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ConstellationFriedrich Nietzsche and Walter Benjamin in the Now-Time of History$
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James McFarland

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823245369

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823245369.001.0001

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Mad Maturity

Mad Maturity

(p.208) Chapter Five Mad Maturity

James McFarland

Fordham University Press

This chapter presents the final political aspect of Benjamin's relation to Nietzsche, beginning with Benjamin's radically historicized notion of translation and Nietzsche's mysterious doctrine of posthumous birth. This radical historical relationship clarifies an essentially conspiratorial aspect in Benjamin's intellectual profile. Benjamin realized the dialogical shape of his thought by collaborating with mutually antithetical associates, a practice that strained the consistency of his own position but enabled him to extend his conceptions to extremes they otherwise might never reach. The conflict between Bertolt Brecht and Benjamin's associates at the Institute of Social Research illustrate this tension. The figure of Nietzsche localizes this possibility. In the course of his vast exploration of the 19th century Parisian Arcades, Benjamin reencounters Nietzsche's doctrine of the eternal return of the same, which he transforms into his own formula: the new and always the same. This is the temporality of contemporary life, against which happiness can only appear as the ghost of a possibility in the now-time.

Keywords:   Arcades Project, Bertolt Brecht, Eternal Return, Auguste Blanqui, Happiness, Now-Time

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