Benjamin, Walter. Illuminations

Benjamin, Walter. Illuminations: Essays and Reflections. Harry Zohn, Trans. Hannah Arendt, Ed. New York: Schocken Books, 1968.

Especially: "Franz Kafka: On the Tenth Anniversary of his Death." p111 and "Some Reflections of Kafka," p 141.






Related Fragments:
the accusation is [not] sinful
But one must not conclude from Kafka’s definition that the accusation is sinful because it is false. Nowhere does Kafka say that it is made wrongfully. [Illuminations 114]...
plenty of hope
‘”Oh, plenty of hope, an infinite amount of hope—but not for us.’’ [Benjamin Quoting Kafka] [Illuminations 116]...
Kafka’s entire work constitutes a code of gestures
…Kafka’s entire work constitutes a code of gestures which surely had no definite symbolic meaning for the author from the outset; rather, the author tried to derive such meaning form then in ever-changing contexts and experimental groupings...
the gesture remains the decisive thing
…the gestures of Kafka’s figures are too powerful for our accustomed surroundings and break out into wider areas. The greater Kafka’s mastery became, the more frequently did he eschew adapting these gestures to common situations or ex...
The word “unfolding” has a double meaning
The word “unfolding” has a double meaning. A bud unfolds into a blossom, but the boat which one teachers children to make by folding paper unfolds into a flat sheet of paper. This second kind of “unfolding” is really appropriate...
his parables are never exhausted by what is explainable
Kafka had a rare capacity for creating parables himself. Yet his parables are never exhausted by what is explainable; on the contrary, he too all conceivable precautions against the interpretation of his writings. One has to find one’s way in...
he did not found a religion
Kafka was a writer of parables, but he did not found a religion [Illuminations 126]...
two ways to miss the point of Kafka’s works
There are two ways to miss the point of Kafka’s works. One is to interpret them naturally, the other is the supernatural interpretation. Both the psychoanalytic and the theological interpretations equally miss the essential points. [Illuminations...
an ellipse with foci that are far apart and are determined
Kafka’s work is an ellipse with foci that are far apart and are determined, on the one hand, by mystical experience (in particular, the experience of tradition) and, on the other, by the experience of the modern big-city dweller. [Illuminations...
The experience which corresponds to that of Kafka, the private individual
The experience which corresponds to that of Kafka, the private individual, will probably not become accessible to the masses until such time as they are being done away with. [Illuminations 143]...
If one says that he perceived what was to come
If one says that he perceived what was to come without perceiving what exists in the present, one should add that he perceived it essentially as an individual is affected by it [Illuminations 143]...
Kafka listened to tradition
Kafka listened to tradition, and he who listens hard does not see. [Illuminations 143]...
a sickness of tradition
Kafka’s word presents a sickness of tradition. [Illuminations 143]...
he sacrificed truth for the sake of clinging to its transmissibility
Kafka’s real genius was that he tried something entirely new: he sacrificed truth for the sake of clinging to its transmissibility, its haggadic element. Kafka’s writings are by their nature parables. But it is their misery and their beauty...
products of its decay
This is why, in regard to Kafka, we can no longer speak of wisdom. Only the products of its decay remain. [Illuminations 144]...
the purity and beauty of a failure
To do justice to the figure of Kafka in its purity and its peculiar beauty one must never lose sight of one thing: it is the purity and beauty of a failure. … There is nothing more memorable then the...
The law of his journey
Kafka, however, has found in the law of his journey—at least on one occasion he succeeded in bringing its breath-taking speed in line with the slow narrative pace that he presumably sought all his life. He expressed this in a...
Gestus
Kafka could understand things only in the form of a gestus, and this gestus which he did not understand constitutes the cloudy part of the parables. Kafka’s writings emanate from it. The way he withheld them is well known. His...
Exposé one: Critical Failure
The Failure of Narrativity: Benjamin's Kafka Exposé one: Critical Failure. What are you building?-I want to dig a subterranean passage. Some progress must be made. My station up there is much too high. We are digging the pit of Babel....
Exposé Three: Narrativity @ a Standstill
[back to Exposé Two] Kafka could understand things only in the form of a gestus, and this gestus which he did not understand constitutes the cloudy part of the parables. Kafka's writings emanate from it. [link] The "gestus", or gesture,...
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