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Walter Benjamin : the production of an intellectual figure Hoenle, Sandra Vivian Berta 1999

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WALTER THE PRODUCTION  BENJAMIN  OF A N I N T E L L E C T U A L  FIGURE  by SANDRA VIVIAN BERT A HOENLE  B . A . , w i t h D i s t i n c t i o n , T h e University o f C a l g a r y , 1977 M . A . , T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f Calgary, 1987 A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T O F THE REQUIREMENTS  FOR T H E D E G R E E OF  DOCTOR OF  PHILOSOPHY in  THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES Department o f E d u c a t i o n a l Studies W e accept this thesis as c o n f o r m i n g to the required standard  T H E U N I V E R S I T Y OF BRITISH. December  COLUMBIA  1999  © Sandra V i v i a n B e r t a H o e n l e , 1999  In  presenting  degree freely  at  this  the  available  copying  of  department publication  of  in  partial  fulfilment  University  of  British  Columbia,  for  this or  thesis  reference and  thesis by  this  for  his thesis  scholarly  or for  her  Department  DE-6  (2788)  Columbia  I  I further  purposes  gain  the  shall  requirements  agree  that  agree  may  representatives.  financial  permission.  The University of British Vancouver, Canada  study.  of  be  It not  is  that  the  Library  permission  granted  by  understood be  for  allowed  an  advanced  shall for  the that  without  make  it  extensive  head  of  my  copying  or  my  written  11  Abstract W a l t e r B e n j a m i n ( 1 8 9 2 - 1 9 4 0 ) , a twentieth-century J e w i s h - G e r m a n intellectual, has recently achieved i c o n i c status; h o w e v e r , during his lifetime, many scholars considered him to be a failure. This substantial shift in scholarly attitude invites questions c o n c e r n i n g h o w intellectual figures are u n d e r s t o o d and constructed within academia. C u l t u r a l studies has renewed and enlarged the sphere o f interest in B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k while, at the same time, c a n o n i z i n g and thus freezing it. T h i s dissertation addresses the non-canonical side o f the p r o d u c t i o n o f W a l t e r B e n j a m i n and, in so d o i n g , shows what traditional scholarship has o v e r l o o k e d — the effect o f the s o - c a l l e d " p r i v a t e " sphere on so-called " p u b l i c " intellectuals. T h e dominant m o d e l for traditional scholarly studies remains both abstract and linear: it consists o f tracing the influence o f one (usually male) scholar u p o n another. T h i s dissertation disrupts the tacit assumptions behind such an approach to k n o w l e d g e by s h o w i n g h o w intellectuals are p r o d u c e d both by and at the intersections o f the public and the private. T h e general scholarly acceptance o f this false d i c h o t o m y , c o m m o n l y referred to as the public/private split, has resulted in v i e w i n g scholars as t h o u g h they exist in an abstract realm o f ideas rather than in a concrete realm o f lived reality. I d r a w o n and add to the insights o f feminist and cultural studies scholars w h o have attempted to s h o w h o w p e o p l e ' s interested contradictory locations, defined, as they are, by class, religion, ethnicity, gender, and so on, intersect with and affect their publicly constructed identities. T o this end, my study provides a concrete example o f h o w one particular intellectual, W a l t e r B e n j a m i n , has been (and continues to be) p r o d u c e d w i t h i n specific historical, social, and cultural contexts.  iii  Table of Contents Abstract  ii  Acknowledgements  ,  iv  Dedication  v  Introduction  1  Chapter 1  Literature O v e r v i e w : Identifying the Issues  18  Introduction  18  Overview  22  Conclusion  50  Chapter 2  Personal Genealogy: M e t h o d o l o g y and T h e o r y  52  Chapter 3  B e n j a m i n ' s Social and F a m i l i a l Situation  72  D o r a Sophie K e l l n e r / P o l l a k / B e n j a m i n / M o r s e r  and the D i s c o u r s e o f the W i f e  88  Chapter 4  B o u n d a r i e s o f K n o w l e d g e : Benjamin as a " F a i l u r e "  Chapter 5  C a p r i , 1924: L a c i s and Benjamin: P o r o u s L i n e s o f D e m a r c a t i o n  Chapter 6  L a c i s , M o s c o w and R a d i o Pedagogy  186  Chapter 7  Conclusion  216  Works Cited and Consulted  110  . . . 143  224  iv  Acknowledgements I w o u l d like to sincerely thank my advisor, D r . L e s l i e R o m a n , and my research committee, D r . Jean B a r m a n , D r . Steven Taubeneck, and D r . Geoffrey W i n t h r o p - Y o u n g , for all o f their extremely valuable assistance and support during the various stages o f the p r o l o n g e d gestation and difficult birth o f this dissertation. In particular, I w i s h to express m y deep gratitude to D r . L e s l i e R o m a n for her guidance t h r o u g h my explorations o f feminist theories and critical pedagogies and for her c o n t i n u e d energetic support throughout the duration o f this project. M y heartfelt thanks g o to D r . F l o r e n t i n e S t r z e l c z y k for her friendship and u n w a v e r i n g support. I w o u l d also like to c o n v e y m y indebtedness to M s . Joanne R i c h a r d s o n and M s . R o s v i t a V a s k a . F i n a l l y , I w i s h to express my l o v i n g gratitude to my husband, Jiirgen B a h r , w h o unquestioningly assumed the role o f " w i f e " whenever there were insufficient hours in the day for me to contribute to the running o f o u r h o u s e h o l d , and w h o has steadfastly supported me in a multitude o f ways.  V  Dedication T h i s dissertation is dedicated w i t h l o v e to my mother, Inge G e i d e r . H e r u n c o n d i t i o n a l l o v e together w i t h her support for this and all o f my endeavours has helped me step t h r o u g h d o o r s o f possibility that w e r e held shut to her by her o w n historical, social, and cultural contexts.  1  Introduction T h i s project is located at the intersection o f cultural studies and critical pedagogy — interdisciplinary fields that have developed in similar and often parallel ways d u r i n g the past t w o decades. These t w o areas understand culture as process rather than product, and they characterize k n o w l e d g e p r o d u c t i o n as one instance o f cultural p r o d u c t i o n . I c o n t e n d that these t w o areas intersect at numerous points that can and should be brought into p r o d u c t i v e dialogue w i t h one another. P r o c e e d i n g from this shared c o n c e p t i o n o f culture and k n o w l e d g e , this study examines w a y s o f understanding intellectual figures a c c o r d i n g to the premise, again c o m m o n to b o t h fields, that identity and subjectivity are f o r m e d in and by every sphere o f existence. M o r e o v e r , these spheres are all social sites that depend o n cultural conditions (Johnson 11). T h e subject o f this analysis is W a l t e r B e n j a m i n , a figure w h o s e w o r k has been used and examined i n b o t h fields and, therefore, may function to show h o w and where they intersect. W h i l e there are numerous ways o f defining cultural studies and critical pedagogy, the definitions relevant to this study are those that are derived from the w o r k o f the B i r m i n g h a m Centre o f C u l t u r a l Studies. These fields have four things in c o m m o n : First, both fields are interdisciplinary. W h i l e disciplinary w o r k places its subjects o f study w i t h i n specific, established f r a m e w o r k s and methodologies, p o s i t i o n i n g them w i t h regard to the w o r k o f others w i t h i n that discipline, interdisciplinary studies o c c u r at the intersection o f various disciplines, b r i n g i n g n e w insights that may not be seen from w i t h i n a single discipline. F r o m this it f o l l o w s that each examined subject is embedded within its o w n specific context and that each new c u l t u r a l c o n t e x t suggests a particular m e t h o d o l o g i c a l constellation rather than a n e w m e t h o d or theory ( D e n h a m , K a c a n d e s , and P e t r o p o u l o s 16; emphasis in original). B o t h fields also examine not only a chosen object o f study, but also the means by w h i c h k n o w l e d g e about that subject is determined; that is, they attempt to understand the problematic nature o f k n o w l e d g e claims ( M i c h e l  2  33) by e x a m i n i n g k n o w l e d g e not as a product but as a process. T h e y do not seek "truth"; rather, they attempt to understand h o w "truth" is produced, and they do this by t a k i n g a critical attitude t o w a r d s b o t h their objects o f study and their o w n practices (Taubeneck 162). T h i s p r o n o u n c e d shift o f attention f r o m p r o d u c t to process is accompanied by a pedagogical shift from transmission, mastery, and r e p r o d u c t i o n to interaction, critical engagement, and p r o d u c t i o n . T h e second thing that both fields have in c o m m o n is that they generally agree w i t h Stuart H a l l ' s definition o f culture as "both the meanings and values w h i c h arise amongst distinctive groups and classes, o n the basis o f their given historical conditions and relationships t h r o u g h w h i c h they 'handle' and respond to the c o n d i t i o n s o f existence;  arid as the lived traditions and practices  t h r o u g h w h i c h these 'understandings' are expressed and in w h i c h they are e m b o d i e d " ( " C u l t u r a l Studies; T w o P a r a d i g m s " 527; emphasis in original). Consequently, culture is u n d e r s t o o d not i n terms o f artefacts or objects, but in terms o f numerous processes simultaneously o c c u r r i n g w i t h i n all social spheres. T h u s cultural objects, such as texts, are not examined for what they are but, rather, for why and how a society has labelled them in certain w a y s (e.g., as beautiful or true) (Kacandes  11; emphasis  in original). T h e analysis o f c u l t u r a l processes  occurs w i t h i n an  understanding o f culture as primarily relational. Y e t these relations represent neither harmony nor homogeneity but, rather, a creative tension between possibly contradictory elements ( D e n h a m , K a c a n d e s , and P e t r o p o u l o s  16). S u c h tension facilitates the detection and understanding o f the  dynamics o f cultural processes. G i v e n that culture is comprised o f numerous relational processes, there can be no final answers to questions, as processes continually shift and change. Consequently, both fields are engaged in projects that, by definition, can never be completed. T h e third thing that cultural studies and critical pedagogy have in c o m m o n is their general perception that education is closely linked to culture. A s R i c h a r d J o h n s o n has argued, cultural studies and educational practices and processes are interdependent (6). Investigations c o n c e r n i n g  3  education ask questions relating to h o w , by w h o m , and for w h o m k n o w l e d g e is p r o d u c e d and disseminated. R e l a t e d to education are issues concerning intellectuals. W i t h i n the t w o fields under discussion, the intellectual is understood as a cultural phenomenon inhabiting a particular subject position. A s J o h n s o n maintains, " [ s u b j e c t i v i t i e s are formed in every sphere o f existence, i n all social sites that all depend o n cultural c o n d i t i o n s " (11). In other w o r d s , intellectuals are constructed at many sites, not o n l y i n those related to institutions o f formal learning. Twentieth-century G e r m a n J e w i s h intellectual W a l t e r Benjamin was constructed in many w a y s and in many locations, both during his life and after. U n d e r s t a n d i n g the intellectual as a cultural phenomenon a l l o w s for a fuller, less distorted examination o f intellectual figures — an examination that l o o k s not for where they fit in relation to others in the same field but, rather, for h o w they fit within their respective social and cultural contexts. These contexts contain both public and private spheres, situations o f both formal and informal education. Intellectuals are made not only at their desks and in lecture halls, but also around the k i t c h e n table. A consequence o f taking into account both public and private spheres is that people other than intellectuals are enabled to speak. U n t i l recently, the intellectual has o c c u p i e d a privileged position w i t h regard to k n o w l e d g e p r o d u c t i o n and dissemination — a p o s i t i o n that has been increasingly challenged. C u l t u r a l studies and critical pedagogy problematize this p o s i t i o n o f authority and, in so d o i n g , make the connections between scholarship and society more obvious. Benjamin, like other intellectual figures, is neither a harmonious w h o l e nor a homogeneous entity but, rather, a c o m p l e x , often ambiguous and contradictory figure. M o r e o v e r , B e n j a m i n the intellectual is inseparable from Benjamin the man, for the social contexts w i t h i n w h i c h he lived f o r m e d b o t h h i m and his w o r k . H i s private life and informal educational and social situations contributed to shaping h i m as m u c h as did the social institutions w i t h w h i c h he was associated.  4  T h i s brings me to the final thing that cultural studies and critical pedagogy have in c o m m o n : namely, their politics. B o t h fields are political in that they assume that practice matters and that intellectual w o r k both can and should make a difference (Nelson, Treichler, and G r o s s b e r g 6). A s Irene K a c a n d e s maintains, "[o]ne o f the w a y s in w h i c h cultural studies tries to make a difference is b y s h o w i n g just what is 'at stake' in the w o r l d around us, that is by naming and i n v e s t i g a t i n g categories that are inherently relevant to c o n t e m p o r a r y societies" (10). In the w o r d s o f G r a h a m M u r d o c k , " m a k i n g a difference" is " m a k i n g available the repertoire o f meanings t h r o u g h w h i c h the social w o r l d ... is understood and acted o n " (68). T h e questions that w e ask ourselves, the w o r k w e do, and the connections between that w o r k and the society in w h i c h w e live should all, in some w a y , contribute to i m p r o v i n g the general social welfare ( D e n h a m , K a c a n d e s , and P e t r o p o u l o s 1), to " m a k i n g the goal o f k n o w i n g the w o r l d subserve the goal o f eliminating injustice in it" ( L u t z 308). T h e importance o f seeking social justice and connecting intellectual w o r k to its cultural/social context may be seen in the m a k i n g o f W a l t e r Benjamin.  Overview of Chapters Chapter One Chapter 1 provides a b r i e f o v e r v i e w o f Benjamin scholarship. T h e major w o r k s r e v i e w e d maintain the separation o f public and private, referring to the latter, i f at all, as b a c k g r o u n d to, rather than as constitutive of, B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k . M a n y o f the w o r k s that attempt to p r o v i d e an overall understanding o f Benjamin's oeiivre do so by classifying him as a particular k i n d o f scholar w i t h i n a specific scholarly tradition. M o s t attempt to determine whether B e n j a m i n is messianic or materialistic, w h i l e others focus on elucidating the p s y c h o l o g i c a l and institutional w a y s in w h i c h he has been constructed as a failure. T h e messianic-versus-materialist distinction that was prominent in earlier research has gradually given w a y to understandings that attempt to s h o w that B e n j a m i n  5  was, in fact, both, w i t h his early w o r k being primarily messianic and his later w o r k being primarily materialistic. These sorts o f classifications p r o v i d e a strategy that effectively silences those dimensions o f B e n j a m i n and his w o r k that do not fit pre-established categories.  1  S u c h p o l a r i z e d understandings o f Benjamin are problematic in that they posit separate and o p p o s i n g spheres that render relational understandings virtually impossible and leave numerous dimensions o f his life and w o r k u n e x a m i n e d . Specifically, the private realm remains unexplored, and, w i t h it, all those elements traditionally held to be external to the intellectual (public) realm: emotions, interpersonal relationships, reproductive and maintenance w o r k , and the role o f gender. F o r example, m y survey o f h o w A s j a L a c i s has been portrayed illustrates that, regardless o f her many accomplishments and the significant role she played in Benjamin's life and w o r k , she is generally either dismissed or understood as a pleasant diversion. Sometimes she appears in the role o f a m y t h o l o g i z e d figure: as A r i a d n e or as a muse to the genius, B e n j a m i n . T o date, there has been no satisfactory w a y o f explaining L a c i s ' role in B e n j a m i n ' s life. O v e r a l l , w i t h i n the fields o f critical pedagogy and cultural studies in Great B r i t a i n and N o r t h A m e r i c a , engagement w i t h B e n j a m i n is both diverse and uneven, ranging f r o m detailed analyses to brief references. Iain C h a m b e r s and R o g e r S i m o n p r o v i d e examples o f h o w B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k may be used to gain insights into popular culture (Chambers) and the practices o f remembrance and c o m m e m o r a t i o n (Simon). M o s t c o m m o n l y , however, those w h o cite B e n j a m i n as an authority do not engage w i t h any aspect o f his w o r k . S u c h studies, a m o n g them G i r o u x ' s and M c L a r e n ' s w o r k , demonstrate that B e n j a m i n has become an icon — someone w h o s e function is to represent an idea  ' The verb "to silence" generally denotes intentionality. I use this verb neither to imply that individuals consciously set out to purge certain aspects of Benjamin's habilitation process nor to imply that there was a university conspiracy against him; rather, 1 believe that the underlying assumptions concerning what constitutes a successful scholar effectively silenced certain aspects o f his habilitation because, for various (often unexamined) reasons, they were considered of no relevance.  6 o r attitude. C o m m o n to all o f the studies reviewed is that they deal w i t h B e n j a m i n as an idea rather than as a person. In sum, there are large gaps and silences in the Benjamin literature, primarily w i t h respect to the intersection o f the public and the private, the intellectual and the emotional, and the role o f w o m e n in Benjamin's life and w o r k . T h e aim o f my project is to begin to bridge those gaps and to begin rethinking a number o f assumptions underlying scholarly w o r k that, by virtually i g n o r i n g the private, the emotional, and w o m e n , portrays the m a k i n g o f intellectual figures as abstracted from social contexts.  Chapter Two Chapter 2 provides the theoretical and m e t h o d o l o g i c a l f r a m e w o r k for my analysis o f Benjamin. I accept D o r o t h y S m i t h ' s assertion that the scholarly p r o d u c t i o n o f k n o w l e d g e is subject to different regimes o f truth at different junctures and that the f r a m e w o r k s w i t h i n w h i c h "great" intellectual figures are examined determine which dimensions o f their lives and w o r k s are v a l o r i z e d and w h i c h are silenced. I accept T o r i l M o i ' s notion that k n o w l e d g e about intellectual figures is " m a d e " by a n e t w o r k o f discourses that includes various strands, such as gender, religion, race, location, and class. A s examining all o f these interrelated dimensions w o u l d be t o o formidable a task for one dissertation, I concentrate on gender, while indicating h o w gender intersects w i t h other social locations by class, ethnicity, religion, and nation. A s M o i and others have noted, intellectual figures generally b e c o m e the subject o f research in t w o forms: (1) biography, w h i c h examines "life"; and (2) literary-cultural criticism, w h i c h examines an aestheticized form o f their intellectual w o r k . T h e theory and practice o f this split is both informed by and reinforces the still prevalent public/private d i c h o t o m y . B e c a u s e the implicit assumption that w o m e n belong in the private sphere is still predominant in B e n j a m i n scholarship,  7  w o m e n ' s contributions to m a k i n g B e n j a m i n as a public intellectual figure are devalued, m i n i m i z e d , or ignored. M o i points out that intellectuals are often reduced to a concept or a set o f ideas. Thus, for example, B e n j a m i n is often reduced to his idea o f "rubbing history against the g r a i n . " H e r criticism o f h o w intellectual figures are understood leads her to propose the m e t h o d o f personal genealogy — a relational analysis that includes both the private and the p u b l i c and that stands counter to most scholarly analysis, w h i c h contents itself w i t h l o o k i n g at abstract interactions between ideas. T h e method o f personal genealogy provides a means o f examining h o w cultural and educational processes contribute to the m a k i n g o f an intellectual. It is both gendered and situated, thus including the w h o l e person. A s N a n c y M i l l e r asserts, " p u b l i c spaces o f institutional life remain haunted by the emotions institutional authority prefers to exclude: desire, love, anxiety, p a i n " (983). M o i insists that there should be no m e t h o d o l o g i c a l distinction between a p e r s o n ' s written texts and her/his life texts. L i k e M o i , I begin from the premise that numerous written and life texts intersect to " m a k e " the person b e i n g analyzed. T h e verb "to m a k e " indicates: (1) h o w the educational institution produced and continues to produce Benjamin, first through the process o f his education and then through research about h i m ; (2) h o w he was/is produced by his o w n texts; and (3) h o w he was/is p r o d u c e d by his gendered social position. I analyze the c o m p l e x intersections o f the multiple dimensions o f B e n j a m i n ' s life and w o r k in a relational manner; that is, both w i t h and against one another. M o i ' s study focuses on m a k i n g meanings, whereas my study, w h i c h is based o n a materialist understanding o f discursive analysis, focuses on issues o f p o w e r relations and materiality. B y discourse I refer to a process that both forms and is formed by material reality and, as such, has material consequences w i t h i n specific social and historical contexts. T h u s meanings are not neutral but, rather, privilege certain groups and specific kinds o f knowledge. This being the case, academics  8 need to be accountable for the formative role their w o r k plays in the p r o d u c t i o n o f k n o w l e d g e . In this c o n n e c t i o n , I turn to Jaequi A l e x a n d e r and C h a n d r a Talpade M o h a n t y , w h o explain that accountability i n v o l v e s not only devising critical analytic tools and t a k i n g responsibility for them, but also finding new and more accurate ways o f understanding the w o r l d . T h e goal o f these new understandings should be social justice. T h e challenge I undertake is t w o f o l d : (1) to a v o i d the prevalent bifurcation that either reduces the intellectual's accomplishments to effects o f personal circumstances o r v i e w s those accomplishments as aesthetic objects, "undefined" by life; and (2) to p r o v i d e a feminist analysis o f W a l t e r B e n j a m i n that foregrounds the dimension o f gender and critiques and disrupts the still prevalent public/private, professional/personal split. Feminist scholarship r e c o g n i z e s the need to examine h o w k n o w l e d g e is p r o d u c e d at various intersections o f p u b l i c and private. A s M a g d a L e w i s has observed: " K n o w l e d g e p r o d u c t i o n is always the result o f our intellectual efforts to make sense o f our most mundane and most profound social experiences, motivated by our moral/political agenda and laced w i t h conversation, casual remarks, the circulating o f b o o k s and articles that have interested us and w h i c h w e think might interest others, and the mutual critique o f texts" ( L e w i s 123-24). T o say that B e n j a m i n is no more than the sum o f his w o r k and the product o f the influence o f the "great m e n " before him is to present a limited and distorted understanding o f him in particular and o f intellectual figures in general — one that continues to privilege the traditional, masculine intellectual lineage. Whereas numerous scholars have set a goal o f p r o d u c i n g a " w h o l e " picture o f B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k and thought, f o l l o w i n g my feminist predecessors, I address the inconsistent and the contradictory in an attempt to provide an understanding o f B e n j a m i n that includes not only his ideas, but also the social relations that made his w o r k possible.  9  Chapter Three T h e r e c o g n i t i o n that k n o w l e d g e is p r o d u c e d by individuals situated w i t h i n specific social, interpersonal, and intellectual communities requires a new type o f scholarship — a scholarship that addresses not only those texts that exist w i t h i n established intellectual traditions, but also the p r o d u c t i o n o f scholarship itself. Chapter 3 contains an analysis o f the nature and effects o f splitting an intellectual into private and public, particularly as this split relates to gender. B e n j a m i n is positioned w i t h i n the larger, G e r m a n social context and his o w n familial context, especially his relationship w i t h his wife, D o r a K e l l n e r / B e n j a m i n . These dimensions are most often regarded as b a c k g r o u n d to the intellectual, w h e n in fact they are constitutive o f both his/her w o r k and subjectivity. A s A n g e l a M c R o b b i e notes in her criticism o f Paul W i l l i s , in order to understand members o f a social group, it is necessary to include private as well as p u b l i c dimensions. B e n j a m i n was made by his class and family affiliations as much as by his institutional and public associations. L i k e numerous middle-class, acculturated Jewish families in B e r l i n , the Benjamins strove to be as m u c h like other middle-class G e r m a n s as possible, and they aspired to enter the class o f the educated bourgeoisie. A s B e n j a m i n attempted to enter this class, G e r m a n society and the university itself w e r e undergoing a great deal o f change. A l t h o u g h it was virtually his birthright, as the son o f a wealthy family, to attend university, the general uncertainty brought about by social change and the high u n e m p l o y m e n t rate a m o n g intellectuals was blamed on Jews ( a m o n g other marginal groups), thus reducing his chances o f success. T h i s situation positioned B e n j a m i n as both privileged and marginalized, and it contributed to his b e c o m i n g a "failure." In C h a p t e r 3 I revisit Benjamin as the " p o o r , struggling genius," as he has often been constructed, particularly in conjunction w i t h his outsider p o s i t i o n vis-a-vis the university. T h e evidence seems to suggest that the loss o f material privileges, together w i t h his o w n reluctance to  10  take o n most forms o f employment, contributed to a p e r c e p t i o n o f poverty and hardship that c o l o u r e d both his w o r k and later understandings o f him. A c c o r d i n g to Benjamin, culture is p r o d u c e d not only by the great, but also by the nameless: " E s [das K u l t u r g u t ] dankt sein D a s e i n nicht nur der M i i h e der g r o B e n G e n i e n , die es geschaffen haben, sondern auch der namenlosen F r o n ihrer Z e i t g e n o s s e n " ("fjber den B e g r i f f der G e s c h i c h t e " 6 9 6 ) ["They (cultural assets) o w e their existence not only to efforts o f the great minds and talents, w h o have created it, but also to the anonymous toil o f their contemporaries" ("Theses on the P h i l o s o p h y o f H i s t o r y " 258)]. These "nameless toilers" are often those w h o d w e l l in the private sphere, those engaged in the so-called reproductive w o r k that enables cultural p r o d u c t i o n ; namely w o m e n . It is the supportive w o r k generally performed by w o m e n that enables the p u b l i c w o r k , and it is this " a n o n y m o u s t o i l " that is written out o f official accounts o f h o w b o t h k n o w l e d g e and culture are p r o d u c e d . O n e such nameless toiler, w h o was involved with a "great m i n d and talent," is W a l t e r B e n j a m i n ' s wife, D o r a Kellner/Benjamin. She typed some o f her husband's w o r k , shared many o f his intellectual interests, tended to his domestic needs, had the connections to assist in the publication o f a number o f his essays, and earned most o f the family income. A s yet she has not b e e n i n c l u d e d in any discussion o f B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k , although her " s u p p o r t i n g r o l e " has been a c k n o w l e d g e d in biographical w o r k s . N o one has questioned her role, thus perpetuating the myth 2  that the intellectual is s o m e h o w " a b o v e " daily necessities, having a " w i f e " w h o tends to s u c h matters. In C h a p t e r 3 , 1 examine Benjamin's social and familial situation and h o w the discourse o f the wife has been e m p l o y e d by Benjamin scholars and, to some degree, by D o r a and W a l t e r  Fuld's biography mentions the factual aspects: when and how the Benjamins met, married, and later divorced. Brodersen provides more information about Dora herself, her parents, and the kind o f work she did while married to Walter. Scholem, The Story of a Friendship, also discusses the emotional ups and downs o f the Benjamin marriage, to which he was witness. Puttneis and Smith provide a wealth of information about Dora and the Benjamin marriage without attempting to establish links between it and Benjamin's work. 2  11  themselves, to m i n i m i z e D o r a K e l l n e r / B e n j a m i n ' s role in the m a k i n g o f W a l t e r Benjamin. M y questions are: D o e s our understanding o f what makes an intellectual need to include scrubbing toilets and changing diapers? H o w do the private and public intersect to make intellectual labour possible? I n other w o r d s , I question the prevalent  notion o f the intellectual as an abstract,  d e c o n t e x t u a l i z e d individual and seek to understand the material processes that contribute to the p r o d u c t i o n o f an intellectual figure by c o n d u c t i n g a relational analysis o f h o w the public and private spheres contribute to intellectual p r o d u c t i o n .  Chapter Four Chapter 4 examines h o w the university made Benjamin at the time o f his attempted habilitation at the U n i v e r s i t y o f Frankfurt. I analyze the institution o f the university and its members at that time, together w i t h B e n j a m i n ' s relationship w i t h academia, in order to demonstrate h o w various strands o f his life contributed to m a k i n g him. These strands include his d i s d a i n for institutions o f education ( w h i c h appears to have begun w i t h his enthusiasm for G u s t a v W y n e k e n ' s s c h o o l reform and his o w n involvement in the Student R e f o r m M o v e m e n t ) . O t h e r strands include 3  the rejection o f his habilitation, the anti-Semitism o f the U n i v e r s i t y o f Frankfurt, the inflexibility o f both the institution and B e n j a m i n himself (especially his sharp criticism o f all existing forms o f formal education and the majority o f formal educators), and the fact that his w o r k did not c o n f o r m to any particular discipline, school o f thought, or methodological paradigm. B e n j a m i n ' s academic failure is comprised o f numerous dimensions, i n c l u d i n g systemic antiSemitism, the strict adherence to disciplines, and his supervisor's ambitions. T h e professors he  Gustav Wyneken (1875 -1964), an educational reformer who ran the private school Benjamin attended for a short time, was an influential leader in the Student Reform Movement. Benjamin was strongly influenced by Wyneken and his ideas, although he broke off all relations with Wyneken in 1915 because of the latter's pro-war stance. 3  w o r k e d w i t h had their o w n careers to consider, and they w i s h e d to enhance those careers by r e p r o d u c i n g themselves — by fathering a bright, n e w scholar and by a v o i d i n g being associated w i t h 4  "undesirables." H o w e v e r , B e n j a m i n ' s life circumstances and desires also played a role in his leaving the university. These include his financial situation, pressure from his parents to stop depending on them for financial support, the responsibilities o f being a husband and father, his o w n reluctance to devote any o f his time to t e a c h i n g and mentoring students, and his long-standing disdain for the university as an institution and for many o f its faculty members ( w h o m he felt to be generally incompetent). A l t h o u g h the various conflicts that arose during B e n j a m i n ' s university years have been examined to some degree, for the most part this examination has been framed w i t h i n antagonistic terms: B e n j a m i n versus the institution or B e n j a m i n versus various individual members o f the institution. M i s s i n g to date is not only a relational analysis o f these antagonistic relationships and 5  the v a r i o u s d i m e n s i o n s that comprise them, but also a closer examination o f one relationship in particular. I refer here to B e n j a m i n ' s association w i t h Gottfried S a l o m o n - D e l a t o u r , w h o c o u l d be considered his mentor d u r i n g his attempt at habilitation. While not directly i n v o l v e d in B e n j a m i n ' s formal educational process, S a l o m o n played an important role that has not yet been a c k n o w l e d g e d . 6  S a l o m o n has been neglected for t w o main reasons: (1) he holds no place in the intellectual traditions w i t h i n w h i c h B e n j a m i n is generally placed and (2) his mentoring relationship w i t h B e n j a m i n is  This is very apparent in the German word for supervisor: "Doktorvater," literally, doctor-father. In German, the process, the relationship, and its obvious gendering are much more explicit than they are in English. See, for example, Irving Wohlfarth, "Resentment Begins at Home: Nietzsche, Benjamin, and the University," On Walter Benjamin: Critical Essays and Recollections, Ed. Gary Smith, (Cambridge, Mass/London: M I T Press, 1988) 224-59; and Burkhardt Lindner, "Habilitationsakte Benjamin: fiber ein 'akademisches TrauerspieP und fiber cin Vorkapitel der 'Frankfurter Schule'" ["The Benjamin Habilitation File: A n 'Academic Tragedy' and a Preface to the 'Frankfurt School'"], ZeitschriftfurLiteraturwissenschaft undLinguistik 53/54 (1984): 147-65. A  5  ° Salomon is referred to both as Salomon and as Salomon-Delatour ~ in fact he published under both names. I will refer to him as Salomon.  13  nurturing and, hence, is considered to be part o f the private realm, and therefore irrelevant to B e n j a m i n ' s intellectual life. E v i d e n c e p r o v i d e d by the recently published B e n j a m i n / S a l o m o n correspondence indicates that S a l o m o n played an important role in the m a k i n g o f W a l t e r Benjamin. H e w a s B e n j a m i n ' s main contact at the U n i v e r s i t y o f Frankfurt and, as such, a friend and mentor w h o p r o v i d e d s u p p o r t for Benjamin and his w o r k . Furthermore, the t w o men shared  numerous  intellectual interests, and it is possible to clearly trace S a l o m o n ' s influences o n B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k . M y examination shows that one can arrive at no easy conclusions c o n c e r n i n g B e n j a m i n ' s academic failure (and success). L i k e all other aspects that contribute to the m a k i n g o f an intellectual, acceptance by the university is contingent upon numerous dimensions, b o t h i n and out o f the c o n t r o l o f the individual. T h i s being the case, a scholar cannot adequately be defined by his/her acceptance or rejection by a university. C o n s e q u e n t l y , it is not the fact o f B e n j a m i n ' s rejection that is o f primary interest to me, but rather the processes by w h i c h it o c c u r r e d . O n l y w h e n the various strands are taken into consideration is it possible to arrive at a fuller understanding o f h o w the institution makes an intellectual figure.  Chapter Five Chapter 5 addresses B e n j a m i n ' s relationship w i t h A s j a L a c i s and the time they spent i n C a p r i . There is a general consensus that this trip was a major event in B e n j a m i n ' s life and w o r k . M o m m e B r o d e r s e n , for example, maintains that " i n contrast to T h e o d o r W i e s e n g r u n d (later A d o r n o ) , w i t h w h o m he had become acquainted the year before in Frankfurt, E r n s t B l o c h and A l f r e d S o h n - R e t h e l , ... B e n j a m i n ' s stay on C a p r i was to mark a turning point in his life that had a lasting influence on his w r i t i n g " (Brodersen,  Walter Benjamin 135).  B e m d Witte, in his intellectual biography o f Benjamin, argues that "[t]he year 1924 marked a decisive change in Benjamin's life and thinking. U n d e r the impact o f his experiences at the time,  he transformed h i m s e l f from esoteric philosopher to politically engaged writer, from language mystic to dialectical materialist" (71). M i c h a e l Jennings asserts that B e n j a m i n "dated his espousal o f M a r x i s m to a stay on C a p r i in 1924, during w h i c h he established a c o m p l e x intellectual and erotic relationship w i t h the L a t v i a n C o m m u n i s t theater director A s j a L a c i s " (70). B e n j a m i n h i m s e l f describes this trip as a turning point: in a letter to his friend G e r s h o m S c h o l e m he refers to "vital liberation" and "intense insight"  (Correspondence 245). I w i l l examine B e n j a m i n ' s b e c o m i n g a  M a r x i s t in terms o f h o w the various discourses outlined above intersect and, i n so d o i n g , w i l l p r o v i d e a multidimensional understanding o f his trip to C a p r i . In C h a p t e r 5, I discuss h o w Benjamin's lifelong criticism o f institutional scholarship was intensified by his experience o f what he and L a c i s referred to as " P o r o s i t a t " [porosity]. A l t h o u g h the concept is implicit in B e n j a m i n ' s p r e - C a p r i writings, it is in " N a p l e s , " the essay he w r o t e w i t h L a c i s , that he first explicitly discusses and names it. T h e essay resulted from their observation and analysis o f the porous boundaries between public and private life i n N a p l e s . T h i s n o t i o n was further developed in B e n j a m i n ' s considerations concerning the p o r o s i t y o f life and w o r k , o f theory and practice, and the shift to interior and exterior that came to the fore years later in the " A r c a d e s P r o j e c t . " I explore h o w this concept is made material in architecture and in B e n j a m i n ' s writings about his c h i l d h o o d . L a c i s and B e n j a m i n began their examination o f N a p l e s w i t h a discussion o f the porosity o f N e a p o l i t a n architecture and the w a y s in w h i c h it both constructs and is constructed by the daily lives o f the people living in the city. T h e body is vital to their understanding o f porosity, for physical and conceptual boundaries restrict the b o d y not only in its movement and activities, but also in its enjoyment o f sensual pleasures. F o r Benjamin and L a c i s , an examination o f the key sensual forms o f sleeping, eating, and sexuality led to an understanding o f porosity.  T h e relationship between L a c i s and Benjamin can, itself, be described as porous, as it occurs at the intersection o f various sensual, emotional, political, and intellectual dimensions. H i s erotic passion for L a c i s is due, at least in part, to her being somewhat exotic — neither G e r m a n nor Jew. F u r t h e r m o r e , her assertive, independent sexuality made her unlike either a "mother" or a " w h o r e , " the t w o basic roles assigned to w o m e n w i t h i n a W e s t e r n patriarchal system. P o l i t i c a l l y , L a c i s was a l i v i n g example o f both intellectual exploration and practical progressive political change — and B e n j a m i n w i s h e d to engage in both (particularly in the face o f the social and e c o n o m i c upheavals o f Weimar Germany). L o o k i n g back at his o w n sexual awakening, Benjamin sees h o w various dimensions o f his subjectivity intersected: the religious, the erotic, and the i n t e l l e c t u a l . H e found the fact o f his t h i n k i n g t w o c o n t r a d i c t o r y thoughts simultaneously to be orgasmic. H o w e v e r , he fails to see such interconnections i n his relationship w i t h D o r a . D o r a was his first intellectual, political, and sexual partner, yet w h e n she became his wife and Stefan's mother, his physical, intellectual, and political attraction to her seems to have d w i n d l e d and died. She was no longer his partner and support but a hindrance. A l t h o u g h he attempted a materialist social analysis, he continued to subscribe to a w o r l d v i e w that defined w o m e n ' s roles w i t h little regard for their lived realities. In fact, most o f his w r i t i n g fails to address the situation o f w o m e n at all. T h i s is a blind spot, and it stands in contradiction to the fact that his o w n intellectual w o r k relies, in part, on w o m e n . B e n j a m i n does, however, examine the c o m p l e x intersections o f the political, intellectual, and sexual both in his c h i l d h o o d reflections and in his relationship w i t h L a c i s . H e further develops the themes and analysis o f " N a p l e s " in " O n e - W a y Street," an essay in w h i c h his dedication names L a c i s as the engineer o f this street. M o r e than an A r i a d n e (as she has often been described) w h o leads B e n j a m i n through the labyrinth o f the city, Lacis is the creator o f the path they f o l l o w in order to study the p o r o u s and shifting boundaries o f modern urban life and to critique bourgeois life and  values. She provides him with an example o f an alternative means o f being an intellectual. L a c i s not only engages in intellectual discussions and activities, but in M o s c o w she w o r k s w i t h one o f R u s s i a ' s most marginalized groups — the street children. She combines theory and practice i n order to affect progressive social change, something B e n j a m i n repeatedly admires and learns from. L a c i s literally grounds B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k , g i v i n g him the basis for his material social analysis and a m o d e l for integrating theory and practice.  Chapter Six C h a p t e r 6 recounts h o w Benjamin travelled to M o s c o w , first to escape the many difficulties o f his life, and second, to be w i t h L a c i s and attempt to find a point o f convergence for his erotic, political, and intellectual passions. C r u c i a l to this chapter is the constellation formed by L a c i s ' w o r k w i t h children, her pedagogical and theatrical interests, her activism in the cause o f the R u s s i a n R e v o l u t i o n , B e n j a m i n ' s pedagogical interests, his renewed politicization, his understanding o f porosity, and his w o r k in the new m e d i u m o f radio. T h e w a y in w h i c h the dimensions o f this constellation c o n v e r g e illustrates B e n j a m i n ' s theoretical and practical engagement w i t h n e w forms o f cultural p r o d u c t i o n . Rather than rejecting and c o n d e m n i n g popular culture, as did his colleagues A d o r n o and H o r k h e i m e r , Benjamin embraced its positive potential not only for disseminating k n o w l e d g e , but also for p r o d u c i n g it, and for creating new cultural forms. H i s radio plays and talks have a didactic intent that is traceable to his early involvement in the Student R e f o r m M o v e m e n t , to his relationship w i t h L a c i s , and to his knowledge o f her w o r k in the proletarian children's theatre. U n l i k e the professors w h o gave traditional lectures o n the radio, Benjamin made the m e d i u m part o f the message. H i s emphasis on sound d r e w the listeners' attention to the functioning o f this new m e d i u m , and helped them understand i t . H i s perhaps naive hope was that this understanding w o u l d also m a k e them critical rather than passive.  