Benjamin in Paris, 1939
15 July 1892|
Berlin, German Empire
|Died||26 September 1940
Portbou, Catalonia, Spain
|Literary theory, aesthetics, philosophy of technology, epistemology, philosophy of language, philosophy of history|
|Auratic perception, aestheticization of politics, the flÃ¢neur|
Opinions are a private matter. The public has an interest only in judgments.
Memory is not an instrument for exploring the past but its theatre. It is the medium of past experience, as the ground is the medium in which dead cities lie interred.
Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector's passion borders on the chaos of memories.
The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side of truth, wisdom, is dying out.
It is precisely the purpose of the public opinion generated by the press to make the public incapable of judging, to insinuate into it the attitude of someone irresponsible, uninformed.
The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again.
Work on good prose has three steps: a musical stage when it is composed, an architectonic one when it is built, and a textile one when it is woven.
The idea that happiness could have a share in beauty would be too much of a good thing.
The adjustment of reality to the masses and of the masses to reality is a process of unlimited scope, as much for thinking as for perception.
The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses.
Opinions are to the vast apparatus of social existence what oil is to machines: one does not go up to a turbine and pour machine oil over it; one applies a little to hidden spindles and joints that one has to know.
The art of the critic in a nutshell: to coin slogans without betraying ideas. The slogans of an inadequate criticism peddle ideas to fashion.
Death is the sanction of everything the story-teller can tell. He has borrowed his authority from death.
Living substance conquers the frenzy of destruction only in the ecstasy of procreation.
Quotations in my work are like wayside robbers who leap out armed and relieve the stroller of his conviction.
Of all the ways of acquiring books, writing them oneself is regarded as the most praiseworthy method. Writers are really people who write books not because they are poor, but because they are dissatisfied with the books which they could buy but do not like.
The greater the decrease in the social significance of an art form, the sharper the distinction between criticism and enjoyment by the public. The conventional is uncritically enjoyed, and the truly new is criticized with aversion.
The destructive character lives from the feeling, not that life is worth living, but that suicide is not worth the trouble.
He who observes etiquette but objects to lying is like someone who dresses fashionably but wears no vest.
Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away.
The construction of life is at present in the power of facts far more than convictions.