Sunday, 17 May 2009

Finally the beginnings of another conversation about Walter Benjamin

We have been waiting for another conversation about Walter Benjamin for over 25 years so Friday's Le Monde des Livres has given us much food for future conversation with an article entitled "WB, un rebelle en exil" reviewing both Bruno Tackels' Walter Benjamin. Une vie dans les textes and Antonia Birnbaum's Bonheur Justice Walter Benjamin.

The reviewer senses that "rather than interpreting Benjamin's writing through his life Tackels shows how his work was in many ways Benjamin's way of questioning his own existence."

It is a beautifully written review

[Les deux livres] nous permettent de mieux prendre la mesure d'une pensée aussi intempestive qu'inépuisable, qui irrigue - par des canaux parfois secrets - le plus vif de notre modernité.
and one word in particular from the review of Antonia Birnbaum's book sticks with me. Her book is based on a "shard" - une écharde - of an idea in Benjamin's doctoral thesis. One idea, two words, leading to a whole book. I think that is wonderful. It reminded me of Simone Sinn's preaching on Maundy Thursday on the idea of fragments, somehow I am finding great consolation in the philosophical, theological and linguistic potential of shards and fragments.
Now as for that conversation about Walter Benjamin, I rather feel we were too busy reading, writing, translating and packing to talk much about him - we really must set a date for a café des philosophes!