Benjamin's PassagesDreaming, Awakening

Benjamin's PassagesDreaming, Awakening

Alexander Gelley

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780823262564

Publisher: Fordham University Press


In transposing the Freudian dream work from the individual subject to the collective, Walter Benjamin projected a “macroscosmic journey” of the individual sleeper to “the dreaming collective, which, through the arcades, communes with its own insides.” This book examines the figurative status of sleeping and awakening within the allegorical structure of The Arcades Project and in Benjamin’s thought more broadly. For Benjamin, memory is not antiquarian: it functions as a solicitation, a call to a collectivity to come. The motif of awakening involves a qualified but crucial performative intention that was central to Benjamin’s undertaking. Benjamin’s passages are not just the Paris arcades: they refer also to Benjamin’s effort to negotiate the labyrinth of his writings. In tracing these corridors of thought, the book treats many of Benjamin’s most important works and examines important critical questions: the interplay of aesthetics and politics, the genre of The Arcades Project, citation, language, messianism, aura and image, and the motifs of memory, the crowd, and awakening.