17  U n l i k e other didactic radio plays o f the time, Benjamin's radio w o r k d i d not attempt a onew a y dissemination o f k n o w l e d g e , but encouraged thought and feedback. H e hoped to break w i t h the traditional forms o f formal education i n order to i n v o l v e the audience directly as participants in m a k i n g k n o w l e d g e rather than in merely c o n s u m i n g it. H e was, m o r e o v e r , one o f the few intellectuals i n v o l v e d in the early days o f radio w h o considered the ramifications o f b r i n g i n g p u b l i c education into the private sphere o f the home. T h e examination o f B e n j a m i n ' s and L a c i s ' relationship in Chapters 5 and 6 provides a step t o w a r d s e x a m i n i n g interrelations between "whole persons," as A l i s o n Jaggar calls them, rather than disembodied ideas. S u c h w h o l e persons consist o f emotions as well as intellects, bodies as w e l l as m i n d s , and private as w e l l as public lives; and all o f this is interrelated and shaped by gender, location, class, and religion — those discourses identified by M o i in discussing her method o f personal genealogy. A l l these relationships play a part in m a k i n g intellectual labour and the p r o d u c t i o n o f k n o w l e d g e possible. B y e x a m i n i n g these relationships, I attempt to recover those dimensions o f scholarship that have, as yet, received little attention; namely, those traditionally categorized as private and thus constructed as having little relevance to academic endeavour. B y demonstrating some o f the ways in w h i c h the private is constitutive o f the intellectual's subjectivity, identity, and w o r k , I hope to p r o v i d e a fuller understanding o f intellectual labour and intellectual figures than that to w h i c h most n o w subscribe. That such an endeavour is crucial to cultural studies and critical pedagogy is selfevident.  18  Chapter 1 Literature Overview: Identifying the Issues  Introduction N o t only has W a l t e r Benjamin been (re)claimed by Germanists r e - e x a m i n i n g his w o r k in light o f its significance for literary criticism, but he is also n o w being examined by such disciplines as philosophy, s o c i o l o g y , art, and histoiy, to name only a few. Interest in his w o r k is strong not only in established disciplines, but also in new ones. Some, such as cultural studies and critical pedagogy, w h i c h not only critique and attempt to disrupt disciplinary boundaries but w h i c h are often explicitly anti-disciplinary, celebrate B e n j a m i n as a founding father and regularly cite his w o r k to authorize their o w n . B e n j a m i n ' s w r i t i n g has prompted n u m e r o u s analyses, some o f w h i c h examine specific aspects o f his w o r k , some o f w h i c h p r o v i d e an o v e r v i e w o f his entire  oeuvre. These studies are  c o n d u c t e d from many i d e o l o g i c a l standpoints and are both discipline-specific and interdisciplinary. B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k resonates in many areas, and this has resulted in e v e r - g r o w i n g amounts o f research  that construct  and reconstruct  his significance. T h e process o f constructing and  reconstructing B e n j a m i n as a leading twentieth-century  intellectual figure is at the heart o f this  thesis, w h i c h attempts to address h o w scholars understand intellectual figures and h o w cultural politics affect these understandings. E a r l y B e n j a m i n studies categorize his w o r k as messianic, w h i l e many later studies categorize it as materialistic. E x a m i n a t i o n s o f his w o r k that attempt to illustrate h o w he combines the former with the latter in fact merely trace one or the other o f these t w o poles throughout his w o r k , i n order to " p r o v e " that he w a s primarily messianic or materialistic. W h i l e these tendencies are primarily observable i n G e r m a n - s p e a k i n g scholarship (which has access to all o f B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k ) , E n g l i s h -  speaking scholarship tends to analyze Benjamin primarily on the basis o f only three essays: " T h e Storyteller," " O n S o m e M o t i f s in B a u d e l a i r e , " and " T h e W o r k o f A r t i n the A g e o f M e c h a n i c a l R e p r o d u c t i o n , " — the three w o r k s that Jameson refers to as "the great s y m b o l i c t r i l o g y " (Jameson 269).  7  It is also evident that many Benjamin studies are ahistorical and d e c o n t e x t u a l i z e d , easily leading to the mistaken c o n c l u s i o n that W a l t e r Benjamin is a disembodied mass o f ideas floating in a metaphysical realm. T h i s c o n c l u s i o n tends to p r o d u c e an attempt to apply B e n j a m i n ' s ideas universally. S u c h understandings, o f Benjamin in particular and o f intellectuals in general, are more interesting for what they silence and ignore than for what they appear to say. B y reducing B e n j a m i n and his significance to the sum o f his w o r k , his life is either totally ignored or stands as mere b a c k g r o u n d information. T h i s split between " c a r e e r " and " l i f e " is one o f the key strategies employed in the cultural politics o f understanding intellectual figures. A s s u m i n g that w o r k is separable from life, such scholarship detaches the person in question from her/his social reality. This manner o f dealing w i t h Benjamin is to be found not only in the areas o f literary and social theory, but also in critical pedagogy and cultural studies. Feminist theory has l o n g criticized this split, s h o w i n g h o w it is used to validate and perpetuate a perspective that devalues and silences not only w o m e n , but all marginalized social groups involved in the construction o f k n o w l e d g e . Based on a wealth o f evidence taken from lived reality in conjunction w i t h academic analysis, feminist thought has demonstrated that categories such as political/personal, public/private, are historical constructs. Generally, binary oppositions  Based on an examination of the bibliographies of English-language scholarship, it appears that many English-speaking scholars have been limited to only those works that have been translated into English. Jameson goes so far as to suggest that one of the reasons for Benjamin's popularity in North America is that the few works that have been translated provide a tantalizing glimpse o f fragments o f his work (268). Menninghaus has also observed that the "American" Benjamin consists of only a limited number of translated texts (199). 7  20  such as public/private not only p r i o r i t i z e one pole (public) over the other (private), but by associating dominant social groups w i t h one over the other they perpetuate positions o f social privilege, a u t h o r i z i n g practices that limit social justice. It is the limitations that binary oppositions impose o n the m a k i n g o f k n o w l e d g e that p r o v i d e the starting point for my i n v e s t i g a t i o n o f W a l t e r Benjamin. I propose that the still prevalent distinction i n B e n j a m i n scholarship between public and private, in conjunction w i t h the desire both to classify B e n j a m i n and to understand his w o r k as a coherent b o d y o f ideas, serves to exclude far t o o many dimensions. T h i s strategy o f separation has resulted, a m o n g other things, in A s j a L a c i s ' influence on B e n j a m i n remaining virtually unexplored. W o m e n , love, the erotic — these are all traditionally relegated to the private sphere. A n d so there is no examination o f the intersection o f the erotic and the intellectual, as it plays itself out in the relationship between B e n j a m i n (a rich, y o u n g , J e w i s h , p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y and religiously inclined G e r m a n husband and father) and L a c i s (a Christian, L a t v i a n , M a r x i s t activist, mother, and life-partner o f a successful theatre director). H o w can w e claim to understand Benjamin until this relationship has been examined? T h i s split between public and private is a widespread strategy that, for the most part, remains unarticulated and unexamined in literary and social criticism, and in cultural studies — fields in w h i c h the majority o f Benjamin s c h o l a r s h i p is still found. T h e first goal o f my project is, therefore, to critique this bifurcation o f Benjamin into man versus scholar. I do this w i t h the support o f a large b o d y o f feminist research that clearly illustrates the ideological nature o f the public/private split and the insufficiency o f attempting to understand an intellectual figure in an ahistorical, universalizing manner. M y second goal is to disrupt and problematize the public/private distinction by engaging the texts o f B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k and life together w i t h the texts p r o d u c e d about him. T h i s engagement takes into account  Benjamin's national, religious, s o c i o e c o n o m i c , gender-specific, historical  21  position. W h i l e focusing primarily o n the dimension o f gender, I w i l l indicate where this overlaps w i t h other dimensions. I n other w o r d s , I w i l l examine the intersection o f B e n j a m i n ' s writings not only w i t h his being male, but also w i t h his being a middle-class J e w i s h intellectual l i v i n g i n G e r m a n y during the W e i m a r R e p u b l i c / T h e result w i l l raise i m p o r t a n t questions about the canonical intellectual figuration o f W a l t e r Benjamin. T o a c c o m p l i s h these goals, I e m p l o y the method o f personal genealogy, as d e v e l o p e d by M o i i n her g r o u n d - b r e a k i n g study o f the m a k i n g o f an intellectual w o m a n , S i m o n e de B e a u v o i r . P e r s o n a l genealogy refers to a way o f charting the intersections between life and w o r k . R a t h e r than attempting t o disclose an original identity by means o f a linear, causal narrative, as is generally done in biographies and intellectual history, personal genealogy "seeks to achieve a sense o f emergence or p r o d u c t i o n and to understand the c o m p l e x play o f different kinds o f p o w e r i n v o l v e d i n social phenomena" ( M o i 7). Personal genealogy does not attempt to situate an intellectual w i t h i n a particular intellectual lineage; rather, it situates her/him w i t h i n a specific historical, spatial, social context (i.e., the context o f her/his lived life). It explicates k n o w l e d g e p r o d u c t i o n as a relational rather than as a causal process. In other w o r d s , the public and the private, the intellectual and the emotional, are not kept separate but are investigated at the points where they intersect. F r o m this perspective, the question o f p o w e r is addressed by asking h o w institutions and the individuals w i t h i n them define w h o is an intellectual, what k n o w l e d g e is w o r t h w h i l e , and what questions are w o r t h asking. W i t h regard to Benjamin, I attempt to determine h o w and w h y he w a s constructed as a failure during his o w n lifetime and as an intellectual "superstar" after his death.  The Weimar Republic existed from the end of the First World War and the abdication of William II (1918) until Adolf Hitler was named Chancellor (1933). This first German republic was named after the city of Weimar, where the new constitution was forged by the National Assembly (1919). 8  22  In o r d e r t o understand the processes i n v o l v e d in k n o w l e d g e p r o d u c t i o n , I w i l l examine those traditional W e s t e r n assumptions (especially the public/private split) that inform decisions c o n c e r n i n g w h i c h aspects o f an intellectual's life and w o r k should be addressed and w h i c h should not. These decisions determine w h i c h writings are considered w o r t h w h i l e and thus find their way into the canons o f various fields o f study. I am interested in the processes that g o into m a k i n g all " i m p o r t a n t " intellectual figures, and B e n j a m i n provides an excellent example o f h o w these processes operate, especially w i t h regard to h o w certain elements come to be excluded. I begin w i t h an o v e r v i e w o f Benjamin scholarship, first in critical pedagogy and cultural studies, then in literary criticism and social theory, in order to indicate a number o f gaps in current understandings. These gaps are a result of: (1) bifurcating B e n j a m i n into a p u b l i c and private entity; (2) attempting to c o m e to an overall understanding o f B e n j a m i n by classifying h i m as a particular k i n d o f scholar; and (3) conflating Benjamin the man w i t h B e n j a m i n the scholar.  Overview In the v a r i o u s areas identified as critical pedagogy, specific references to B e n j a m i n are relatively few. W i t h i n one strand o f A m e r i c a n critical pedagogy, some scholars, for example Peter M c L a r e n and H e n r y A . G i r o u x , often refer to Benjamin but without engaging w i t h his w o r k in any way. M c L a r e n uses pertinent quotes from Benjamin to i n t r o d u c e an essay, and G i r o u x ' s use o f B e n j a m i n consists primarily o f references to his idea o f "rubbing h i s t o i y against the grain"; usually, G i r o u x does not even cite a s o u r c e . In the w o r k o f M c L a r e n and G i r o u x , B e n j a m i n functions as 9  See Henry A . Giroux, Disturbing Pleasures: Learning Popular Culture (New York/London: Routledge, 1994) 105, 120; Border Crossings: Cultural Workers and the Politics of Education (New York/London: Routledge, 1992) 78, 106, 195; "Introduction," Literacy: Reading the Word and the World, Paulo Freire and Donaldo Macedo (Westport. Connecticut/London: Bergin & Garvey. 1987) 16; and Peter M c L a r e n , "Multicultural ism and the Postmodern Critique," Between Borders: Pedagogy and the Politics of Cultural Studies, E d . Henry A . Giroux and Peter McLaren (New York/London: Routledge, 1994) 192; "Schooling the Postmodern Body," Postmodernism, Feminism, and Cultural Politics,. Ed. Henry A . Giroux (Albany: 9  23  an i c o n for a particular attitude. These examples, and numerous others, refer to c o l l e c t i o n o f w o r k s most often cited in social sciences and cultural studies.  10  Illuminations, the  O n e o f the best k n o w n  B e n j a m i n essays in the E n g l i s h - s p e a k i n g w o r l d is from this collection: " T h e W o r k o f A r t i n the A g e of Mechanical Reproduction."  11  In the field o f cultural studies, Iain C h a m b e r s has p r o d u c t i v e l y  engaged w i t h this essay in his t w o g r o u n d - b r e a k i n g studies on popular culture,  Urban Rhythms and  Popular Culture. Popular Culture is a general o v e r v i e w , or mapping, o f the various dimensions o f B r i t i s h p o p u l a r culture and o f h o w they inform everyday k n o w l e d g e . N e w forms o f p o p u l a r art, w h i c h r e q u i r e no specialized k n o w l e d g e and are not institutionally sanctioned, are j u x t a p o s e d w i t h the preserved forms o f "official," or institutionalized, culture, w h i c h are based on cultivated tastes and formal k n o w l e d g e . P o p u l a r culture is not abstractly contemplated as though it exists in a separate sphere, as has been the case w i t h high culture, but is linked to everyday informal k n o w l e d g e as it is used, examined, and understood through "distracted reception"  (Popular Culture 12). Urban  Rhythms, based on this same understanding o f popular culture, traces popular music in B r i t i s h white w o r k i n g - c l a s s male culture, examining its various forms and meanings as well as its intersections w i t h the political, social, and e c o n o m i c landscape o f B r i t i s h pop m u s i c from the mid-fifties to the late seventies. C h a m b e r s builds on B e n j a m i n ' s understanding o f changing modes o f cultural p r o d u c t i o n . A s B e n j a m i n has s h o w n , "conditions o f perception, reception, and artistic p r o d u c t i o n [have] irreversibly changed" (Chambers, " C o n t a m i n a t i o n " 608). M o r e specifically, "[t]he request for 'authenticity' [has been] rendered meaningless by mechanical r e p r o d u c t i o n " (Chamber, Urban  State University o f N e w Y o r k Press, 1991) 144. Hannah Arendt edited and wrote the introduction to this collection, which represents her (successful) attempt to acquaint American readers with Benjamin. Hereafter this essay will be referred to as ' W o r k of A r t . " 10  11  24  Rhythms 15). T h i s means that there are "no longer any fixed ' s o u r c e s , ' no ' p u r e ' sounds, no untainted  'aura'  against  w h i c h to evaluate  the  continual c o m b i n a t i o n , r e p r o d u c t i o n ,  and  transmission o f sounds, images, and objects that circulate in the heterogenous flux o f the m o d e r n c i t y " (Chambers, " C o n t a m i n a t i o n " 608). U r b a n culture, not institutionalized cultural forms, is C h a m b e r s ' referent, and "mechanical reproduction is its privileged m o d e o f cultural p r o d u c t i o n " (Chambers, " C o n t a m i n a t i o n " 612) In " W o r k o f A r t , " Benjamin argues that one cannot continue to examine cultural p r o d u c t i o n w i t h o u t m o d e d theoretical frameworks and assumptions. H e specifically refers to the " a u r a " o f w o r k s o f art, w h i c h , in the past, was closely linked to the uniqueness o f the art object. It is this uniqueness — the uniqueness o f the original — that p r o v i d e d the a r t w o r k w i t h its "authenticity" and placed it w i t h i n institutionalized intellectual traditions that w e r e separate from everyday reality. W i t h the possibility o f mechanical reproduction, the aura is no longer the defining feature o f art; and, i f w e are to understand new art forms made possible by new means o f p r o d u c t i o n , then the distinction between high and popular culture is no longer viable. T h i s being the case, art can no longer be considered as existing in a separate, autonomous sphere; rather, it must be considered as political: "In dem A u g e n b l i c k aber, da der M a B s t a b der Echtheit an der K u n s t p r o d u k t i o n versagt, ... tritt ihre F u n d i e r u n g a u f eine andere P r a x i s : n a m l i c h ihre F u n d i e r u n g a u f P o l i t i k " (Benjamin, " D a s K u n s t w e r k im Zeitalter seiner technischen R e p r o d u z i e r b a r k e i t "  12  482) ["But the instant the  criterion o f authenticity ceases to be applicable to artistic p r o d u c t i o n ... it begins to be based o n another practice -- p o l i t i c s " ( " W o r k o f A r t " 226)]. T h e continuity and rituals o f tradition are broken by these new means o f p r o d u c t i o n : " D i e R e p r o d u k t i o n s t e c h n i k ... lost das R e p r o d u z i e r t e aus dem B e r e i c h der T r a d i t i o n ab" (Benjamin,  12  Hereafter this essay will be referred to as "Kunstwerk."  25  " K u n s t w e r k " 477) ["The technique o f reproduction detaches the r e p r o d u c e d object from the d o m a i n o f t r a d i t i o n " ( " W o r k o f A r t " 223)]. N e w means o f p r o d u c t i o n precipitate a change in the relationship between the author and the readers: "die Unterscheidung z w i s c h e n A u t o r u n d P u b l i k u m [ist] i m Begriff, ihren grundsatzlichen C h a r a k t e r z u verlieren" (Benjamin, " K u n s t w e r k " 4 9 3 ) ["the distinction between author and public is about to lose its basic character" ( " W o r k o f A r t " 234)]. A t this point, the public is more than a mass o f consumers, it is also a mass o f cultural producers and critics. Benjamin, u n l i k e his Frankfurt S c h o o l associates T h e o d o r A d o r n o and M a x H o r k h e i m e r , saw the necessity o f redefining culture, particularly w i t h regard to the d i s t i n c t i o n between high c u l t u r e and mass culture, w h i l e still maintaining the positive potential o f both the new forms o f technology (such as photography, film, and radio) and the cultural forms they p r o d u c e d . B y contrast, A d o r n o ' s and H o r k h e i m e r ' s analysis focused on mass culture, w h i c h they understood to be a t o o l for the manipulation o f the masses w i t h i n the social and bureaucratic structures o f late capitalism. In " T h e C u l t u r e Industry"(first published in 1944), A d o r n o and H o r k h e i m e r analyze mass culture w i t h i n the context o f their experience o f fascist E u r o p e and A m e r i c a n mass culture. T h e y are clear in their condemnation o f it: " M o v i e s and radio need no longer pretend to be art. T h e truth is that they are just business made into an i d e o l o g y in order to justify the rubbish they p r o d u c e " ( A d o r n o and H o r k h e i m e r 121). T o them, television is "the triumph o f invested capital" ( A d o r n o and H o r k h e i m e r 124). T h e y are equally clear about the v i c t i m status o f the consumers o f mass culture: " T h e consumers are the w o r k e r s and employees, the farmers and the middle-class. Capitalist p r o d u c t i o n so confines them, body and soul, that they fall helpless victims to what is offered" ( A d o r n o and H o r k h e i m e r 133). T h e t w o main threads o f this analysis are: (1) the public is an undifferentiated mass o f consumers that w i l l d o what is expected o f them; and (2) cultural  26  products are c o m m o d i t i e s that are dominated by propaganda, advertising, and c o n s u m e r i s m ~ they have nothing to do with art. In short, A d o r n o and H o r k h e i m e r maintain the distinction between high and mass culture, understanding the latter to be negative and detrimental as w e l l as structurally determined by the institutions o f late capitalism. Benjamin, although aware o f the potential for the abuse o f new cultural forms and the new t e c h n o l o g y that p r o d u c e d them, also recognized the positive, potentially liberating and pedagogical capabilities o f this new technology. H e believed that it was necessary to understand art and culture in new ways. W h e r e A d o r n o and H o r k h e i m e r saw the control exerted by the means o f p r o d u c t i o n during the w o r k d a y being continued and reinforced in mass culture, B e n j a m i n envisioned the possibility o f bursting the w o r k d a y w o r l d asunder by means o f new cultural forms: U n s e r e K n e i p e n und GroBstadtstraBen, unsere B i i r o s und moblierten Z i m m e r , unsere B a h n h o f e und Fabriken scheinen uns hoffnungslos einzuschlieBen. D a k a m der F i l m und hat diese K e r k e r w e l t mit dem D y n a m i t der Zehntelsekunde gesprengt, so daB w i r nun z w i s c h e n ihren weitverstreuten T r u m m e r n gelassen R e i s e n unternehmen. (" K u n s t w e r k " 4 9 9 - 5 0 0 ) '  abenteuerliche  3  ["Our taverns and our metropolitan streets, our offices and furnished rooms, our railroad stations and our factories appeared to have us l o c k e d up hopelessly. T h e n came the film and burst this p r i s o n - w o r l d asunder by the dynamite o f the tenth o f a second, so that n o w , in the midst o f its far-flung ruins and debris, w e calmly and adventurously g o t r a v e l l i n g . " ( " W o r k o f A r t " 238)]  13  It s h o u l d be noted that B e n j a m i n ' s use o f G e r m a n is somewhat i d i o s y n c r a t i c , often not c o n f o r m i n g to  standard p u n c t u a t i o n , o r t h o g r a p h y , or syntax.  27  T h e (then) n e w cultural m e d i u m o f the film, by being able to split time into fractions o f a second, explodes the perception o f time as a f l o w i n g c o n t i n u u m that is difficult, i f not impossible, to stop or even alter. It is not only institutions that are prison-like, but also the places where people live and w o r k . Y e t , u n l i k e A d o r n o and H o r k h e i m e r , w h o emphasize these systemic c o n t r o l s , B e n j a m i n indicates possibilities for tearing them asunder. F i l m , for example, can provide e x c i t i n g n e w means o f p e r c e i v i n g and experiencing the w o r l d , thus enabling the dismantling o f established f r a m e w o r k s and systems. W i t h this dismantling, new understandings b e c o m e possible, w h i c h may include p r e v i o u s l y e x c l u d e d elements. B y extension, it n o w also becomes possible to intervene i n those systems that seem to exercise complete control. I w i l l c o m e back to this f o r m o f disruption in Chapter 5, w h e n I examine the modern urban landscape and h o w B e n j a m i n ' s understandings o f it intersect w i t h social, intellectual, and emotional elements. (In Chapter 6,1 w i l l examine the positive potential o f the n e w m e d i u m o f radio.) C h a m b e r s ' w o r k on popular culture builds on B e n j a m i n ' s idea o f breaking d o w n confining f r a m e w o r k s that prioritize institutionalized culture over-popular culture. In this view, the public is not c o n t r o l l e d by a culture industry, as A d o r n o and H o r k h e i m e r argue, but, rather, both consumes and produces culture. B e n j a m i n ' s insights in " W o r k o f A r t " are important referents for C h a m b e r s ' arguments in particular, and for the project o f cultural studies in general. It is primarily, though by no means solely, on the basis o f this article that Benjamin has been made an icon in cultural studies. B y l i m i t i n g him to only a few major, n o w canonized, articles, w e exclude numerous aspects o f his w o r k and life, particularly those concerning the issues pertaining to the intersections o f the public/private spheres. These issues w i l l be discussed in more detail in the f o l l o w i n g chapters, as I attempt to illustrate the multiple ways in w h i c h B e n j a m i n ' s life and w o r k p r o v i d e p r o d u c t i v e sites for cultural studies and critical pedagogy.  28 T h e link between cultural studies and critical pedagogy has been explored by R o g e r S i m o n , a m o n g others. T h e intersection o f the t w o fields enables the investigation o f the relation between learning and the social and cultural practices from the perspectives o f one or m o r e o f the f o l l o w i n g questions: W h o s e particular s y m b o l i c and s o c i a l practices regulate and normalize the formation o f skills and subjectives [sic] for w h o m ? H o w has this c o m e to be and h o w does this continue to happen? W h a t social inequalities are p r o d u c e d w i t h i n such normalizations? W h a t possibilities for w h o m are opened up by such practices: W h a t resources and discourses might help support alternative educational practices? In other w o r d s , what is at stake ... is the w a y in w h i c h the cultural politics inherent to education sets up the o r g a n i z i n g frameworks o f research and academic study. ( S i m o n , " B r o a d e n i n g the V i s i o n " 113) S i m o n further argues that "education is political in the sense that it is part o f a value-based determination o f the field o f material, social and s y m b o l i c resources that both set limits and enable particular possibilities across a full range o f daily activity" ( " B r o a d e n i n g the V i s i o n " 113). That education is political in the ways identified by S i m o n has been well established in both cultural studies and critical pedagogy. S i m o n attempts to address "the contradiction that exists between the openness o f human capacities that w e encourage in a free society and the social forms that are p r o v i d e d and w i t h i n w h i c h w e must live our lives." H e does this in order to achieve the w i d e r aim o f "the transformation o f the relation between human capacities and social forms ... [that] requires both the expansion o f forms to a c c o m m o d a t e capacities and the expansion o f capacities to make the realization o f new forms possible" ( " E m p o w e r m e n t as a P e d a g o g y o f P o s s i b i l i t y " 372-73). T h i s is S i m o n ' s pedagogy o f possibility, w h i c h understands educational practice "as a form o f cultural politics and as a  29  particular w a y in w h i c h a sense o f identity, place, w o r t h ... is informed by practices w h i c h organize k n o w l e d g e and m e a n i n g " ( " E m p o w e r m e n t as a P e d a g o g y o f P o s s i b i l i t y " 3 7 3 ) .  14  W i t h i n this general form o f critical pedagogy, informed by cultural studies, S i m o n engages with Benjamin's work  in specific projects  concerning h o w past events are  learned  and  c o m m e m o r a t e d . In " T h e P e d a g o g y o f C o m m e m o r a t i o n " and " R e m e m b e r i n g the O b l i g a t i o n , " the latter co-written w i t h C l a u d i a E p p e r t , S i m o n explores ways o f understanding the past, asking " h o w particular w a y s o f apprehending the past might be implicated in our understanding o f a c o m p l i c i t y w i t h current unjust social relations and the prospects for a personal and c o m m u n a l renewal o f identities and the possibilities w h i c h structure our everyday lives" ( " F o r m s o f Insurgency" 82). F o r , contrary to the a x i o m that holds that learning about the past can enable us to a v o i d repeating its mistakes, remembering the past can mean engendering or justifying the hatreds, violence, and injustices o f the present. T h e pedagogical question then becomes: " W h a t forms o f m e m o r y can give just recollection to this violence without reproducing relations o f hate? .... [ W e must] recognize that the task is not to forget that past, but to remember it differently" ( S i m o n , " T h e P e d a g o g y o f C o m m e m o r a t i o n " 6).  "' The discourse of empowerment is problematic in a number of ways, beginning with the questioning of the basic premise that educators are liberated and that their students need to become so by means of the power possessed by the former. The discourse of enabling presupposes the kind of hierarchical power structure that assumes that empowerment is given by someone who has power to someone who does not. Thus the teacher possesses power, which can be given, taken back, or even withheld. Teachers retain the power of validation and posses a superiority o f understanding that problematically positions them as controllers o f students' agency. For more detailed analyses, see, for example, Elizabeth Ellsworth, " W h y Doesn't This Feel Empowering? Working Through the Repressive Myths of Critical Pedagogy," Harvard Educational Review 59.3 (1989): 297-324"; Magda Lewis and Roger Simon, " A Discourse not Intended for Her: Learning and Teaching Within Patriarchy," Harvard Educational Review 56.4 (1986): 457-72"; Jennifer Gore, "What W e Can Do for Y o u ! What Can "We' Do For ' Y o u ' ? : Struggling over Empowerment in Critical and Feminist Pedagogy," Feminisms and Critical Pedagogy, Ed. Carmen Luke and Jennifer Gore (New York/London: Routledge, 1992) 54-73: and Deborah Britzman, "Decentering Discourses in Teacher Education: Or, the Unleashing of Unpopular Things," Journal of Education 173.3 (1991): 60-80.  30  S i m o n ' s questioning is based on Benjamin's " o n g o i n g dialectic between the past and the present" ( S i m o n , " F o r m s o f Insurgency" 76). S i m o n engages w i t h B e n j a m i n ' s "Theses o n the P h i l o s o p h y o f H i s t o r y " ( " U b e r den B e g r i f f der G e s c h i c h t e " ) in order to q u e s t i o n the notions o f history and culture that have been passed on, as tradition, through education and the media. L i k e Benjamin, he "rubs history against the g r a i n " (Benjamin, " U b e r den B e g r i f f d e r G e s c h i c h t e " 7 0 1 , 702, 703) i n order to begin dismantling its context. In other w o r d s , history has been written by victors and rulers and thus expresses not culture and civilization but barbarism (Benjamin, " U b e r den B e g r i f f der G e s c h i c h t e " 696). T o address these issues, one needs a critical pedagogy in w h i c h "past forms o f encounter are not grasped as inevitable consequences o f history ... but as constituted t h r o u g h the actions o f p e o p l e " ( S i m o n , " F o r m s o f Insurgency" 85). S u c h a pedagogy asks h o w history is made "visible, accessible and understood by w h o m , for w h o m and with what consequences both for legitimation o f action and interest and in accordance with what notions o f w h o s e desire?" ( S i m o n , " F o r m s o f Insurgency" 83). U s i n g Benjamin to help s h o w the discontinuities and breaks in history, as w e l l as its constructedness, enables S i m o n to ask further questions: W h a t should be remembered, w h y , and h o w ? H o w can the testimony, remembrance, and representation o f the past be put to use to help prevent future injustices? F o r S i m o n , the dialectical entwining o f the past and present make history not a matter o f recollection but, rather, o f movement t o w a r d s greater social justice. T h i s is h o w , in everyday life, remembrance operates to orient actions and to project desires onto the future. F r o m S i m o n ' s w o r k , it is clear that Benjamin speaks to and can inform current debates in critical pedagogy. In C h a p t e r 5, where I consider his concept o f porosity and his attempts to map out his o w n life in the cities in w h i c h he lived, it w i l l become clear that Benjamin has m u c h m o r e to offer. Julian R o b e r t s , in one o f the first English-language attempts "to p r o v i d e a general critical account o f B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k ... [and] a general introductory f r a m e w o r k for the interpretation o f his  31  texts" (3), characterizes B e n j a m i n as "the highly respected enigma" (1). R o b e r t s observes that there are no w o r k s that "tackle Benjamin as a completed corpus o f theory," (2) and he attributes this to the fact that " B e n j a m i n is undeniably a difficult figure, partly because m u c h o f his w r i t i n g is itself extremely concise and opaque, and partly because his opinions do not always appear to be consistent" (3). R o b e r t s ' goal is to " o v e r c o m e these difficulties" (4). T h e strength o f his o v e r v i e w lies precisely i n the fact that he rejects, and warns against, what he identifies as t w o o f the most problematic tendencies in Benjamin scholarship: (1) strict classification and (2) "biographical herow o r s h i p . " R o b e r t s concludes that "[t]he attempt to extract  single-minded purpose  from a  biographical subject is only a reflection o f what Benjamin himself attacked as the intellectuals' m y t h o l o g y o f ' c r e a t i v e personality.' In this sense there is not really any c o n c l u s i o n to d r a w about B e n j a m i n " (5). T h e c o n c l u s i o n to w h i c h Roberts refers is the classification o f B e n j a m i n as a particular k i n d o f scholar: messianic as opposed to materialist, or, alternatively, literary critic as o p p o s e d to philosopher. Roberts recognizes that such classifications are based primarily on only one o f B e n j a m i n ' s multiple dimensions and that they seek a mythical unity. T o R o b e r t s ' insights I w o u l d add that this w a y o f understanding an intellectual figure lends support to particular assumptions. T h e first assumption is that a person's career is s o m e h o w separate from the person her/himself, from w h i c h it f o l l o w s that intellectual life can be separated from emotional life, and that intellectual w o r k o c c u r s w i t h i n a space that does not have anything to do w i t h the private sphere. R o b e r t s tacitly accepts such assumptions. A l t h o u g h he does recognize that "[i]t is necessary to attend to the question o f ' b a c k g r o u n d , ' " w h i c h he defines as " a set o f influences and traditions" (Roberts 4), the influences he refers to are primarily intellectual. W h i l e a c k n o w l e d g i n g the social, political, and h i s t o r i c a l dimensions o f B e n j a m i n ' s life (such as B e n j a m i n ' s involvement w i t h the Student R e f o r m M o v e m e n t and the impact o f the First W o r l d W a r ) , R o b e r t s ' primary concern is  32  B e n j a m i n ' s intellectual lineage. H e c h r o n o l o g i c a l l y traces the influences on B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k , beginning w i t h G u s t a v W y n e k e n , B e n j a m i n ' s teacher and a prominent educational  reformer.  R o b e r t s explicates B e n j a m i n ' s relationships to: (1) Z i o n i s m , as exemplified by the assimilationist H e r m a n n C o h e n and the nationalistic M a r t i n B u b e r ; (2) C o m m u n i s m , as exemplified by E r n s t B l o c h and B e r t o l t B r e c h t ; and (3) the Frankfurt S c h o o l , as exemplified by T h e o d o r A d o r n o . R o b e r t s further situates Benjamin w i t h i n the intellectual movements  o f the time, w h i c h include neo-  K a n t i a n i s m , H e i d e g g e r i a n i s m , the philosophical socialism o f L u k a c s , and the Stefan G e o r g e literary circle. In other w o r d s , R o b e r t s provides a wealth o f information and a comprehensive,  even-handed  overview o f Benjamin w i t h i n the framework o f standard intellectual history. T h e elements Roberts refers to as " b a c k g r o u n d " are the ones I w i s h to m o v e to the foreground, as it is my thesis that it is the interrelationship between the latter and the former that " m a d e " W a l t e r B e n j a m i n . R i c h a r d W o l i n discusses "the often acrimonious debate over w h i c h is the  authentic  B e n j a m i n , the 'materialist' or ' t h e o l o g i c a l ' " (108). H e observes that " [ v i r t u a l l y every contribution to the e v e r - g r o w i n g v o l u m i n o u s secondary literature on Benjamin has felt c o m p e l l e d to take one side or the other in this debate" ( W o l i n 288). W o l i n ' s solution is to retain the split and to see B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k in t w o c h r o n o l o g i c a l phases. H o w e v e r , rather than emphasizing one phase over the other, he attempts to elucidate each as a separate entity. In his o v e r v i e w o f previous Benjamin scholarship, M i c h a e l W . Jennings further elaborates on the t h e o l o g i c a l versus the materialist debate: Benjamin's critics have tended to resolve the contradictory character o f much o f his work, by presenting t w o distinct W a l t e r Benjamins. S c h o l e m and A d o r n o themselves ... initiated the tendency. S c h o l e m ' s writings on B e n j a m i n emphasize the early w o r k s and those later pieces most clearly marked by the t h e o l o g i c a l tendencies o f the early w o r k . ... A d o r n o privileges the late, M a r x i s t Benjamin....  33  Thus, in Benjamin's commentators, one finds, in the years up to 1924, a "metaphysical" thinker deeply indebted to Jewish mysticism, R o m a n t i c aesthetics, and Idealist philosophy. After 1924, the argument goes, Benjamin develops into a historical materialist  who  ... rigorously differentiates  between  writings o f a  metaphysical and a political cast. (5-7) T h i s split between a fundamentally different early and late B e n j a m i n has a l o n g tradition, w h i c h began at the inception o f B e n j a m i n scholarship. L i k e A d o r n o and S c h o l e m , those w h o followed in their footsteps have sought to fix Benjamin into a particular intellectual identity. R o b e r t s , as discussed above, attempts to w o r k against this tendency, yet he explains Benjamin's early w o r k as being the b a c k g r o u n d to his " r e a l " w o r k o f historical materialism: "historical materialism[,] w h i c h B e n j a m i n reached at the end o f his l o n g apprenticeship[,] cannot be fully understood w i t h o u t the sometimes rather arduous negotiation o f what led up to it" (103). A l t h o u g h R o b e r t s claims not to arrive at specific conclusions, and although he attempts to a v o i d any strict classification o f Benjamin, he ultimately fails to heed his o w n advice. Roberts, in his narrative o f progress and development, does not discount Benjamin's early thought; instead, it becomes a training g r o u n d for attaining the g o a l o f b e c o m i n g a historical materialist. A l t h o u g h aware o f the inadequacies o f m a k i n g either/or distinctions, R o b e r t s ends up d o i n g just that. M i c h a e l Jennings endeavours to break away from the either/or questions c o n c e r n i n g B e n j a m i n by stressing the continuity throughout his w o r k : The conceptual model o f life as a series o f discrete stages is, however, inappropriate to B e n j a m i n , not least because he h i m s e l f repeatedly  stressed the paradoxical  continuity o f his thinking. ... I w i l l argue for one Benjamin, for a thinker w h o s e late w o r k combines mysticism and M a r x i s m . ... Benjamin is w i l l i n g to a l l o w those c o n t r a d i c t i o n s to clash with one another in order to explore the " p a r a d o x i c a l  34  reversals"... that o c c u r w h e n such apparent contraries  as radical politics and  theology meet. (7-8) Jennings rightly takes issue w i t h those w h o attempt to describe B e n j a m i n in terms o f a number o f developmental stages that culminate in a position located on an intellectual map. H e also disagrees w i t h those w h o insist that Benjamin can only be identified w i t h one pole or the other o f a binary o p p o s i t i o n . Jennings seeks to l o o k at all aspects o f B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k , and he recognizes the value o f the tension between positions previously thought to be incompatible, i f not mutually exclusive. T h i s r e c o g n i t i o n a l l o w s him to examine that productive tension, and he a c k n o w l e d g e s that B e n j a m i n himself v i e w e d his w o r k as connected rather than disjointed. In a letter to M a x R y c h n e r  15  he wrote:  "there is a bridge t o the w a y dialectical materialism l o o k s at things from the perspective o f my particular stance on the philosophy o f language, h o w e v e r strained and problematical that bridge  might be" (Correspondence 372). H o w e v e r , merely c o m b i n i n g t w o aspects o f B e n j a m i n ' s thought that were previously perceived to be incompatible over-simplifies the c o m p l e x i t y o f B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k .  1 6  Pierre M i s s a c  criticizes this attempt to resolve the c o m p l e x contradictions in B e n j a m i n and his w o r k as amounting t o the use o f "convenient o x y m o r o n s , " such as M a r x i s t rabbi (8), and he accuses critics w h o attempt such a synthesis o f " m a k i n g do w i t h formulas that are at best descriptions, p o s i n g the p r o b l e m without m a k i n g h e a d w a y on it" (22-23). Further to this, it should be noted that such practices reify binary oppositions by positing that they w o r k together rather than against  one  another. Instead o f being classified as either messianic or materialist, B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k becomes a  15  Rychner (1897-1965) was a literary critic, professor of literature and editor of a literary journal,  Neue  Schweizer Rundschau. See Jeremy Gaines, "Research on Walter Benjamin," Theory. Culture and Society 10.3 (1993): 149-167, for further criticism o f Jennings. According to Gaines, although Jennings claims that one o f his major goals is to examine the link between the theory and practice of literary criticism, he severs that link by examining only Benjamin's theory.  35  k i n d o f dialectical mixture, in w h i c h opposites are o v e r c o m e by a harmonious blending. B e n j a m i n himself, b y refusing to c o m m i t to either one or the other polarity, kept the various contradictory aspects o f his w o r k in constant tension w i t h one another, always rubbing against the grain o f given systems b y c h o o s i n g tension over harmony. A t the core o f my project is the separation o f the public from the private B e n j a m i n — a separation that o c c u r s by virtue o f the underlying assumptions c o n c e r n i n g what constitutes an intellectual. In the previously discussed studies, as well as in numerous others, B e n j a m i n the intellectual is assumed to have had a day-to-day lived reality, emotions, and a personal life, but they are presented as irrelevant to his intellectual production. Benjamin's o w n w o r k provides us w i t h direction, in that it emphasizes the examination o f those things that established  systems o f  k n o w l e d g e p r o d u c t i o n disregard. O n e such disregarded element is the interconnection between the intellect and the emotions. A l t h o u g h he has not further examined the significance o f these experiences, M i s s a c has observed that "it is surely not insignificant that the three w h i c h one c o u l d translate here as 'experiences  Liebeserlebnisse —  o f romantic passion' — a c c o m p a n y (or  are  a c c o m p a n i e d by) the c o m p o s i t i o n o f B e n j a m i n ' s first three critical w o r k s (to w h i c h w e should add  Cme-Way Street)" ( 7 ) .  