By James McFarland
Constellation is the 1st prolonged exploration of the connection among Walter Benjamin, the Weimar-era progressive cultural critic, and the novel thinker Friedrich Nietzsche. The affinity among those noncontemporaneous thinkers serves as a restrict case manifesting the precariousness and potentials of cultural transmission in a upset present.
In 5 chapters, Constellation provides the altering determine of Nietzsche as Benjamin encountered him: an idea to his scholar activism, an expert for his skeptical philology, a manifestation of his philosophical nihilism, a spouse in his political exile, and finally a subversive collaborator in his efforts to imagine past the hopeless temporality--new and consistently the same--of the current second in history.
By excavating this overlooked courting philologically and elaborating its philosophical implications within the surviving texts of either males, Constellation produces new and compelling readings in their works and during them triangulates a theoretical restrict within the current, a fractured "now-time" suspended among insanity and suicide, from which the collective destiny regains a degree of consequential and transformative vitality.
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Extra info for Constellation: Friedrich Nietzsche and Walter Benjamin in the Now-Time of History
Chapter One Mortal Youth The You is older than the I; the You has been sanctified, but not yet the I: thus man pushes himself toward his neighbor. —Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “On Love of One’s Neighbor” A Youthful Facies Taking, for reasons that will prove to be not wholly arbitrary, 8 August 1914 as a terminus ad quem for the juvenilia in Benjamin’s oeuvre, we face a heterogeneous body of material. Some twenty essays, a few primitive verses, the first pages of a novella, ninety-one letters, several travel diaries, scattered fragments on philosophical topics, a book review, a curriculum vitae.
Not a confirming star from above but this self-sustaining constellation of force and its impediment produces the inexorable climb. What in the proposal of marriage had been the belief “that a connection would let each of us become freer and better than would be possible alone, that is, excelsior,” has shifted into this self-referential antagonism. This counterimpulse changes its valence but continues to attend the call for ascent because, without an authorizing origin or legitimizing telos, the riven impulse of excelsior can appear only against an intrinsic antagonism that registers its course.
The abyss of Nietzsche’s madness does not open beneath his philosophical work as judgment. Nor can it be cleanly separated from that work. It opens, for better or for worse, between Nietzsche and interpretive efforts. In the dark Paris room, the catatonic Benjamin begins to revive. A shiver courses through his body; he hallucinates the sorrow and suffering of the world as a net dragged across his skin. And then Nietzsche enters explicitly. 2 The image of the Förster House is vividly present to the test subject.
Constellation: Friedrich Nietzsche and Walter Benjamin in the Now-Time of History by James McFarland