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What Will They Keep of Me, and What Will Be Waste: Walter Benjamin and The Stomach of Modernism

2 October 2020

Alessandra Occhiolini, The Graduate Center (CUNY)

What is the character of the modernist stomach, and how does it digest history? Unlike its hyper-functional nineteenth-century predecessor, the stomach of the twentieth century is metaphorically retentive, denatured into retention and distension by the virus that is violence.[1]The work of Walter Benjamin is a particularly clear example of a modernist methodology of historical retention and disorder: Arcades Project (1927-1940) does not pretend to know that the subject can parse the commodity profusion of the past and present that accumulates into history; that the individual is capable of digesting what is useful in a prompt or straightforward manner.[2]Instead, the reading experience is one in which we are forced to retain all without knowing what we will keep of the catalog before us, or if it all is in fact made to waste. Continue reading “What Will They Keep of Me, and What Will Be Waste: Walter Benjamin and The Stomach of Modernism”

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