17  A l t h o u g h not considered in early Benjamin scholarship, the intersection o f the intellectual and emotional, the public and the private, has recently begun to be acknowledged. H o w e v e r , as yet there are only a few theoretical frameworks that provide a means o f e x p l o r i n g those dimensions in conjunction w i t h his philosophical and literary influences. W h e n one begins to examine those intersections, it becomes clear that gender plays a significant role. T h e private and emotional have  The critical works he refers to are Benjamin's dissertation, "Der Begriff der Kunstkritik in der deutschen Romantik" ["The Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism"], his essay "Goethes Wahlverwandtschaften" [Goethe's Elective Affinities"], and his habilitation "Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels" ["The Origin of the German Tragic Drama"]. 17  36  l o n g been associated w i t h w o m e n , and B e n j a m i n ' s relationships w i t h w o m e n are only gradually beginning to be explored. T h e f o l l o w i n g o v e r v i e w o f the treatment o f B e n j a m i n ' s relationship w i t h A s j a L a c i s illustrates h o w this relationship was initially dismissed. A n d , although it has recently been a c k n o w l e d g e d , it has not yet been closely examined. B e n j a m i n ' s and L a c i s ' relationship began w i t h their first meeting in C a p r i in 1924, and it c o i n c i d e d w i t h the beginning o f B e n j a m i n ' s serious engagement w i t h M a r x i s m . M a n y critics have been all t o o q u i c k to dismiss L a c i s as solely a love/sex object. A d o r n o , for example, dismisses the possibility that L a c i s c o - w r o t e " N a p l e s " : " D a n n war i c h sehr beeindruckt v o n einem groBeren A u f s a t z , ... den er publizierte unter seinem N a m e n und dem v o n F r a u A s j a L a c i s , o b w o h l schwer ein Z w e i f e l daran sein kann, daB diese A r b e i t ganz und gar das P r o d u k t Benjamins w a r " (Uber  Walter Benjamin 10) [Then I was very impressed by a longer essay ... published under his o w n name and that o f M r s . Asja Lacis, although there can hardly be any doubt that this w o r k was absolutely p r o d u c e d by B e n j a m i n ] .  IS  Benjamin's first biographer, W e r n e r F u l d , discounts any  influence L a c i s may have had on Benjamin and presents by far the most negative picture o f her. In his discussion o f their months together in C a p r i he disputes L a c i s ' role in B e n j a m i n ' s interest i n M a r x i s m : " D e r E i n b e z u g marxistischer Perspektiven in Benjamins D e n k e n erfolgte nicht durch V e r m i t t l u n g v o n Asja L a c i s , die sein Interesse nur vertiefte, sondern durch Ernst B l o c h " ( F u l d 158) [The i n c l u s i o n o f M a r x i s t perspectives in B e n j a m i n ' s thought was not the consequence o f any mediation by L a c i s , w h o only deepened his interest, but rather came about through E r n s t B l o c h ] . F u l d seeks to establish a clear lineage regarding w h o influenced w h o m . H i s critical stance towards  18  T r a n s l a t i o n s are mine unless otherwise indicated.  37  L a c i s is ostensibly based on the fact that her memoirs are " u n r e l i a b l e " ( 1 5 6 ) , ' although he does not 9  substantiate this contention. F o r F u l d , L a c i s is a beautiful, naive girl w h o is attracted to B e n j a m i n because she perceives h i m to be w e a l t h y : " F u r die  scheme, aher naive Asja, die sich B e n j a m i n als w o h l h a b e n d dachte,  muBte dieses unregelmaBige L e b e n als B o h e m e erscheinen" ( F u l d 157; emphasis m i n e ) [ F o r the  beautiful but naive A s j a , w h o thought Benjamin was wealthy, this irregular life must have appeared bohemian (emphasis mine)]. H i s dismissal o f her co-authorship o f " N a p l e s " is based solely o n A d o r n o ' s o p i n i o n ( F u l d 157) — an o p i n i o n that has been p r o v e n incorrect. B e n j a m i n himself made a number o f references to L a c i s ' co-authorship o f " N a p l e s . " Fuld  dismisses L a c i s '  ability to understand  20  B e n j a m i n , other  than  at a very basic,  unsophisticated level, because, a c c o r d i n g to him, she had no understanding o f p h i l o s o p h i c a l concepts. W h e n B e n j a m i n remarks that Lacis was surprised to hear him speak about communist ideas in c o n n e c t i o n w i t h something he had been reading, F u l d believes that B e n j a m i n was merely being polite about her lack o f comprehension: damit ist sehr vornehm ausgedriickt, daB d i e j u n g e K o m m u n i s t i n seine unerwarteten Lektiireerfahrungen  und  ihre B e z i e h u n g z u seinem philosophischen D e n k e n  iiberhaupt nicht verstand. W a s sie verstand, war, daB B e n j a m i n sich scheinbar p l o t z l i c h fur den K o m m u n i s m u s interessierte. Tatsachlich w a r fur B e n j a m i n d u r c h die L u k a c s - L e k t i i r e nun auch die politische P r a x i s der K o m m u n i s t e n ins B l i c k f e l d geriickt, aber er war dadurch nicht einfach "bekehrt." (160)  "In ihrem nicht sehr zuveiiassigen Erinnerungsbuch erzahlt sie, wie sie Benjamin auf Capri kennenlemte" (Fuld 156). [In her not very reliable memoirs she tells how she met Benjamin in Capri], See, for example, his letter to Scholem, ca. 20-25 May 1925 (Briefe Vol 3, 37; Correspondence 267). 19  20  38  [that was merely a polite w a y o f saying that the y o u n g communist did not understand his unexpected reading material (meaning L u k a c s ) and its connection to his w o r k . W h a t she understood interested  was that Benjamin appeared  to suddenly be  in c o m m u n i s m . In fact by reading L u k a c s the political practice o f  c o m m u n i s m became a topic o f interest for Benjamin, but he was not thereby simply "converted."] F u l d assumes that L a c i s ' limited reasoning abilities and fervent M a r x i s t beliefs could only a l l o w her to believe that B e n j a m i n had been " c o n v e r t e d . " T o counter F u l d ' s assertion regarding L a c i s ' alleged limited capabilities, one need only be aware o f her numerous accomplishments. F o r example, her list o f L a t v i a n , R u s s i a n , and G e r m a n publications in respected literary as well as political journals is six pages l o n g ( M i g l a n e 250-55). A s a theatre director ("Dramaturg"), she almost single-handedly turned a small p r o v i n c i a l L a t v i a n theatre into one o f the leading theatres in the Soviet U n i o n (Haus 146). In spite o f evidence to the contrary, F u l d repeatedly attempts to demonstrate L a c i s ' weak mental faculties and insists that her belief in C o m m u n i s m tainted every facet o f her life, thus m a k i n g her incapable o f understanding Benjamin's w o r k , m u c h less having any influence o n it. C o n s i d e r F u l d ' s explanation o f L a c i s ' reaction when B e n j a m i n t o l d her he was analyzing G e r m a n B a r o q u e tragedy o f the seventeenth century (his habilitation). In her memoirs, L a c i s writes that  she  responded  by m a k i n g a face  and  asking: " w o z u sich mit  der  toten  Literatur  beschaftigen?"(Lacis 43) [ W h y busy oneself w i t h dead literature?]. F u l d interprets this as her inability to understand what Benjamin was w o r k i n g on: A l s K o m m u n i s t i n , die ihren K o p f mit vermeintlich aktuellen T a g e s k a m p f e n fullte, konnte Asja L a c i s nicht wissen, da(3 es keine tote L i t e r a t u r gibt, auBer der, w e l c h e r die gerade Lebenden nicht genugen konnen. Benjamin aber, in Unkenntnis so einfaltiger Verdrangungstechnik, war irritiert. (157)  39  [ A s a C o m m u n i s t , w h o s e head was probably filled w i t h current daily battles, A s j a L a c i s c o u l d not k n o w that there is no dead literature, except for that w h i c h those presently  living  are  unable  to  satisfy.  Benjamin, however,  who  was  not  k n o w l e d g e a b l e about such simple-minded suppression techniques, w a s irritated]. In F u l d ' s interpretation the reader is witness to a clash between a humanistic v i e w o f the arts, w h i c h places them in a noble realm above the mundane concerns o f critical social engagement, and a communistic v i e w . F u l d is derisive, dismissing Lacis without considering her critique o f B e n j a m i n ' s work. Certainly B e n j a m i n was irritated, but, like Susan B u c k - M o r s s , I attribute that irritation to the fact that L a c i s appears to have understood w h y he was having such difficulty w r i t i n g the theoretical part o f his study o f tragic drama. B u c k - M o r s s credits L a c i s w i t h p r o v i d i n g one o f the clearest summaries o f the intent o f Benjamin's study. H e r criticism "hits the mark. B e n j a m i n was having great difficulty w r i t i n g the theoretical introduction to the piece, not only because o f the distractions o f being in love, but also because the 'thematic restrictions' o f the study were m a k i n g it ' a w k w a r d ' for him to express his o w n thoughts"  (Dialectics of Seeing 15). L a c i s had an  u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k ; she was not a naive golddigger, as F u l d w o u l d insist. T h e evidence c o n c e r n i n g L a c i s points rather to a remarkable person w h o had a great deal o f intelligence, a strong c o m m i t m e n t to her w o r k , and m u c h to offer the people w i t h w h o m she associated. F u l d ' s reasons for this inordinately negative treatment o f L a c i s c o u l d be e x p l a i n e d in a number o f ways. First, he seems to have been influenced by A d o r n o ' s negative attitude towards her. S e c o n d , it is possible she is his means o f passing a moral judgement: Benjamin was a married man w i t h w h o m L a c i s had a lengthy affair. I f this is the case, then there is clearly a gendered double standard, for this negative judgement applies only to L a c i s and not to B e n j a m i n . T h i r d , one c o u l d surmise that F u l d was strongly opposed to C o m m u n i s m (although this should be noticeable in his  40  discussion o f B e r t o l t B r e c h t , w h i c h it is not). F o u r t h , he may have an underlying assumption that w o m e n should remain in the private sphere, as they are, by definition, incapable o f the intellectual r i g o u r required in the public sphere. G i v e n the type o f arguments F u l d uses against L a c i s , all o f w h i c h centre on the deficiency o f her mental capabilities, the fourth explanation seems the most probable, although the others may play a role as w e l l .  21  W h e r e F u l d consistently dismisses and derides L a c i s , later biographers H a n s Puttneis and G a r y S m i t h almost completely ignore her. B y contrast, B r o d e r s e n , w h o s e b i o g r a p h y attempts to w e a v e together the public and private strands, gives L a c i s and her relationship w i t h B e n j a m i n more serious and balanced c o n s i d e r a t i o n .  22  H e states, for example, that Benjamin's " l o v e for A s j a L a c i s  was to open up to him a sphere o f intellectual p r o d u c t i o n "  (Waller Benjamin 140). T h i s f o r m o f  a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t o f L a c i s ' role in Benjamin's life and w o r k has become relatively c o m m o n . T e r r y E a g l e t o n , for example, asserts: There were rather m o r e pleasurable reasons for this i l l u m i n a t i o n [concerning the political practice o f c o m m u n i s m ] than p l o u g h i n g his w a y through L u k a c s : on C a p r i Benjamin had also met Asja Lacis, the L e t t i s h B o l s h e v i k and theatre director w h o m  Fuld's references to Lacis are biting, and he insists that she had solely a negative influence on Benjamin, always distracting him from his "real" work. Further evidence for the possibility of the gendered assumptions I have indicated is his treatment of another "career woman." Benjamin's sister-in-law, Hilde Benjamin. Fuld's references to her are equally acerbic and dismissive. Although his work has become widely read, analysed and cited, there are, to my knowledge, only three biographies o f Benjamin (those by Fuld, Witte, and Brodersen). There are also a number o f personal reminiscences, including: Theodor Adorno, Uber Waller Benjamin (Frankfurt/M: Sulukamp, 1968), which contains reminiscences by Adorno himself, Ernst Bloch, M a x Rychner, Gershom Scholem and Jean Selz; Herbert Belmore. "Some Recollections of Walter Benjamin," German Life and Letters 28.2 (1975): 119-27 and "Walter Benjamin," German Life and Letters 15(1962): 309-13;Edouard Roditi, "Meetings with Walter Benjamm^Partisan Review 53.2 (1986): 263-67; Lisa Fittko, ' " D e r alte Benjamin': Flucht iiber die Pyrenaen," Merkur 403 (1982): 35-49, which recounts Benjamin's last days crossing the Pyrenees; and Gershom Scholem, Waiter Benjamin. The Story of a Friendship. Trans. Harry Zohn (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1981), probably the most well-known recounting of Benjamin's life by his life-long friend. 21  22  41  he described as one o f the most remarkable w o m e n he had ever encountered, and w h o was to become his lover. (153) H e r e E a g l e t o n indicates L a c i s ' significance to B e n j a m i n , h o w e v e r , the reader is left without any explanation o f h o w or w h y she was so " r e m a r k a b l e . "  23  A s E a g l e t o n makes no further mention o f  L a c i s , the reader only k n o w s that she p r o v i d e d B e n j a m i n ' s "pleasurable i l l u m i n a t i o n , " w h i c h c o u l d be interpreted as sexual innuendo, particularly given that he ends his comments about L a c i s by stating that she became B e n j a m i n ' s lover. B y not offering anything further, E a g l e t o n leaves his version o f this relationship open to the assumption that love/sex, represented by L a c i s , merely made the difficult task o f theoretical analysis (serious, intellectual, " r e a l " w o r k ) more pleasant, without actually c o n t r i b u t i n g to it. A s M o i found in her study o f de B e a u v o i r , "[fjhe implication is that whatever a w o m a n says, or writes or thinks is less important and less interesting than what she is" (78; emphasis in original). She illustrates h o w critics tend to have difficulty dealing w i t h a w o m a n w h o refuses to stay in the private sphere and h o w especially infuriating they find someone, like de B e a u v o i r , w h o s e explicitly political participation in the w o r l d cannot be ignored ( M o i 82-84). In the case o f L a c i s , she is sometimes labelled as "beautiful but naive" (Fuld I 57), sometimes simply as B e n j a m i n ' s lover, as t h o u g h these comments were sufficient to explain her life and her relationship w i t h B e n j a m i n . T h i s emphasis on what a w o m a n  24  is rather than on what she does has also been observed  by B i d d y M a r t i n in her study o f the nineteenth-century intellectual figure, L o u A n d r e a s - S a l o m e . In  Eagleton takes this phrase from one of Benjamin's letters to Scholem: "eine der hervorragendsten Frauen, die ich kennengelernt habe" (Briefe Vol 2. 473). ["one of the most splendid women I have ever met" 23  (Correspondence 245) |. This has also been found to apply to other marginalized social groups. For example, in her analysis of totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt points out how the exclusionary practices of dominant groups force marginal groups to justify what they are rather than what they do (Morris B. Kaplan 126). 2,1  42  her critique o f h o w the critics deal w i t h S a l o m e ' s relationships to famous men, M a r t i n comes to a c o n c l u s i o n similar to M o i ' s : S a l o m e has been variously construed as murderous seductress, phallic mother, narcissistic parasite, and total disciple or, more positively, a muse, inspiration, support, and interpreter. W h a t is striking, o f course, is the structural similarity o f those positions, always the guarantee o f " h i s " identity, " h i s " significance, and the c r i t i c ' s "truths" ... H e r significance to N i e t z s c h e , R i l k e , or F r e u d ... is not easily contained by conventional stereotypes o f the adoring daughter, the d o m e s t i c a t e d wife, or the femme fatale. (1 1 - 1 2 )  2 5  W h a t S a l o m e is has been the most important dimension in attempts to understand her, but M a r t i n adds an important insight. W h a t the intellectual w o m a n , in this case Salome, is must never get in the w a y of, or o v e r s h a d o w , the importance o f the "great man/men" in her life. Similarly, critics and biographers alike tend to undermine L a c i s ' significance in B e n j a m i n ' s life by referring to her either as a love/sex interest or as a catalyst w h o brings about changes in him. In this w a y , w h e t h e r intentionally or unintentionally, they avoid having to explain a w o m a n w h o s e life does not fit the stereotypes o f feminine existence. In spite o f L a c i s ' a c c o m p l i s h m e n t s as a social activist, theatre director, and founder o f a proletarian children's theatre, not to mention the important role she played in B e n j a m i n ' s life, even B e n j a m i n scholar Susan B u c k - M o r s s reduces her to a mythical figure. A l t h o u g h B u c k - M o r s s ' treatment o f L a c i s is generally more nuanced than most, at one point she describes L a c i s as B e n j a m i n ' s A r i a d n e ( I I ) . A r i a d n e , the w o m a n w h o p r o v i d e d Theseus w i t h the thread that enabled h i m to traverse the labyrinth, is the archetypal helping, nurturing female. She leads the hero out o f  When referred to by last name only, Lou Andreas-Salome is often called "Andreas-Salome," however Martin uses only "Salome." I have chosen to stay with Martin's usage.  25  43  trouble at a critical moment, a l l o w i n g him to continue on his heroic quests, only to be discarded and forgotten once she has served her purpose in furthering his narrative. B e c a u s e B u c k - M o r s s does not analyze h o w L a c i s ' life and w o r k intersects w i t h Benjamin's, L a c i s remains an A r i a d n e — a w o m a n w h o is reduced to being a catalyst or, at best, a muse. R o b e r t s a c k n o w l e d g e s that L a c i s "awakened his [Benjamin's] interest in art as a f o r m o f political a c t i o n " (51), but he provides no further explanation o f h o w this happened or what f o r m it t o o k . In addition, there is clearly a gendered difference in the manner in w h i c h R o b e r t s explains influences in B e n j a m i n ' s life. A w o m a n w h o sparks an interest is in a different category than a man w h o writes a b o o k . R o b e r t s tells us that " L a c i s was a Latvian theatrical producer w h o w o r k e d w i t h important left-wing dramatists such as Piscator and B r e c h t ... she was thirty-three, and on holiday w i t h her daughter D a g a . H e r lover ... was also intermittently w i t h her" (50-51). B y contrast, R o b e r t s informs us that L u k a c s had gone through a development similar to that n o w experienced by Benjamin. H i s early w o r k in literary criticism was a brilliant extension o f the critical modes dominant at the time ... In 1918, on the general w a v e o f disgust w i t h the w a r ... he j o i n e d the H u n g a r i a n communist party ...  History and Class Consciousness  documents the conversion o f an avant-garde n e o - H e g e l i a n ... to a practice-oriented M a r x i s m . (51) T h e information about L a c i s refers to the important men with w h o m she w o r k e d , her age, her lover, and the fact that she is a mother — in short, details concerning her private life. L u k a c s , by contrast, is described only in terms o f his career — his public, or intellectual, life. Jennings deals w i t h Lacis and L u k a c s in much the same w a y w h e n he explains that Benjamin dated his espousal o f M a r x i s m to a stay on C a p r i in 1924, d u r i n g w h i c h he established  a c o m p l e x intellectual and  erotic relationship w i t h  the  Latvian  44 C o m m u n i s t theater director A s j a Lacis. A s important as this relationship was, his reading o f L u k a c s ' s monumental  History and Class Consciousness was equally  important for B e n j a m i n ' s turn to M a r x i s m . (70) A l t h o u g h he professes the equal importance o f L u k a c s and L a c i s , Jennings devotes eleven pages to explaining L u k a c s ' influence and only five lines to L a c i s ' (i.e., those quoted above). A g a i n , the subtext appears to be that, as a w o m a n , L a c i s c o u l d only influence Benjamin in so far as his love for her made him interested in what she did. L u k a c s ' influence, however, came in the f o r m o f a scholarly b o o k written w i t h i n an identifiable intellectual tradition and, therefore, is more deserving o f attention. In the scholarly tradition o f explaining and understanding theories only in relation to other theories, the task becomes one o f understanding h o w B e n j a m i n " c o n n e c t s to other 'great' figures," as B u c k - M o r s s has observed  {Dialectics of Seeing 52).  In these examples, L a c i s is reduced to an object whose function is to propel B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k . She is o f interest only in so far as she fulfills a specific function in B e n j a m i n ' s intellectual life. C l e a r l y , these researchers possess the scholarly tools and methods for examining relationships between ideas and for tracing generally male scholarly lineages. W h a t appears to be missing, however, are the tools to examine the intersection between p u b l i c and private spheres and to appreciate the significance o f social relationships for intellectual production. I discuss L a c i s and her relationship to B e n j a m i n in detail in Chapters 5 and 6. O n e strand o f the various threads that connect public and private consists o f h o w social institutions, particularly the university, make intellectuals. W h a t institutional processes make an intellectual? B y what means does an individual become a failure or a success? H o w and by w h o m is failure and success determined? O b v i o u s l y , these processes change a c c o r d i n g to historical and social circumstances. In the case o f Benjamin, during his life he was considered to be a failure, whereas today he is considered to be a success.  45  H i s alleged  failure has been e x p l o r e d  from various  p s y c h o l o g i c a l and  institutional  perspectives, and it remains a much debated subject. Hans M a y e r , in an address given o n the o c c a s i o n o f B e n j a m i n ' s 100th birthday, focuses on Benjamin as a failure. H e repeatedly refers to B e n j a m i n ' s failure to qualify as a university lecturer. Throughout M a y e r ' s speech, B e n j a m i n is the "gescheiterte G e r m a n i s t " (18) [failed scholar o f G e r m a n literature] w h o is constantly  revisited  throughout his life by the " S c h o c k der gescheiterten H a b i l i t a t i o n " (40) [the shock o f his failed habilitation]. A c c o r d i n g to M a y e r , the pain o f this failure was so great that it r e m a i n e d  with  Benjamin his entire life: " D e r S c h m e r z iiber die abgelehnte Habilitationsschrift lieB niemals nach" ( M a y e r 52) [The pain inflicted by his rejected habilitation dissertation never subsided]. Y e t , a c c o r d i n g to M a y e r , this failure should not be understood merely as the result o f external circumstances, but, rather, as one o f his o w n making. M a y e r argues that B e n j a m i n ' s affinity for R o m a n t i c i s m caused him to live by the motto " N i c h t - V o l l e n d u n g , " (33) [imperfectiblity and incompletion]; that is, nothing can be finished, for to be finished w o u l d be to be perfect, w h i c h is impossible, as the perfect is the infinite. This is the reaction o f the G e r m a n R o m a n t i c s to the ideal o f the complete and perfect w h o l e o f C l a s s i c i s m , w h i c h was seen in " L e b e n s w e r k und K u n s t w e r k " [life's w o r k and w o r k o f art]. T h e art and life o f the R o m a n t i c thus had to be u n h a r m o n i o u s and incomplete, leading Benjamin to his o w n "produktives Scheitern" ( M a y e r 33) [productive failure]. T h u s , in M a y e r ' s estimation, Benjamin, w h o does not achieve his habilitation, is never able to o v e r c o m e this failure. Further, M a y e r links Benjamin's failure to Ernst B l o c h ' s question: " U n d w i e , w e n n i c h nun gar nicht w i r k l i c h berufen bin, es mir folglich nur einbilde?" [sic] (55) [ A n d what i f I am not really chosen, but only imagine m y s e l f to be so?]. Rather than being forced to consider this question, M a y e r asserts that B e n j a m i n simply avoids it by b e c o m i n g a failure: " B e n j a m i n lieB einen solchen A u g e n b l i c k der Wahrheit gar nicht erst zu: er k a m ihm z u v o r . D a s S c h e i t e r n hatte er selbst  46 p r o g r a m m i e r t " (55) [Benjamin d i d not even tolerate such a moment o f truth: he forestalled it. H e p r o g r a m m e d his failure himself], M a y e r contends that B e n j a m i n made sure he was a failure in order to avoid facing the possibility that he was a failure — that he might not have been destined for this particular calling. M a y e r d r a w s a parallel between Benjamin and his friend, Ernst B l o c h , in order to p r o v i d e evidence for the f o r m e r ' s alleged failure. This parallel is d r a w n from B l o c h ' s one-page story, " K e i n G e s i c h t " [ W i t h o u t a F a c e ] , about a y o u n g girl w h o runs away from h o m e and is temporarily successful as an actress, but ultimately fails and returns home to become a secretary. A few w e e k s later she becomes an inmate in a mental institution. T h e story ends with questions regarding the nature o f being talented and the role o f coincidence in m a k i n g someone appear talented w h e n she/he really is not. T h e final question is: " W a r u m miissen w i r , die w i r in allem begrenzt sind, so unbegrenzt leiden?" ( B l o c h 40) [ W h y must we, w h o are limited in every way, suffer such unlimited suffering?]. M a y e r maintains that the gender  o f the protagonist  is irrelevant: " E s w a r keine  Frauengeschichte" (55) [It was not a w o m a n ' s story]. H e interprets the tale as a s k i n g universally applicable questions concerning being truly chosen for a particular calling versus i m a g i n i n g that one has been chosen. H o w e v e r , I contend that this story is o b v i o u s l y a "Frauengeschichte" [ w o m a n ' s story]. It contains the stereotypical situations in w h i c h w o m e n find themselves, both in literature and in life: i f they leave the constraints o f home (i.e., patriarchal discipline and c o n t r o l ) , then they are d o o m e d to be punished and sent back. T h e disobedient w o m a n often ends in a mental institution, for, so the script goes, any w o m a n w h o does not maintain her proper place i n society must be crazy. T h e eternal suffering is that o f w o m e n burdened by these stereotypes and ideologies.  47  M a y e r ' s appropriation o f this story obliterates the gender o f the protagonist, w h i c h , far from being irrelevant, is utterly c r u c i a l .  26  M a y e r ' s attempt to portray Benjamin as a failure is p r o b l e m a t i c o n a number o f counts. First, it is one thing to fail to become a university professor, it is quite another to fail in one's life and w o r k . M a y e r ' s analysis appears to conflate these t w o things, and this raises a number o f questions that I w i l l address later in more detail: W h y do we implicitly accept the institution o f the university as the arbiter o f intellectual success and failure? If intellectual success can only be b e s t o w e d by the academy, then what does this say about h o w w e understand B e n j a m i n today? W h y is he enjoying such posthumous popularity and success? W h a t does this say about his i n d u c t i o n into the canon? T h e second problem w i t h M a y e r ' s portrayal o f Benjamin as a failure is that he places him w i t h i n the rarefied stratum o f pure mental life, thus reducing him to the sum o f his w o r k s . F r o m those w o r k s , M a y e r carefully selects passages that paint a picture o f B e n j a m i n that corresponds to his ( M a y e r ' s ) o w n particular theory, method, and ideology. In short, w e learn m o r e about M a y e r than w e do about B e n j a m i n .  27  B e n j a m i n ' s relationship to the institution o f the university bears further investigation, as it is the university that made him. O n e o f B e n j a m i n ' s biographers, B r o d e r s e n , maintains that Benjamin  The issue of the social construction of women's madness and how it has been employed to control women's behaviour includes a large body of (auto)biographical, literary and filmic works, and academic analyses in numerous disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields. While it is beyond the scope of this project to examine this issue in detail, a number of ground-breaking works should be noted: Sandra M . Gilbert and Susan Gubar, The Mac/woman in the At lie: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth Century Literary Imagination (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1978); Elaine Showalter, The Female Malady: Women. Madness, and English Culture. J830- J980 (New York/London: Penguin Books. 1987); and Dorothy Smith, The Conceptual Practices of Power (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990). Jeffrey Grossman comes to much the same conclusion in his overview of Benjamin's reception in the Anglo-American literal}' institution (426). 20  27  48 failed  in his university career because his w o r k did not  conform  to the  disciplinary and  m e t h o d o l o g i c a l norms o f the faculty to w h i c h it was submitted: A s i d e from the p o w e r struggles and intrigues within the philosophy faculty, w h i c h presumably played a decisive part in the rejection o f Benjamin's  Habilitation thesis,  the question remains whether, and i f so w h i c h , "objective" arguments were levelled against the w o r k . O n the basis o f the w o r d i n g o f the report c o m m i s s i o n e d by the faculty board, Benjamin was only accused o f having made one mistake: applying to the w r o n g address.  (Walter Benjamin 149)  W h i l e B r o d e r s e n acknowledges that there were problematic politics and p o w e r struggles at the university, he appears to dismiss them in favour o f the simple fact that B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k was sent to the w r o n g address — so to speak. In other w o r d s , he should have perhaps been associated w i t h a different faculty — one that w o u l d have accepted his habilitation. H o w e v e r , this judgement o f B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k goes beyond its suitability within a particular discipline and is indicative o f his critical stance t o w a r d s the institution o f the university and the w a y s in w h i c h it produces knowledge.  A s Brodersen  notes, " B e n j a m i n ' s  treatise was  indeed  a quite  provocatively  ' u n a c a d e m i c ' w o r k , at least in the customary understanding o f the term.... the b o o k was a complete parody i f what G e r m a n professors understood to be a systematic, m e t h o d o l o g i c a l l y reasoned w o r k "  (Walter Benjamin 149). T h e verdict o f the university, then, is failure for not heeding disciplinary boundaries and not c o n f o r m i n g to established  modes o f practice and k n o w l e d g e making. B y not attaining  his  habilitation, B e n j a m i n becomes, a c c o r d i n g to the structures and normative understandings o f the institution, a failure. In other w o r d s , not c o n f o r m i n g to disciplinary boundaries results in failure. It should be noted, however, that not only were Benjamin's feelings about j o i n i n g the  academic  49 c o m m u n i t y ambivalent, but he was also consistently critical o f the university as an institution and o f the type o f scholarship it produced. W h i l e M a y e r ' s interpretation o f B e n j a m i n ' s failure is dubious, B r o d e r s e n ' s  interpretation  is plausible in so far as it offers an account o f that failure w i t h i n the structure o f the university. H o w e v e r , B e n j a m i n ' s failure to be accepted by the university came about through a c o m b i n a t i o n o f many c o m p l e x factors: strong anti-Semitism at the universities;  28  the rigidity o f the G e r m a n  university, w h i c h was loathe to accept w o r k that did not c o n f o r m to disciplinary boundaries and particular  methodologies;  29  the  power  politics  of  the  professors  involved;  and  the  incomprehensibility o f B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k , w h i c h , to use G r o s s m a n ' s w o r d s , " i n t r o d u c e d a discourse so foreign to the intellectual and cultural discursive formation at the time, its readers failed to comprehend i t " (415). T h i s refers not merely to Benjamin's style and language, as is often the case,  30  but,  more  important,  to  his conceptualization  o f the  literary,  aesthetic,  cultural,  p h i l o s o p h i c a l , and historical themes that he addresses. Certainly B e n j a m i n ' s o w n needs and desires also played a role in his failure to get his habilitation. H o w e v e r , perhaps these needs and desires had more to do w i t h his s o c i o - e c o n o m i c position and his strong misgivings about the university as an institution than they did w i t h an affinity for the G e r m a n R o m a n t i c s or doubts about his o w n abilities. H a v i n g been brought up the eldest son in a wealthy family, he generally expected to do what he pleased without having to w o r k and earn money. T h i s situation was complicated by his parents' declining affluence, w h i c h was brought about  For example, one of the reasons Benjamin decided not pursue his habilitation at the university of Heidelberg was that there was scant hope for his success there, due to pervasive anti-Semitism. See, for example: Witte, Walter Benjamin mil Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenlen 50; Benjamin's letter to Scholem, dated 30 December 1922 (Briefe V o l . 2, 299; Correspondence 204): and Donald L . Niewyk, The Jews in Weimar Germany (Baton Rouge/London: Louisiana State University Press, 1980), especially his chapter on anti-Semitism. This has been discussed at length in many places. See Wohlfarth, "Resentment Begins at Home"; Brodersen, Spinne im eigenen Netz, 163-65; and Grossman 414-15. See, for example, Scholem, The Story of a Friendship 129. 28  29  30  50  by the extreme inflation o f the early 1920s (culminating in the currency collapse o f 1923). In addition, his parents were (understandably) simply tired o f supporting their adult son and his family, and they felt that it was time for him, at the age o f thirty-three, to earn his o w n living. I offer a close examination o f B e n j a m i n ' s failure in Chapter 4, w h i c h explores the traditional discourse o f university success and failure, the actions o f Benjamin's supervisors, and B e n j a m i n ' s relatively unanalyzed relationship w i t h Gottfried S a l o m o n - D e l a t o u r during his years at the U n i v e r s i t y o f Frankfurt.  Conclusion T h i s chapter has identified a number o f forms o f engagement w i t h B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k in different academic fields. In the field o f (English-speaking) critical pedagogy, particularly at its intersection w i t h cultural studies, engagement with Benjamin has been restricted to a small number o f his translated w o r k s . W h i l e some studies draw on Benjamin for insights into popular culture and w a y s o f c o m p r e h e n d i n g history and tradition, it is much more c o m m o n to find h i m reduced to an icon for one specific attitude or idea. T h i s results in a limited and distorted understanding o f both B e n j a m i n the scholar and Benjamin the man. T h e o n g o i n g discussion in the academy, w h i c h seeks to categorize W a l t e r B e n j a m i n as a particular k i n d o f scholar (usually as either messianic or materialist) or as a failure (usually by virtue o f his unclassifiability) has also been addressed. I have outlined h o w these u n d e r s t a n d i n g s o f B e n j a m i n have been determined, and I have attempted to explain w h y they are problematic, p r o v i d i n g only a partial picture o f him. Unarticulated in these accounts is the prevalent assumption that w e can understand an intellectual figure solely by interpreting the corpus o f his (or her) written w o r k . N o t i c e a b l y missing from such accounts o f Benjamin are sustained attempts to examine the significance o f the multiple intersections o f the public and private spheres and h o w this relates to  51  his intellectual labour. T h i s lack is most apparent in h o w Benjamin's relationship w i t h A s j a L a c i s had been portrayed.  52  Chapter 2 Personal Genealogy: Methodology and Theory  " A h , but what is a public person?" ... " O n l y a nude body w e a r i n g slightly better clothes."  C a r o l Shields, Swarm  A s p r e v i o u s l y noted, my study o f W a l t e r Benjamin draws o n M o i ' s method o f personal genealogy as she develops it in her examination o f S i m o n e de B e a u v o i r . M o i uses this method, first o f all, to m a k e an important distinction between her project and that o f both biography and literary criticism. F o r the most part, as was d e m o n s t r a t e d  in the previous chapter, the study o f an  intellectual figure not only subjects her/him to a process o f categorization, but also implicitly assumes that her/his life and w o r k are separable. T h i s assumption is not value-neutral, for, as M o i observes: W h e n it comes to biography and literary criticism, the life/text distinction normally carries an explicit or implicit value judgement: biographers often consider life more "real" or more "true" than text; many literary critics have a tendency to think o f the text as a pure aesthetic object that can only be defiled by the mess w e usually call life. (4) It is not only the bifurcation o f life and w o r k (and its implicit value judgement) that is problematic for M o i , but also the very nature o f h o w a traditional biography understands its subject. A s M o i asserts: L i k e traditional history, biography is narrative and linear, argues i n terms o f origins and finalities and seeks to disclose an original identity. G e n e a l o g y , o n the other hand, seeks to achieve a sense o f emergence or p r o d u c t i o n and to understand the  complex play o f different kinds o f p o w e r i n v o l v e d in social phenomena.... P e r s o n a l genealogy assumes that every phenomenon may be read as a text, that is to say as a c o m p l e x n e t w o r k o f signifying structures. (7) M o i criticizes b i o g r a p h y for attempting to u n c o v e r a person's presumed essence. T h e c h r o n o l o g i c a l telling o f a person's life intends to s h o w h o w events and circumstances led to that person achieving a specific identity. G e n e a l o g y , by contrast, explores the process by w h i c h a person — a subjectivity — evolves, never c o m i n g to a final c o n c l u s i o n in a fixed identity. B y examining processes rather than attempting to establish a fixed identity, genealogy is able to s h o w h o w the discourses o f a p e o p l e ' s lives shape their identity in different ways at different times. In other w o r d s , genealogy examines the p r o d u c t i o n o f intellectual figures as a social and cultural phenomenon shaped by individuals and the institutions w i t h i n w h i c h they operate. O n e could extend what she says o f literary criticism to other disciplines and fields o f study. T h e separation o f w o r k and person relegates intellectual w o r k to an abstract realm o f ideas, separate from the material realm o f the writer-theorist. This, o f course, harks back to the Cartesian m i n d / b o d y split and the assumption o f a neutral k n o w e r seeking universal truth. W i t h i n this paradigm, intellectuals are no more than the sum o f their w r i t i n g . A s S i g r i d W e i g e l has noted in her re-reading o f Benjamin, most understandings o f B e n j a m i n place h i m within a male tradition o f influence and classify his w o r k a c c o r d i n g l y . W h a t most often results from this are repeated complaints about contradictions within B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k and between Benjamin and the lines o f tradition ( W e i g e l , Body- and Image-Space x i i ) . W e i g e l ' s o w n analysis begins f r o m the premise that the reconstruction o f lines o f influence misses the point o f B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k , w h i c h attempts to disrupt those very lines  (Body- and 1mage-Space x i ) . H e r solution is to  examine his use o f images together w i t h his practice o f thinking in an interdisciplinary manner, thus p r o v i d i n g n e w insights that are applicable to philosophy, gender studies, and critical theory. T r u e  54 to her intentions, W e i g e l removes Benjamin from any specific disciplinary tradition and lineage; h o w e v e r , her study retains the split between the man w i t h a life history and the intellectual w i t h ideas. W e i g e l p r o v i d e s a g r o u n d - b r e a k i n g interdisciplinary study, disrupting disciplinary lineage and boundaries, w h i l e still abiding by the traditional scholarly practice o f splitting the p u b l i c f r o m the private. P e r s o n a l genealogy examines not only inter- but also extra-disciplinary intersections through a relational analysis o f the p r i v a t e and the public. Rather than unravelling one or t w o strands o f B e n j a m i n and attempting to transform them into a linear, causal narrative, I w i l l examine specific points o f intersection and attempt to s h o w h o w such strands mutually influence one another and shape B e n j a m i n ' s material conditions o f existence (including, o f course, the matrix o f p o w e r relations). T h e usual division between public and private has l o n g been criticized by feminists in many fields. P a r t i c u l a r l y research in the social sciences has s h o w n h o w the public sphere, generally associated w i t h men and traditionally male activities, has become normative. W i t h i n this paradigm, w o m e n , w h o are generally associated with the private sphere and the b o d y rather than w i t h the public sphere and the m i n d , are often ignored. A t t e n t i o n paid to w o m e n tends to be determined by their deviation f r o m the male norm. These arguments are w e l l - k n o w n , and I w i l l therefore only briefly mention a few o f the more influential ones. A l t h o u g h the f o l l o w i n g three scholars — J o a n K e l l y , D o r o t h y S m i t h , and A l i s o n Jaggar — w o r k within different disciplines (namely, history, s o c i o l o g y , and political philosophy, respectively), they reach comparable conclusions. In the 1970s Joan K e l l y conducted g r o u n d - b r e a k i n g research that " l o o k e d simultaneously at the p u b l i c and private spheres and at their linkages" (ix). She describes feminist theory as a p a r a d i g m shift that moves away from a bifurcated v i e w o f social relations; that is, malepublic/female-private. She maintains that feminist thought examines sets o f socially formed social  relations that "are seen to obtain for w o m e n and men, and to do so at  the same time" ( K e l l y 58;  emphasis in original). D o r o t h y S m i t h demonstrates that k n o w l e d g e that w a s previously (and often still is) represented as universal was (is), in fact, k n o w l e d g e determined from a standpoint located in the public w o r l d , traditionally the sphere o f men. F r o m the time the public/private split began in the seventeenth century, the public sphere has gradually g r o w n to include government, administration, and all areas o f w a g e d labour. C o n c u r r e n t l y , the sphere o f w o m e n was gradually reduced to the private — that is, the domestic — sphere ( D . Smith, The Everyday World 5-6). A s a result o f this, research did (does) not problematize the everyday w o r l d o f experience and social relations ( D . Smith, The Everyday World 98-99). Smith convincingly argues that, i f our k n o w l e d g e is to amount to m o r e than the tracing o f abstract and limited lineages, w e must g o b e y o n d a n a r r o w l y defined public sphere and situate k n o w l e d g e in the everyday w o r l d . B y analyzing h o w liberal, M a r x i s t and radical feminisms understand human nature, Jaggar demonstrates the constructed, ideological nature o f the split between p u b l i c and private, as w e l l as its negative consequences. She arrives at the c o n c l u s i o n "that it is misleading to think o f there being t w o distinct spheres [public and private] at a l l " (Feminist Politics 146). K e l l y , S m i t h , and Jaggar provide sociological depth to M o i , w h o s e insights are based chiefly on psychoanalytical principles and w h o s e primary concern is the r e c o g n i t i o n and acceptance o f w o m e n intellectuals, particularly in fields such as philosophy (where w o m e n still tend to be underrepresented). M o r e o v e r , these studies are relevant beyond the confines o f the academy. First, they point out that there are real, material effects to the split between public and private and that, because they produce k n o w l e d g e based o n this split, academics bear some responsibility for those effects. S e c o n d , they point out that all k n o w l e d g e must be re-examined to take into account the fact that it is socially g r o u n d e d rather than abstract.  