophy of history; Moscow; interpretation
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