Walter Benjamin

A Quote by Daniel Pinchbeck on daniel pinchbeck, 2012, walter benjamin, story telling, distraction, and false needs

Writing in the early decades of the twentieth century, the German Jewish critic Walter Benjamin noted that modernity was causing an emptying-out of experience, as well as destroying the aura that had previously belonged to precious artworks and natural objects, giving them their unique presence.  “Less and less frequently do we encounter people with the ability to tell a tale properly.  More and more often there is embarrassment all around when the wish to hear a story is expressed,” he wrote in his essay “The Storyteller.”  “It is as if something that seemed inalienable to us, the securest among our possessions, were taken from us:  the ability to exchange experiences.”

Modernity unleashed a succession of shock effects, changing the nature of perception, as well as the individual’s relationship to his own personal history.  “Experience has fallen in value.  And it looks as if it is continuing to fall into bottomlessness.”  The old culture of contemplation gave way to the mass absorption in distractions.  The wise counsel embodied in the storyteller’s art was supplanted by the endless parade of statistics and information in the daily newspaper.  To enter the modern world, we forfeited our capacity for intimate exchanges requiring slowness and reciprocity and the play of the imagination.  “To perceive the aura of an object we look at means to invest it with the ability to look at us in return,” Benjamin wrote.  The value of perception and the meaning of personal history were degraded and denigrated to institute a mass society focused on abstractions, impelled by a “sense of the universal equality in all things.”

Daniel Pinchbeck

Source: 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, Pages: 133

Contributed by: HeyOK

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