56 R e s e a r c h in the s o c i o l o g y o f education brings a slightly different, yet related, perspective to the issue o f the public/private split and its relationship to the p r o d u c t i o n o f k n o w l e d g e . M a d e l e i n e M a c D o n a l d distinguishes between the private (home life, family, friends, and peers) and the p u b l i c (institutes o f formal learning). K n o w l e d g e within the context o f formal learning is generally detached f r o m lived experience. M a c D o n a l d maintains that "numerous sets o f oppositions ... d i v i d e and distance forms o f k n o w l e d g e and their associated activities. F o r example w e can find the d i c h o t o m i e s o f public and private k n o w l e d g e , politics and p s y c h o l o g y , reason and e m o t i o n , science and art, technology and nature, reality and fantasy. ... [TJhere are also the m e t h o d o l o g i c a l distinctions between hard and soft data, objectivity and subjectivity" ( M a c D o n a l d  166). She  elucidates the consequences o f such divisions as f o l l o w s : the informal everyday experience and everyday c o m m u n i c a t i o n w i t h i n the family and peer groups w h i c h shape social identities feed into and create procedures and performances fundamental to formal education. H o w e v e r , formal education also selects, and re-focuses and abstracts from such experiences and in so d o i n g decontextualizes it [sic]. T h e behaviours and competences i n v o k e d in the contexts o f the home and c o m m u n i t y ... are thus freed from their dependence on e v o k i n g contexts and, through a process o f recontextualizing, b e c o m e generalizable and abstract. ( M a c D o n a l d 167) In other w o r d s , even t h o u g h institutional forms o f k n o w l e d g e are informed by the everyday, the role o f the latter in the p r o d u c t i o n o f formal k n o w l e d g e is rarely a c k n o w l e d g e d . T h e point o f these insights into the public/private, formal/informal forms o f k n o w l e d g e is, first, to a c k n o w l e d g e the constructed nature o f their separation and, second, to examine the processes by w h i c h one constitutes the other. T h e pedagogical implications are far-reaching in that institutional k n o w l e d g e is no longer seen as an abstract truth separate from everyday life and other  57 forms o f k n o w l e d g e . In other w o r d s , k n o w l e d g e is no longer seen as causal or linear but, rather, as relational. T h e significance o f M a c D o n a l d ' s findings for my study o f B e n j a m i n lies in the educational consequences  o f t r a d i t i o n a l forms o f k n o w l e d g e p r o d u c t i o n . T h e form o f education that  M a c D o n a l d describes and criticizes has as its goal reproduction; namely, the maintenance o f the status q u o . T h e issue is not the status o f k n o w l e d g e but its social organization — the processes by w h i c h it is p r o d u c e d . I f k n o w l e d g e p r o d u c t i o n is to be understood as t a k i n g place w i t h i n b o t h formal and informal settings, then public and private spheres must be l o o k e d at relationally rather than separately. P e r s o n a l genealogy, as it relates to Benjamin, seeks to make clear the interconnection between k n o w l e d g e and social organization. It draws on feminist research that critiques k n o w l e d g e based o n the public/private split, and it elucidates the role o f the latter in the cultural politics o f understanding intellectual figures. B r e a k i n g d o w n the assumed boundaries between public and private necessitates,  among  other things, m e t h o d o l o g i c a l considerations. T o o v e r c o m e the bifurcation o f life and w o r k , M o i proposes "that there can be no methodological distinction between 'life' and ' t e x t ' " (3-4) and "that every phenomenon may be read as a text" (7). M y understanding o f M o i ' s proposal does not presuppose a conflation o f life and text that leads to the c o n c l u s i o n that everything is text; rather, M o i ' s m e t h o d o l o g i c a l m o v e a l l o w s life and text to be examined in conjunction w i t h one another. It is a m o v e that enables an examination not only o f the processes by w h i c h meaning is determined, but, beyond that, o f h o w k n o w l e d g e is constructed. T h u s numerous texts, from both w o r k and life, intersect to " m a k e " the person being analyzed. M o i deliberately chooses the verb "to m a k e " to indicate, first o f all, "the m a k i n g o f her [de B e a u v o i r ] as an intellectual in the most literal way: by studying her e d u c a t i o n " ( M o i 6). T h u s the intellectual is understood as both a subject p r o d u c i n g  58 k n o w l e d g e and as an object o f k n o w l e d g e production. A s well as using " m a k e " in the sense o f the institutional " m a k i n g " o f an intellectual figure, M o i uses it in the more general sense o f emphasizing "the idea o f p r o d u c t i o n or construction, and thus to indicate that 1 see ' S i m o n e de B e a u v o i r ' as an extraordinary effect o f a w h o l e n e t w o r k o f discourses" (6). L i k e M o i , I v i e w the project o f understanding what constitutes B e n j a m i n as a social subject as an o n - g o i n g process that must take into consideration his writings and his life as they unfolded w i t h i n a specific historical and social context. F u r t h e r m o r e , the project must take into account attempts to make him change over time and a c c o r d i n g to different contexts. A l t h o u g h M o i claims that she will examine h o w the institution produces de B e a u v o i r , she does not d o so. Furthermore, it is not clear h o w she conceives o f and analyzes the university as text. H e r n o t i o n o f institution as text is somewhat weak, particularly given her F r e u d i a n ideas concerning h o w texts are to be understood. A psychoanalytic theory developed to understand an i n d i v i d u a l ' s subjectivity loses m u c h o f its explanatory p o w e r when applied to an institution. M o r e o v e r , M o i seems to indicate that de B e a u v o i r ' s p s y c h o l o g i c a l life was the primary determinant o f her career. A s a consequence o f emphasizing the psychoanalytical rather than the social in her analysis o f the educational institutions in w h i c h de B e a u v o i r was i n v o l v e d , M o i ends up measuring her against Sartre — something she had wished to avoid. 1 attempt to p r o v i d e the institutional analysis that M o i claims, but fails, to provide. 1 do this by clearly specifying what is meant by discourse and by clearly emphasizing the social rather than the psychoanalytical. W i t h regard to a v o i d i n g presenting educational institutions as abstract entities, separate from both the k n o w l e d g e they produce and the scholars w h o produce it, K a t h r y n P y n e A d d e l s o n ' s concept o f " s o c i a l w o r l d " is helpful. In her examination o f the intersection o f philosophical w o r k and feminist epistemology, she states that "a social w o r l d consists o f people w h o , over a period o f time, perform some sort o f collective action together" ( A d d e l s o n 280). F o r the purposes o f this  study, this s o c i a l w o r l d consists o f academics i n v o l v e d in the process o f understanding the life, w o r k , and significance o f intellectual figures in general and o f W a l t e r B e n j a m i n in particular. A l t h o u g h such " w o r l d s " represent loosely defined and associated groups, they are based on a vital premise: "[w]hat is important in this notion o f a social w o r l d is that w e can ask detailed, empirical questions to specify what is done and w h o does it rather than talk abstractly about ' p o s i t i o n s ' or 'the patriarchy' or 'the ruling c l a s s ' " ( A d d e l s o n 281). F r o m this it f o l l o w s that "who makes k n o w l e d g e makes a difference. M a k i n g k n o w l e d g e is a political act" ( A d d e l s o n 267). T h i s necessitates an analysis o f the p r o d u c t i o n o f authorized k n o w l e d g e and o f h o w disciplines (and the individuals within them) participate in p r o d u c i n g authorized readings ( D . Smith,  Conceptual Practices of Power 15). It should be noted here that the  concept o f "social w o r l d " is constituted by the social, geographical, and historical dimensions as w e l l as individual dimensions such as race, class, and gender. It is for this reason that my analysis o f B e n j a m i n begins w i t h his social w o r l d , focusing on those aspects o f it that have, to date, not been examined: the social context o f his familial situation, particularly his relationship w i t h his wife (see C h a p t e r 3). A problematic aspect o f A d d e l s o n ' s notion o f social w o r l d is that it s o m e h o w occurs spontaneously (and only when a g r o u p communicates): T h e relationships a m o n g members o f a social w o r l d are founded in c o m m u n i c a t i o n , whether it be face-to-face activity w i t h little talk, regular meetings, electronic mail, telephone calls, or form letters. F o r example, "the p h i l o s o p h y profession" and "feminist p h i l o s o p h y " name social w o r l d s o f related, quite c o m p l e x sorts, held together by a multitude o f c o m m u n i c a t i v e modes that includes department meetings, conferences, journals, and electronic media. (280-81)  60  M i s s i n g from this concept o f the social w o r l d is any sense o f accountability to the c o m m u n i t y o f w h i c h one is a member, consciousness o f o n e ' s membership in a particular c o m m u n i t y , and h o w and w h y that c o m m u n i t y came to be formed. These vital missing elements are to be found in the w o r k o f Jacqui A l e x a n d e r and C h a n d r a Talpade M o h a n t y , w h o offer an explanation o f feminist genealogy. T h e y stress the importance o f "figuring out our communities o f belonging, and therefore those c o m m u n i t i e s to w h i c h w e are accountable" ( A l e x a n d e r and M o h a n t y ix). These communities do not simply happen, as A d d e l s o n infers, but are consciously built. S u c h b u i l d i n g is a task that first requires "accountability in envisioning, forming, and maintaining c o m m u n i t y " (ix). F o r i f we, as scholars and educators, agree that k n o w l e d g e formation is a political act, and i f w e engage in asking w h o does what, then it is also necessary to ask w h y ; that is, in w h o s e interest and to what ends does this process o c c u r ? M u c h o f the current " B e n j a m i n industry" appears to have little accountability in A l e x a n d e r ' s and M o h a n t y ' s sense. A s Pierre M i s s a c has suggested, "[tjhe critics w h o s w a r m around an  oeuvre  that is b e c o m i n g increasingly famous seem to want to flock to the scene o f victory" (19). A l t h o u g h M i s s a c c o u l d be accused o f cynicism, one need not denigrate Benjamin scholarship in order to a c k n o w l e d g e that intellectual w o r k , including this project, is motivated, to v a r y i n g degrees, by o n e ' s desire to further one's career and by one's publisher's desire to make money. Benjamin's iconic status ensures interest in, and more publishing opportunities for, research dealing w i t h this increasingly famous intellectual figure. A l t h o u g h it is seldom discussed,  scholars, like other  professionals, are interested in furthering their careers. In fact, they are under increasing pressure to do so ("publish or perish"). These circumstances do play a role in the p r o d u c t i o n o f k n o w l e d g e and, as such, should not be ignored. T h i s dimension o f the p r o d u c t i o n o f k n o w l e d g e needs to be seen w i t h i n the larger context o f the university as an institution; and the university as an institution needs to be seen within the larger context o f society in general. In this way, we can more clearly  61  understand the success or failure o f intellectuals, the interest or lack o f interest in various objects o f study. It is in the sense o f " m a k i n g oneself important through B e n j a m i n " ( M i s s a c 15) that I refer to a " B e n j a m i n i n d u s t r y , " in w h i c h the publication o f ever more research virtually takes o n a reproductive life o f its o w n . T h i s is certainly not to suggest that a m o r a t o r i u m should be placed on B e n j a m i n research, or that all research should be based on pure selflessness, but, rather, that these dimensions o f research should be a c k n o w l e d g e d and that research itself should be accountable in a w a y that w o u l d satisfy A l e x a n d e r and M o h a n t y . In other w o r d s , w e need to ask: W h a t are the researcher's responsibilities to Benjamin and to her o w n academic communities as she attempts to make sense o f him and his w o r k and to construct him as a subject? F o r example, by c h o o s i n g this topic, I r e c o g n i z e that I, too, run the risk o f b e c o m i n g part o f the Benjamin industry, as I am b u i l d i n g one o f the bases o f my intellectual career on the investigation a "hot" subject that w i l l have a g o o d chance o f " s e l l i n g . " A s A l e x a n d e r and M o h a n t y have explained, accountability i n v o l v e s not only devising critical analytic tools and t a k i n g responsibility for them, but also t a k i n g on the challenge o f crafting more nuanced and accurate w a y s o f understanding the w o r l d in order to w o r k t o w a r d s a vis ion o f social justice ( i x - x ) . A l e x a n d e r and M o h a n t y understand genealogy as a matter o f c o m m i t m e n t and as a matter o f having a stake in a particular c o m m u n i t y — elements missing from both A d d e l s o n ' s philosophy and M o i ' s personal genealogy. L i k e M o i , I understand  m y subject to be an intersection o f many personal and social  dimensions — dimensions that can be investigated by analyzing the discourses that explain and produce them. Mo\ explains her analysis o f texts as follows: [A]ll  sorts  o f texts  (conversations,  p h i l o s o p h i c a l treatises,  gossip,  novels,  educational institutions) will be considered elements participating in the same  62 discursive n e t w o r k . T h e point is not to treat one text as the implicit meaning o f another, but rather to read them all w i t h and against each other in order to b r i n g out the points o f tension, contradictions and similarities. (5) I w i l l p r o c e e d in a similar manner, by reading different texts, both by and about B e n j a m i n (such as essays and p h i l o s o p h i c a l and a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l w r i t i n g s ) , with and against one another. I also assume, a l o n g w i t h M o i , that life can be read as text and that, as such, it is both constituted by and constitutes various strands o f discourse. M o i ' s use o f the terms " d i s c o u r s e " and "discursive n e t w o r k " is somewhat unclear. She conceives o f de B e a u v o i r as "an extraordinary effect o f a w h o l e n e t w o r k o f discourses or determinants" (6). In describing text as an overdetermined process, she lists the factors that exert pressure on that process as "'determinants,' 'discourses,' ' v o i c e s , ' 'structures,' etc.," each one another "strand in the textual w e a v e " ( M o i 7). She f o l l o w s this w i t h a reference to a "strand ( ' d i s c o u r s e , ' 'genre,' etc.) o f p h i l o s o p h y " ( M o i 7). She seems to equate all o f these terms — discourse, determinant, voice, structure, and strand — in that she sees them as s y n o n y m o u s w i t h the institutional p r o d u c t i o n o f the intellectual. In yet another variation, M o i describes factors that contribute to the m a k i n g o f de B e a u v o i r : "class, gender, religion, l o c a t i o n as so many different social discourses" (37). M o i sees these terms as equal in their p o w e r and as equal social determinants, all o f w h i c h affect h o w de B e a u v o i r is made. It is difficult to k n o w h o w structural interests function as social determinants, as these dimensions are treated as solely discursive. It is not clear h o w M o i accounts for class, religion, location, and gender as interests that play a role in h o w a person is made as a scholar. I n fact, she renders material and structural determinations almost invisible and subordinates them to vague notions such as class, gender, and location, w h i c h she never defines. T h u s she fails  63  to s h o w h o w p o w e r w o r k s and she provides no evidence o f its w o r k i n g (although she claims to p r o v i d e such evidence). A l t h o u g h "strands o f a textual weave" is a descriptive and appealing metaphor that evokes the c o m p l e x i t y and interconnectedness  o f various elements, it is perhaps t o o benign to grasp  tensions and contradictions in the process o f signification. Furthermore, it seems that the e x p l i c a t i o n o f the w e a v e is the sole function o f M o i ' s analysis. B y this I mean that, w h e n she identifies the different strands and explains h o w they are w o v e n together, her task is complete. T h i s precludes any examination o f what the material results o f such a weave might be (e.g., unequal p o w e r relations). F o r example, one c o u l d explain the complex interaction o f individual and social factors that led to the rejection o f Benjamin's habilitation. T h e question o f success and failure, and o f w h o decides what constitutes success or failure, w o u l d be an analysis o f the "textual w e a v e . " H o w e v e r , it is important to go one step further and to take into account the real consequences o f B e n j a m i n ' s rejection: it added to his precarious financial situation and it placed additional responsibility on D o r a (not o n l y to tend to all domestic chores r e v o l v i n g around the household and child rearing, but also to p r o v i d e the sole i n c o m e for the family). N o t being affiliated w i t h the university gave B e n j a m i n the time to t r a v e l w h e r e v e r and whenever he chose, but not the financial means to do so. B e i n g outside o f academia afforded Benjamin an intellectual freedom he w o u l d not otherwise have had. T h e r e w a s no need for him to align himself with a particular discipline or even w i t h a specific school o f thought -- he c o u l d be equally critical o f everyone and everything and take his research i n directions that might not otherwise have been possible. H e was also free from the time constraints o f teaching and other responsibilities that he w o u l d have had as a member o f the university c o m m u n i t y . In this c o m p l e x interaction o f factors, Benjamin's reality is shaped by many different discourses, as are his texts, but they are also formed by his material reality, as w i l l be demonstrated in more detail in C h a p t e r 5.  64 T o return to M o i ' s analysis o f de B e a u v o i r , it is the plurality o f meaning that takes priority. H e r personal genealogy is primarily concerned w i t h signification and the process o f a r r i v i n g at multiple possible meanings. M o i demonstrates that meaning is always contested and in flux, but i n m y project I am more interested in the effects o f that contestation and fluctuation o n the m a k i n g o f W a l t e r B e n j a m i n . T o take the investigation in this direction, it is necessary to define precisely what is meant by discourse, rather than simply to equate it with numerous other concepts, as M o i does. In order to adequately address the problems o f p o w e r relations and materiality, I suggest an understanding o f discourse that is more consistent w i t h M o i ' s genealogical intentions; namely, discourse is an ever-changing process rather than an object, a means rather than an end. H e r e discourse amounts to an ideological use o f language that privileges certain social groups and certain kinds o f k n o w l e d g e over others. B o t h privileged and marginal groups partake in discourse in order to support and/or contest meanings; however, their relative effectiveness is dependent o n their p o s i t i o n w i t h i n social and institutional structures. T h e other concepts that M o i tends to equate w i t h discourse — v o i c e , strand, genre, and structure — can affect or be part o f discourse, but they are not the same thing. M i i r d o c k further explains: the cultural field appears as the site o f a continual struggle between c o m p e t i n g discourses, each offering a particular w a y o f l o o k i n g at or speaking about the social w o r l d ... and engaged in a contest for visibility and legitimacy across a range o f social institutions.... the radically unequal nature o f discursive struggles aris[es] from the fact that some discourses are backed by greater material r e s o u r c e s and have preferential access to the major means o f publicity and p o l i c y - m a k i n g . (63) D i s c o u r s e affects and is affected by the material, not only the ideational, w o r l d . T h e process o f m a k i n g meaning has material effects that vary from group to group and individual to individual. T h e p r o d u c t i o n o f meaning that o c c u r s through discourse is not fixed in terms o f process or  65 o u t c o m e , but is ever-challenged and ever-changing in historically and socially specific ways. T h i s means that discourse is ambiguous, often contradictory, and never used in the same manner by all members o f a s o c i a l w o r l d . There is no simple equation regarding w h i c h discourse belongs to w h o m , as individuals are positioned differently in terms o f their relative p o w e r and the material effects o f the discourses in w h i c h they engage or from w h i c h they are excluded. U n d e r s t o o d in this w a y , discourse is neither reality nor a reflection o f reality; rather, it is a social process that attempts to give reality meaning. A n d , in d o i n g so, discourse is shaped by reality and, in turn, shapes the reality it attempts to understand. Stuart H a l l describes the discursive as follows: M y o w n v i e w is that events, relations, structures do have conditions o f existence and real effects, outside the sphere o f the discursive; but that o n l y w i t h i n the discursive, and subject to its specific conditions, limits and modalities, do they or can they be constructed within meaning. Thus, w h i l e not w a n t i n g to expand the territorial claims o f the d i s c u r s i v e infinitely, h o w things are represented and the 'machineries' and regimes o f representation in a culture do play a not merely a reflexive, after-the-event,  constitutive, and  role. T h i s gives questions o f culture and  ideology, and the scenarios o f representation — subjectivity, identity, politics — a formative, not merely an expressive, place in the constitution o f social and political life. ( " N e w Ethnicities," 2 5 2 - 5 3 ; emphasis in original) E n g a g i n g in discursive analysis is therefore not simply a w a y o f understanding something once it is finished (such as l o o k i n g back over Benjamin scholarship in order to produce an analysis o f discursive processes and what they mean); rather, it is a w a y o f contributing to the structures and processes that one is analyzing. Thus, my engagement with W a l t e r Benjamin becomes part o f the process o f " m a k i n g " him, not an analysis o f something already made and completed. I am not only  66 putting w o r d s on the page and attempting to explain W a l t e r Benjamin, I am actively taking part in constructing h i m . H a l l ' s n o t i o n o f the constitutive aspect o f discourse is important to my use o f personal genealogy. W h a t academics produce in attempting to understand the w o r l d is formed by, and in turn forms, reality. In other w o r d s , current canonical representations o f B e n j a m i n play a formative political role. It is for this reason that I take the issues o f accountability seriously. A s indicated earlier, A l e x a n d e r and M o h a n t y , in their e x p l o r a t i o n o f the genealogy o f their o w n "intellectual neighbourhoods,"  have recognized that it is critically important to build and understand our  intellectual communities and, therefore, to be accountable to them (ix). Personal genealogy, as formulated by M o i , occurs at sites where conflicting discourses converge. " T o approach S i m o n e de B e a u v o i r is to find oneself enmeshed in a w e b o f hotly disputed opinions and entrenched public myths, and in this situation ' S i m o n e de B e a u v o i r ' is not simply the name o f a person w h o w r o t e novels, essays and memoirs, but a site o f i d e o l o g i c a l and aesthetic conflict" ( M o i 74). Similarly, W a l t e r Benjamin is much more than a person w h o w r o t e extensively in many genres and fields. Ideological conflicts have shaped Benjamin scholarship, w h i c h has always been punctuated  by g l o w i n g accolades and damning c r i t i c i s m . There are frequent heated and  a c r i m o n i o u s debates concerning whether Benjamin is messianic or materialist; whether he is a literary or a cultural critic; whether his w o r k is essentially aesthetic or political; or whether he occupies some middle g r o u n d between these o p p o s i n g poles. A s I have said, regardless o f w h i c h o f these arguments is put forward, they all have one underlying assumption: the intellectual is the sum o f his w o r k .  3 1  H i s "private" life remains quite separate.  I deliberately use "his," as the discussion of women intellectuals, i f they are recognized as such at all, differs significantly from the discussion of male intellectuals. A s M o i has observed, what a woman is becomes o f paramount importance, and she is most often viewed through the lens of myths that cast her in predetermined roles, such as the unfeminine woman, the hysterical woman, or an imitator o f her male 31  67 B y c o n c e p t u a l i z i n g Benjamin as a site o f the intersection o f numerous conflicting discourses, I am able to examine the interconnectedness o f various social factors in certain instances o f his life. I propose to a c c o m p l i s h this m u c h the w a y M o i does w i t h regard to de B e a u v o i r : T o understand the social process that contributed to the m a k i n g o f S i m o n e de B e a u v o i r as an intellectual w o m a n , I have found it helpful to imagine these factors (class, gender, religion, location) as so many different social discourses, and to consider " S i m o n e de B e a u v o i r " as a site where the various strands o f the social text intersect. (37) A n analysis o f the intersection o f multiple points o f interaction provides a w a y o f a v o i d i n g the still prevalent tendency to theorize in polarities. It also a l l o w s for an understanding o f the processes by w h i c h k n o w l e d g e about intellectual figures is produced (rather than simply attempting to define such figures). A closer l o o k at four o f the discourses listed by M o i — class, gender, religion, l o c a t i o n — w i l l elucidate the similarities and differences between her personal genealogy and mine. M u c h like M o i , I w i l l analyze my subject as a site where various social texts and discourses intersect. A l t h o u g h I w i l l focus o n the d i s c o u r s e o f gender, w h i c h has been the most neglected o f the four, I w i l l indicate where it intersects with religion and different kinds o f E u r o p e a n identity. T h e discourse o f class, in the case o f Benjamin, is more c o m p l e x than it w o u l d at first seem. H i s family w a s clearly o f the middle-class, yet this was c o m p l i c a t e d by t w o things: (1) they were J e w i s h ; and (2) their financial situation changed quite radically as a result o f the e c o n o m i c upheaval in G e r m a n y d u r i n g the early years o f this century. A s a result, B e n j a m i n ' s class position was anything but o b v i o u s , especially during the last years o f his life, w h i l e he was in exile and earned  mentors. B y contrast, what a man does: that is, his work in the so-called public sphere, is the focus of discussion.  68 a very meagre income. H i s early bourgeois upbringing and later financial destitution are often mentioned in Benjamin research; however, his socio-economic position has not yet been examined in conjunction w i t h gender. T h e discourse o f religion clearly had the most devastating consequences for Benjamin. T h e o b v i o u s results o f his being Jewish were his exile and death. F o r D a g m a r B a r n o u w , B e n j a m i n ' s life ended in this manner: " S e r i o u s l y ill and in despair over an unredeemable cultural crisis, he c o u l d not muster the energy necessary for s u r v i v a l " (Weimar  Intellectuals 152). T h e cultural crisis referred  to is the rise o f E u r o p e a n , and especially G e r m a n , fascism as the c u l m i n a t i o n o f the "disintegration o f a n e w and therefore threatening ideological pluralism into a polarization so intense that it caused the socially and culturally destructive desire for m a k i n g total one particular i d e o l o g y w h i c h w o u l d then b r i n g about cultural redemption"  (Weimar Intellectuals 4). B e y o n d his exile and suicide,  B e n j a m i n ' s Jewishness produced him as a man and an intellectual in n u m e r o u s numerous for a detailed analysis h e r e .  32  ways — too  H o w e v e r , I will attempt to indicate where the discourse o f  J u d a i s m intersects w i t h other dimensions. A more comprehensive analysis w o u l d be the stuff o f future research. T h e discourse o f l o c a t i o n , w h i c h is not static, provides both temporal and geographical contexts. W i t h regard to temporal context, 1 refer to a specific historical constellation: the interwar years k n o w n in G e r m a n y as the Weimar R e p u b l i c . B e y o n d this, temporal context also refers to the  Authors who deal specifically with Benjamin's Jewishness include: Anson Rabinbach, "Between Enlightenment and Apocalypse: Benjamin, Bloch and Modern German Messianism," New German Critique 34 (1985): 78-124; Gershom Scholem, "Walter Benjamin f On Jews and Jitdaism in Crisis: Selected Essays. Ed. Werner J. Dannhauser (New York: Schocken, 1976) 172-197 and "Walter Benjamin and his Angel"6>? Jews and Judaism in Crisis: Selected Essays. Ed. Werner J. Dannhauser (New York: Schocken, 1976) 198236; Gar\' Smith. " D a s Judische versteht sich von selbst': Walter Benjamins friihe Auseinandersetzung mit dem Judentum,"Deutsche Vierteljahresschrifi fiir Uleraturwissenschafi undGeistesgeschichte 65.2 (1991): 318-34; and Irving Wohlfarth. " O n Some Jewish Motifs in Benjamin," The Problems of Modernity: Adorno and Benjamin, Ed. Andrew Benjamin (London/New York: Routledge. 1989) 157-215 and "'Manner aus der Fremde:' Walter Benjamin and the 'German-Jewish Parnassus,'" New German Critique 70 (1997): 3-85. Basically, these articles analyze Benjamin's relationship with Judaism as an element o f intellectual history. 32  :  69 non-linear,  synchronic porosity o f time, w h i c h enables past and present to be  examined  simultaneously. Benjamin practises this, for example, when he revisits his c h i l d h o o d and imbues his past w i t h the k n o w l e d g e he possesses in the present. H e sees, for example, images o f C a p r i and his relationship w i t h L a c i s in the surroundings o f his c h i l d h o o d . I w i l l e x p l o r e these connections in detail in C h a p t e r 5. W i t h regard to g e o g r a p h i c a l context, I refer not only to the places where B e n j a m i n actually lived ( B e r l i n , C a p r i , M o s c o w , Paris, etc.), but also to the fact that he lived in a E u r o p e that w a s defined by exclusionary principles. T h e E u r o p e in w h i c h he lived considered itself to be the pinnacle o f civilization. H o w the colonial powers o f E u r o p e sought to assimilate the rest o f the globe to their particular understanding o f the w o r l d has been well d o c u m e n t e d .  33  P o s t c o l o n i a l studies have demonstrated the various ways in w h i c h E u r o p e and E u r o p e a n identity have been constructed by c o l o n i a l i s m and the juxtaposition o f E u r o p e / W h i t e / c i v i l i z e d w i t h A f r i c a / B l a c k / u n c i v i l i z e d . A g a i n s t this b a c k d r o p o f colonial discourse what interests me is the G e r m a n relationship to the "inferior" Europeans — those w h o inhabit the southern or M e d i t e r r a n e a n regions. T h e G e r m a n discourses o f the "other" Europeans are similar to what has been called new r a c i s m , w h i c h is "based not on ideas o f innate biological superiority, but on the  supposed  incompatibility o f cultural traditions" ( D o n a l d and Rattansi 2). Differences between various ethnic, cultural, and religious groups tend to be based primarily on cultural practices and values. " T h e y " are lazy, dirty, slovenly, and tardy — all the things that Germans are not. There are instances o f such  See Gauri Viswanathan, "English Literary Study." "Race, " Culture and Difference, Ed. James Donald and A l i Rattansi (London: Sage, 1992) 149-170; Robert Young, "Colonialism and Humanism," "Race, " Culture and Difference, Ed. James Donald and A l i Rattansi (London: Sage, 1992) 243-51; Sander Gilman, "Black Bodies, White Bodies: Toward an Iconography of Female Sexuality in Late Nineteenth-Century Art, Medicine and Literature," "Race, " Culture and Difference, Ed. James Donald and A l i Rattansi (London: Sage, 1992) 171-197; Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage, 1994); and Gayatri Spivak, " C a n the Subaltern Speak?" Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. Ed. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (Urbana, 111: University of Illinois Press, 1988) 271-3 13. 33  70  discursive practices c o n c e r n i n g Italians in many o f B e n j a m i n ' s " D e n k b i l d e r " [Thought Images], i n c l u d i n g " N a p l e s , " w h i c h he w r o t e w i t h L a c i s . W o v e n t h r o u g h Chapters 3, 4, and 5 is the final social/political discourse identified by M o i — namely, gender. O n e o f the conflicts at the site o f Benjamin, as both a life subject and a textual subject, concerns h o w masculinity and femininity are c o n s t r u c t e d and defined. In the studies s u m m a r i z e d in C h a p t e r 1, it is clear that the masculine is the taken for granted perspective for understanding Benjamin. Similarly, the vast majority o f recently p r o d u c e d analyses o f B e n j a m i n lack any r e c o g n i t i o n o f the discourse o f gender. It w o u l d , o f course, be a mistake to frame this debate solely in terms o f " w o m e n versus m e n " or "feminism versus patriarchy." First, this w o u l d assume a binary split, and, second, it w o u l d assume that w o m e n and men form h o m o g e n o u s groups that are always pitted against each other. In fact, the dynamics o f gender are far m o r e complicated than this. M y study assumes that: (1) all subjects are gendered and, therefore, that gender analysis is relevant to the construction o f all forms o f subjectivity; (2) gender should be analyzed along w i t h other dimensions that comprise subjectivity; and (3) gender is an issue not only w h e n analyzing w o m e n as subjects, but also w h e n analyzing men as subjects. M y project contributes to the debate o v e r h o w to reconceptualize the scholarly analysis o f intellectual figures in v i e w o f feminist and postcolonial insights. P a u l a M L . M o y a has observed that it is primarily w o m e n w h o address gender issues, and primarily people o f c o l o r w h o address racial issues. T h e unspoken assumption is that only w o m e n have gender and only people o f c o l o r are racialized beings. This assumption reflects itself in the w o r k o f many male academics w h o only talk about gender w h e n they are referring to w o m e n , and in the w o r k o f many white academics w h o only talk about race w h e n they are referring to people o f colour. (381)  In other w o r d s , critical scholarship moves beyond understandings that separate men and w o m e n and d i v i d e subjects into public and private selves. M a r t i n and M o i have s h o w n h o w traditional s c h o l a r s h i p reduces both S a l o m e and de B e a u v o i r , respectively, to their relationships w i t h "great m e n " and measures them against the latter in order to find them lacking. A s important as is the w o r k o f M a r t i n and M o i , it once again associates the issue o f gender solely w i t h w o m e n . In my analysis o f Benjamin, the questions become: what can be learned about gender i f one l o o k s at a life and w o r k from the perspective o f the privileged gender o f that time? W h a t has been missed by not paying attention to the private life o f the person being studied? In other w o r d s , what has been missing is an analysis o f the intersection o f public and private w h e n examining a privileged (masculine) rather than a marginalized (feminine) gender position. I believe that my choice o f a male subject o f analysis, an intellectual w h o s e life and w o r k has been left relatively unexplored by feminist analysis, brings a new and necessary critical dimension to studies o f gender.  72  Chapter 3 Benjamin's Social and Familial Situation  In this chapter I examine the intersections o f B e n j a m i n ' s  larger social context w i t h his  familial situation shortly before and during the time o f his attempted habilitation. T h i s examination takes a step t o w a r d s reconceptualizing h o w intellectual figures are understood w h e n institutions o f formal learning are recognized as p r o v i d i n g the only viable context for k n o w l e d g e both about and by such figures. A s discussed in previous chapters, such k n o w l e d g e can be greatly expanded by i n c l u d i n g an analysis o f the intersections o f the public and private spheres. A n g e l a M c R o b b i e ' s criticism o f P a u l W i l l i s ' analysis o f a w o r k i n g - c l a s s y o u t h subculture makes these points clearly: T h e family is the obverse face o f hard, w o r k i n g - c l a s s culture, the softer sphere in w h i c h fathers, sons and boyfriends expect to be, and are, emotionally serviced. It is this link between the lads' hard outer i m a g e and their private experiences — relations w i t h parents, siblings and girlfriends — that still needs to be e x p l o r e d . W i l l i s ' emphasis on the cohesion o f the tight-knit g r o u p s tends to blind us to the ways that the lads' immersion in and expression o f working-class culture also takes place outside the public sphere. It happens as much around the breakfast table and  in the b e d r o o m as in the school and the workplace. ( M c R o b b i e , Settling Accounts 41) W i t h regard to the members o f academic cultures, this means that an e x p l o r a t i o n o f their class affiliations and family relationships will p r o v i d e a fuller, less distorted, understanding o f h o w they c o m e to be constructed. In the case o f Benjamin, this means e x p l o r i n g the specific links between his membership in a G e r m a n - J e w i s h middle-class family and an intellectual c o m m u n i t y .  73 I f one accepts, as I do, the assertion that k n o w l e d g e is p r o d u c e d not only by individuals but also by the positions they inhabit, then the binary o p p o s i t i o n o f w o r k / l i f e can no longer be taken for granted; rather, it becomes necessary to examine its ideological underpinnings and the effects it has o n scholarship, the p r o d u c t i o n o f k n o w l e d g e , and the p r o d u c t i o n o f intellectual figures. A n examination based on the preceding assumptions requires a new understanding both o f what " c o u n t s " as intellectual w o r k and the processes by w h i c h such w o r k is p r o d u c e d . N e w questions need to be a s k e d a l o n g w i t h those directed at the textual products and their place w i t h i n an intellectual tradition. Such questions include asking whether an intellectual is someone w h o cleans toilets and changes diapers. W h a t does it mean to conduct research and to do scholarly w o r k i f an intellectual has the financial capability to hire domestic labour or procures such labour through marriage? F r o m what standpoint and with w h i c h particular set o f assumptions does such a person set about c o n d u c t i n g his/her scholarship? H o w do societal and institutional structures and processes intersect w i t h that individual situation? T h i s chapter attempts to find preliminary answers to these questions by focusing on the nature and effects o f assumptions concerning the public and the private as they relate to gender. A s pointed out in Chapter 2, the w o m e n in a "great" man's life tend to be placed w i t h i n the private sphere, a m o v e that obfuscates many issues. M o s t often this m o v e is based o n what a w o m a n is (wife, mother, mistress) rather than on what she does, and it silences the dimensions o f intellectual w o r k that include social relations in the private sphere. D o r a B e n j a m i n is m u c h more than an insignificant appendage o f her husband, just as Asja L a c i s is m u c h more than B e n j a m i n ' s lover. M a n y o f B e n j a m i n ' s male friends and their particular intellectual positions have been discussed in great detail. M o s t o f their reminiscences o f him have been written, published, reprinted, translated, and analyzed. H o w e v e r , one person w i t h w h o m he discussed his w o r k and his reading,  74 and w h o helped him both directly and indirectly to w r i t e numerous w o r k s , has been virtually ignored because she has been pigeon-holed as his " w i f e . " H e r assistance to and maintenance o f her husband, and later ex-husband, are taken for granted and subsumed within the discourse o f the wife. W i t h i n this discourse, she is the one w h o scrubs the toilet, gives birth, c o o k s meals, and provides emotional support. In short, she engages in reproductive rather than in p r o d u c t i v e activities. L e s l i e R o m a n provides an explanation o f the inadequacies o f the productivist l o g i c that separates p r i v a t e - r e p r o d u c t i o n and p u b l i c - p r o d u c t i o n . T h i s l o g i c "holds that the labor w o m e n perform in the family, such as childbearing, parenting, domestic maintenance, c o n s u m p t i o n , and the emotional servicing o f family members — the so-called ' r e p r o d u c t i v e sphere' — is ... outside the sphere o f p r o d u c t i o n " ( R o m a n , "Intimacy, L a b o r , and C l a s s " 144). P r o d u c t i o n , it should be noted, refers not only to goods, but also to cultural and intellectual p r o d u c t i o n . R o m a n continues by citing a number o f feminist r e l a t i o n a l analyses that " p r o v i d e evidence that the rigid distinctions w h i c h productivists make between the p u b l i c and the private spheres and a m o n g forms o f labor are, in reality, b l u r r e d " (144). T h e advance made by relational analysis is that it does not subsume the necessary labour o f the family under e c o n o m i c requirements ( R o m a n 144). T o this I w o u l d add that the w o r k that is necessary to maintain the family and its members is also subsumed under a general notion o f support — often expressed as the " w o m a n behind a great m a n . " W h i l e this " s u p p o r t " contributes to cultural and intellectual production in concrete and specific ways, it is rarely examined. In the case o f Benjamin, the discourse o f the wife, based on productivist l o g i c , leaves D o r a ' s contributions u n r e c o g n i z e d , w h i c h means that the intersection o f her input and support w i t h the other d i m e n s i o n s o f her husband's life and w o r k are, as yet, an unwritten chapter in our understanding o f W a l t e r Benjamin. In addition to his relationship w i t h his wife, B e n j a m i n ' s o w n particular social situation w i t h i n the w i d e r German context also contributed to m a k i n g him. A s M a r i o n K a p l a n ' s research on  75 the J e w i s h - G e r m a n middle-class has shown, the home played a particularly significant role for the Jewish middle-class at that time. K a p l a n has found that the "home was where they experienced the ambivalences and contradictions inherent in the dual desires to maintain their family, J e w i s h c o m m u n i t y , and heritage, and to integrate into the social and cultural life w i t h other Germans.... T h e home was the juncture at w h i c h gender, class, and ethnicity confronted one another" ( M a r i o n K a p l a n 25). W h i l e not w i s h i n g to abandon their Jewishness, there was a strong desire a m o n g the majority o f middle-class Jewish families to acculturate, and the site o f m u c h o f this acculturation w a s the home. It was considered the mother's responsibility to teach a p p r o p r i a t e  behaviour  ( a c c o r d i n g to bourgeois criteria) and to p r o v i d e the proper forms o f music, literature, and social engagements. H o w e v e r , this was only made possible by the father's financial success ( M a r i o n K a p l a n 25). A s for most middle-class Jewish families, for the Benjamins the home was where "Jews absorbed  the impact o f their e c o n o m i c success  and prepared  to achieve the  social status  commensurate w i t h it" ( M a r i o n K a p l a n 25). B e n j a m i n ' s father,  E m i l , belonged  to the new class o f entrepreneurs and financial  speculators w h o experienced a rapid g r o w t h in wealth, status, and p o w e r soon after the turn o f the century — a g r o w t h brought about by G e r m a n y ' s extremely swift e c o n o m i c expansion f o l l o w i n g unification i n 1871. B e n j a m i n ' s c h i l d h o o d was spent in the comfortable middle-class district o f C h a r l o t t e n b u r g in B e r l i n , where the family employed numerous domestic servants.  