Walter Benjamin Quotes

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Walter Benjamin

Benjamin in Paris, 1939
Born (1892-07-15)15 July 1892
Berlin, German Empire
Died 26 September 1940(1940-09-26) (aged 48)
Portbou, Catalonia, Spain
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Western Marxism
Marxist hermeneutics[1]
Main interests
Literary theory, aesthetics, philosophy of technology, epistemology, philosophy of language, philosophy of history
Notable ideas
Auratic perception,[2] aestheticization of politics, the flâneur

All human knowledge takes the form of interpretation.
Opinions are a private matter. The public has an interest only in judgments.
Walter Benjamin
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.
Walter Benjamin
Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector's passion borders on the chaos of memories.
Walter Benjamin
The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side of truth, wisdom, is dying out.
Walter Benjamin
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.
Walter Benjamin
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.
Walter Benjamin
Gifts must affect the receiver to the point of shock.
To be happy is to be able to become aware of oneself without fright.
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.
Walter Benjamin
The idea that happiness could have a share in beauty would be too much of a good thing.
Walter Benjamin
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.
Walter Benjamin
The only way of knowing a person is to love them without hope.
The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses.
Walter Benjamin
Genuine polemics approach a book as lovingly as a cannibal spices a baby.
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.
Walter Benjamin
The art of the critic in a nutshell: to coin slogans without betraying ideas. The slogans of an inadequate criticism peddle ideas to fashion.
Walter Benjamin
Death is the sanction of everything the story-teller can tell. He has borrowed his authority from death.
Walter Benjamin
Living substance conquers the frenzy of destruction only in the ecstasy of procreation.
Walter Benjamin
Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom.
Quotations in my work are like wayside robbers who leap out armed and relieve the stroller of his conviction.
Walter Benjamin
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.
Walter Benjamin
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.
Walter Benjamin
Books and harlots have their quarrels in public.
It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us.

Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom.
All disgust is originally disgust at touching.
The destructive character lives from the feeling, not that life is worth living, but that suicide is not worth the trouble.
Walter Benjamin
He who observes etiquette but objects to lying is like someone who dresses fashionably but wears no vest.
Walter Benjamin
Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away.
Walter Benjamin
The construction of life is at present in the power of facts far more than convictions.
Walter Benjamin