Title
Walter Benjamin's dialectics of attentiveness Walter Benjamin's dialectics of attentiveness
Author
Faculty/Department
Institute of Jewish Studies
Publication type
article
Publication
Washington, D.C. ,
Subject
Literature
Source (journal)
Symposium: a quarterly journal in modern foreign literatures / Syracuse University. Department of Romance Languages. - Washington, D.C.
Volume/pages
65(2011) :1 , p. 16-24
ISSN
0039-7709
ISI
000289250100003
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
Walter Benjamin's literary, phenomenological, and analytical reflections on the concept of attentiveness reveal how distinctly his critical thinking was attuned to new forms of perception that arose from the cultural and aesthetic transformations taking place in the early twentieth century. Challenging existing distinctions between different modes of attentiveness-mainly absorption and concentration-he explores a radical form of attentiveness that enlists unexpected components, such as distraction or the power of habit. Tracing the development of a critical approach to the concept from the early to the late works, this article provides insights into Benjamin's alternative idea of attentiveness, one that emerges from a dialectics of opposites and is aligned with a 'physical presence of mind' ('leibhaftige Geistesgegenwart').
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