34  W h i l e nannies  generally l o o k e d after W a l t e r and his brother and sister, the children accompanied their mother o n carefully  routinized shopping expeditions, during w h i c h they  engaged  in the  conspicuous  c o n s u m p t i o n expected o f the wife and children o f a wealthy and successful man. A l t h o u g h the  Benjamin's childhood years are discussed in Brodersen (Walter Benjamin 1-36), Fuld (17-34), Puttneis and Smith (8-30), Tiedemann, Godde and Lonitz (9-28), and Witte, (Walter Benjamin mitSe/bstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenlen 7-17). M  76 w o m e n in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century were most often "not a l l o w e d to k n o w the slightest thing about financial matters ... [they] remained important status symbols and were expected to assume c o n s u m p t i o n patterns w h i c h reflected the wealth and enhanced the prestige o f their husbands and fathers" ( M a r i o n K a p l a n 169). Benjamin wrote about his mother's " c o n s u m p t i o n patterns" w h e n he revisited his c h i l d h o o d , in some o f his m o r e autobiographic writings o f the 1930s. H e described h o w his mother "made the r o u n d s " a m o n g the well-established, highly reputable B e r l i n firms. After purchasing specific items in particular prestigious stores, they completed their o u t i n g by d r i n k i n g hot chocolate, always at the same establishment: " E s stand ebenso fest, daB bei solchen Gelegenheiten unsere K i n d e r a n z i i g e bei A r n o l d M i i l l e r , Schuhe bei Stiller und KofTer bei M a d l e r gekauft w i e daB am E n d e aller dieser Veranstaltungen die S c h o k o l a d e mit Sahne bei H i l l b r i c h bestellt wurde"[sic]  (Berliner Chronik 72)  ["On such occasions it was as certain that our suits w o u l d be bought at A r n o l d M i i l l e r ' s , shoes at Stiller's, and suitcases at M a d l e r ' s , as that at the end o f these c o m m i s s i o n s o u r hot chocolate w i t h w h i p p e d cream w o u l d be ordered at H i l l b r i c h ' s " ( " A B e r l i n C h r o n i c l e " 36)]. T h e ritual o f shopping, as Benjamin later recognized, was about being seen to be spending money in the right places. H e also observed that it was his father's money that made these trips possible and that determined their form: "In jenen friihen Jahren lernte ich 'die Stadt' nur als den Schauplatz der ' B e s o r g u n g e n ' kennen, bei denen z u m ersten M a i sich erwies, wie uns das vaterliche G e l d eine G a s s e zwischen den Ladentischen und den V e r k a u f e r n und den Spiegeln und den B l i c k e n der M u t t e r bahnte"  (Berliner Chronik 79) ["In those early years I got to k n o w the ' t o w n ' only as  the theater o f purchases, on w h i c h occasions it first became apparent h o w my father's money c o u l d cut a path for us between the shop counters and assistants and mirrors, and the appraising eyes o f o u r mother ( " A B e r l i n C h r o n i c l e " 40)]. It was E m i l Benjamin's financial success and standing that opened the paths for Pauline Benjamin and her children.  77  R a t h e r than enjoying the preferential treatment they received, B e n j a m i n and his siblings found these outings to be unpleasant. T h e y only began to feel comfortable when the purchases were c o m p l e t e d and they reached the confectioner's: "[I]n der K o n d i t o r e i erst w u r d e uns besser und w i r flihlten dem Gotzendienst uns entronnen, der unsere M u t t e r v o r den Idolen erniedrigte"  (Berliner  Chronik 79). [(I)t was only in the confectioner's that our spirits rose w i t h the feeling o f having escaped the false w o r s h i p that humiliated our mother" ( " A B e r l i n C h r o n i c l e " 40). T h e special treatment B e n j a m i n ' s mother received was, in hindsight, humiliating. It was a form o f w o r s h i p o f the false g o d o f money that altered the shopkeeper's behaviour and falsified social relations. From  his  early  c h i l d h o o d , Benjamin  associated  the  city  with  consumption  and  commodification, a recurrent theme in his w r i t i n g , particularly in his later w o r k . H i s last unfinished w o r k , the " A r c a d e s Project," for example, was an examination o f nineteenth-century Paris that paid close attention to the consumption o f g o o d s and the c o m m o d i f i c a t i o n o f both g o o d s and people — processes that began in the nineteenth century and became hallmarks o f modernity. In his attempt to make his c h i l d h o o d experiences meaningful from his perspective in later life, Benjamin described h o w he first came to k n o w "the city" as the "Schauplatz der ' B e s o r g u n g e n ' "  (Berliner Chronik 79)  ["theater o f purchases" ( " A B e r l i n C h r o n i c l e " 40)]. H e r e c o n s t r u c t e d his earliest impressions as follows:  " E i n e Reihe unerforschlicher M a s s i v e nein H o h l e n v o n W a r e n - das w a r 'die S t a d t ' "  (Berliner Chronik 80) [ " A n impenetrable chain o f mountains, no, caverns o f c o m m o d i t i e s — that was the ' t o w n ' " ( " A B e r l i n C h r o n i c l e " 40)]. In his writings about cities, B e n j a m i n explored these cities as "theaters o f purchase" (especially N a p l e s ) and "caverns o f c o m m o d i t i e s " (especially Paris). In C h a p t e r 5 I w i l l return to the city as the site o f consumption in Benjamin's w r i t i n g , s h o w i n g h o w it intersects w i t h his relationship w i t h Lacis and their time in N a p l e s and C a p r i . A l t h o u g h Benjamin was critical o f the "false w o r s h i p " o f material wealth, for the most part he t o o k the privilege and comfort it p r o v i d e d for him and his family for granted. H i s father's wealth  78 and social standing increased, and Benjamin spent his y o u t h cushioned by his middle-class existence in the l u x u r i o u s surroundings o f the family's large villa in G r u n e w a l d , B e r l i n . H e also travelled t h r o u g h m u c h o f E u r o p e , beginning w i t h a trip to Italy u p o n c o m p l e t i n g his secondary education ( " A b i t u r " ) . H e then spent 1912 to 1915 studying philosophy at the U n i v e r s i t i e s o f F r e i b u r g and B e r l i n , and 191.5 to 1917 at the University o f M u n i c h , after w h i c h he completed his doctorate in B e r n , S w i t z e r l a n d , where he studied from 1917 to 1 9 1 9 .  33  It was this c o m b i n a t i o n o f formal education and education through travel that p r o v i d e d access to the social elite k n o w n as the " B i l d u n g s b i i r g e r t u m " [educated bourgeoisie], a class predicated on material success in conjunction w i t h higher education.  36  W e a l t h y acculturated Jewish  families, like the Benjamins, particularly aspired to this social status, as it both c o i n c i d e d w i t h a traditional J e w i s h veneration for education and aligned them w i t h the most p o w e r f u l groups in society. This alignment was vital during the late 1800s as well as in the early years o f the twentieth 37  century, and Jewish middle-class families w o r k e d hard to become visibly and p u b l i c l y as similar to G e r m a n middle-class families as possible. Jews had only recently gained political emancipation in Germany,  38  and they lived in a society that c o u l d be characterized as generally conformist, highly  competitive, and intolerant o f differences, w h i c h made this alignment and assimilation necessary, at least o u t w a r d l y ( M a r i o n K a p l a n 31).  It was the usual practice at the time for the sons of wealthy German families to study at more than one university. Benjamin's university years are discussed in Brodersen (Walter Benjamin 37-78), Fuld (35-114), Tiedemann, Godde and Lonitz (29-49), and Witte, (Walter Benjamin mil Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten 18-29). For a detailed discussion of the "Bildungsburgertum." see Huerkamp, "Weibliche Konkurrenz auf den akademischen Arbeitsmarkten." 35  36  At least they thought so until the 1930s, when they discovered, as Wiggershaus has observed, that no amount of conformity could secure their position in society (4). In 1867 the North German League annulled discriminatory residency laws; in 1869 religious discrimination was forbidden: the Citizenship Law of unified Germany, 1871, removed special conditions for Jewish applicants. 37  38  79 T h e conflict caused by this necessity, however, had to be dealt w i t h in the private sphere, where J e w i s h traditions w e r e practised and Jewish identity was nurtured. A s various forms o f Jewishness became increasingly privatized and relatively invisible in the public sphere, mediating between them and G e r m a n bourgeois culture became an increasingly difficult task — one that was performed p r i m a r i l y by mothers ( M a r i o n K a p l a n 31). D u e to the lack o f attention to the private sphere in m u c h o f B e n j a m i n scholarship, this dimension o f his Jewishness and its relation to his home and mother (and wife) has not yet been examined. Benjamin and most o f his friends and associates belonged to this class, the  educated  bourgeoisie — a class that, in the 1920s, began to lose both its highly privileged status and the cohesiveness p r o v i d e d by c o m m o n wealth and education. T h o s e were the years in w h i c h the l o w e r classes and w o m e n began to gain increasing access to the universities. T h e y were also the years in w h i c h the nature o f university education began to change: rather than p r o v i d i n g a general education, the institution n o w began p r o v i d i n g specialized learning for particular professions ( H u e r k a m p 275). It w a s not only university education that changed in the 1920s, but also the financial situation o f many members o f the middle-class. W h i l e Benjamin's comfortable l i f e s t y l e was easily 39  maintained by his parents w h i l e he obtained his doctorate, their financial situation w e a k e n e d after 1918. A l t h o u g h the First W o r l d W a r had bolstered the G e r m a n e c o n o m y , after 1918 reparations payments, c o u p l e d w i t h the social and political struggles determining the future direction o f the new d e m o c r a c y f o l l o w i n g the abdication o f E m p e r o r W i l l i a m II, contributed to e c o n o m i c instability in general and a large loss o f wealth for the Benjamin family in particular.  His parents paid all of his expenses and financed the various apartments in which he lived (first alone and then with his wife, Dora, and son, Stefan). In the early years of his marriage, Benjamin continued to travel extensively with his new family and was also able to hire a live-in nanny. In other words, Benjamin continued to enjoy the privileged lifestyle in which he had grown up. 39  80 A s a result, shortly after the completion o f his doctoral dissertation in June 1919, Benjamin w r o t e t o his friend S c h o l e m that finances were one o f his t w o crucial considerations: " D i e E n t s c h e i d u n g [in der S c h w e i z oder anderswo weiterzustudieren], wenigstens die vorlaufige, hangt nicht v o n Geldfragen allein (wenn auch sehr wesentlich) ab, sondern auch davon, w i e sich die A r b e i t an meiner Habilitationsschrift gestalten w i r d "  (Briefe V o l . 2, 6 8 ) ["The decision (to continue  studying in S w i t z e r l a n d o r elsewhere), at least the provisional one, depends not only (even i f to a significant extent) o n the question o f money but also o n h o w the w o r k o n m y habilitation dissertation shapes u p " (Correspondence 156)].Until that time, cost had never been an issue for Benjamin. S o o n after the c o m p l e t i o n o f his doctoral dissertation, w h e n B e n j a m i n ' s parents w o u l d no longer financially support him, he, D o r a , and Stefan were forced to m o v e into P a u l i n e and E m i l Benjamin's villa in B e r l i n . H i s parents' refusal to continue to assist him stemmed not only from their o w n diminished financial situation, but also from their c o n v i c t i o n that it was time for their son to finally find gainful employment and support his o w n family — a course o f action he was extremely reluctant to f o l l o w . T h e constant b i c k e r i n g between the older and y o u n g e r Benjamins is often referred to in letters dating from that period. In references to this part o f Benjamin's life it has generally not been noted that his y o u n g e r siblings, his brother G e o r g and sister D o r a , both also obtained university degrees.  40  Benjamin  h i m s e l f makes no reference to this fact in his letters, in w h i c h he describes what he considers to be an unfair and untenable situation — at least from his perspective. H e seemed to feel that his parents were behaving unfairly towards him by not permitting him to live and study in the manner to w h i c h he had g r o w n accustomed. H e felt the need to escape from his dependence o n them, made all the  Georg received a degree in medicine: Dora in political economy.  81  w o r s e by their " K l e i n l i c h k e i t und H e r r s c h s u c h t " control"  (Briefe V o l . 2, 278) ["pettiness and need for  (Correspondence 202)].  F r o m W a l t e r ' s perspective, the situation w i t h his parents became unbearable, g r o w i n g into an "alle Arbeitskraft und Lebenslust verschlingende T o r t u r " d e v o u r i n g all the energy I have to w o r k and all my j o y in life"  (Briefe V o l . 2 278). ["torture  (Correspondence 202)]. H e and D o r a  soon moved in w i t h their friends, the G u t k i n d s , as their o w n income from W a l t e r ' s publications and D o r a ' s part-time secretarial jobs was insufficient to support the family in an apartment o f their own.  41  After finally d e c i d i n g to continue his studies at the U n i v e r s i t y o f Frankfurt, Benjamin attended some seminars there during the summer o f 1923 and began his research. Y e t by N o v e m b e r he was experiencing difficulties that he blamed primarily on his difficult financial situation. In a letter to S c h o l e m , he wrote: Ich sehe — selbst mit H a b i l i t a t i o n — keine M o g l i c h k e i t meinen A u f g a b e n auch nur halbwegs ungeteilt mich z u w e n d e n zu konnen. W e r in Deutschland ernsthaft geistig arbeitet ist v o m H u n g e r in der ernsthaftesten W e i s e bedroht. Ich spreche n o c h nicht v o m Fe/'hungern, aber i m m e r h i n aus E r i c h s und meiner (in dieser H i n s i c h t sehr verwandten L a g e und) Erfahrung heraus.  (Briefe V o l . 2, 370)  [1 do not see any possibility, even as far as my habilitation is concerned o f d e v o t i n g anything a p p r o x i m a t i n g my undivided attention to my endeavours. H u n g e r poses a most serious threat to anyone s e r i o u s l y engaged  in intellectual pursuits i n  G e r m a n y . 1 am not yet talking about starving to death but what I am saying is  Stefan remained with his grandparents because there was no room for him in the Gutkinds' apartment (Scholem, Friendship 89 and Brodersen, Spinne im eigenen Nelz 120).  82 nonetheless based o n E r i c h ' s and o n my (in this regard, very similar situations) and experiences.  (Correspondence 2 1 6 ) ]  42  T h e reference here is to B e n j a m i n ' s friend E r i c h G u t k i n d , w h o , like B e n j a m i n , w a s the son o f a wealthy J e w i s h family and, unable to earn a living as an intellectual, resorted t o b e c o m i n g a "Stadtreisender fur M a r g a r i n e " [margarine salesman]  (Briefe V o l . 2, 270; Correspondence 200).  B o t h G u t k i n d and B e n j a m i n had lost their parents' financial support. A t the time G u t k i n d decided to earn a l i v i n g as a salesman, B e n j a m i n ' s father set him an ultimatum: " M e i n V a t e r hatte v o r einiger Z e i t erklart, jede weitere U n t e r s t i i t z u n g an die B e d i n g u n g z u binden, daB ich in eine B a n k gehe"  (Briefe V o l . 2, 277) [ " M y father declared some time ago that any further support w o u l d be  contingent u p o n m y t a k i n g a j o b in a b a n k "  (Correspondence 201)]. B e n j a m i n flatly refused;  h o w e v e r , w i t h his father-in-law mediating between E m i l and W a l t e r , W a l t e r finally agreed to the f o l l o w i n g : "fur m e i n e n E r w e r b t a t i g z u sein, j e d o c h unterder doppelten B e d i n g u n g , daB dies erstens in einer W e i s e geschieht, die mir die ktinftige akademische Laufbahn nicht versperrt, ... zweitens, daB mein V a t e r mir sogleich ein K a p i t a l auszahlt, mit dem ich mich an einem Antiquariat beteiligen kann"  (Briefe V o l . 2, 277) ["to earn my o w n living, but under t w o conditions: first, I w o u l d do so  in such a w a y 1 w o u l d not be cut o f f from a future a c a d e m i c career, ... second, m y father immediately gives me enough money to set up in a used b o o k s t o r e " (Correspondence 201)]. After unsuccessfully attempting to buy and sell used b o o k s , Benjamin began to rely o n selling his o w n wares ~ his intellectual p r o d u c t i o n -- in the form o f journal articles. H o w e v e r , even at best, although his meagre earnings a l l o w e d him to make a few new purchases for his treasured library, they d i d little to pay for his family's living expenses. T h e astronomical level o f i n f l a t i o n  43  * It should be noted that the first line of the English translation is slightly inaccurate. It should read: I do not see any possibility even with my habilitation... . In 1919 the value of the German mark was 8.9 to US$ I; by August 1921 the value had dropped to 550 to $ 1; by M a y 1923, it was 54,300 to $ I; and by November 1923, US$1 was worth 4.2 billion marks, its 2  43  83 c o u p l e d w i t h an extremely high unemployment rate made for a precarious financial situation for even some o f the wealthiest G e r m a n s at the time. A s for the B e n j a m i n s , D o r a had virtually no i n c o m e at this point and W a l t e r was involved in an o n g o i n g battle with his publisher, W e i B b a c h , for payment for his published essay o n Baudelaire. Y e t one c o u l d ask, h o w bad were these early years o f " p o v e r t y " ? T o what degree w e r e B e n j a m i n ' s complaints based o n his changed situation — a situation that no longer let h i m enjoy those things t o w h i c h he had become accustomed? These questions attempt to re-examine the picture o f B e n j a m i n as the p o o r struggling genius, w h o is ostracized from a society that n o longer values its intellectuals ( i f rejected by the university) and, ultimately becomes the v i c t i m o f extreme racist persecution. T h e r e is certainly no doubt that Benjamin, because he w a s Jewish, bore the bunt o f N a z i racist i d e o l o g y , w h i c h , certainly, had very real and devastating consequences. H o w e v e r , the image o f B e n j a m i n ' s status as an outsider and his ever-increasing suffering and ostracism is, in part, questionable. It is, in particular, his outsider status that constitutes B e n j a m i n ' s often i c o n i c standing in cultural studies, where some, like M c R o b b i e , have idealized h i m as a " m o d e l for the practice o f being a cultural intellectual" (151). H o w e v e r , his position in G e r m a n society w a s very c o m p l e x . I n fact, w h e n one considers both his s o c i o - e c o n o m i c standing and his gender, it is clear that B e n j a m i n o c c u p i e d a position o f privilege. Benjamin considered himself first and foremost an intellectual, a member o f a social group that w a s beginning to undergo a change in its m e m b e r s h i p but that still remained c o m p o s e d primarily o f men from wealthy families. In her analysis o f the academic j o b market in G e r m a n y i n the 1920s, C l a u d i a H u e r k a i n p has s h o w n h o w the perceived financial suffering o f intellectuals w a s in fact no m o r e than that — a widespread perception not based o n fact. C o m p a r i n g the purchasing  lowest point. (Kaes, Jay and Dimendberg 765-68).  84 p o w e r o f t h e i r salaries before the w a r to what it was in the late 1920s, shows that they had lost about 10 percent, whereas labourers had lost 15 percent to 25 percent. In a further  salary  c o m p a r i s o n , before the w a r , a professor had earned three to four times as m u c h as a w o r k e r , whereas in the late 1920s and early 1930s, he/she earned four to six times as m u c h . These figures belie the complaints about the diminishing value o f intellectuals in society, at least in e c o n o m i c terms. T h e educated class' belief in a m u c h lamented, systematic discrimination directed specifically against them was their w a y o f understanding the drop in their material standard o f living. A c c o r d i n g to the m e m b e r s o f the " B i l d u n g s b u r g e r t u m , " their class had been particularly burdened w i t h the sacrifices demanded by the reparations payments required by the Treaty o f V e r s a i l l e s .  44  In fact,  intellectuals were one g r o u p that faired relatively w e l l . There was no factual basis for the perceived diminishing gap between their incomes and the incomes o f labourers; nonetheless, this perception was often understood by the educated middle-class as a devaluation o f their w o r k and social status ( H u e r k a m p 274). F r o m this perspective, Benjamin's observation that to be an intellectual in G e r m a n y was to be seriously threatened by hunger proves to be somewhat exaggerated. T o be sure, there were numerous under-employed and unemployed intellectuals; however, as a g r o u p , their situation was not as l a m e n t a b l e as B e n j a m i n describes it. H i s o w n loss o f financial support from his parents, c o m b i n e d w i t h his perceived diminished status as an intellectual, both contributed to the m a k i n g o f Benjamin as an outsider and a victim o f circumstances, w h e n in fact he still o c c u p i e d a relatively privileged social position. H e could l o o k for paid employment and, failing that, he had both friends and family to rely on for support. H i s occupational choices were limited by his o w n preferences as w e l l as by what was available on the j o b market. H e had already rejected the possibility o f g o i n g  At the Paris Conference in January 1921, reparations were set at 269 billion gold marks payable over forty-two years. (Kaes, Jay and Dimendberg 766).  44  85 into business like his father, and, as w i t h many men o f his class, he w o u l d only accept a j o b commensurate w i t h his social standing and education ( W i e r l i n g 373). H i s attempt at selling b o o k s , for w h i c h his father p r o v i d e d some capital, was unsuccessful, and he felt that this left h i m w i t h only t w o career choices: to be a university professor or an independent intellectual. B e n j a m i n ' s options were quite different than they w o u l d have been had he been a w o m a n . First o f a l l , m i d d l e - c l a s s w o m e n were not expected to g o to university, as were their male counterparts. T h e i r roles were understood to be those o f housewives and mothers — people w h o mediate between the p u b l i c and private spheres, thus ensuring tranquillity and harmony in the h o m e and presenting the family in an acceptable light. T h e maintenance o f the appearance o f achieved social standing w a s often a c c o m p l i s h e d at a high price. In the early years o f this century, many middle-class w o m e n performed paid w o r k in secret (e.g., d o i n g laundry and painting porcelain) in order to earn sufficient money to pay their domestic servants ( M a r i o n K a p l a n 30-33). F o r men, the c h o i c e w a s w o r k commensurate w i t h their standing and education; for w o m e n , the task was to ensure that at least the appearance o f that standing remained intact. T h e fact that B e n j a m i n attended university is taken for granted; h o w e v e r , it should be remembered that the expectation that he w o u l d become an intellectual was gendered: it w o u l d not have been considered had be been a w o m a n . That being said, once Benjamin decided to embark on an intellectual career, one  possibility open to him was to obtain a p o s i t i o n at a university. Y e t ,  given the overabundance o f academics and their relatively high unemployment rate, securing such a p o s i t i o n (along w i t h its relatively stable income) w o u l d be difficult. A s a further c o m p l i c a t i o n , Benjamin was ambivalent about associating himself with a university for t w o reasons: (1) it w o u l d require him to c o n f o r m , at least to some degree, to a particular o r g a n i z a t i o n and method o f p r o d u c i n g o f k n o w l e d g e ; and (2) the time he w o u l d be required to devote to students w o u l d be time a w a y from his research and writing. H e was also cognizant o f the fact that the a n t i - S e m i t i s m he was  86 already facing i n his attempts to enter the academy w o u l d continue to affect h i m negatively i f he became a lecturer or (perhaps later) a professor.  45  A n o t h e r possible career choice was freelance c r i t i c and writer, w h i c h , although it w o u l d have g i v e n h i m freedom, w o u l d have p r o v i d e d B e n j a m i n w i t h an uncertain and generally meagre i n c o m e . H e appears not to have considered a third possibility; namely, obtaining a j o b to ensure that at least some o f the bills w o u l d be paid. Benjamin seems to have preferred to leave paying the bills to his parents, his wife, and, later, his friends. This is in keeping w i t h the general expectations held by m a n y y o u n g , university-educated, middle-class men at that time. W i e r l i n g , in her c o m p a r i s o n o f male and female university students in G e r m a n in the early years o f this century, has demonstrated that w h i l e w o m e n w e r e generally expected to perform all manner o f menial tasks to help support themselves and their families, the sons o f these families typically refused, or a c c e p t e d only as an absolute last resort a j o b they considered b e l o w their dignity and standing (372-374). T h i s is evidenced by B e n j a m i n ' s remarks concerning his friend G u t k i n d ' s j o b as a margarine salesman. T h e " f r e e d o m " o f the critical, freelance intellectual located outside the institution was, as B e n j a m i n q u i c k l y learned, subject to the market forces o f an increasingly dominant capitalism, the ability and inclination o f the publisher to pay, and the particular i d e o l o g i c a l constellation o f both the publishing house and the reviewers o f his w o r k . B y c h o o s i n g "independence" over being a member o f the institution, B e n j a m i n traded one set o f restrictions and p o w e r structures for another (in w h i c h many similar processes and ideologies were at w o r k ) .  H a d he obtained a university position, like all Jewish professors and lecturers, he would have eventually been forced to leave. On 30 January 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor. A n d on that same day the house where Benjamin's associate and director of the Frankfurt School, M a x Horkheimer, lived was occupied by the S A (storm troops). In A p r i l , the Reconstitution of the Professional C i v i l Service Act was implemented in order to remove all Communists, Social Democrats, and Jews from the civil service. In M a y , the institute, which had been full of all three targeted groups, was closed and searched, and everything that had been left there was seized. Horkheimer and the inner circle of the institute escaped arrest by moving to Geneva. In the following five years, 45 percent o f all tenured academic positions in Germany were reappointed (Wiggershaus 127-29). 45  87 O n t w o fronts — the university and the publishing w o r l d (represented by one seemingly unscrupulous and/or ineffective publisher, H a n s W e i B b a c h ) — Benjamin directly felt the effects 47  o f the material w o r l d on his intellectual p r o d u c t i o n . A t the same time as he experienced the staictures o f the university and its authorization processes, he also experienced similar processes in society at large. H o w e v e r , his understanding o f his situation was limited because,  when  c o n s i d e r i n g the construction o f his w o r k , he only t o o k into account the effects o f the p u b l i c sphere. H e considered what o c c u r r e d in the private sphere only insofar as it distracted h i m from his intellectual w o r k or made it more difficult. H e repeatedly commented on his need for peace and quiet and on the double distractions o f earning sufficient money to survive and o f an ill wife and child.  48  C e r t a i n l y these are very real considerations; however, they are understood by B e n j a m i n and  his critics as annoyances and distractions from, rather than as constitutive elements of, his w o r k . T h e y do not all acknowledge that it was through D o r a ' s efforts that the family was able to survive financially and W a l t e r was able to pursue his h a b i l i t a t i o n .  49  T h e interesting contradiction is that both his writings and his life illustrate that the public and private are, in fact, interconnected and constitutive o f one another. W a l t e r was able to continue his studies due to D o r a ' s w o r k in both the public sphere o f waged labour and in the private w o r l d o f domestic, unpaid labour. In fact, as M a r i o n K a p l a n has noted, the " h o u s e h o l d was both a private and a p u b l i c phenomenon, touched by and affecting the public sphere. In fact, it e p i t o m i z e d the interactions between the private and the public spheres" (4-5).  Benjamin received at least some of the small honorarium owed him. Others were paid nothing, and some were forced into financial ruin. '' At some point near his first birthday, Stefan became extremely ill, and for some time his survival was uncertain. Dora experienced ill health for many years, however, the exact nature of her illness is never addressed. This fact has been noted by Brodersen (Waller Benjamin 97), Tiedemann. Godde and Lonitz (151), and Witte, (Walter Benjamin mil Selbslzeugnissen unci Bi/cklohimenlen 50). 8  49  88 B e n j a m i n ' s position outside the academy, as well as parts o f his w o r k , focus attention on the v i o l a t i o n o f socially constructed boundaries and the contradictory' subject positions resulting from such violations. In his examination o f the concept o f porosity, particularly in his and L a c i s ' essay " N a p l e s , " and the combination o f public and private, w h i c h is prominent in " O n e W a y Street" as w e l l as i n his w r i t i n g about M o s c o w , Benjamin provides insights into h o w to conceptualize intersection rather than separation. I n o w pick up the strands o f the intersection o f B e n j a m i n ' s married life w i t h his w o r k .  Dora Sophie KeUner/PoUak/Benjamin/Morser and the Discourse of the Wife  50  W a l t e r has already started his w o r k ; mine will have to wait. D o r a Benjamin  In contrast to the analysis o f W a l t e r ' s male friendships,  51  w h i c h are invariably linked to both  his life and w o r k , B e n j a m i n scholarship has only just begun to recognize the importance o f the w o m e n in W a l t e r ' s life. F o r example, Puttneis and S m i t h dedicate a chapter o f their biographical w o r k to the B e n j a m i n s ' marriage. It is entitled: "Benjamins ungeschriebenes M e i s t e r w e r k , seine ' E d u c a t i o n sentimentale'"  [Benjamin's unwritten masterpiece,  his "education  sentimentale"].  A l t h o u g h they have presented a great deal o f previously u n k n o w n information about D o r a and the B e n j a m i n marriage, P u t t n e i s and S m i t h ' s discussion o f this information occurs solely w i t h i n a  Dora's father, Leon Kellner, was a professor of English and a close associate of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism. Dora's mother is not mentioned. When Dora and Walter first met and started their relationship, she was married to M a x Pollak, who has been described as a wealthy philosophy student (Puttneis and Smith 136) and journalist (Witte, Walter Benjamin mil Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten 30). Her marriage to Morser is considered to have been a marriage of convenience, which allowed her to seek refuge in England with her son Stefan in 1939 (Tiedcmann, Godde, Lonitz 154). Her many names draw attention to the men in her life rather than to her as an individual and to her own accomplishments. 50  While discussing Dora Benjamin, I will refer to both Benjamins by their first names in order to avoid any possible confusion. 51  89 traditional biographical context and, therefore, remains distinct from the analysis o f W a l t e r ' s w o r k . F u r t h e r m o r e , the title o f the chapter refers to G u s t a v e Flaubert's novel o f the same name, w h i c h takes as its theme learning about life and education through love. T h i s reference places the B e n j a m i n s ' relationship within the discourse o f a particular understanding o f l o v e — one that, for the man, serves an idealized function. T h e hero o f the novel undergoes a "life e d u c a t i o n " when he experiences the romantic passion o f unrequited love. In this tale, the w o m a n is important only as an unobtainable l o v e object, it is the man's idealized experience that is central. T h i s idea o f learning t h r o u g h unrequited l o v e and romantic pursuit has little, i f anything, in c o m m o n w i t h the B e n j a m i n s ' marriage, in w h i c h W a l t e r was able to pursue his desires only because D o r a both earned a l i v i n g and t o o k responsibility for the domestic sphere. T h i s extremely practical side o f their marriage is not captured i n the "sentimental" v i e w o f love. In l o o k i n g back at the institution o f marriage in G e r m a n y at the beginning o f the twentieth century, one must remember that, a m o n g the middle-class, arranged marriages were the norm. A s M a r i o n K a p l a n has noted, l o v e as the foundation for marriage first received public attention w i t h the development o f the R o m a n t i c school in the nineteenth century. H o w e v e r , it t o o k more than a hundred years before it became w i d e l y accepted ( M a r i o n K a p l a n 86). In the early years o f this century, the notion o f romantic love was to be found in novels far more often than in p e o p l e ' s lives. K a p l a n ' s examination o f Jewish middle-class marriages explains that [mjarriages were contracts between families: material factors were o f primary importance.... T h e families saw their goal as p r o v i d i n g y o u n g w o m e n with e c o n o m i c security and a socially acceptable role, that o f wife. W o m e n in turn had to p r o v i d e for their o w n happiness by c o n t r o l l i n g their behavior and emotions so as not to interfere w i t h their status and duties. (86)  90 W i t h i n this predominant understanding o f marriage, it is both interesting and instructive to observe h o w the B e n j a m i n s ' marriage both c o n f o r m e d to and differed from the n o r m . T h e most striking deviation from the n o r m in the Benjamins' marriage is that they chose to m a n y for l o v e rather than money. T h e significance W a l t e r placed on l o v e is evident. In his o w n estimation, the state o f being in love and the w o m a n / w o m e n w i t h w h o m he was in l o v e played a decisive role in m a k i n g him w h o he was — both as a man and as an intellectual. F o r example, in a letter to S c h o l e m , W a l t e r recounted a conversation w i t h some friends c o n c e r n i n g their experiences o f love. D u r i n g that conversation, W a l t e r discovered: daB ich mich jedesmal, wenn eine groBe Liebe G e w a l t uber m i c h b e k a m , v o n G r u n d auf und so sehr verandert habe, daB ich sehr erstaunt war mir sagen z u miissen: der M a n n , der so ganz unvermutbare  D i n g e sagte und ein so  unvohergesehenes  V e r h a l t e n annahm, der sei ich. Das beruht aber darauf, daB eine w i r k l i c h e L i e b e mich der geliebten F r a n ahnlich macht. ( " M a i - J u n i 1 9 3 1 " 4 2 7 )  [that every time a great love o v e r p o w e r e d me, I changed so completely, that I was astonished to have to say: the man, w h o said those totally unexpected things and w h o adopted such unforeseen behaviour, that was me. That is due to the fact that a true l o v e causes me [to] become like the w o m a n I love]. A l t h o u g h there were numerous w o m e n in Benjamin's life, by his o w n account, he l o v e d only three.  32  " I c h habe drei verschiedene Frauen im Leben kennen gelernt und drei verschiedene M a n n e r  in mir. M e i n e Lebensgeschichte schreiben, hieBe Aufbau und Verfall dieser drei M a n n e r darstellen und den K o m p r o m i B z w i s c h e n ihnen - man konnte auch sagen: das Triumvirat, das mein L e b e n j e t z t  - They were Jula Radt/Cohn. Dora Kellner/Pollak/Benjamin, and Asja Lacis. 2  91 darstellt" (Benjamin, " M a i - J u n i 193 1" 4 2 7 ) [ D u r i n g my life, I have b e c o m e familiar w i t h three different w o m e n and three different men in me. T o w r i t e the story o f my life is to portray the construction and the ruin o f these three men and the c o m p r o m i s e made between them — one c o u l d also say: the triumvirate, that represents my life]. W i t h these assertions, he tells us that, in order to understand h i m , w e must also understand his love relationships and the role they played in his intellectual p r o d u c t i o n . T h e question o f love and emotions, particularly w i t h regard to their role in m a k i n g k n o w l e d g e , has, in the last t w o decades, increasingly become the foctis o f scholarly attention. B a s e d on findings in a number o f different fields, including philosophy, cultural anthropology,  and  p s y c h o l o g y , Jaggar argues that the categories o f c o g n i t i o n and affect are cultural constructions t h r o u g h w h i c h w e understand ourselves and others and that the former is generally g i v e n priority over the latter. E m o t i o n s , however, are vital, as they are " w a y s in w h i c h w e engage actively and even construct the w o r l d . T h e y have both 'mental' and ' p h y s i c a l ' aspects, each o f w h i c h conditions the other;... they presuppose language and a social order. Thus, they can be attributed only to what are sometimes called ' w h o l e persons,' engaged in the o n g o i n g activity o f social life" (Jaggar, " L o v e and K n o w l e d g e " 391). F r o m this, Jaggar argues that w e must rethink "the relation  between  k n o w l e d g e and e m o t i o n " in order to demonstrate "the mutually constitutive rather than oppositional relation between reason and e m o t i o n . F a r from precluding the possibility o f reliable k n o w l e d g e , e m o t i o n ... is necessary to such k n o w l e d g e " (Jaggar, " L o v e and K n o w l e d g e " 394). In other w o r d s , emotions are vital to k n o w l e d g e . Just as there is no k n o w l e d g e without thought, so there is no k n o w l e d g e without emotion. O u r k n o w l e d g e about B e n j a m i n and h o w he arrived at forms o f k n o w l e d g e will be more accurate i f w e take into account the emotional dimension. T h i s kind o f analysis requires not o n l y an examination o f his experience o f and construction o f love, but also an e x a m i n a t i o n o f h o w love and emotions constructed him. F o r  92 " w i t h o u t l o v e , without close interpersonal relationships, human beings ... cannot survive. ... T h e p r o d u c t i o n o f people is thus qualitatively different from the p r o d u c t i o n o f things" ( R o s e 83). C l e a r l y , then, in a study such as this, w h i c h examines the processes by w h i c h an intellectual is "made," attention must be given to emotions. E m o t i o n s are central to a recent study by Shoshana F e l m a n , in w h i c h she reads " A B e r l i n C h r o n i c l e " together w i t h "The Storyteller" and "Theses on the P h i l o s o p h y o f H i s t o r y " in order to p r o v i d e an account o f B e n j a m i n ' s six years o f silence after the beginning o f the First W o r l d W a r and the suicide o f his friend H e i n l e . In her relational reading o f B e n j a m i n ' s autobiographical and theoretical texts, she demonstrates h o w that " s h o c k i n g , unnarratable" (Felman 223) trauma shaped Benjamin as a person and as an intellectual. Benjamin's silence is seen in the context o f a general inability to tell stories, w h i c h o c c u r r e d as a result o f having been "struck dumb by the First W o r l d W a r " (205). It was a silence bound to g r i e f and mourning. W h i l e Felman's analysis focuses on the relationship between intellectual w o r k and trauma and h o w they shape one another, my analysis focuses on h o w love and passion are constitutive o f intellectual w o r k . T h e B e n j a m i n s ' love marriage seems not to have met the usual expectations o f an arranged marriage. D o r a was most certainly not provided w i t h the financial security that middle-class w o m e n expected and depended u p o n .  33  O n the contrary, her d o w r y and income supported the f a m i l y ' s  material needs. H o w e v e r , D o r a ' s position was conflicted and often contradictory. A l t h o u g h they had married for love, and although D o r a p r o v i d e d most o f their income, she still had a traditional understanding o f her role as a " g o o d " wife. A s previously noted, w i v e s were supposed to c o n t r o l  Her parents did what they could in this regard. They refused to allow the marriage unless Walter signed a contract guaranteeing Dora the return of her dowry, another substantial payment ("Widerlage"), plus 300 marks per month i f a future breakdown of the marriage should be his fault (Puttneis and Smith 153). This move by her parents is not surprising, given the tensions between an "idealistic" love marriage and a "responsible" money marriage. In addition, the divorce rates among Jewish families were high at the time, much higher than those among Christians, with the husband's adultery being the main cause for divorce (Marion Kaplan 101). 