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ISSN 0869-5377
Author: Savchenkova Nina

Savchenkova Nina

Professor at Department of Problems of Interdisciplinary Synthesis in the Field of Social Sciences and Humanities, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Smolny College), St. Petersburg State University (SPbU), 58–60 Galernaya str., St. Petersburg 190000, Russia.


“Amour pour rien”: Techniques of Affective Mimesis by Walter Benjamin / Logos. 2018. № 1 (122). P. 87-98
annotation:  The article attempts to examine The Moscow Diary by Walter Benjamin through the perspective of his theory of mimesis. Mimetic techniques have served Benjamin for not only hermeneutic purposes. With their help, he constructed his own affective experience and way of being in culture. Thus, one of the possible ways of understanding The Moscow Diary is to see this text as a rhetorical and mimetic gesture, organized in a highly complex manner, simultaneously presenting a paradoxical form of love, an understanding of the craft of writing, and the concept of the city. The basis for this gesture is Benjamin’s mimetic theory, which understands imitations as “concentrations of similarities.” Benjamin believes that similarities, which used to pervade the macrocosm, changed their scale and lost their sensual incarnation, becoming “unsensible similarities.” For him, such a metamorphosis is ambiguous, as it sharpens mimetic perception. The mimetic ability becomes focused primarily in language: in the letter. The writer, constantly honing their ability to work with the simulacra of implied and written, stated and written, is thereby responsible for the “techne” of language, and thus affects the most essential processes of life. For Benjamin, writing not only becomes a magical tool for describing reality, but also for acting on it. For him, the prose Nikolai Leskov associated with the new image of the storyteller as a craftsman is a model of virtuosity and technical perfection. It provides Benjamin with the concept of “craft of communication” that allows him to simultaneously save the phantasm of the beloved as the “pearl without a flaw,” to expand the space of his own sensuality, and to constitute the experience of love as “amour pour rien,” or “love without reason.” Leskov’s short novel, Senseless Love, may be viewed as a close precedent to Benjamin, and allows him to form its own position in relation to Asya Lacis as grounded in the experience of the Real, i.e., that which is associated with the metaphysical absurdity of the experience of faith.
Keywords:  feeling; invention of love; mimetic techniques; unsensible similarity; blindness; touch experience
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