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Benjamin's PassagesDreaming, Awakening$
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Alexander Gelley

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262564

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262564.001.0001

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Messianism, “Weak” and Otherwise

Messianism, “Weak” and Otherwise

Chapter:
(p.147) Six Messianism, “Weak” and Otherwise
Source:
Benjamin's Passages
Author(s):

Alexander Gelley

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823262564.003.0007

Messianism for Benjamin was in no sense the expectation of an ultimate redemption but rather a willingness to confront the extreme alternatives posed by the present situation. This messianism is not equivalent to a utopian position. Where a utopia is future directed, Benjamin’s messianism is radically presentist, in the sense of Vergegenwärtigung, which stresses the dimension of realization or fulfillment in a present moment. What Benjamin termed “weak” messianism in the Theses is consistent with the fundamentally performative aim of his writing, designed to awaken a readership by means of image, example, anecdote, citation. The intent of The Arcades Project was to realize a textual medium that would have the kind of capacity that Benjamin ascribed to fashion and to revolution-“a tiger’s leap into the past.” This chapter traces, in a series of evolving stages, a discontinuous messianic current in Benjamin’s work, beginning with his early “The Life of Students” and extending to his preoccupation with certain fantastic and parabolic narratives.

Keywords:   Judaism, Messianism, Parable, Utopian Politics, Haggada, The present-now (Jetztzeit)

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