53  93 their behaviour and emotions for the sake o f harmony w i t h i n the family. T h i s was a difficult task for someone like D o r a , w h o was intelligent and seems to have k n o w n what she wanted and pursued it, even i f it meant g o i n g against established norms. O n e particular set o f circumstances illustrates the conflicted nature o f D o r a ' s position. W h e n W a l t e r resumed a relationship w i t h the first o f his great loves, Jula Radt, D o r a fell in love w i t h W a l t e r ' s friend o f many years, Ernst Schoen. A l t h o u g h she left W a l t e r for a time to be w i t h S c h o e n , she decided to return to him, explaining in a letter to S c h o l e m : Ich habe diese 9 M.onate in einem ununterbrochenen K a m p f gelebt urn f r o m m sein und gut sein [sic]. W a s er [Walter] nicht weiB ... ist, daB ich, w e n n ich z u r i i c k k e h r e , w i e d e r versuchen w i l l , mit ihm zu leben w i e friiher. ... E h e ist eine F o r d e r u n g , . . . das versuche ich ihm klarzumachen. (Puttneis and Smith 143-44)  [ D u r i n g these last 9 months 1 have lived in an uninterrupted battle to be pious and g o o d . W h a t he (Walter) doesn't k n o w ... is that when I return I want to try to live w i t h him as before ... M a r r i a g e is a challenge ... I ' m tying to make that clear to him]. She tries to be " g o o d , " and is determined to go back and s o m e h o w keep their marriage intact. H e r desire to be g o o d is at odds w i t h many o f her actions and decisions. She was hardly being g o o d by middle-class standards when she engaged in adultery first w i t h W a l t e r and later w i t h Schoen. " P i o u s and g o o d " w o u l d certainly not have been the adjectives that sprang to the lips o f the members o f the traditional middle-class when she frequented a lesbian night club in B e r l i n w i t h a number o f different male friends. H e r stated reason for g o i n g there was simply: "[t]hese w o m e n are authentic" (Charlotte W o l f f ,  Hindsight 75). T h i s remark seems to indicate her desire for a less conflicted role  94  as a w o m a n — one in w h i c h the norms o f her class and religion w e r e not so often at odds w i t h her o w n wishes and desires. Y e t D o r a supported W a l t e r and his w o r k in every w a y she possibly c o u l d , m u c h b e y o n d what w o u l d be e x p e c t e d o f a middle-class wife. " D u darfst nicht sagen, G e r h a r d , daB D i r seine geistige E n t w i c k l u n g w i c h t i g e r ist als mir. D a z u habe ich z u lange meine ganze E x i s t e n z a u f ihn gestellt," she w r o t e to S c h o l e m (Puttneis and Smith 151). [Gerhard, y o u may not say that his intellectual development is more important to y o u than to me. 1 have devoted my w h o l e existence to h i m for t o o l o n g for that]. D o r a is a c o m p l e x and c o n t r a d i c t o r y mixture o f rebellion and conformity, self-sacrificing yet pleasure-loving. In spite o f her c o m p l e x i t y , D o r a has, to date, been firmly positioned by the discourse o f the wife. Observations c o n c e r n i n g her are based o n the assumption that a wife is supposed to take care o f all domestic matters so as to a l l o w her husband to devote his energies to his w o r k all day, after w h i c h he relaxes in a w e l l - r u n home. M y primary critiques o f discourse o f the private sphere and the position o f the wife w i t h i n it concern: (1) its productivist logic; (2) its inherent binarism (i.e., public/private, w i t h the former being the privileged term); and (3) its assumption that w o r t h w h i l e k n o w l e d g e is only p r o d u c e d outside the domestic sphere. A l l o f these concerns are both achieved by, and result in, separating the conditions o f p r o d u c t i o n from what is produced, theory from practice, and ideas from material reality. In the rest o f this chapter, I will attempt to analyze the intersections o f the domestic and public spheres in o r d e r to begin to reconceptualize intellectual w o r k as the product o f these intersections. T h e aforementioned assumptions concerning the role and place o f the wife were c o m m o n to W a l t e r ' s time and class; this was his c h i l d h o o d r e a l i t y . H e grew up expecting that someone else 54  See Benjamin's writings based on his childhood: ''Berliner Chronik"[Berlin Chronicle] and "Berliner Kindheit um Neunzehnhundert" [Berlin Childhood around 1900], 54  9 (mother, wife, domestic servants) w o u l d l o o k after his material w e l l - b e i n g and perform all domestic tasks for him. H e admitted, at the age o f forty, that " i c h mir heute n o c h keine Tasse Kaffee k o c h e n kann"  (Berliner Chronik 11) [even today I am unable to make m y s e l f a cup o f coffee]. D u r i n g the  years o f their marriage, D o r a p r o v i d e d these services, acted as his secretary, and raised their son. After their d i v o r c e in 1930, when W a l t e r no longer had unrestricted access to D o r a ' s services, he turned to his sister to fulfill these functions. Siegfried U n s e l d recalls a visit to W a l t e r , w h o gave h i m to understand that he was living w i t h a w o m a n : " [ E ] r ... sagte, er w o h n e hier nicht allein, so daB man annehmen muBte, er w o h n e mit einer F r a u zusammen. Z u f a l l i g habe i c h viele Jahre spater erfahren, daB diese Frau seine Schwester war" ( U n s e l d 6 8 ) [ H e said ... he d i d not live here alone, and in such a way that one had to assume that he was living together w i t h a w o m a n . B y coincidence, 1 found out years later that this w o m a n was his sister]. W a l t e r kept his sister's presence a secret even from his Paris friends and acquaintances. B e n j a m i n ' s first biographer, F u l d , assumes that Benjamin was so secretive because he did not want anyone to k n o w the extent o f his dire financial straits ( 2 2 ) . W h i l e this is possible, it is certainly unlikely, as he constantly complained to everyone he k n e w about the dire nature o f his financial situation, and he received financial support from many sources during his years in Paris: his ex-wife D o r a , T h e o d o r A d o r n o and his family, G r e t e l K a r p l u s , " and Bertolt B r e c h t , to name only a few. W a l t e r needed his y o u n g e r sister, w h o s e name was also D o r a , not only because he was unable to pay his rent, but also to perform the household and secretarial duties. F o r a brother to seek his sister's assistance was not u n c o m m o n in Jewish middle-class families, in w h i c h w o m e n often w o r k e d in, or even ran, their husbands' or fathers' business, without receiving either a salary  Karplus was a common friend of Benjamin's and Adorno's, who later became Adorno's wife.  96 or r e c o g n i t i o n .  56  A l t h o u g h she had been employed in the field o f social welfare in G e r m a n y , it was  difficult for W a l t e r ' s sister to find employment in Paris, and this was c o m p o u n d e d by the fact that she was i l l and, most likely, unable to h o l d a steady j o b .  3 7  She lived o f f a small sum o f invested  money she had inherited when their mother died, w h i c h she then shared w i t h her brother when he joined her in Paris (Witte,  Waller Benjamin mil Selbstzengnissen vndBilddokiimenten 124). A t the  time, W a l t e r was being paid only 500 francs per month as an associate o f the Institute for Social Research, w h i c h was well b e l o w what he w o u l d have needed to live on his o w n ( W i t t e ,  Walter  Benjamin mil Selbstzengnissen rindBilddokiimenlen 106). In order to survive he b o r r o w e d money from friends and, alternately, lived w i t h his sister in Paris, Brecht in D e n m a r k , and in his ex-wife's boarding house in Italy. A l t h o u g h D o r a was no longer there to support him in his daily life, W a l t e r could clearly still count on her assistance. A s B r o d e r s e n ' s research has shown, " d u r i n g B e n j a m i n ' s exile D o r a K e l l n e r was one o f the few people w h o really supported h i m "  (Walter Benjamin 175). Charlotte Wolff, a  friend o f the Benjamins during the early years o f their marriage, observed that D o r a not only always believed in W a l t e r ' s w o r k , she was also "aware o f the significance o f her husband's w o r k , but felt herself repressed by his c o m p u l s i v e behaviour"  (On (he Way to Myself 205). A g a i n , this comment  reveals the conflicted nature o f D o r a ' s situation. She seems to have wanted to support W a l t e r and his w o r k ; h o w e v e r , in the traditional role o f a wife, she was too bound, both by the role itself and by W a l t e r .  ° For further discussion, see Marion Kaplan, especially Chapter 6, "Double Barriers, Double Burdens: Women's Employment." According to Fuld, Dora Benjamin suffered from a debilitating form of chronic spinal rheumatism (21). 5  97 E v e n though W a l t e r ' s initial attraction to D o r a seems to have been connected to her intelligence and her  engagement in the Free Students' U n i o n , once she becomes his wife, different 5 8  expectations c o m e into play and gradually c o m e to dominate. N o t only W a l t e r himself, but also scholars w h o attempt to understand him, participate in the discourse o f the wife, thus leaving numerous assumptions intact and thereby o b s c u r i n g many dimensions that w o u l d help us to gain a clearer picture. A s C h a r l o t t e W o l f f observed, " B e h i n d his w o r k had a l w a y s s t o o d a person he loved"  (Hindsight 67). W h a t d i d this mean in the case o f D o r a ? In their biographical study, Puttneis and Smith attempt to piece together the story o f W a l t e r  and D o r a B e n j a m i n ' s marriage. T h e y make the claim that one o f the major problems w i t h the relationship was the fact that they were " z w e i gleich starke und intelligente M e n s c h e n " [two people o f equal strength and intelligence], w h i c h made it extremely difficult for them to share " d e n ganzen A l l t a g " [all o f everyday life] (Puttneis and Smith 135). S c h o l e m ' s observations on his visits to the newly married couple in S w i t z e r l a n d w o u l d seem to confirm this difficulty. H e found that "they were incomparably tender t o w a r d each other and unabashedly affectionate in my presence," however, he also "became an involuntary witness to noisy scenes" (Friendship 55). W h i l e their day-to-day relations were often difficult, in retrospect D o r a described their marriage as one o f "mutual interests," as W a l t e r needed someone to prevent him from c o m m i t t i n g suicide and she needed someone to give her life meaning ( B r o d e r s e n , Walter Benjamin 96). W a l t e r d i d contemplate suicide on a number o f occasions, and by 1931, after their d i v o r c e , he was strongly aware o f the "wachsende Bereitschaft ... mir das L e b e n z u nehmen" ( " M a i - J u n i 1 9 3 1 " 4 2 3 ) [increasing readiness ... to take my life]. S h o r t l y after this diary entry, W a l t e r not only w r o t e farewell letters to a number o f his friends, but he also completed his w i l l ( S c h o l e m , Friendship 187-  The Free Students' Union was a group within the larger Student Reform Movement that followed the ideas of educational reformer Gustav Wyneken. 58  98 88). H e planned to c o m m i t suicide on his fortieth birthday but did not actually do so until he was stopped at the F r e n c h - S p a n i s h border in 1940, eight years later ( B e n j a m i n / S c h o l e m , Briefwechsel 19). W h i l e the various stations o f W a l t e r ' s life are well k n o w n , it is o n l y r e c e n t l y that any attention has been paid to D o r a — and then only as a biographical footnote to W a l t e r . W h a t is k n o w n o f her is l i m i t e d , especially w i t h regard to her life before she met W a l t e r .  59  Puttneis and  S m i t h c o m e to the c o n c l u s i o n that "[s]ie selbst w a r schon frith einem eigenen W e g gefolgt" (136) [already at an early age she went her o w n w a y ] . B r o d e r s e n summarizes the portraits o f her personality: they "depict D o r a as an engaging, socially confident, intellectual, musically talented and e x c e p t i o n a l l y beautiful w o m a n " (97). W o l f f describes hypersensitive w o m a n , an intelligent journalist"  her as a "beautiful,  sensuous,  and  (On the Way to Myself 205). " S h e had striking  l o o k s w h i c h alone gave her a 'presence.' But there was more to her than that. A blonde Jewess w i t h slightly p r o t r u d i n g eyes, a heart-shaped mouth with full red lips, she exuded vitality and  joie de  vivre. D o r a seduced one through her very b e i n g " (Hindsight 66). A t least in her physical presence, she appears to have been quite the opposite o f Walter, w h o has been described as aloof, w i t h d r a w n , l a c k i n g vitality, not attractive to w o m e n , and "so to speak, i n c o r p o r e a l " (Scholem, Friendship  95).  A s a y o u n g w o m a n , D o r a was actively i n v o l v e d in the " F r e i e Studentschaft" [Free Students' U n i o n ] , where she met both o f her husbands. She was extremely impressed by W a l t e r ' s inaugural speech as the chair o f the group and wrote to Herbert Blumenthal (later B e l m o r e ) , then a c o m m o n friend o f theirs: "Benjamins R e d e — D u kennst ihn. Es war w i e eine E r l o s u n g . M a n atmete k a u m " (Puttneis and S m i t h 136) [Benjamin's speech — y o u k n o w him. It was like salvation. E v e r y o n e  Attempting to understand Dora in the context of Walter's life and work is made all the more difficult by the fact that many of her letters have not been published. Most of them are to be found either in the Walter Benjamin Archive in Jerusalem or the Walter Benjamin Estate that is housed, in part, in the literature archive of the Akademie der Kfmste in Berlin as well as in the Adorno Archive in Frankfurt.  99 hardly breathed]. In fact, she was so impressed that she presented him w i t h roses, a gesture that strongly affected Walter: " D o r a brachte mir R o s e n , weil meine Freundin nicht in B e r l i n sei. N u n ist es wahr: n o c h niemals haben mich B l u m e n so begliickt, w i e diese, die D o r a ... brachte"  (Briefe V o l .  1,216) [ " D o r a brought me roses because my girlfriend was not in B e r l i n . It is true that flowers have never made me as happy as these, w h i c h D o r a ... brought"  (Correspondence 60)].  T h e y continued to see each other and shared a passion for their w o r k in the F r e e Students' U n i o n , in w h i c h D o r a ' s husband, M a x P o l l a k , was also a c t i v e .  60  D o r a was particularly i n v o l v e d in  the g r o u p ' s discussion meetings, where she often initiated discussion topics and was an enthusiastic participant.  61  After one l o n g discussion between D o r a and W a l t e r , " v o m Sprechsaal, v o n D r .  W y n e k e n , objektivem Geist und R e l i g i o n " ["about the D i s c u s s i o n H a l l , D r . W y n e k e n , objective spirit and religion"] W a l t e r confided to Blumenthal that he k n e w they were in agreement w i t h one another: "daher w e i B ich, daB w i r iibereinstimmen" (Briefe V o l . 1, 222) ["therefore I k n o w that w e are o f one m i n d "  (Correspondence 63)]. T h e i r c o m m o n interests in educational reform seem to  have been the basis for their agreement w i t h one another. D o r a and W a l t e r married in 1917, and, as B r o d e r s e n notes, she protected "her husband from the adversities o f daily life and above all p r o v i d e d him with assistance in practical matters" (97). O n e o f her first accomplishments o f this nature was to enable W a l t e r ' s avoidance o f c o n s c r i p t i o n , as he was totally opposed to the w a r . A t that time he b r o k e o f f his association w i t h the entire Student R e f o r m M o v e m e n t and one o f its prominent leaders, G u s t a v W y n e k e n , w h e n the latter and his f o l l o w e r s (primarily in the Free Students' U n i o n ) enthusiastically supported the war.  Walter was engaged to Grete Radt at the time — and still was when he married Dora. Contraiy to Fuld's assertion that Dora's involvement with the youth movement consisted solely of her participation in its social life (79), Walter's letters provide evidence of her intellectual participation. See, for example, Briefe V o l . 1,216 and 222; Correspondence 60 and 63. 00  6>  W i t h D o r a ' s assistance, W a l t e r was able to feign symptoms o f sciatica, w h i c h a l l o w e d his family doctor to certify him unfit for military service. H e was exempt from service for a number o f months, after w h i c h he obtained further medical certification that a l l o w e d him to t r a v e l to a sanatorium in S w i t z e r l a n d . O n c e in S w i t z e r l a n d , he registered at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B e r n and c o m p l e t e d his doctoral studies. There, D o r a ' s o w n w r i t i n g waited w h i l e W a l t e r c o m p l e t e d his doctorate, and, in 1918, before its c o m p l e t i o n , their son Stefan was born. D o r a p r o v i d e d for the material existence o f her family primarily through her w o r k as a translator, journalist, and foreign language secretary. L i k e many y o u n g w o m e n w h o had to w o r k to finance their o w n studies, she took secretarial w o r k to feed her family and to finance her husband's studies. H e r i n c o m e was vital, as she was often paid in foreign currency, which somewhat reduced the w o r s t effects o f the s k y r o c k e t i n g inflation o f the time (Tiedemann, G o d d e , L o n i t z 151). T h e r e was, however, little security in her income, as her secretarial jobs were usually only shortterm positions. In addition to those jobs, she also w r o t e numerous "kleinere F e u i l l e t o n s " [smaller literary w o r k s ] (Tiedemann, G o d d e , L o n i t z 152) and w o r k e d for B e r l i n radio. D o r a later became a bilingual secretary for an E n g l i s h c o m p a n y  62  and w o r k e d as a translator  and journalist. In 1927 she became the editor o f a w e l l - k n o w n magazine, and she also achieved "ein gewisses R e n o m m e e " (Tiedemann, G o d d e , L o n i t z 152) [a certain name for herself] as a translator and w r i t e r under the first o f her many names: D o r a Sophie K e l l n e r . A l t h o u g h she earned her living b y w r i t i n g , Puttneis and S m i t h , true to the discourse o f the wife, seem surprised that she w a s actually able to w r i t e w e l l : " M e h r noch: D o r a schreibt gut" (139) [ M o r e yet: D o r a writes w e l l ] . In addition to translating numerous novels from English into G e r m a n and w r i t i n g articles and b o o k r e v i e w s for various journals, in 1930 D o r a also wrote a novel, Gas gegen Gas [Gas  She was fluent in English, having spent some time living in England as a child ~ a stay probably due to her father being a scholar of English literature.  62  A g a i n s t G a s ] . T i e d e m a n n , G o d d e , and L o n i t z describe her b o o k as "ein ansehnliches S t u c k T r i v i a l l i t e r a t u r " (152) [a respectable piece o f trivial literature].  63  T h e social context to w h i c h her  title refers, h o w e v e r , is anything but trivial: the use o f gas as a w e a p o n o f war. H e r c h o i c e o f title indicates that the danger o f using gas as a w e a p o n is not the b a c k g r o u n d to a t r i v i a l story but, rather, a central motif. D o r a ' s novel prefigures many o f the arguments utilized in the debate c o n c e r n i n g the employment o f gas and, by extension, in the current debate c o n c e r n i n g the employment o f c h e m i c a l and b i o l o g i c a l weapons. O n e o f W a l t e r ' s earlier newspaper articles, " D i e Waffen v o n M o r g e n " [ W e a p o n s o f T o m o r r o w ] , foresaw the possibility o f the employment o f gas in the S e c o n d W o r l d W a r . B a s e d on this article, T i e d e m a n n , G o d d e , and L o n i t z ask whether or not W a l t e r had anything to do w i t h D o r a ' s novel (153). T h i s is certainly conceivable, as they discussed many issues — both literary and p o l i t i c a l — particularly d u r i n g the earlier years o f their m a r r i a g e .  64  W a l t e r t o o k D o r a ' s opinions  seriously, as can be seen from his discussion o f a controversial essay by his friend, F l o r e n s R a n g : " i c h [sage] D i r k u r z , w i e ich und w i e D o r a z u dieser Arbeit stehen" ["I w i l l briefly summarize h o w D o r a and I v i e w i t " ] . H e f o l l o w e d with a critique o f both the f o r m and content o f the essay and c o n c l u d e d his comments by stating that, although he and D o r a generally agreed on these critiques, they differed in one respect: "[Sie] schrankt die A n e r k e n n u n g des P o s i t i v e n , die i c h darin gebe, sehr Q\VL\Briefe values"  V o l 2, 2 0 0 - 0 1 ) ["(She) is m u c h less enthusiastic about what I see as the essay's positive  (Correspondence 189-90)]. It is clear from this letter that they discussed the essay in some  A s the novel in its entirety is unavailable in North America, 1 am unable to comment on it as a whole. It is very likely, however, that the label "trivial literature" or "light reading" has been assigned to Dora's work because it deals with interpersonal relationships ~ matters that may be deemed trivial only when one attempts to categorize according to the binary oppositions of public/private, high culture/popular culture. 6 3  64  See, for example, Briefe V o l . L 402, 463, 488; V o l . 2, 147; Correspondence  103, 129, 136, 178.  detail and that W a l t e r a c k n o w l e d g e d both their agreements and their disagreements. In other words, D o r a had a m i n d and o p i n i o n o f her o w n , and did not merely echo her husband. T h e possibility o f d e p l o y i n g gas as a w e a p o n may w e l l have been one o f the B e n j a m i n s ' o n g o i n g topics o f d i s c u s s i o n . In 1924, W a l t e r was already concerned about the possibility o f another w a r , and he takes notice o f an item in the paper concerning the potential deployment o f gas, chemical, and bacteriological weapons  (Briefe V o l . 2, 470). H o w e v e r , the manner in w h i c h  T i e d e m a n n , G o d d e , and L o n i t z formulate their question concerning W a l t e r ' s influence o n D o r a ' s novel reveals something important. It is a question that is only viable w i t h i n a f r a m e w o r k that seeks the o r i g i n o f an idea in an individual and then attempts to establish the causal influence o f one individual o n another within an assumed "tradition." A n d much o f academic discourse, as M o i and M a r t i n point out, generally places w o m e n in marginal positions from w h i c h , by definition, they can only p r o d u c e " d e r i v a t i v e " w o r k . Furthermore, the discourse o f the wife assumes that it is the wife's role to support, thus she is o n l y capable o f engaging in " r e p r o d u c t i v e " w o r k . A l l o f these assumptions preclude the examination o f D o r a as an influence on, or contributor to, W a l t e r ' s w o r k . B r o d e r s e n sums up the current v i e w o f D o r a as follows: " D o r a S o p h i e K e l l n e r d i d not exert a profound influence on her husband's thinking and creative output"  (Waiter Benjamin: A Biography  96). H o w e v e r , as B r o d e r s e n h i m s e l f discovered, D o r a , not Walter, authored at least one article, " D i e Waffen v o n m o r g e n " ["Weapons o f T o m o r r o w " ] . A l t h o u g h the manuscript was signed w i t h her initials, B r o d e r s e n determines that W a l t e r must have been the author because the title appears in a list o f his publications  (Waiter Benjamin 279-80). It is no longer surprising to d i s c o v e r that  w o r k s attributed to w e l l - k n o w n men were, in fact, completed, all or in part, by the w o m e n in their lives. It seems highly l i k e l y , g i v e n D o r a ' s initials on the manuscript and the fact that her n o v e l e x p l o r e d the issues it raises, that she was the author o f that essay.  W h a t I am concerned w i t h is not individual authorship per se but, rather, the c o m p l e x ways in w h i c h convergent interestsintersect and the w a y in w h i c h intellectual p r o d u c t i o n o c c u r s at these intersections. D o r a not only discussed many issues w i t h Walter, but he also often dictated his w o r k to her, and she often recopied his writings into neat versions ("Reinschrift"). It is highly unlikely that someone as intelligent and strong-minded as D o r a , w h o had many o f the same intellectual interests as did W a l t e r , w o u l d have simply copied or transcribed without m a k i n g any comments or suggestions. It has been established that she w r o t e part o f at least one more o f W a l t e r ' s essays, " L e b e n und G e w a l t " [Life and V i o l e n c e ] (Tiedemann, G o d d e , L o n i t z 149). C l o s e r examination o f the various archives o f both W a l t e r ' s and D o r a ' s w o r k and correspondence is needed to determine w h i c h o f his other w o r k s were, at least to some degree, co-authored by D o r a . A g a i n , this must be done not in order to establish a causal relationship or to attempt to d i s c o v e r the individual o r i g i n o f an idea, but, rather, to illustrate the c o m p l e x i t y o f the p r o d u c t i o n o f k n o w l e d g e . A l t h o u g h , on the one hand, W a l t e r appears to have taken D o r a ' s opinions seriously and discussed many matters w i t h her, on the other hand, he had an extremely l o w o p i n i o n o f w o m e n ' s intellectual capabilities. W h i l e researching his doctoral dissertation, for example, he came across an academic w o r k concerning G e r m a n R o m a n t i c i s m written by a w o m a n . H i s response was: " D a s G r a u s e n das einen uberkommt wenn Frauen in diesen D i n g e n entscheidend mitreden w o l l e n ist unbeschreiblich"  (Briefe V o l . 1, 468) ["The horror that grips y o u when w o m e n want to play a  crucial role in discussing such matters is indescribable"  (Correspondence 133)]. In a later b o o k  r e v i e w he dismissed the w o r k as "eine typische Frauenarbeit" [a typical w o r k by a w o m a n ] ( " E v a Feisel, D i e Sprachphilosophie der deutschen R o m a n t i k " 96). T h e b o o k was a revised version o f a d o c t o r a l dissertation that W a l t e r first praised for being far above average, yet he then attacked the author for being a w o m a n . A c c o r d i n g to his review, E v a Feisel lacked "innere Souveranitat" [inner sovereignty] and had neither a deep interest in, nor any real insight into, her subject matter. Further,  he found that a l t h o u g h it was "eine tiichtige A r b e i t " [an industrious piece o f w o r k ] , it was also typical in its l i m i t a t i o n s : "typisch fur einen unmannlichen H i s t o r i z i s m u s " [typical for an unmanly historicism] ( " E v a Feisel, D i e Sprachphilosophie der deutschen R o m a n t i k " 96-97). T h e r e is almost no mention o f the actual content o f the b o o k , and the review concludes by censuring its author for being " u n e r z o g e n " [ill-bred] because she failed to cite her sources adequately. A l t h o u g h c r i t i q u i n g an academic w o r k for failing to include a bibliography is certainly justifiable, W a l t e r does this in a manner that is reminiscent o f a father s c o l d i n g a naughty c h i l d .  65  T h e reader o f the r e v i e w ends up  k n o w i n g virtually nothing about the content o f the b o o k — only that its formal aspects are lacking and that it cannot possibly be w o r t h reading because its author was a w o m a n . T h i s k i n d o f p a t r o n i z i n g hostility towards w o m e n in the academy was prevalent in W a l t e r ' s time. In W a l t e r ' s case, both the G e r m a n and J e w i s h traditions considered too m u c h education "unfeminine," and such views were reinforced by the attitudes t o w a r d s w o m e n w i t h i n the academy.  66  These attitudes concerning the intellectual inferiority o f w o m e n and the belief that  w o m e n w e r e naturally destined to be mothers and nurturing helpmates were all seemingly taken for granted by W a l t e r , even though his lived reality contradicted them. D o r a was an i n t e l l e c t u a l l y capable partner w i t h a university education — a person with w h o m , at least in the early years o f their relationship, he discussed his thoughts and ideas. H o w e v e r , W a l t e r accepted the dominant gendered division o f labour, and he expected his wife to perform all manner o f secretarial and domestic w o r k for him. A telling example o f his expectations o c c u r r e d w h e n they visited D o r a ' s aunt's spa in 1919,  The reviews ends as follows: "Wer eingeladen ist und die Tiir, durch die er eintrat, hinter sich zuschlagt, verfahrt nicht anders als wer iiber die "Sprachphilosophie der deutschen Romantik" ein Buch ohne Literaturangaben verfaBt. Namlich unerzogen" ("Eva Feisel, Die Sprachphilosophie der deutschen Romantik" 97). [Whoever is invited in and then slams the door through which he entered behaves no differently than the person who wrote "Philosophy of Language o f German Romanticism" without a bibliography. Namely ill-bred]. F o r a detailed analysis of the "scientific" arguments used against women in higher education, see Glaser, Huerkamp, Wierling, and Marion Kaplan, especially her chapter "Jewish Women Confront Academia."  65  66  shortly after he had completed his d o c t o r a l dissertation. T h e reason for the trip was t o allow them b o t h some time to relax and recuperate from the stressful years they had just gone through. T h e r e w e r e some difficulties with their luggage, and although D o r a was in ill health, she, not W a l t e r , w a s the one w h o had to travel to V i e n n a to straighten things o u t .  67  B e y o n d the question o f D o r a ' s direct participation in W a l t e r ' s w o r k , there is the issue o f her indirect participation. A s has been s h o w n , it w a s D o r a w h o , i n numerous ways, supplied the material conditions that enabled Walter to continue to pursue his studies. H o w crucial her i n c o m e was becomes clear in a letter t o S c h o e n : "In B e r n ist mir, ganz w i d e r mein kiihnstes E r w a r t e n , A u s s i c h t a u f eine H a b i l i t a t i o n erbffnet w o r d e n . N u n ist dies unannehmbar, w e n n nicht eine nach A r t und Gehalt angemessene Stellung fur meine F r a u sich findet die uns den Aufenthalt in der S c h w e i z ermoglicht"  (Briefe V o l . 2, 6 3 ) ["Contrary to m y wildest expectations, the prospect o f an  o p p o r t u n i t y to w o r k f o r my habilitation has opened up for me in B e r n . B u t I w i l l not be able t o accept such an o p p o r t u n i t y unless my wife finds a position that is appropriate in terms o f the nature o f the w o r k and the salary and w o u l d enable us to stay o n in S w i t z e r l a n d " (Correspondence 154)]. A s W a l t e r ' s parents were both u n w i l l i n g and unable to p r o v i d e h i m w i t h continued financial support, his ability to remain in Switzerland depended o n D o r a ' s ability to earn a sufficient income. T h e tensions o f the contradictory positions she o c c u p i e d , together with the demands o f both her paid and unpaid w o r k , c o m p o u n d e d the physical toll o f childbirth o n D o r a ' s h e a l t h .  68  T h i s is  evident in W a l t e r ' s numerous references to her ill health, beginning shortly after Stefan's birth o n  After arriving at the spa he writes to Hi'me Caro: "Dem Kinde geht es gut, meiner Frau nicht. ... Meine Frau [ist] freilich gegenwartig in Wien. wo sie sich bemiiht unser Gepack zu erhalten" (Briefe V o l . 2,52-53). [ " M y son is well, my wife is not... M y wife is in Vienna at the moment, where she is making an effort to get  6 7  our \uegage."(Correspondence 150)]. ° Childbirth was (and still often is) erroneously believed to be a natural event that is unproblematic for most women. Usbome refers to "an unsatisfactory record of maternal mortality or morbidity" in Germany during the Weimar Republic (20). Her chapter "Maternity," 31-68, discusses the triple burden o f wage labour, maternity and housework that many women shouldered. 8  11 A p r i l 1918: " M e i n e F r a u liegt an der G r i p p e k r a n k "  (Briefe V o l . 1, 4 8 4 ) [ " M y wife is ill w i t h  the f l u " (Correspondence 135)]. In July 1919 he wrote: " M e i n e Frau leidet unter schwersten monatelang gehauften Anstrengungen, a u f die sie die erhoffte E r h o l u n g jetzt nun nicht findet, schwer; B l u t a r m u t und schlimme G e w i c h t s a b n a h m e "  Briefe V o l . 2, 33) [ " M y wife is suffering  terribly as a result o f the pressure she has been under for months, in a d d i t i o n to not getting the rest w e h o p e d for; anaemia and severe weight loss"  (Correspondence 143)]. B y the end o f the f o l l o w i n g  year, her health seemed to be i m p r o v i n g somewhat: " D o r a scheint es nur sehr langsam besser gehen z u w o l l e n . A u f ihr gegenwartiges Aussehen mochte sie sich nicht festlegen lassen"  (Briefe V o l . 2,  107) [ " D o r a seems to be i m p r o v i n g only very slowly. She w o u l d rather that there not be a record o f the w a y she has been l o o k i n g o f late"  (Correspondence 167)]. H o w e v e r , she is not w o r k i n g , as  W a l t e r w r o t e to S c h o l e m soon after: " D o r a g e h t vorlaufig nicht i n s B u r o und erholt sich allmahlich. Sicher  nicht  z u m wenigsten  Veroffentlichung]"  durch  d i e freiere  Aussicht  [auf Einkommen  v o n einer  (Briefe V o l . 2, 120) ["Dora is not g o i n g to the office for the time being and is  gradually r e c o v e r i n g . C e r t a i n l y not least because o f o u r better prospects ( o f i n c o m e from having something published)"  (Correspondence 171)]. B y the end o f the f o l l o w i n g summer w e learn:  " D o r a geht es — z u m mindesten gesundheitlich — noch nicht gut. D i e O p e r a t i o n ist nicht ganz glatt verlaufen und macht eine hauslich N a c h k u r n o t w e n d i g "  (Briefe V o l . 2, 195) ["Things are still not  g o i n g right f o r D o r a — at least as far as her health is concerned. T h e operation w a s not entirely w i t h o u t c o m p l i c a t i o n s , w h i c h made it necessary for her to recuperate at h o m e "  (Correspondence  188)]. T h e exact nature o f the operation is not k n o w n . N o r is it k n o w n w h o cared f o r her and the family d u r i n g that recovery period, as the w o r k o f l o o k i n g after ill o r convalescent family members w a s almost always done by the women in the family (with the assistance o f paid nurses, i f finances allowed).  D o r a ' s health did not i m p r o v e after the surgery. T w o years later W a l t e r w r o t e to his friend Florens Christian R a n g : " D o r a s Gesundheit halt mich unablassig in A t e m . Sie w i l l v o n S c h o n u n g im A u g e n b l i c k , da unsere wirtschaftliche E x i s t e n z a u f ihrer S t e l l u n g steht, i m A u g e n b l i c k nichts wissen"  (Briefe V o l . 2, 362) [ " D o r a ' s health keeps me in a constant state o f suspense. A t the  moment she does not want to hear anything about t a k i n g it easy because w e are financially dependent o n her j o b "  (Correspondence 212)].  T h e p r e v i o u s l y m e n t i o n e d tensions and demands, the physical burdens o f childbirth, her concerns for her son's health during his l o n g illness, and the pressure to keep w o r k i n g outside the h o m e all contributed to D o r a ' s p o o r health. She t o o k on the expected role o f sacrificing her o w n concerns, desires, and w e l l - b e i n g to those o f her husband and family; and W a l t e r accepted this. W a l t e r ' s expectations o f his wife were typical o f the time, even though he did not fill his half o f the marriage bargain by p r o v i d i n g financial security. D o r a completed numerous  secretarial tasks in addition to t y p i n g many o f W a l t e r ' s  manuscripts. F o r example, W a l t e r w r o t e to S c h o l e m about an address that D o r a was attempting to find for him, even though it w o u l d have been easier for him to get it himself. W h e n W a l t e r needed to catalogue his library because he had to sell it, he remarked: " I m iibrigen bin ich mit dem K a t a l o g meines kleinen B i i c h e r l a g e r s beschaftigt, den ich in Gemeinschaft mit meiner F r a u verfertige"  (Briefe V o l . 2, 327) [ B y the way, I ' m busy c o m p l e t i n g a catalogue o f my small  c o l l e c t i o n o f b o o k s together w i t h my w i f e ] .  69  After the b o o k s were sold w i t h o u t h a v i n g been  completely catalogued, Walter expressed his relief, as otherwise D o r a w o u l d have had a great deal o f w o r k : " D o r a hatte sich beim V e r k a u f die F i n g e r lahm schreiben mussen"  (Briefe V o l . 2, 335)  [ F o r the sale D o r a w o u l d have had to write her fingers lame].  This and the two following cited letters are not included in the volume of Benjamin's translated letters.  F u r t h e r m o r e , D o r a was responsible for social niceties, such as returning invitations, as is seen in her letter to W a l t e r ' s friend R a n g : "auch ich danke Ihnen beide a u f s [sic] herzlichste fur Ihre liebevolle Gastfreundschaft W a l t e r gegeniiber. Hoffentlich kann ich sie in nicht z u ferner Zeit erwidern"  (Briefe V o l . 2, 306) [I, too, w o u l d like to express my heartfelt thanks for y o u r k i n d  hospitality to W a l t e r . H o p e f u l l y I w i l l be able to reciprocate in the not too distant future]. A s a wife, D o r a was expected to enable and nurture, quietly and without recognition. T h e traditional role o f the wife is to be in the b a c k g r o u n d , behind "the great m a n , " and to p e r f o r m the u n a c k n o w l e d g e d maintenance w o r k (and, in this case, to supply the income as well). A s M a r t i n has observed in the case o f Salome, any o f her accomplishments that contributed to, o r m a y have diminished, his greatness are simply ignored. B e n j a m i n ' s acceptance o f the gendered division o f the discourse o f the wife is not surprising, c o n s i d e r i n g his s o c i o - e c o n o m i c position and its privileges. H e w a s made by male institutions that were generally u n w e l c o m i n g to w o m e n . H i s early s c h o o l i n g took place in an a l l male environment, and his early mentor, W y n e k e n , propagated an educational ideal in w h i c h an elite g r o u p o f superior students (though it was not explicitly stated, they were all male) w o u l d be educated in such a w a y as to enable them to transform bourgeois society once they t o o k up the reins o f p o w e r as a d u l t s .  70  T h e universities Benjamin attended had some w o m e n students, but not very m a n y .  71  It is  highly unlikely that he ever came in contact with a w o m a n professor. H i s immediate w o r l d was clearly male-oriented, and he accepted the advantages and privileges it offered him. T h e strength  A major contradiction within the group most strongly influenced by and supportive of Wyneken — and one that requires further investigation — is that, in spite of Wyneken's fairly overt anti-Semitism, like Benjamin, most of his followers were Jewish. Between 1918 and 1925 the largest number of women students at German universities at one time amounted to only I 1.4 percent of the total number of students (Wierling 368). 70  71  o f the dominant discourses and practices o f the time, together w i t h the fact that W a l t e r clearly benefited f r o m them, is interesting in that it contradicted not only his lived reality, but also his theorizing. I refer here especially to his concept o f porosity — a concept w i t h w h i c h he attempts to dismantle established boundaries, such as public/private and academic life/everyday life. In spite o f seeing the necessity o f dismantling those boundaries, Benjamin maintained gender boundaries that enabled h i m to continue to o c c u p y a privileged, male position w i t h i n his marriage and society. B e f o r e further elucidating Benjamin's concept o f porosity, I w i l l examine h o w he was made by the university. C h a p t e r 4 focuses on this process, particularly as it o c c u r r e d d u r i n g the years o f his attempted habilitation.  1  Chapter 4 Boundaries of Knowledge: Benjamin as a "Failure" A u t h o r i z e d voices authorize themselves to be heard. T r i n h T. M i n h - H a , When  the Moon Waxes Red  B e n j a m i n began attending lectures and seminars at the U n i v e r s i t y o f Frankfurt in preparation for w r i t i n g his habilitation dissertation in the summer semester o f 1923. T h i s year marks the beginning o f his failure to attain a traditional university career as well as o f his association w i t h future prominent members o f the Institute for Social Research, particularly M a x H o r k h e i m e r and T h e o d o r W i e s e n g r u n d - A d o r n o (later A d o r n o ) .  7 2  W h e n Benjamin went to Frankfurt, A d o r n o was  preparing for his doctorate, w h i c h he received in 1924, and H o r k h e i m e r , w h o became the director o f the Institute in 1930, obtained his doctorate in the year Benjamin arrived. B o t h A d o r n o and H o r k h e i m e r w e r e w o r k i n g under the supervision o f Hans C o r n e l i u s , w h o also played a decisive role in Benjamin's failed habilitation attempt. C o r n e l i u s , the only full professor o f philosophy at the University o f Frankfurt from 1914 to 1929, was in a position to shape the future o f his discipline, at least at his institution, and he played a significant role in the future careers o f H o r k h e i m e r , A d o r n o , and B e n j a m i n .  73  H e not only  supervised H o r k h e i m e r ' s doctorate, but also, in 1925, his successful habilitation dissertation. T h i s was the same year that he decided, with H o r k h e i m e r ' s support, that Benjamin's habilitation dissertation was unacceptable. T w o years later, A d o r n o applied for habilitation, also under the  73  The Institute has become more commonly known as the Frankfurt School.  In his work, Cornelius supported a variant of neo-Kantianism that emphasized the role o f perceptual experience and maintained that only the clarity' of knowledge resulting from the study of previous "greats" would deliver society from its problems. This knowledge, however, was distanced from everyday social problems, such as the poverty of the post-war period, and it provided no clear response to them (Wiggershaus 45). 73  Ill  supervision o f C o r n e l i u s , and, like Benjamin, was forced to w i t h d r a w his application on the basis o f C o r n e l i u s ' evaluation o f his submitted w o r k . In this chapter I w i l l examine the social o r g a n i z a t i o n o f k n o w l e d g e at the U n i v e r s i t y o f Frankfurt d u r i n g B e n j a m i n ' s failed attempt at habilitation in order to elucidate the w a y s in w h i c h the processes and politics o f the p r o d u c t i o n o f k n o w l e d g e w o r k e d to exclude him. Specifically, I l o o k at the  disciplines o f philosophy and p h i l o l o g y , w h i c h B e n j a m i n attempted to  enter  professionally w h e n he decided to apply for habilitation. E x c l u s i o n a r y practices are also evident in h o w these events have been subsequently analyzed. A l t h o u g h recent analyses have attempted to "rehabilitate" B e n j a m i n and refer to those past events as "scandalous" ( L i n d n e r 147), they employ similar exclusionary processes in that they c o n d e m n the professors i n v o l v e d as flawed individuals, without examining the social and institutional dimensions that affected them. In these studies the blame is placed squarely on the shoulders o f Benjamin's supervisor, F r a n z Schultz, w h o is alternately t o o political, t o o conservative, or t o o unintelligent to understand B e n j a m i n ' s genius. T h e questions I pose are not formulated around notions o f g o o d or evil, or the competence o r incompetence o f the individuals m a k i n g the decisions and acting in particular ways; rather, I investigate the intersection o f individual actions w i t h the institutional and disciplinary frameworks that a u t h o r i z e specific forms o f k n o w l e d g e . In so d o i n g , 1 shift the emphasis from the situated imperfections o f the k n o w e r to the status o f k n o w l e d g e as it is socially and materially organized. K n o w l e d g e is p r o d u c e d by individuals in specific settings and is, therefore, both organized by and participant in social relations. T h u s the social organization and accomplishment o f k n o w l e d g e itself is the focus o f enquiry ( D . Smith,  Conceptual Practices of Power 62). B y examining h o w  institutional forms o f social organization and the strategies they m o b i l i z e were responsible for B e n j a m i n ' s "failure," one can begin to understand, first, h o w he was made a failure, and, second,  h o w frames o f reference inherent within the traditional practices o f literary criticism and social theory r e p r o d u c e d certain methods, ideologies, and kinds o f k n o w l e d g e . T o w o r k t o w a r d s the goals o f changing forms o f k n o w l e d g e and educational practices, as is the desire o f critical pedagogy and cultural studies, it is necessary: (1) to understand  the  processes by w h i c h k n o w l e d g e is made; (2) to remain aware o f these processes, and (3) to find the appropriate points o f intervention so that certain social groups (such as w o m e n or Jews) and some forms o f k n o w l e d g e (such as private, emotional, or personal k n o w l e d g e ) are not marginalized. B u r k h a r d t L i n d n e r ' s examination o f B e n j a m i n ' s file at the U n i v e r s i t y o f Frankfurt provides valuable information and insights into h o w Benjamin was made by that institution and its members. H o w e v e r , his study is weakened because he frames Benjamin's life in terms o f breaks and binary oppositions. A c c o r d i n g to Lindner, the first such fissure o c c u r r e d w i t h the b r e a k d o w n o f B e n j a m i n ' s marriage and his affair w i t h Lacis, w h i c h he claims was a c c o m p a n i e d by a change in B e n j a m i n ' s w r i t i n g . L i n d n e r describes the habilitation,  The Origin of German Tragic Drama, as  an academic f o r m o f w r i t i n g , written under the sign o f D o r a .  