Body-and image-space : re-reading Walter Benjamin by Benjamin, Walter; Weigel, Sigrid; Benjamin, Walter

By Benjamin, Walter; Weigel, Sigrid; Benjamin, Walter

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44), and thus literature as the reappearance of language ‘in a multiplicity of modes of being, whose unity was probably irrecoverable’, of language ‘in an enigmatic multiplicity’ (1970:304, 305). If Foucault devoted his attention in his last works to an historical constellation in which he found discourses in their least ambiguous form, namely in prescriptive texts,6 Benjamin by contrast tested his theory of deciphering and readability not only on the ambiguous literary texts of modernity, but extended it to other cultural ‘texts’: to the topography of the city, to architecture, interiors, objects, fashions, and so on.

1, 227; OGT 47). And for Foucault the archive is ‘first the law of what can be said, the system that governs the appearance of statements as unique events’ (Foucault 1972:129). Their work on the archive regularly took both of them to the institutionalized archive, the place in which tradition was preserved, which meant, in concrete topographical terms, above all to the Bibliothèque Nationale where both of them would periodically disappear behind veritable mountains of books—so that they might well never have encountered each other even if their visits to the archive had not been decades apart.

But further: in body- and image-space, both matrix and material of expression and representation are one. By contrast, the dialectical image is a read image, an image in language, even if the material of representation can here be very various: from physiognomy via dream images, the world of objects, to architecture, encompassing both the organic and the inorganic. Benjamin sees all gathered together in the ‘landscape of an arcade. 2, 993). In view of the correspondences between outer world and dream world, the arcade in the city of modernity becomes for Benjamin the topographical paradigm of his investigation.

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