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The Other Jewish QuestionIdentifying the Jew and Making Sense of Modernity$
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Jay Geller

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823233618

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823233618.001.0001

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Walter Benjamin Reproducing the Scent of the Messianic

Walter Benjamin Reproducing the Scent of the Messianic

(p.256) Chapter 9 Walter Benjamin Reproducing the Scent of the Messianic
The Other Jewish Question

Jay Geller

Fordham University Press

This chapter explores how Walter Benjamin sought to mediate the duality of German and Jew in his writings. It focuses on two primary “names” by which he analyzed modernity, aura and mimesis, and how they emerged, respectively, from smell and reproduction: two principal sites for the social and scientific identification of alterity, generally, and Jewish difference, specifically. It then traces the remains of those sites throughout Benjamin's work. The analysis is furthered by juxtaposing his corpus with contemporary writings familiar to him, notably by Sigmund Freud and Ludwig Klages, and by examining Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer's olfactory analysis of antisemitism and its relationship to mimesis in Dialectic of Enlightenment. It concludes by essaying whether Benjamin and other Jewish-identified authors commerce with the Other Jewish Question was “endowed with a weak Messianic power.”

Keywords:   aura, Walter Benjamin, Dialectic of Enlightenment, Sigmund Freud, German, Jew, messianic, mimesis, reproduction, smell

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