7 4  T h i s is contrasted to " O n e - W a y  Street," written under the sign o f Lacis, w h i c h L i n d n e r posits as representing the possibility for B e n j a m i n o f w r i t i n g as an independent writer and thinker. In L i n d n e r ' s v i e w , " O n e - W a y Street" constitutes "einen definitiven B r u c h mit der Institution U n i v e r s i t a t " [a definitive break w i t h the institution o f the university'] that accompanies "biographischen Z a s u r e n " [biographical caesurae] (147). A l t h o u g h L i n d n e r attempts to link private and public spheres, he does so in a somewhat s i m p l i s t i c manner by categorizing Benjamin's life and w o r k in terms o f either/or: he was either under the influence o f D o r a Benjamin or A s j a L a c i s ; his w r i t i n g was either a c a d e m i c or non-  14  This assertion is inaccurate in that Benjamin wrote much of the habilitation in Capri, where he first met  and spent much time with Lacis and was "under her influence."  academic. F u r t h e r m o r e , although L i n d n e r refers to the connections between D o r a and L a c i s and the changes in B e n j a m i n ' s w r i t i n g , the reader is left to imagine just what those connections might be. B a s i c a l l y , L i n d n e r ' s argument is: troubled marriage plus being in the academy equals B e n j a m i n ' s a c a d e m i c (i.e., restricted) w o r k , w h i l e erotic adventure plus being outside the academy equals B e n j a m i n ' s true (i.e., free-thinking) w o r k . T h e b i o g r a p h i c a l and the professional converge in L i n d n e r ' s analysis, neither to demonstrate h o w their various dimensions intersect nor to explore the relational aspects between the t w o , but rather to p r o d u c e Benjamin as a unified subject. T h i s reduction precludes any tensions  or  contradictions, and it also obliterates traces o f what Benjamin was before any alleged change. Thus, in L i n d n e r ' s teleological tale, B e n j a m i n ' s past disappears as he takes each new step on the path to his "true" self. T o understand the interweaving o f the various institutional processes and p o w e r structures that resulted in B e n j a m i n ' s failure, it is not sufficient to observe, as L i n d n e r does: " S o ist die paradoxe Situation entstanden, daB eine Abhandlung, die damals a l s ' weit unter H a b i l i t a t i o n s n i v e a u ' abgefertigt w u r d e , selbst z u m Gegenstand v o n P r o m o t i o n e n und H a b i l i t a t i o n e n ' a u f g e r i i c k t ' ist" ( L i n d n e r 164) [Thus the p a r a d o x i c a l situation arose in w h i c h a dissertation, that at the time was dismissed as 'far beneath the niveau o f a habilitation,' was ' p r o m o t e d ' to the object o f doctoral and habilitation dissertations]. W h i l e L i n d n e r ' s comment suggests that Benjamin's failure and success arose out o f an interesting quirk o f fate due to circumstances beyond his c o n t r o l , I question h o w and w h y this o c c u r r e d rather than merely a c c e p t i n g it as an unusual paradoxical situation. B e n j a m i n ' s motivations and desires c o n v e r g e with the social and institutional processes that I investigate. O n the one hand, Benjamin was extremely critical o f the institution o f the university and the means by w h i c h it p r o d u c e d k n o w l e d g e ; on the other hand, he had various reasons for w a n t i n g to b e c o m e a member o f such an institution.  114  W i t t e understands B e n j a m i n ' s w i s h to find acceptance for his habilitation as h i n g i n g o n his desire to gain some k i n d o f official recognition o f his w o r k , w h i c h , in turn, w o u l d pressure his parents to continue to support him: Benjamin einschlagen  suchte die venia legendi wollte,  sondern  als  nicht,  weil  Bestatigung  er  eine  seines  Universitatskarriere sozialen  Status  als  Privatgelehrter. A u B e r d e m sah er seinen E l t e r n gegeniiber in ihr einen " A u s w e i s offentlicher A n e r k e n n u n g , der sie zur O r d n u n g ruft". Offensichtlich w a r er der M e i n u n g , daB sie nach einer Habilitation moralisch verpflichtet seien, ihn starker  zu unterstiitzen.  (Witte,  finanziell  Walter Benjamin mit Selhstzeiignissen und  Bilddokiimenlen 50)  [Benjamin did not seek the authorization to lecture because he wanted to f o l l o w a university career, but rather as an affirmation o f his social status as an independent scholar. M o r e o v e r , in relation to his parents, he v i e w e d it as a "evidence o f a public acknowledgement, that w o u l d keep them in line." O b v i o u s l y he was o f the o p i n i o n that they w o u l d be morally obligated to p r o v i d e h i m w i t h stronger financial support after his habilitation]. O b t a i n i n g a p o s i t i o n at a university was, in W i t t e ' s v i e w , not the reason B e n j a m i n sought to continue his education; rather, it was a means o f pressuring his parents into g i v i n g h i m further support, w h i c h w o u l d enable him to continue his intellectual pursuits without having to consider financial matters. G i v e n the important role and function o f education, particularly in J e w i s h m i d d l e class families, this tactic c o u l d have been successful. H o w e v e r , B e n j a m i n ' s understanding o f the situation was limited by his o w n self-interest. H e felt that he was being treated unfairly by his "petty  and c o n t r o l l i n g " parents, and he failed to consider either his parents' situation o r the fact that his siblings also w i s h e d to enjoy the privilege o f studying at university. W h e n B e n j a m i n w i t h d r e w his habilitation in order to a v o i d the embarrassment o f having it rejected, his parents made it very clear that they w o u l d not provide him w i t h any k i n d o f financial support. I n this w a y , his situation differed from that o f A d o r n o , w h o s e parents were both w i l l i n g and able t o continue supporting him financially while he w o r k e d as a music critic and attempted to b e c o m e a musician and c o m p o s e r (Wiggershaus 82). L i k e A d o r n o , Benjamin seems to have had little desire t o actually follow an academic career. A s has been mentioned, he was very concerned about the amount o f time that teaching and dealing w i t h students w o u l d take away from what he considered to be his real w o r k : reading, thinking, and writing. In a letter to S c h o l e m , B e n j a m i n asserts: " V o r fast allem, was mit dem g l u c k l i c h e n A u s g a n g gegeben ware, graust mir: Frankfurt voran, dann V o r l e s u n g e n , Schtiler etc - D i n g e , die die Zeit morderisch angreifen, da ohnehin ihre O k o n o m i e nicht meine starke Seite ist"  (Briefe V o l . 3, 15) ["1 dread almost everything that w o u l d  result from a positive resolution to all o f this [application for habilitation]: I dread Frankfurt above all, the students, lectures, etc. Things that take a murderous toll o n time, especially since the e c o n o m i c a l use o f time is not my l o n g suit" (Correspondence 261)]. A t this point, he was having difficulty finding sufficient time to deal with publishers and to conduct research. A d d i n g teaching to his w o r k l o a d w o u l d have been almost impossible. F u r t h e r m o r e , as previously discussed, the perceived " N o t der geistigen A r b e i t e r " [the 73  affliction o f the intellectual w o r k e r ] during the W e i m a r R e p u b l i c made the academic professions e c o n o m i c a l l y unappealing. T h e concomitant devaluation o f the academic professions due both t o  This was the title of a work published by Alfred Weber in 1923, which erroneously attempted to demonstrate that academics* incomes had been reduced from four to seven times as much as had those of unskilled workers before the war and twice as much after the war (Huerkamp 273). 75  1 the perceived inadequate remuneration and the entrance o f w o m e n and the l o w e r classes into the u n i v e r s i t y also made them less attractive  to their usual m e m b e r s .  76  This "undervaluing o f  intellectuals" in G e r m a n society was one o f the reasons Benjamin later sought a new life and new w o r k in M o s c o w . H e hoped that intellectuals w o u l d be better appreciated and more needed in the revolutionary new Russian communist society than they were in the G e r m a n republic. A s a result, during the 1920s, o f more groups gaining access to the university and more members o f the middle-class seeking to enter the class o f the educated bourgeoisie, the number o f students at G e r m a n universities climbed rapidly, causing what has been referred to as a glut o f academics ( " A k a d e m i k e r s c h w e m m e " ) . T h i s , occurring in conjunction w i t h a shrinking j o b market, left many graduates either unemployed or in the position o f having to take jobs they considered far b e l o w what their level o f education warranted ( H u e r k a m p 274). B e n j a m i n was clearly aware o f these problems, as he and his friend G u t k i n d both suffered from them. A s a result o f the high unemployment rate, there was open discrimination against the hiring o f any minority groups, w h i c h included w o m e n and Jews. There was an increasing anti-woman and anti-Jewish sentiment at the universities, as y o u n g middle-class men were forced to compete w i t h these "others" for fewer jobs. Increasingly,  women  and  Jews  were  accused  o f being responsible  for the  high level o f  unemployment a m o n g university graduates. This flawed l o g i c was reinforced by the n a t i o n a l chauvinism that was on the rise during the First W o r l d W a r and further intensified d u r i n g the years o f the W e i m a r R e p u b l i c . B e n j a m i n ' s strong distaste for the academy  is understandable, not only because the  institution w a s rigid, hierarchical, and imbued w i t h p o w e r politics, but also because it was antiSemitic. M a r i o n K a p l a n has found that, w h i l e anti-Semitism at G e r m a n universities w a s pronounced  Women obtained the right to university study between 1900 and 1909. depending in which federal state the university was located. 76  11  in the 1920s, it was by no means a new phenomenon. D u r i n g the 1890s, anti-Semitic pamphlets were circulated " d e n o u n c i n g the intellectual d o m i n a t i o n o f G e r m a n s by J e w s " ( M a r i o n K a p l a n 148). O n e o f the fathers o f modern political anti-Semitism, A d o l f Stocker, "decried the disproportionate onslaught o n institutions o f higher education by J e w s " ( M a r i o n K a p l a n 148). M o r e and more fraternities e x c l u d e d Jews as members, and, by the end o f the 1890s, the organized student body was predominantly anti-Semitic, resulting in (male) Jewish students f o r m i n g their o w n fraternities and student groups. A n t i - S e m i t i s m was the social n o r m on campuses, and, particularly d u r i n g the 1880s w h e n there was also a severe shortage o f a c a d e m i c positions, n o n - J e w i s h students complained o f having to compete with Jews: " J e w i s h doctors push out Christians, J e w i s h mouths disproportionately emit j u r i s d i c t i o n and l a w " ( M a r i o n K a p l a n 149). In spite o f these numerous problems, and against his o w n "deep inner resistance" ( S c h o l e m ,  Friendship 126), Benjamin went through the motions o f habilitating ( I ) to appease his parents so that they w o u l d continue to support him financially and (2) to obtain the necessary "stamp o f a p p r o v a l " on his intellectual career. H e breathed a sigh o f relief w h e n it was all over and he c o u l d continue w i t h his w o r k . W i t t e ' s analysis supports this interpretation: D i e S k e p s i s , mit der Benjamin v o n A n f a n g an der Frankfurter U n t e r n e h m u n g gegeniibergestanden hatte, war v o r allem in dem W i s s e n begriindet, w i e w e n i g geeignet und willens er unter den gegebenen Umstanden war, die Tatigkeit eines Universitatslehrers auszuiiben. D i e G r i i n d e fur diese A b w e h r h a l t u n g liegen nicht bei der Universitat allein, deren schnodes Verhalten und trostlose geistige Verfassung Benjamin zurecht beklagt. l h m selbst w a r seine Einsamkeit als Intellektueller, die allein ihm ein unabhangiges kritisches U r t e i l z u gewahrleisten schien, w i c h t i g e r als die  institutionelle  Einbindung  und  Absicherung.  Selbstzeiignissen und Bilddokiimenten 62)  (Walter Benjamin  mit  [ F r o m the beginning, the scepticism with w h i c h Benjamin approached his Frankfurt undertaking was based primarily on the k n o w l e d g e o f h o w unsuited and u n w i l l i n g he  was  to  pursue  the  profession  o f university  lecturer  under  the  given  circumstances. T h e reasons for this resistance do not lie solely w i t h the university, whose  disgraceful  behaviour  and  hopeless  intellectual disposition B e n j a m i n  justifiably complained about. F o r him his solitude as an intellectual, w h i c h appeared to h i m to guarantee his o w n independent critical views, was m o r e important than security and being b o u n d to an institution]. B e n j a m i n was sceptical about being affiliated with the university for t w o reasons: (1) he was critical o f the k i n d o f k n o w l e d g e it produced and h o w it produced it and (2) the security o f a university position w o u l d c o m p r o m i s e his ability to be a critical intellectual. O n c e b o u n d to an institution, he w o u l d inevitably be influenced by its p o w e r politics. In order to a v o i d explaining Benjamin's failure as a one-sided, unidirectional process that pits the " b a d , " exclusionary institution against the "mistreated, m i s r e c o g n i z e d , misunderstood, visionary v i c t i m , " it is important to remember his o w n reluctance and the tenor o f the times. I f one does not d o this, then one runs the risk o f embracing an oversimplified v i e w o f Benjamin as an outsider  par excellence — as someone w h o is able to provide us w i t h superior insights solely by  virtue o f being an outsider. N o w I will examine the processes by w h i c h Benjamin was e x c l u d e d from the academy. D o r o t h y S m i t h observes that "investigating the actual social organization o f k n o w l e d g e brings the social relations o r g a n i z i n g p o w e r into the light. I f we don't examine and explicate the boundaries set by the textual realities o f the relations o f ruling, their invisible determinations w i l l continue to confine us"  {Conceptual Practices of Power 65). T h e "relations o f r u l i n g " to w h i c h S m i t h refers  include the total c o m p l e x o f activities by w h i c h a society is ruled, managed, and administered. T h e  university as an institution, as well as the professions and disciplines w i t h i n it, play a formative role in these activities ( D . Smith,  Conceptual Practices of Power 14). S m i t h speaks o f a "sort o f  conceptual i m p e r i a l i s m " in w h i c h members o f a discipline are trained to "confine and focus [their] insights w i t h i n the conceptual frameworks and relevances o f the discipline"  (Conceptual Practices  of Power 15). T h e result o f this is that "boundaries o f inquiry are thus set w i t h i n the f r a m e w o r k o f what is already established" ( D . Smith,  Conceptual Practices of Power 16), regardless o f what  issues and k n o w l e d g e that framework marginalizes or ignores. These processes were not only at w o r k in the m a k i n g o f Benjamin during his lifetime, but also in subsequent attempts to understand him, his w o r k , and his significance as an intellectual. A s p r e v i o u s l y mentioned, Semitism  77  one o f the university's exclusionary dimensions was anti-  that w o u l d have made Benjamin's habilitation at the U n i v e r s i t y o f H e i d e l b e r g all but  impossible. A f t e r a trip to H e i d e l b e r g to assess the possibility o f continuing his studies there, he w r o t e to S c h o l e m : " D i e H a b i l i t a t i o n s a u s s i c h t e n sind auch dadurch erschwert, daB ein Jude, namens M a n n h e i m , sich d o r t . . . vermutlich habilitieren w i r d "  (Briefe V o l . 2, 299) ["The prospects o f d o i n g  my habilitation dissertation there have also b e c o m e less likely because a J e w by the name o f [ K a r l ] M a n n h e i m w i l l apparently do his habilitation there"  (Correspondence 204).] W h i l e the presence o f  another J e w i s h student seeking habilitation diminished Benjamin's chances o f being accepted in H e i d e l b e r g , in Frankfurt, w h i c h had the highest percentage o f Jews and the second largest Jewish c o m m u n i t y in G e r m a n y , his acceptance was much more likely (Wiggershaus 17). T h i s is not to say that the University o f Frankfurt was free o f anti-Semitism. W h i l e w o r k i n g o n his dissertation, Benjamin purposefully avoided addressing issues that touched on the position o f Jews in G e r m a n y . In a letter to his friend R a n g , Benjamin explained:  See also Witte, Waller Benjamin mil Selbstzengnissen unci Bilclclokumenten and Niewyk 68.  D i e Judenfrage  e t w a dabei z u beruhren ware gelinde gesagt mal a propos. E i n  Hauptbedenken  das ich ... z u berucksichtigen hatte, w a r meine  Frankfurter  Habilitationsangelegenheit.  Die  schwebende  Empfindsamkeit  einzelner  Fakultatsmitglieder in den in R e d e stehenden D i n g e n kann k a u m iiberschatzt werden.  (Briefe V o l . 2, 377)  [ T o put it m i l d l y , it w o u l d be inappropriate to touch, for example, o n the J e w i s h question ... A major concern I h a d t o consider ... was the unsettled matter o f my habilitation in Frankfurt. T h e sensitivity o f some faculty members regarding the matter under discussion cannot be exaggerated. (Correspondence 219)] H o w e v e r , Benjamin's habilitation was at least feasible in a city where the members o f the large, influential, mainly middle-class Jewish c o m m u n i t y were associated w i t h the university either as patrons or, as was the case w i t h Benjamin's family, as members o f the academic community. H i s m o t h e r ' s uncle, A r t h u r M o r i t z Schoenflies, was professor emeritus at the time, and as a founding father and former president o f the university he undoubtably possessed the "necessary influence and contacts to give his great-nephew's project appropriate support" ( B r o d e r s e n ,  Waller Benjamin  133). Y e t w h i l e B e n j a m i n ' s link to Schoenflies was certainly helpful, it was his acquaintance w i t h Gottfried S a l o m o n - D e l a t o u r , through their mutual friend, E r i c h G u t k i n d , that appears to have been instrumental in his admission to the University o f Frankfurt. Salomon was a professor o f s o c i o l o g y , and he initially advised Benjamin and intervened o n his behalf to c o n v i n c e Dean Franz Schultz, a historian o f literature ("Literaturhistoriker"), to accept him as a student. In S c h o l e m ' s estimation, S a l o m o n w a s highly influential and w o u l d be o f great assistance i n B e n j a m i n ' s application for habilitation. H e recalls visiting S a l o m o n together w i t h Benjamin: " D a s letzte M a l w a r ich mit ihm  121  bei e i n e m D r . Gottfried Salomon zusammen, einem hochst einfluBreichen hiesigen Privatdozenten, der ihn mit alien M i t t e l n protegiert und zur H a b i l i t a t i o n bringen will und w o h l auch w i r d "  (Briefe  V o l . 2, 338) [Last time I went w i t h him to visit a highly influential local lecturer, w h o has taken him under his w i n g , and is using every means w i t h i n his p o w e r to bring about his successful habilitation, and w i l l probably do so]. It was on S a l o m o n ' s advice that B e n j a m i n switched from the discipline o f philosophy, i n w h i c h he had written his doctoral dissertation, to the discipline o f philology in order to i m p r o v e his chances o f success. Benjamin then accepted S c h u l t z ' s suggestion to research G e r m a n B a r o q u e literature, the latter's o w n area o f specialty and a field that had just opened ( L i n d n e r 150). H a b i l i t a t i o n o n the basis o f his already published w o r k s was denied, though this was not an u n c o m m o n practice at the time. F r o m the outset, Benjamin anticipated difficulties and attempted, in vain, to obtain some form o f b i n d i n g c o m m i t m e n t from the faculty ( K a m b a s 601-02). W h i l e the situation l o o k e d p r o m i s i n g during the first stages o f his work, Benjamin k n e w that his deviation from accepted forms o f scholarship w o u l d cause him difficulties. Lacis, w h o was beginning to play an increasingly important role in B e n j a m i n ' s life and w o r k , summarized h o w Benjamin explained one o f his primary difficulties: " D a er in vielen P u n k t e n v o n den traditionellen D o g m e n abweiche und indirekt gegen Johannes V o l k e l t , den Papst der Asthetik, polemisiere, werde er S c h w i e r i g k e i t e n haben, u n d er werde diplomatisch vorgehen mussen" ( L a c i s ,  Revoluiiondr im Beriif 44-45) [ A s he strayed from  traditional d o g m a on many points and indirectly p o l e m i c i z e d against Johannes V o l k e l t , the pope o f aesthetics, he w o u l d have difficulties and w o u l d have to proceed d i p l o m a t i c a l l y ] . These difficulties became apparent after Benjamin presented S c h u l t z w i t h the first part o f the habilitation. S c h u l t z became "very c o o l " about the project and suggested that Benjamin change from literary history ("Literaturgeschichte") to aesthetics ( " A s t h e t i k " ) . A t this point, it appears that  122 S c h u l t z no longer felt responsible for Benjamin's w o r k and was attempting to pass him on to H a n s Cornelius (Lindner 151). Benjamin's analysis o f the situation and o f S c h u l t z ' s position in it was as follows: A l s i c h eine W o c h e nach E i n l i e f e r u n g des ersten Teils den z w e i t e n ihm iibergab, fand ich ihn kiihl und heikel ... D a n a c h reiste ich hierher und indessen ist er, sei es selbst verreist, sei es in eine vorsichtige Verborgenheit getaucht, aus der ihn mein M a n a g e r S a l o m o n nicht aufzuspuren vermochte. — W e n n er ... mir die sehr genaue Hoffnung  gab  ... a u f G r u n d einer neuen  dementsprechenden  Arbeit  meine  H a b i l i t a t i o n fur Literaturgeschichte z u befurworten, so z o g er jetzt ... z u r i i c k und pladierte fur Asthetik, bei welcher die Sachlage naturlich nicht ganz so maBgebend bleibt. W i e dem nun sei — v o n einer Habilitation kann nur die Rede sein, w e n n er mit groBter V e r v e fur mich eintritt ... ich [kann] das mit G e w i B h e i t nicht erwarten. D e r m schlieBlich spielt tausenderlei hinein, und auch Ressentiment. W i e er denn z u S a l o m o n , sogar mit anstandiger Selbstronie auBerte, das einzige, was er gegen mich habe, ware, daB ich nicht sein Schuler sei.  (Briefe V o l . 3, 2 5 - 2 6 )  [ W h e n 1 gave him the second part a week after having submitted the first part, I found him c o o l and critical ... After that I came here, and meanwhile he has either been away as well or has been immersed in wary seclusion out o f w h i c h not even S a l o m o n is able to ferret him. A l t h o u g h he gave me clear cause to hope ... that he w o u l d endorse my r e c e i v i n g the habilitation in the field o f literary history i f 1 p r o d u c e d an original and suitable habilitation dissertation, he has n o w b a c k e d away from t h i s . . . and is pushing me to get my habilitation in aesthetics. O f course, i f that is h o w it goes, his vote will not have quite the same authority. B e that as it may,  123  there is no question o f my getting my habilitation unless he most v i g o r o u s l y supports me.... I am not assured o f that k i n d o f support, for in the final analysis, thousands o f factors play a role, i n c l u d i n g resentment. A s he said to S a l o m o n , and w i t h fitting self-irony, the only thing he has against me is that I am not his student.  (Correspondence 263-64)] T h e r e are many reasons — both at an individual and an institutional level — for S c h u l t z ' s urging B e n j a m i n to change departments and supervisors. O n e reason to w h i c h B e n j a m i n refers concerns resentment. S c h u l t z experiences resentment at being expected to c h a m p i o n a student he hardly k n o w s and he experiences resentment (in W o h l f a r t h ' s sense o f resentment as a reactionary force) when  he  recognizes  the  "threat  Benjamin's  work  poses to  the  academic  establishment"  ("Resentment B e g i n s at H o m e " 232). Schultz attempts to maintain the tension between o p p o s i n g forces ( c h a n g e versus status quo) for as l o n g as possible before decisively rejecting the n o n conformist, in this case Benjamin, w h o fails to recognize the authority o f those in p o w e r and o f the traditions o f scholarly production. In his analysis o f B e n j a m i n ' s relationship to the university, I r v i n g W o h l f a r t h c o n v i n c i n g l y characterizes S c h u l t z as a "political animal w h o k n e w h o w to change his tack, b l o w hot and c o l d , keep a l o w profile, stay out o f trouble, pass the buck, play by the rules, etc." ("Resentment B e g i n s at H o m e " 230). A c c o r d i n g to W o h l f a r t h , S c h u l t z ' s "calculated duplicity t o w a r d an exceptional candidate w h o might, i f admitted to the profession, refuse to play the g a m e " is a "tactical response to t w o c o n t r a d i c t o r y pressures — the o l d - b o y network w h i c h administers the status quo and the candidate's appeal  to  the  standards by w h i c h the  academic  institution  legitimizes i t s e l f  ("Resentment B e g i n s at H o m e " 23 1). Wohlfarth has identified what Schultz was in his p o s i t i o n as dean: a master o f the political game w h o attempted to m a x i m i z e his o w n p o s i t i o n w h i l e preserving  the status quo. S c h u l t z ' s behaviour and actions exemplify the usually unarticulated and generally unexamined subtext underlying the p r o d u c t i o n o f k n o w l e d g e within the institution o f the university. S c h u l t z ' s o l d - b o y network was certainly almost exclusively all " b o y s " ; the total number o f w o m e n w h o became lecturers or assistant professors between 1908 until 1925 in all o f G e r m a n y was o n l y twenty-eight, m a k i n g the university a truly male-defined i n s t i t u t i o n .  78  S c h u l t z ' s network  w a s also positioned o n the right o f the p o l i t i c a l spectrum, a stance that gradually became p r o fascist. B e n j a m i n h i m s e l f makes reference to the fact that S c h u l t z "vre/7 rechts steht" 2, 3 7 7 ; emphasis in original) ["is on  (Briefe V o l .  the far right" (Correspondence 219; emphasis in original)]. A n  eye-witness account has Schultz, wearing his academic g o w n , participating in a N a z i b o o k burning in Frankfurt i n 1 9 3 3 .  79  H e further demonstrated his support for the fascist regime by delivering a  lecture in w h i c h he w e l c o m e s H i t l e r ' s seizure o f p o w e r ("Machtergreifung") as an act o f providence ( L i n d n e r 152). In various ways, S c h u l t z aligned himself, both personally and professionally, w i t h the p o w e r s and ideologies o f the far right. This meant that it was problematic for him to be associated w i t h a J e w o r to accept the w o r k o f a J e w i s h student. S c h u l t z ' s rejection o f B e n j a m i n can be understood, in part, as anti-Semitic, as he was a m e m b e r o f a larger social movement that constructed Jews not only as inferior, but also as a threat to G e r m a n society and its institutions — including the university. Certainly, as L i n d n e r points out, S c h u l t z had other personal motives for rejecting Benjamin. T h e potentially outstanding w o r k that Benjamin might produce tempted h i m , as it w o u l d have boosted his o w n reputation to have his name attached  7S  79  80  to a particularly g o o d h a b i l i t a t i o n .  Before 1908 there is only one recorded woman professor ~ in 1554 (Boedeker Vol. 1, L X X X ) . This incident is cited in Fuld (161), further explored by Lindner (152), and cited in Kambas (602). This is likely, given that, apparently, he himself was not a particularly stellar scholar (Lindner 150).  80  H o w e v e r , as dean, and, therefore, in his capacity as gatekeeper to the faculty, S c h u l t z c o u l d not authorize a c o n t r i b u t i o n that did not conform to "the conceptual frameworks and relevances o f the discipline" ( D . Smith,  The Conceptual Practices of Power 15). Schultz was very m u c h i n v o l v e d in  m a k i n g decisions that authorized the p r o d u c t i o n o f only certain kinds o f k n o w l e d g e . H i s p o s i t i o n r e q u i r e d h i m to balance traditional frameworks w i t h the need for the injection o f n e w ideas: but these ideas w e r e not to stray t o o far from, and were certainly not to challenge, the existing normative structures.  81  T h u s he advised B e n j a m i n to w i t h d r a w his application.  Seen against these determinants o f success and failure, questions about the quality o f Benjamin's w o r k and attempts to situate it within a particular d i s c i p l i n e are misleading, for they obscure the fact that boundaries o f k n o w l e d g e are set within both the institution and the disciplines themselves. E v e n in new areas o f study, such as G e r m a n B a r o q u e literature studies, one can observe a normative disciplinary effect. B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k o b v i o u s l y did not c o n f o r m to the disciplinary norms that Schultz, one o f the first members o f this field o f study, was attempting to establish. A s a founding father o f G e r m a n B a r o q u e literature, for many years S c h u l t z w a s i n a position to determine its form and c o n t e n t .  82  A s M i c h e l F o u c a u l t has observed, judgement, w h i c h  is passed by individuals within a specific framework and w i t h i n particular relations o f power, punishes n o n - c o n f o r m i t y (Foucault, " T h e M e a n s o f C o r r e c t T r a i n i n g " 195). I n this case the punishment is e x c l u s i o n — ostracism from academic life. A l t h o u g h F o u c a u l t understands this process as an effect o f the interplay o f p o w e r and structures, w i t h the individual players being interchangeable ("What matter w h o ' s speaking?" [Foucault, " H i s t o r y , D i s c o u r s e and C o n t i n u i t y "  One year later, under similar circumstances, Schultz rejected the habilitation of another promising Jewish scholar, Leo Lowenthal. Lowenthal later became a member of the Institute of Social Research and managing editor of its journal, in which Benjamin published during his later years.  81  T o this day, Benjamin is kept at a respectful distance by many researchers of the Baroque period, although, as Lindner has observed, his work on the emblem and allegory is truly groundbreaking (and not confined to his analysis of that particular historical period) (163).  82  138]), D o r o t h y S m i t h , a m o n g others, has s h o w n that, in fact, the individual and where she/he is positioned matters a great deal. It is not o n l y the individual or only the structures that determine events, but rather the intersection o f the t w o . O n e instance in w h i c h this intersection can be clearly seen involves the question o f r e p r o d u c t i o n . Dissertation supervision is institutionally understood, in part, as a r e p r o d u c t i o n o f the s u p e r v i s o r ' s intellectual self. T h i s is in keeping w i t h the traditional reproductive m o d e l o f tracing intellectual lineage. " G r e a t " scholars are influenced by other "greats," and, w i t h i n the educational context, graduate students are expected to produce similar w o r k and to g o on to obtain j o b s like their professors. I f they do not, then they are considered.to be f a i l u r e s .  83  T h i s is particularly pronounced in the habilitation process o f G e r m a n universities. A t the beginning o f the nineteenth century, the habilitation was introduced, in addition to the doctorate, as further p r o o f o f o n e ' s qualification for an academic career. Without habilitation, the career path to professorship is closed. T h u s the habilitation serves to ensure limited access to professorships: " S i e [die H a b i l i t a t i o n ] steigert... die E x k l u s i v i t a t der universitar gebildeten akademischen E l i t e . . . . M'it der Habilitation w i r d z u m einen der N a c h w e i s der personlichen wissenschaftlichen Q u a l i f i c a t i o n erbracht, z u g l e i c h ist es ein M i t t e l der Selbsterganzung ( K o o p t a t i o n ) des L e h r k o r p e r s ( W o b b e 344) [It (the habilitation) heightens the exclusivity o f the university educated academic e l i t e . . . Firstly, the habilitation furnishes p r o o f o f personal scholarly qualifications, w h i l e at the same time it is a means o f self-replenishment (cooption) o f the teaching b o d y ] . E a c h university and each faculty has the right to replenish itself a c c o r d i n g to its o w n standards and procedures. O n e function o f the habilitation is, thus, to serve as a " K o o p t a t i o n s - und S o z i a l i s a t i o n s p r o z e B " [a process o f c o o p t i o n  Although occurring within a different context, this particular issue remains central in the discussion of graduate education to the present day. as can be seen from Showalter's suggestion that "we need to stop aiming solely to clone ourselves" [MLA Newsletter 3). 83  and socialization] that restricts access, particularly for w o m e n and members o f socially marginal groups. T h e habilitation process "erhoht institutionelle, k o g n i t i v e u n d k u l t u r e l l - s y m b o l i s c h e H i i r d e " ( W o b b e 3 4 4 ) [raises institutional, cognitive and cultural-symbolic hurdles]. T h i s function o f the habilitation can be understood  as standing in contradiction to the  productivist l o g i c that separates public and private spheres w i t h regard to p r o d u c t i v e versus reproductive w o r k . A s previously discussed, by demonstrating the w a y s in w h i c h the private is necessary for p r o d u c t i o n in the public sphere, the boundaries between the t w o spheres and different forms o f w o r k c o m e to be blurred. In the case o f the habilitation, it can further be seen that activities in the public sphere are not without reproductive components, as one o f the main functions in the public sphere o f the university is its o w n reproduction. F o r S c h u l t z , this reproductive aspect o f the university, c o u p l e d w i t h his relationship w i t h Benjamin, was problematic on numerous counts. First o f all, Benjamin's w o r k did not c o n f o r m to the disciplinary boundaries w i t h i n w h i c h Schultz w o r k e d . Second, in S c h u l t z ' s understanding o f the w o r l d , B e n j a m i n ' s Jewishness meant that his w o r k c o u l d not b e c o m e a part o f this reproductive knowledge,  as it was, by definition, inferior. Schultz ultimately decided to deal w i t h this  c o m p l i c a t e d situation by sending Benjamin to a different discipline — aesthetics — and to a different supervisor — H a n s C o r n e l i u s — w h o had earlier declined to take Benjamin on as a graduate student. W h e n B e n j a m i n made his first contact w i t h the University o f Frankfurt, he was still not certain in w h i c h field he w o u l d write his habilitation. A few months later, after contacting both S c h u l t z and C o r n e l i u s (on S a l o m o n ' s advice), Benjamin w r o t e to S a l o m o n : " U n d da C o r n e l i u s m i c h bei sich nicht habilitieren will, so liegt alles bei S c h u l t z "  (Briefe V o l . 2, 345) [ A n d because C o r n e l i u s does  not want to supervise my habilitation, everything is up to Schultz]. After the habilitation had been written and Schultz had refused to accept Benjamin in literary history, it became C o r n e l i u s ' responsibility to accept or reject his w o r k . C o r n e l i u s ' formal appraisal  o f the habilitation states that "[t]he w o r k o f D r . B e n j a m i n is extremely difficult to read ... In spite o f repeated strenuous efforts it was not possible for me to make any sense o f the w o r k " ( C o r n e l i u s ,  Guiachten, 1 9 2 5 , published in L i n d n e r 1 5 5 - 5 6 ) .  84  F o r this assessment, he consulted w i t h his  graduate student, M a x H o r k h e i m e r , w h o , after reading an abstract that B e n j a m i n had prepared at C o r n e l i u s ' request, determined that B e n j a m i n ' s dissertation was "incomprehensible" ( L i n d n e r 158). It is at this j u n c t u r e that the paths o f the future Frankfurt S c h o o l members cross i n a number o f c o m p l e x ways. Cornelius  supervised  both  Horkheimer's  and  Adorno's  doctoral  and  habilitation  dissertations. H o r k h e i m e r was successful in both cases, whereas A d o r n o ' s habilitation attempt failed, ostensibly because it contained too much material taken from C o r n e l i u s ' lectures and b o o k s . A d o r n o k n e w that Schultz had rejected Benjamin's habilitation, in part, because it was not enough like his supervisor's w o r k . Furthermore, A d o r n o also k n e w that Cornelius had rejected B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k because he found it incomprehensible. Strategically, A d o r n o chose to stay close to C o r n e l i u s ' w o r k in transcendental philosophy — too close, as it turned out. L i k e B e n j a m i n t w o years before, A d o r n o was f o r c e d to w i t h d r a w his application in order to a v o i d the outright rejection o f his habilitation. I n 1931, after C o r n e l i u s ' retirement, A d o r n o made a second, this t i m e successful, attempt at habilitation w i t h P a u l T i l l i c h , w h o n o w o c c u p i e d C o r n e l i u s ' chair o f philosophy, as his supervisor and H o r k h e i m e r as one o f his examiners. T h e fact that A d o r n o ' s failed habilitation attempt is rarely mentioned, and that it i n v o l v e d almost the same cast o f characters as did Benjamin's, indicates something about the process by w h i c h intellectuals are made. Painted in admittedly broad strokes, A d o r n o ' s story is one o f success — o f o v e r c o m i n g the tragedy o f exile — w i t h failures along the w a y being v i e w e d as insignificant.  That work, The Origin of German Tragic Drama (Unsprung c/es deutschen Trauerspiels), 1928, one o f Benjamin's first major publications.  u  became, in  B e n j a m i n ' s story, h o w e v e r , is one o f failure and posthumous success. G i v e n B e n j a m i n ' s tragic death, casting h i m as a (tragic) failure serves, in many w a y s , to make a clean and neat narrative out o f a c o m p l e x and often contradictory life and body o f w o r k . T h i s narrative provides a line that strings together a series o f failures throughout his life, culminating in the ultimate tragedy o f his death: he failed at a university career, he failed as an intellectual and academic, he failed at marriage, he failed at maintaining friendships, and he failed to leave E u r o p e soon enough to save his life. In this account the rejected habilitation assumes a key role. F o r M a y e r , for example, academic failure constituted an essential aspect o f Benjamin; it was a b l o w from which he never recovered. In v i e w o f his posthumous success, it is that same failure, together with his marginalization as a J e w in N a z i G e r m a n y , that has endowed him w i t h the outsider status that has made this success possible. T h i s clearly underscores the constructed nature o f success and failure. B e n j a m i n himself was well aware o f the potential difficulties he w o u l d confront in obtaining habilitation. In addition to having no direct contact with the professors with w h o m he was to w o r k , there was a second, and more decisive, difficulty. T h i s is summed up as f o l l o w s by C h r y s s o u l a K a m b a s in her examination o f the B e n j a m i n / S a l o m o n correspondence:  " a u c h gingen  seine  methodischen V o r s t e l l u n g e n in der Frankfurter akademischen Fachereinteilung nicht a u f (601) [his notions c o n c e r n i n g method d i d not match the division o f academic departments in Frankfurt]. A s a result o f this, he was shunted from department to department, his supervisors neither w i l l i n g nor able to accept w o r k that failed to c o n f o r m to their "procedures for mastery" (Foucault, " T h e O r d e r o f D i s c o u r s e " 49). T h e discourse o f B e n j a m i n ' s failure as an academic is not only comprehensible as the story o f a student w h o failed to c o n f o r m to "procedures for mastery," it is also, as F r a n c o i s e M e l t z e r has observed, clearly gendered. M'eltzer makes t w o important observations in this regard. T h e first is that the gendering o f failure in both A d o r n o ' s and A r e n d t ' s discussion o f B e n j a m i n is achieved by  13  means o f a "tone and rhetoric [that]... subtly castrate[s] his importance by casting his style and life in feminized tropes" (150). M e l t z e r illustrates h o w both A d o r n o and Arendt portray Benjamin as one o f his o w n characters, the flaneur, w h o strolls aimlessly about and accomplishes nothing. In their characterization o f B e n j a m i n ' s life and w o r k as both slothful and melancholic, they underpin their argument w i t h a polarization o f characteristics in w h i c h all negative traits — laziness, lack o f linearity, sluggishness, weakness — are feminized, w h i l e all positive and normative traits — industriousness, linearity, energy, strength — are masculinized. M e l t z e r ' s second observation is that A d o r n o ' s and A r e n d t ' s assessment o f B e n j a m i n is sustained by an understanding o f the w o r k ethic as a bourgeois given, w i t h w o r k being closely tied to the n o t i o n o f identity. W o r k is, o f course, gendered and defined in terms o f p r o d u c t i o n ; that is, it is l i n k e d to the public sphere and undertaken by men (155-56). T h i s w o r k is valued and remunerated, and it provides the w o r k e r w i t h a positive identity. D o m e s t i c and caregiving w o r k (i.e., w o m e n ' s w o r k , w h i c h is usually performed in the private sphere), being s u p p o r t i v e and reproductive, is not considered to be true w o r k . M e l t z e r ' s critiques are similar to those o f R o m a n , w h i c h w e r e discussed earlier. M e l t z e r critiques a productivist e c o n o m y that a l l o w s w o m e n no identity (identity being a product o f w o r k ) . A w o m a n ' s identity in this e c o n o m y can only be derived in relation to her w o r k i n g male — father, brother, or husband. A d o r n o ' s and A r e n d t ' s feminization o f B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k thus denigrates him, p r o d u c i n g him as feminine and, therefore, as a failure. M e l t z e r ' s analysis illustrates one o f the ways in w h i c h moral and e c o n o m i c ideologies converge. T h e moral i d e o l o g y that underlies the bourgeois w o r k ethic makes those w h o fail (i.e., those w h o engage in feminized forms o f w o r k ) m o r a l l y reprehensible. T h i s provides a further dimension to the p r o d u c t i o n o f Benjamin as a failure: his failure is a moral condemnation on the part o f what M e l t z e r identifies as a misogynist economy and a bourgeois, C h r i s t i a n (both Protestant and C a t h o l i c ) w o r k ethic (158-159).  131  W h i l e M e l t z e r provides a c o n v i n c i n g analysis o f h o w B e n j a m i n has been constructed as a failure at the intersection o f discourses o f gender and class, one weak point in her argument is her condemnation o f what she understands to be the "conflation" o f the personal w i t h the professional Benjamin. A c c o r d i n g to her, he may v e i y well have been slothful in his personal life, but that should not be held against h i m in his professional life. T h i s perpetuation o f the split between public and private, a split that she herself finds problematic in her analysis o f the gendering o f w o r k , renders her argument less c o n v i n c i n g . Nonetheless, M e l t z e r ' s study, and others previously discussed, clearly s h o w that the forces o f exclusion and their underlying ideologies not only construct B e n j a m i n as a failure, but also a l l o w interpreters o f his w o r k to pass upon him an implicitly negative m o r a l judgement. A t this point, I w i l l revisit the constellation at the U n i v e r s i t y o f Frankfurt at the time that B e n j a m i n attempted to habilitate. A s already discussed, it is clear that Schultz, both as an individual and as a dean, made decisions that quite effectively excluded B e n j a m i n from the university c o m m u n i t y . C o r n e l i u s and H o r k h e i m e r also played roles in these processes, as did B e n j a m i n ' s o w n p o s i t i o n vis-a-vis the university. H a v i n g l o o k e d at this, 1 w o u l d n o w like to l o o k at an as yet littlee x p l o r e d dimension o f the constellation that made up Benjamin's habilitation; namely, B e n j a m i n ' s relationship w i t h Gottfried S a l o m o n - L a t o u r . A s S a l o m o n was almost the only faculty member at the U n i v e r s i t y o f Frankfurt w i t h w h o m B e n j a m i n had direct contact, and as he was probably the o n l y professor w h o read his w h o l e habilitation, the examination o f their relationship is highly relevant to understanding what occurred at Frankfurt. T h e correspondence between S a l o m o n and B e n j a m i n between the years 1922 and 1926 provides documentation concerning both the process i n v o l v e d in B e n j a m i n ' s unsuccessful attempt at habilitation and the relationship between the t w o men. W i t h the exception o f K a m b a s ' study, the correspondence  w i t h S a l o m o n has received scant, i f any, attention  in Benjamin  13  scholarship.  