>From: "John Grech" <[log in to unmask]>
>Subject: CFP: Creative Readings of Old Benjamin (Australia)
>Proposals for papers are invited for a panel at the "Walter Benjamin
>and the Architecture of Modernity" conference to be held in Sydney,
>August 17 - 19
>Panel Title; "Brushing Up Against The Grain": Creative readings
>(between the lines) of old Benjamin.
>Chair; John Grech
>Walter Benjamin often expresses his most profound thoughts with a
>poetic, mystical, and, one could add, subtle Kabbalistic tenor.
>Indeed, one of the features of his writing is that he seems quite
>deliberately careful to camouflage or remove the prospect of creating
>a direct, indexical significance of what he could be seen to be
>saying in his writing. Instead of providing textual certainty,
>Benjamin can sometimes leave his reader with a sense of the
>mysterious and elusive effect of language and the meaning it can
>This panel forefronts the textual ambiguity and uncertainty and seeks
>creative, innovative, alternative, and/or intertextual dialogues
>"between the lines" of part or the whole of Benjamin's oeuvre.
>Welcome approaches would re-read specific essays in Benjamin's work
>and open up, again, and interrogate the basic questions or problems
>they pose. For example, in "The Task of the Translator", why does
>Benjamin finally land in a bottomless abyss where the specific
>language of an author and their translator opens up to the infinitude
>of 'pure language'? Or, in "The Arcades Project", to what effect did
>he so carefully juxtapose the discarded shards of culture into an
>evocative walk through the arcades of historical debris? And, in
>"Theses on the Philosophy of History", what does the account of Paul
>Klee's 'Angelus Novus', amongst images of vanquished Carthagians and
>victorious ruling Romans, suggest about the way we re-member and
>re-collect the past?
>Other welcome approaches could re-interpret Benjamin's work into
>contemporary contexts and examine whether his work continues to be
>relevant. For example, turning to "The Work of Art in the Age of
>Mechanical Reproduction", Benjamin goes to great length to show that
>the greatest threat facing humanity is fascism, and the most powerful
>weapon the fascist dictator has is modern technology with its
>capacity to standardise the production of the artifact and
>universalise its meaning. But is such a virulent anti-totalitarian
>critique still relevant in a partial, oversaturated age of new media?
>And is Benjamin really saying that the 'aura' of the reproduced
>artifact is irretrievably depleted? So how do contemporary advocates
>of global democracy respond to his critique of the social bonds and
>cultural relations produced through reproduced/reproducing objects?
>Then Benjamin ends the "Mechanical Reproduction" essay by portraying
>communism as a great liberator of humanity, but who, after 1989, or,
>in fact, after Sartre after Kruschev, still believes this? Is there
>something still in old Benjamin's consideration of communism that
>remains productive? What does Benjamin offer in a post 9/11 world?
>In addressing such or other questions, this panel asks whether there
>is an overarching project in Benjamin's writing, and if there is,
>whether that project is yet, and is always in need of being
>Abstracts of 300 words should be submitted to John Grech
><[log in to unmask]> by 16th June.
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