85  T h e result o f this is the loss o f one dimension o f this intellectual figure and o f the  process by w h i c h he has been made. A s has been said, the processes that make intellectuals tend to i n v o l v e tracing a generally male lineage that, for the most part, excludes the friendship, mentoring, and c o m m u n i t y that o c c u r w i t h i n the private sphere and that, therefore, are not usually considered to be part o f " p r o d u c t i v e " w o r k . In tracing intellectual lineage, not only are the private dimensions o f Benjamin silenced, but his b o d y o f w r i t i n g and thought is r e d u c e d to being explained solely in relation to that o f other "great" thinkers. A s Susan B u c k - M o r s s has observed, "the convention o f academic hermeneutics that defines the theories o f one thinker in terms o f the theories o f another" is problematic because " s u c h a method ensures that the w h o l e intellectual project becomes self-referential and idealist, hermetically sealed w i t h precisely those musty corridors o f academia from w h i c h Benjamin's w o r k attempts to escape"  (Dialectics of Seeing 6). T h e kind o f analysis B u c k - M o r s s criticizes runs the  risk o f not being able to see b e y o n d its o w n limitations and, thus, remaining unaware o f those limitations. Situating Benjamin as a link in a chain o f scholars sanctions and validates h i m as a k n o w e r and perpetrator o f a certain kind o f k n o w l e d g e . B r o a d e n i n g the scope o f influences and e x a m i n i n g their interconnections provides a corrective to these limitations. In other w o r d s , it is necessary to l o o k at the relationships Benjamin established w i t h the "no so great" — the members o f his social w o r l d (to use A d d e l s o n ' s concept). S a l o m o n was an important figure in B e n j a m i n ' s social w o r l d d u r i n g the w r i t i n g o f his habilitation; h o w e v e r , he is only briefly mentioned as an intermediary between B e n j a m i n and the  - Other Benjamin scholars have cited Kambas' essay when referring to this period of Benjamin's life (e.g., Witte, Walter Benjamin mit Selbstzeugnissen und Bilcldokumenten 50, and Brodersen, Walter Benjamin 149). 8  13  U n i v e r s i t y o f Frankfurt and its m e m b e r s .  86  There are a number o f reasons for this silence concerning  S a l o m o n , most o f w h i c h are related to the procedures o f exclusion and the conditions o f application that F o u c a u l t refers to in his explanation o f mastery. T h e friendship between the t w o men provides a further means o f examining the relations o f p o w e r in the university and the procedures by w h i c h certain people and certain forms o f scholarship are either included in, or excluded from, the process o f knowledge production. S c h o l e m was one o f the first scholars w h o attempted to rescue B e n j a m i n from obscurity, and, consequently, he had a strong influence on subsequent s c h o l a r s h i p .  87  H i s understanding and  k n o w l e d g e o f B e n j a m i n is based on a l o n g friendship — one that was conducted, for the most part, through correspondence. A s a Z i o n i s t and one o f the first scholars o f Jewish m y s t i c i s m , S c h o l e m brought a particular disciplinary perspective to his understanding o f Benjamin. It is not surprising that S c h o l e m rejected Benjamin's materialism and emphasized his messianism. Benjamin himself was aware that his political side was not a w e l c o m e t o p i c for S c h o l e m . K a m b a s observes that B e n j a m i n clearly k n e w w h o w o u l d understand and be interested in different aspects o f his thinking. T o S a l o m o n he sent his thoughts and essays about political matters, to S c h o l e m he w r o t e more about religious and literary matters ( K a m b a s 618). In c o m p a r i n g Benjamin's letters to S c h o l e m w i t h those to S a l o m o n ( w h i c h were written at the same time and about the same events and experiences), one sees that political observations rarely found their w a y into letters to S c h o l e m . B y contrast, his letters to S a l o m o n from C a p r i , for example, contain commentaries on M u s s o l i n i ' s visit to Naples, the spread o f fascism throughout  See, for example, Witte, Waller Benjamin mil Selbstzengnissen unci Bilddokiimenten 50, 52, 53; Fuld 136, 161; and Lindner 149. Wohlfarth's analysis centres on Schultz without mentioning Salomon. In retrospect he could be considered one of the founding fathers (and they are, indeed, all fathers -- no mothers) o f the Benjamin industry, an industry that now fuels publishing houses and forms the bases o f careers.  S6  87  E u r o p e , and his g r o w i n g fears concerning the possibility o f another w a r  (Briefe V o l . 2, 4 9 1 - 9 2 ,  507 and 494). A d o r n o , w h o o c c u p i e d a c o m p l e x position in Benjamin's life, first as a disciple and later as a friend and intermediary (between Benjamin and the members o f the Frankfurt S c h o o l ) , was also interested in p r o m o t i n g certain aspects o f B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k . A s a k i n d o f supervisor o f Benjamin's w o r k for the Institute o f S o c i a l R e s e a r c h during the 1930s, and as B e n j a m i n ' s literary executor, he was in a p o s i t i o n to shape h o w Benjamin was presented and understood — h o w , in other w o r d s , he was "made."  88  A s R o l f Wiggershaus argues, after the Institute m o v e d to N e w Y o r k in the early  1930s, A d o r n o was especially interested in keeping theological materialism at the forefront o f its w o r k , and therefore focused on the messianic aspect o f B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k (194). L i k e S c h o l e m , but for different reasons, A d o r n o was most interested in B e n j a m i n ' s t h e o l o g i c a l w o r k and strongly encouraged him to focus on a "materialist transformation o f theological motifs" (Wiggershaus 194). F o r both S c h o l e m and A d o r n o , given their particular interest in Benjamin's w o r k , his relationship to a s o c i o l o g y professor by the name o f S a l o m o n was o f little concern or relevance. T h e e x c l u s i o n o f S a l o m o n ' s role in Benjamin's life can also be understood as a product o f a gendered separation o f spheres. S a l o m o n ' s relationship to B e n j a m i n can best be characterized as one o f mentoring — an activity that does not " p r o d u c e " in the productivist sense o f the w o r d but, rather falls w i t h i n the realm o f nurturing and reproduction. N o t only did the t w o men share many intellectual interests and pursuits, but it was S a l o m o n to w h o m Benjamin repeatedly turned for advice d u r i n g his application for habilitation.  T o this day the Benjamin archive which has become part of the Adorno archive in Frankfurt is not open to all scholarly investigators. While conducting research for his Benjamin biography, Brodersen, for one, was denied access to the Benjamin estate in Frankfurt (Brodersen, Walter Benjamin x). 88  Finally, B e n j a m i n ' s letters to S a l o m o n have only recently been published (1997), and S a l o m o n ' s replies are as yet unpublished, m a k i n g it difficult to analyze their friendship. W e k n o w that it w a s a friendship that began w i t h practical, everyday matters. B e n j a m i n a s k e d S a l o m o n ' s assistance in gaining entrance to the University o f Frankfurt, in determining w h i c h o f his essays to send to Schultz as samples o f his w r i t i n g , and in finding a typist for his dissertation. B e n j a m i n ' s first contact w i t h his supervisor, Schultz, o c c u r r e d through S a l o m o n , after w h i c h he asked S a l o m o n for an i n d i c a t i o n o f S c h u l t z ' s reactions and opinions " V i e l l e i c h t konnen Sie mir etwas uber S c h u l t z ' Stellungnahme andeuten"  (Briefe V o l . 2, 303) [Perhaps y o u c o u l d indicate to me something about  Schultz's opinion]. Later, in a letter to S c h o l e m , Benjamin expressed his frustration at not having heard from S c h u l t z for a l o n g period o f time  (Briefe V o l . 3, 25; Correspondence 263). S o o n after, he again  w r o t e to S c h o l e m about the " A b b r u c h meiner frankfurter V o r h a b e n " ["wreckage o f m y Frankfurt plans"]. H e explained the disastrous turn his plans had taken as f o l l o w s : " E s w a r alles soweit, daB A n f a n g Juli meine vierte oder liinfte R e i s e dorthin hatte v o n statten gehen s o l l e n "  (Briefe V o l . 3,  59) ["Things were at the point where I was supposed to take my fourth or fifth trip to Frankfurt at the beginning o f J u l y "  (Correspondence 275)]. H o w e v e r , he had heard from a friend o f his  father-in-law that C o r n e l i u s and K a u t s c h , the other t w o members o f his e x a m i n i n g committee, had claimed not to understand his habilitation. T o better comprehend the situation and to discover what was happening in Frankfurt, he wrote: " A l s b a l d wandte ich m i c h an S a l o m o n urn genauere Auskunft"  (Briefe V o l . 3, 59) ["I immediately turned to S a l o m o n for more precise information"  (Correspondence 275)]. It w a s also S a l o m o n in w h o m Benjamin confided, after his trip to C a p r i , that, although he had hoped to submit his habilitation that semester, it was still incomplete: " U n t e r g e t a u c h t i n monatelangem Schweigen und auftauchend ohne die kostliche P e r l e der A r b e i t in der H a n d ! Ja, es  ist i m m e r w i e d e r die alte E r f a h r u n g , d a B es nicht schnell bei mir geht."  (Briefe V o l . 2, 4 2 1 )  [Submerged i n silence for months only to resurface without the e x q u i s i t e pearl o f w o r k i n m y hands! W e l l , it is always the same o l d story, that nothing goes q u i c k l y with m e ] .  89  W h e n he then  returned f r o m C a p r i , after a t w o - w e e k holiday and w i t h his w o r k not c o m p l e t e d as planned, B e n j a m i n spoke to S a l o m o n before contacting S c h u l t z  (Briefe V o l . 2, 506). S a l o m o n was clearly  the person B e n j a m i n t a i s t e d and depended o n for information and support. In the end, B e n j a m i n t o o k S a l o m o n ' s advice and w i t h d r e w his application for habilitation rather than h a v i n g it formally rejected. M o r e o v e r , it seems that the issues closest to B e n j a m i n ' s heart were the ones he shared w i t h S a l o m o n . A c c o r d i n g to K a m b a s , B e n j a m i n personally hand-delivered a political essay he was w o r k i n g o n to S a l o m o n , whereas he sent his dissertation chapters by post to S a l o m o n t o pass o n to S c h u l t z (618). T h i s provides some indication o f the respective importance that B e n j a m i n placed o n the t w o pieces o f w r i t i n g as well as o f the distance between h i m and his supervisor. Y e t S a l o m o n has until n o w been relegated to footnote status as the helpful but uninformed mediator between B e n j a m i n and other faculty members. Obliterated in this process is the fact that S a l o m o n ' s seminar w a s o n e o f the few that Benjamin attended (together w i t h A d o r n o ) at the U n i v e r s i t y o f Frankfurt. W h i l e A d o r n o indicates that B e n j a m i n ' s plan to habilitate i n Frankfort was "eine A b s i c h t , die v o n S a l o m o n energisch gefordert w u r d e "  (Uber Walter Benjamin 9) [an intention  that S a l o m o n energetically supported], he does not elaborate o n this other than to say that " S a l o m o n interceded very v i g o r o u s l y w i t h a number o f influential senior professors" (Friendship 116). T h u s S a l o m o n ' s practical assistance is a c k n o w l e d g e d but not investigated. T i e d e m a n n , G o d d e , and L o n i t z further a c k n o w l e d g e S a l o m o n ' s supportive role i n relation to B e n j a m i n ' s  This is in stark contrast to Adorno, who planned his doctoral dissertation in mid-May, had it accepted by his supervisor, Cornelius, on M a y 26, finished writing on June 6, dictated the dissertation to a typist on June 11, and submitted the completed dissertation on June 14 (Wiggershaus 70). 89  endeavours.  "In  Salomon-Delatour  hatte  Benjamin  fur  die  Frankfurter  akademischen  Angelegenheiten einen Vertrauten gefunden, der flir ihn eintrat und ihn regelmafiig tiber den Stand d e r D i n g e u n t e r r i c h t e " (68) [In S a l o m o n - D e l a t o u r Benjamin had found a confidant for the academic matters i n Frankfurt w h o stood up for him and kept him regularly informed about h o w things were g o i n g ] . That S a l o m o n was a scholar in his o w n right, and that he and B e n j a m i n had many similar scholarly and political interests, is not mentioned by B e n j a m i n scholars; instead, S a l o m o n provides the k i n d o f energetic support and assistance that is usually assumed and expected o f w o m e n , and therefore not subject to further investigation. W i t h the exception o f K a m b a s ' paper, S a l o m o n ' s role as friend and mentor, a role that intersects the public and the personal, has received only scant attention. After examining the B e n j a m i n / S a l o m o n correspondence, K a m b a s comes to the c o n c l u s i o n that S a l o m o n was B e n j a m i n ' s most important correspondent w h i l e he was w r i t i n g his habilitation: " S a l o m o n w u r d e zur Z e i t der Niederschrift des  Trauerspielbtichs fur ihn [Benjamin] z u m  wichtigsten Gesprachspartner" (606) [ S a l o m o n became his (Benjamin's) most important discussion partner w h i l e he w a s w r i t i n g the  Tragic Drama b o o k ] . T h e i r discussions gradually came to include 9 0  w i d e - r a n g i n g aspects o f daily and professional life: finding a r o o m to rent, information as to what S c h u l t z and the habilitation committee were d o i n g , university politics, enquiries regarding each o t h e r ' s health and other family members, and current political matters. F u r t h e r m o r e , as K a m b a s has clearly demonstrated, contrary to earlier understandings o f S a l o m o n ' s purely supportive role in B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k , he also played a role in the content o f the habilitation: " D a B S a l o m o n nicht nur half, w e n n sich S c h w i e r i g k e i t e n im U m g a n g mit den Universitatsinstanzen ergaben, w i r d . . . deutlich; auch am inhaltlichen P r o d u k t i o n s v o r g a n g der Habilitationsschrift w a r er ein Stuck weit beteiligt"  "Tragic D r a m a " is Orbome's translation of "Trauerspiel," which is sometimes also referred to as "Play of Mourning."  90  (605) [It has b e c o m e clear that S a l o m o n not only helped w h e n there w e r e difficulties in dealing w i t h university authorities; he also participated in the p r o d u c t i o n process o f the habilitation w i t h regard to content]. K a m b a s bases her c o n c l u s i o n o n their c o m m o n interests, on Salomon's advice, and o n S a l o m o n ' s mediating role in i n t r o d u c i n g B e n j a m i n to the w o r k o f C a r l Schmitt ( w h i c h p r o v i d e d part o f the m e t h o d o l o g i c a l basis for B e n j a m i n ' s habilitation) ( K a m b a s 609-11). K a m b a s discusses h o w the friendship between the t w o continued l o n g after B e n j a m i n ' s travails at Frankfurt. O n o c c a s i o n they met each other during their travels t h r o u g h E u r o p e — one such o c c a s i o n being B e n j a m i n ' s trip to C a p r i , where he first met A s j a L a c i s . L a t e r in B e n j a m i n ' s life, w h e n he and S a l o m o n were in exile in Paris, they remained friends ( K a m b a s 620). S a l o m o n was a political activist d u r i n g those years, and Benjamin was w o r k i n g on his " A r c a d e s P r o j e c t " — a project that attempted an analysis o f nineteenth-century Paris, i n c l u d i n g the w o r k o f early socialists (particularly F o u r i e r and S a i n t - S i m o n ) . It is likely, as K a m b a s notes, that these c o m m o n interests once again brought them together.  91  A l o n g w i t h these shared interests, S a l o m o n once again  p r o v i d e d practical, everyday assistance to his friend during B e n j a m i n ' s difficult last years in exile: " E r [Salomon] zeigte dieselbe Hilfsbereitschaft, w i e er sie schon zehn Jahre fruher geiibt hatte. G e g e n E n d e des Jahres 1937 w o h n t e B e n j a m i n vorubergehend in der rue de Javel bei S a l o m o n " ( K a m b a s 621) [ S a l o m o n displayed the same helpfulness that he had s h o w n ten years earlier. T o w a r d s the end o f 1937 B e n j a m i n temporarily lived w i t h S a l o m o n in the rue de Javel]. D u r i n g B e n j a m i n ' s habilitation years, beyond energetic support, mentoring, and friendship, the t w o men w e r e linked by c o m m o n areas o f scholarly interest, the most o b v i o u s o f w h i c h was  T w o o f Salomon's early publications were monographs that contained selected readings from the early Utopian socialists, Saint-Simon and Proudhon. Benjamin's "Arcades Project" quotes extensively from these two writers, especially Saint-Simon. 91  G e r m a n R o m a n t i c i s m . After the publication o f his investigation o f R o m a n t i c i s m , S a l o m o n focused 92  o n s o c i o l o g y , a relatively n e w and not well-established discipline that was practised primarily within the paradigm o f the natural sciences. A s he explains in his i n t r o d u c t i o n to a v o l u m e o f readings in social  philosophy,  his  humanistic,  p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y informed  understanding  of  sociology  ( " S o z i a l p h i l o s o p h i e " ) deviated from the then dominant empirical assumptions o f s o c i o l o g i c a l research methods ( S a l o m o n , " E i n l e i t u n g " 2-7). T h e convergence o f B e n j a m i n ' s and S a l o m o n ' s interests lies p r i m a r i l y in S a l o m o n ' s area o f specialization — "material s o c i o l o g y " — w h i c h K a m b a s summarizes as an examination o f society and social development in terms o f practical political demands. B e n j a m i n ' s later w o r k s , in particular, s h o w similarities to his m e n t o r ' s s o c i o l o g i c a l philosophical perspective. S a l o m o n ' s w o r k , like B e n j a m i n ' s , was interdisciplinary, practised at the points where philosophy, economics, and literature converge. T h e intersection o f materialist history and p h i l o s o p h y that p r o v i d e d S a l o m o n w i t h his methods o f research w a s also strongly evident in B e n j a m i n ' s " A r c a d e s Project." B o t h B e n j a m i n and S a l o m o n extended their k n o w l e d g e and research b e y o n d disciplinary boundaries, breeching the established frameworks o f their disciplines. B e n j a m i n c o m b i n e d a messianic and materialist understanding o f literature, philosophy, and history in order to examine social phenomena. B o t h S a l o m o n and B e n j a m i n attempted to have socialism discussed throughout G e r m a n society in general, not just amongst scholars ( K a m b a s 608). U n l i k e his supervisor and committee members, w h o s e political affiliations were w i t h the far right, S a l o m o n ' s were w i t h the left: " S a l o m o n s p o l i t i s c h e B i n d u n g l a g . . . aufsozialdemokratischer Seite" ( K a m b a s 6 1 2 ) [ S a l o m o n ' s political c o m m i t m e n t s w e r e ... on the social democratic side]. These c o m m o n interests and goals  Salomon's 1922 book, Das Miltelaller als Ideal in der Roman! ik [The Middles Ages as the Ideal During the Romantic Period], cites Benjamin's dissertation, Der Begriffder Kimstkritik in der deutschen Romantik [The Concept o f Criticism in German Romanticism]. 92  suggest, contrary to the contentions o f many scholars, that neither B e n j a m i n ' s initial meeting with L a c i s nor his reading o f L u k a c s w a s the single d e t e r m i n i n g cause o f his so-called M a r x i s t turn. T h e i r o v e r l a p p i n g interests and their lasting friendship suggests that there was an affinity and an understanding between these t w o men, both personally and professionally, that they w e r e unable to find elsewhere in the university c o m m u n i t y . A n examination o f S a l o m o n ' s friendship w i t h Benjamin helps to disrupt the still prevalent idea o f B e n j a m i n as the individual, isolated genius, struggling on his o w n against all odds to p r o d u c e a b o d y o f w o r k . T h i s is crucial to understanding the m a k i n g o f Benjamin, both at the time o f his habilitation and today. First, it should be recognized that the fact that B e n j a m i n was not an official member o f the academy does not mean that he was isolated f r o m intellectual life. In his relationships at the intersection o f the public and private, B e n j a m i n established and maintained " s o c i a l w o r l d s " that shaped him and provided a context for his w o r k . A s F o u c a u l t has persuasively argued, institutional determinations police and  produce  k n o w l e d g e , and such p r o d u c t i o n is not achieved through individual acts o f genius in a theoretical realm that is s o m e h o w detached from material reality. S u c h an understanding o f k n o w l e d g e presupposes a notion o f unified subjectivity that many, including Foucault, D . Smith, and R o m a n , have c o n v i n c i n g l y disproved. K n o w l e d g e is not "created" by an individual but, rather, as A l e x a n d e r and M o h a n t y argue, it is produced in a specific c o m m u n i t y for specific reasons and a c c o r d i n g to the criteria set by that c o m m u n i t y . "[ W ] e have come to k n o w the critical importance o f figuring out our c o m m u n i t i e s o f belonging, and therefore those communities to w h i c h w e are accountable. W e do not inherit our intellectual neighbors; w e consciously build t h e m " ( A l e x a n d e r and M o h a n t y ix). H o w has the scholarly c o m m u n i t y produced k n o w l e d g e about W a l t e r Benjamin? A s Jeffrey G r o s s m a n has suggested, the institutional c o m m u n i t y to w h i c h B e n j a m i n sought admission, albeit somewhat half-heartedly, c o u l d not understand his w a y o f thinking. Perhaps it is m o r e accurate to  say that it would not understand his w a y o f thinking. In terms o f the functioning o f university p o w e r relations, the e x c l u s i o n o f the different or unfamiliar is a favoured tactic for controlling what counts as k n o w l e d g e and w h o counts as its producer. B o t h S c h u l t z and C o r n e l i u s , and to some degree H o r k h e i m e r , w e r e either u n w i l l i n g or unable to understand B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k because it was outside o f their frames o f reference and did not authorize itself in reference to preceding w o r k in the  field.  It should also be noted, that in all probability, neither S c h u l t z nor C o r n e l i u s ever read the entire dissertation. Benjamin  h i m s e l f w a s acutely aware that his manner  o f t h i n k i n g defied the  usual  categorizations accepted by the institution. In a 1913 letter to Carta Seligson, w h i c h he w r o t e at the beginning o f his studies, he noted: Gestern geschah es z u m ersten M a i solang i c h studiere, da(3 ich m i c h in einem kleinen K r e i s e von F a c h p h i l o s o p h e n fand ... ich fuhle mich natiirlich ganz unziinftig, weil ich z w a r viel philosophiere aber dies ist bei mir d o c h ganz anders ...  wenn ich  philosophiere, so ist es mil Fretinden. (Briefe V o l . 1, 108; emphasis mine)  [Yesterday, for the first time since I ' v e been a student, I found m y s e l f in a small g r o u p o f professional philosophers ... o f course, I am acutely aware that I am not a card-carrying member o f the union because, although I do indeed philosophize a lot, I do so in a totally different manner ...  when I philosophize, it is with friends.  (Correspondence 2 9 ; emphasis mine)] In B e n j a m i n ' s o w n understanding o f his p h i l o s o p h i z i n g , he k n e w that he adhered neither to the boundaries between public and private nor to those between the disciplines. P h i l o s o p h y was a dialogue w i t h friends — w i t h D o r a , S a l o m o n , and L a c i s , a m o n g others. A n institutional setting was  not required, and conversation was as vital as was written research.  93  In c o n c l u s i o n , B e n j a m i n ' s  resistance to what F o u c a u l t w o u l d call conformity to procedures for mastery was responsible for his b e c o m i n g a "failure." H i s resistance, and his subsequent turn from strictly academic to journalistic and essayistic forms o f w r i t i n g , resulted in his being cast as a failure by the university c o m m u n i t y . H o w e v e r , it was not only academia that contributed to c o n s t r u c t i n g B e n j a m i n as a failure, but also his o w n life circumstances and desires. W h a t is important to my project is not w h e t h e r B e n j a m i n was a success or a failure but, rather, the processes by w h i c h he was and is constructed as such. T h e s e processes o c c u r at the intersection o f the dominant discourses and practices o f the university c o m m u n i t y and B e n j a m i n ' s life and work. H e is not the lone, struggling genius but, rather, someone w h o was supported and influenced by his wife, lovers, and friends. In the f o l l o w i n g chapter I deal w i t h the intersections o f Benjamin's life text — his trip to C a p r i , ostensibly in order to complete his dissertation — and his written text. In this constellation his life and w o r k intersect w i t h the life and w o r k o f Asja L a c i s . Benjamin's lifelong criticism o f scholarship w h o s e prime function is c a t e g o r i z a t i o n is intensified by what he and L a c i s call " P o r o s i t a t " [porosity]. T h e y explored this concept in their observation and analysis o f the porous boundaries between public and private life in Naples. L a c i s , w h o s e intellectual and practical w o r k p r o v i d e d B e n j a m i n w i t h a m o d e l for a new form o f existence — one that combines theory w i t h practice — helped him g r o u n d his philosophy in the material w o r l d .  Salomon expressed a similar view in the introduction to a collection o f his essays: "Meine Freunde, zu denen vor allem meine Horer rechnen, wissen. wie sehr ich die Schrift und die Niederschrift... uneigentlich finde im Gegensatz zur direkten Ansprache" (Politische Soziologie v-vi). [ M y friends, among them my students, know how much I find publications and writing unsuitable in contrast to direct forms o f address]. 9 3  Chapter 5 Capri, 1924 Lacis and Benjamin: Porous Lines of Demarcation Ein hochsi verworrenes Quartier, ein Slrafiennetz, dasjahrelang von mir gemieden wiirde, word mir mil einem Schlage iihersichtlich, als ernes Tages ein geliebter Mensch dort einzog. Erwar, als sei in seinem Fenster ein Scheinwerfer aufgestellt und zerlege die Gegend mil Lichlbiischeln. W a l t e r Benjamin [ A highly c o n v o l u t e d n e i g h b o r h o o d , a n e t w o r k o f streets that I had a v o i d e d for years, was disentangled at a single stroke w h e n one day a person dear to me m o v e d there. It w a s as i f a searchlight set up at this person's w i n d o w dissected the area w i t h pencils o f light ( B u l l o c k & Jennings)]  T h e b e l o v e d person to w h o m Benjamin refers in this quotation from " O n e - W a y Street" is A s j a L a c i s , t o w h o m the b o o k is dedicated. She was the person w h o shed light o n aspects o f his life and w o r k that he had previously avoided. A c c o r d i n g to B e n j a m i n ' s dedication, the street referred to in the title o f this b o o k was both named after her and constructed by her: " D i e s e StraBe heiBt A s j a - L a c i s - S t r a B e nach der die sie als Ingenieur i m A u t o r durchgebrochen hat" ("EinbahnstraBe" 81) ["This street is named A s j a L a c i s Street after her w h o as an engineer cut it through the author" ( " O n e - W a y Street" 444)]. A s w a s discussed in Chapter 3, by B e n j a m i n ' s o w n account, l o v e was a strong formative force in his life. In fact, he found himself so changed when he was in l o v e that he sometimes had difficulty r e c o g n i z i n g himself. T h e assertions o f his friends appear t o confirm this observation, as he w r o t e to S c h o l e m a few months after his return from C a p r i : " I n B e r l i n ist man sich ... iiber eine offenkundige V e r a n d e r u n g einig, die mit m i r vorgegangen sei"  (Briefe V o l . 2, 511) ["People i n  B e r l i n are agreed that there is a conspicuous change in me" (Correspondence 257)]. O f the three great loves in B e n j a m i n ' s life, the most important, in his estimation, was A s j a L a c i s : " A m gewaltigsten w a r diese V e r w a n d l u n g ins A h n l i c h e ... in meiner V e r b i n d u n g mit A s j a ,  so daB i c h vieles in mir erstmals entdeckte" (Benjamin, " M a i - J u n i 1 9 3 1 " 427) [This metamorphosis into similarity was the most p o w e r f u l . . . in my relationship w i t h Asja. It was such that I discovered many things w i t h i n m y s e l f for the first time]. L a c i s offers him a new route to f o l l o w , a l o n g w h i c h he discovers many n e w things. T h i s is more than exerting an influence or precipitating a shift; she clearly " m a k e s " h i m (at least parts o f him) in M o i ' s sense o f the w o r d . T o g e t h e r w i t h L a c i s , B e n j a m i n began to explore political and social realities he had either tended to ignore or o f w h i c h he had not yet b e c o m e aware. T h e fact that Benjamin used a street metaphor to describe their relationship, and as a main feature o f the b o o k , indicates (1) the increasing importance o f urban t o p o g r a p h y in B e n j a m i n ' s t h i n k i n g and w r i t i n g and (2) the link between that t o p o g r a p h y and Lacis.  9 4  T h e t o p o g r a p h i c a l representation o f the "space o f life" was a possibility that o c c u p i e d B e n j a m i n for many years. H e first envisioned that representation as a map. " L a n g e , jahrelang eigentlich, spiele ich schon mit der V o r s t e l l u n g , den R a u m des L e b e n s — B i o s — graphisch in einer K a r t e z u g l i e d e r n " (Benjamin, " B e r l i n e r C h r o n i k " 466) [ F o r many years actually, I have already been p l a y i n g w i t h the notion o f articulating the space o f life -- B i o s — graphically in a map]. T h e main distinguishing feature o f a city maps is, o f course, its streets, and they b e c o m e the k e y to understanding modern life. A s G r a e m e G i l l o c h has observed in his study o f B e n j a m i n ' s w r i t i n g s about cities, B e n j a m i n " i s c o n c e r n e d w i t h the physical structure o f the city and the material objects found therein as a setting for, and as indices of, social activity" (7). " F o r Benjamin, the buildings, spaces, monuments and objects that c o m p o s e the urban environment both are a response to, and reflexively structure, patterns o f human social activity. A r c h i t e c t u r e and action shape each other; they  interpenetrate"  This is most evident in many of his numerous thought-images ("Denkbilder"), "One-Way Street," " M o s c o w Diary," " A Berlin Chronicle," "Berlin Childhood Around 1900," and the "Arcades Project."  94  ( G i l l o c h 6). W h i l e G i l l o c h understands the importance o f B e n j a m i n ' s e x a m i n a t i o n o f urban t o p o g r a p h y as the w o r k i n g out o f a social theory o f modern life, he pays virtually no attention to the important link between the city, its streets, and L a c i s — a link that is clearly evident in " O n e W a y Street." In that w o r k , as w e l l as in numerous thought-images, parts o f the " A r c a d e s P r o j e c t , " " A B e r l i n C h r o n i c l e , " " B e r l i n C h i l d h o o d A r o u n d 1900," and " M o s c o w D i a r y , " B e n j a m i n ' s life and w o r k are clearly i n t e r w o v e n . A further dimension o f Benjamin's attention to materiality — one not included in G i l l o c h ' s study — is the importance o f the human body. B e g i n n i n g in the m i d - 1 9 2 0 s , r o u g h l y around the time o f his first meeting w i t h Lacis, the human body, the concept o f body-space, and the significance o f b o d i l y perception ( " W a h r n e h m u n g " ) increasingly emerge in B e n j a m i n ' s w r i t i n g .  95  Benjamin's vivid  and unusual account o f his sexual a w a k e n i n g occurs in the streets o f his h o m e ( B e r l i n ) , and his later m e e t i n g w i t h L a c i s constitutes a reoccurrence o f m u c h the same constellation. In " A B e r l i n C h r o n i c l e " he explains h o w his parents instructed him to g o to a relative's h o m e in order to a c c o m p a n y him to the synagogue for a service in celebration o f the J e w i s h N e w Y e a r . B e n j a m i n w a n d e r e d t h r o u g h the streets o f B e r l i n , failing to reach his destination. G r a d u a l l y he became aware o f a curious mixture o f contradictory feelings and insights c o n c e r n i n g his immediate situation. H e simultaneously felt helpless, forgetful, and embarrassed — feelings he explains as f o l l o w s : An  dieser  Ratlosigkeit,  VergeBlichkeit,  Verlegenheit  trug  zweifellos  die  H a u p t s c h u l d A b n e i g u n g gegen die bevorstehende V e r a n s t a l t u n g und gegen die verwandtschaftliche nicht minder als gegen die gottesdienstliche. W a h r e n d ich n o c h so herumirrte, iiberkam mich plotzlich und genau zur gleichen Z e i t einerseits der  Weigel's analysis of Benjamin's concept o f body-space deals primarily with its basis in his distinction between image and metaphor, and in the relation between language and the corporeal. Richter analyzes the body in Moscow Diary and will be discussed further in Chapter 6. 95  146 G e d a n k e : viel z u spat, die Zeit ist langst verpaBt, du schaffst es nie - andererseits das Gefuhl, w i e durchaus gleich das alles sei. (Benjamin, " B e r l i n e r C h r o n i k " 10506)  [This bewilderment, forgetfulness, and embarrassment were doubtless chiefly due to my dislike o f the impending service, in its familial no less than its divine aspect. W h i l e I was wandering thus, I was suddenly and simultaneously o v e r c o m e , on the one hand, by the thought " T o o late, time was up l o n g go, y o u ' l l never get there" — and o n the other, by a sense o f the insignificance o f all this. ( " A B e r l i n C h r o n i c l e " 53)] A s he becomes aware o f the possibility o f t w o simultaneously o c c u r r i n g contradictory perceptions, B e n j a m i n experiences a sexual a w a k e n i n g . [D]iese  beiden  96  BewuBtseinsstrome  flossen  unaufhaltsam  zu  einem  groBen  Lustgefiihl zusammen, das mich mit blasphemischer G l e i c h g i i l t i g k e i t gegen den Gottesdienst erfullte, der StraBe aber, a u f der ich m i c h befand, so schmeichelte als hatte sie mir damals schon die K u p p l e r d i e n s t e z u verstehen gegeben, w e l c h e sie spater dem erwachten Triebe leisten sollte. ("Berliner C h r o n i k " 106)  [(T)hese t w o streams o f consciousness  converged irresistibly in an  immense  pleasure that filled me w i t h blasphemous indifference t o w a r d the service, but exalted  Individual sections o f "Berlin Childhood Around 1900" were published in newspapers (Frankfurter Zeitung and Vossische Zeilung) between December 1932 and August 1934. On Scholem's advice, this segment, "Awakening of Sexuality," was not published, primarily due to the problematic connection between Jews and sexuality in the dominant ideology of the time. Jewish men were often portrayed as sexual predators who violated pure, " A r y a n " women.  96  147  the street in w h i c h 1 s t o o d as i f it had already intimated to me the services o f procurement it was later to render my awakened drive. ( " A B e r l i n C h r o n i c l e " 53)] T h i s incident, d e s c r i b e d in both " A B e r l i n C h r o n i c l e " and " B e r l i n C h i l d h o o d , " is a constellation in w h i c h the separation o f public and private becomes impossible, and in w h i c h feelings, thoughts, consciousness, perception, and the (male) b o d y converge. T h e physical setting o f this moment, the street, is vital in that this is where B e n j a m i n ' s feelings and insights are primarily directed. In the summer o f 1924, Benjamin meets Lacis while he is w a n d e r i n g t h r o u g h the streets o f C a p r i d o i n g his shopping; in many ways, this meeting resembles the scene o f his earlier sexual a w a k e n i n g . H o w e v e r , before examining this meeting, I w i l l l o o k at h o w and w h y B e n j a m i n decided to travel to C a p r i . H i s decision is primarily a result o f his desire to escape from all that was stressful, conflictladen, and unpleasant in his life in G e r m a n y : inflation, unemployment, political instability, antiSemitism, financial worries, the responsibilities o f being a father and husband, constant arguments w i t h his parents, and the disjuncture between expectations, desires, and lived reality. In addition, he is frustrated by his inability to progress w i t h his habilitation. H e w r o t e to S c h o l e m that he must escape from t h e " b o s e n EinfluB dieser A t m o s p h a r e " ["pernicious atmosphere here"]. Setting himself free from that atmosphere had b e c o m e his "vitalstes V o r h a b e n " intention"  (Correspondence 2 3 6 ) ] .  (Briefe V o l . 2, 4 3 2 ) ["most vital  97  Since early in his life, B e n j a m i n e m p l o y e d tactics o f avoidance, distancing h i m s e l f f r o m topics or situations that are unpleasant or tension-laden. F o r example, d u r i n g his first trip abroad, he was particularly concerned w i t h a v o i d i n g any tension or embarrassment a m o n g the g r o u p o f y o u n g men w i t h w h o m he was travelling. In his 1912 diary Benjamin notes:  Another unsuccessful attempt to receive money from his editor, WeiBbach, seems to have triggered this view of the situation.  97  In den ersten T a g e n war ich natiirlich sehr aufmerksam  u m Spannungen z u  vermeiden ... Innerliche ernste aber unberechenbare und schroffe M e n s c h e n , sind i m m e r fur mich ... im U m g a n g sehr peinlich ... A u s diesem G r u n d e wachte i c h auch in diesen ersten T a g e n sehr aufmerksam, daB keine G r u p p e z w i s c h e n z w e i e n , die standige Spannungen gegeben hatte, entstiinde. ( " M e i n e Reise in Italien Pfingsten 1912"  253)  [ D u r i n g the first days I was naturally very conscientious about avoiding any tensions ... A s s o c i a t i n g w i t h i n w a r d l y serious but unpredictable and abrupt people is always very embarrassing for me ... F o r that reason I watched v e i y carefully during the first l e w s days so that no group o f t w o , that w o u l d cause constant tension, c o u l d form] A d d i t i o n a l early examples are to be found in his correspondence w i t h Seligson. After she had written to h i m about some difficulties in her life, he responded: " M o g e es Sie nicht verstimmen, w e n n i c h mit diesen W o r t e n , die ich nur von mir aus sagen konnte, nichts traf, was Ihnen wesentlich ist, w e n n ich im Irrtuin z u allgemein  sprach." (Briefe V o l . 1, 140) ["I hope y o u w o n ' t be annoyed  i f these w o r d s , w h i c h c o u l d be uttered only from my point o f v i e w , failed to t o u c h on anything o f importance to y o u , i f I made the mistake o f keeping my remarks t o o general"  (Correspondence  40)]. F o r w h i c h he gives the excuse: " A b e r auch Sie werden fuhlen, daB alles darauf a n k o m m t , uns nichts v o n unserer W a r i n e z u M e n s c h e n nelnnen z u lassen. M a g es auch sein, daB w i r sie fur eine Z e i t ausdrucksloser and abstrakter bewahren mussen; sie w i r d bleiben und d o c h Gestalt finden"  (Briefe V o l . I, 140) ["But y o u will surely agree w i t h me that everything depends on o u r not a l l o w i n g any o f o u r w a r m t h for people to be taken from us. E v e n if, for a w h i l e w e must preserve this w a r m t h in a less e x p r e s s i v e and more abstract w a y , it w i l l endure and surely find its f o r m "  (Correspondence 40)]. H e r e he avoids addressing something unpleasant, distressful, or potentially embarrassing by escaping from material, lived reality into the realm o f the m e t a p h y s i c a l .  98  T h i s was a pattern that was to continue for the rest o f his life. After his experience in C a p r i , B e n j a m i n made numerous journeys every year. F o l l o w i n g the failure o f his habilitation plans, one o f the first things B e n j a m i n did was to board a ship in H a m b u r g ( A u g u s t 1925) and travel to Capri v i a S p a i n and Italy ( B a r c e l o n a , G e n u a , L i v o r n o ) where, in September 1925, he met A d o r n o and K r a c a u e r i n N a p l e s (Tiedemann, G o d d e , L o n i t z 210-11). T h e n , in O c t o b e r , he returned home to B e r l i n , o n l y to leave again in N o v e m b e r , when he j o u r n e y e d to R i g a to pay L a c i s a surprise visit. M o s t o f the f o l l o w i n g year ( 1 9 2 6 ) he spent in Paris, w o r k i n g w i t h F r a n z Hessel on their P r o u s t translation. O n c e that was completed, he returned home to B e r l i n , but left suddenly for M o s c o w u p o n hearing that L a c i s was ill. H e spent D e c e m b e r 1926 and January 1927 in M o s c o w so that he c o u l d be w i t h L a c i s . T h i s part o f B e n j a m i n ' s life w i l l be discussed in more detail in Chapter 6. After the finalization o f W a l t e r and D o r a ' s d i v o r c e ( M a r c h 1930), W a l t e r j o u r n e y e d to S c a n d i n a v i a and w r o t e a postcard to G r e t e l K a r p l u s expressing his sense o f relief at leaving the constricting atmosphere o f B e r l i n : " e i n m a l fort v o n B e r l i n w i r d die W e l t schon und g e r a u m i g " (Tiedemann, G o d d e , L o n i t z 215) [ A s soon as I get away from B e r l i n , the w o r l d becomes beautiful and spacious], B e n j a m i n often cited escape as a reason for travelling. " I m m e r wieder gelang es ihm, d u r c h kleinere R e i s e n der publizistischen M i s e r e zu entfliehen" (Tiedemann, G o d d e , L o n i t z 213) [ T i m e and time again, by means o f short trips, he was able to flee the miseries o f publishing]. H e escaped not only from the e c o n o m i c and political situation in G e r m a n y , but also from a troubled  There are a number of hints that there may have been more between Benjamin and Seligson than their mutual membership in the Student Reform Movement and discussion group. I have been unable to determine the nature of the "difficult experience" referred to in her letter, as her letters have not been published. This is a common difficulty, for, although Benjamin's letters have now all been published, letters to Benjamin, with the exception of those from Scholem and Adorno, have not. 98  marriage, from his responsibilities as a father and husband, from the problems and distractions o f everyday life, and from any particularly stressful event (such as the death o f his father). O f his trip to C a p r i , B e n j a m i n said: " A m A n f a n g w a r das vielleicht nur der gebieterische Impuls aus D e u t s c h l a n d z u fliehen" (Benjamin, " M a i - J u n i 1 9 3 1 " 423) [In the beginning, it was p e r h a p s o n l y the imperative impulse to flee from G e r m a n y ] . T h i s need to escape was c o m m o n a m o n g u n d e r e m p l o y e d or unemployed intellectuals w h o , in the 1920s, frequently fled G e r m a n y for the sunny south. F o r many, like Benjamin, the middle-class lifestyle that they had c o m e to expect w a s no longer possible for them in G e r m a n y , but they c o u l d continue to enjoy some semblance o f it i n Italy. It was not only the day-to-day living conditions in G e r m a n y that w e r e b e c o m i n g unbearable to many, but also the fears about what e c o n o m i c and political direction G e r m a n y w o u l d take in the near future. B r o d e r s e n describes Benjamin's situation as f o l l o w s : " L i k e many an u n e m p l o y e d or needy intellectual during the crisis-stricken years o f the W e i m