Walter Benjamin and the Aesthetics of Power

By L. T. Koepnick | Go to book overview

4
MEDUSIAN POLITICS

In a diary entry dated 27 April, the hero of Joseph Goebbels's novel Michael describes his initiation into the National Socialist movement of the 1920s. Aimlessly strolling through an alien city, the narrator enters a barroom filled with workers, rank-and-file soldiers, and officers, the disoriented and discontented representatives of interwar Germany. Suddenly, Michael beholds the appearance of a speaker in front of these impoverished men, a speaker whose charismatic powers unleash a process of Dionysian fraternization. Endowed with prophetic energies, the speaker displaces quotidian alienation with ritualistic intoxication:

He is no speaker. He is a prophet!

Sweat pours from his forehead. Two glowing eyes flash lightning in this gray,
pale face. His fists are clenched.

Word upon word, sentence upon sentence boom like the Last Judgement.
I no longer know what I am doing.
I am beside myself.

I shout, “Hurray!” No one is surprised.
The man on the podium gazes at me for a moment. Those blue eyes strike me like
flaming rays. This is a command!
I am reborn as of that moment.1

Communal fraternization here results from a highly choreographed introduction of optics to politics. The vitalistic ritual of subordination and male bonding culminates when Michael's eyes meet the eyes of the politicianprophet. Enchanted by a mesmerizing gaze that looks back, Michael feels emancipated from his cultural despair, suspended from any reminiscence of the unstable routines in postwar Germany. The speaker's eyes in fact cause Michael to perceive power as a fascinating work of art; they reorganize the

-109-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Walter Benjamin and the Aesthetics of Power
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction: Fascism, Mass Culture, and the Avant-Garde 1
  • One - Benjamin and the Fascist Spectacle 27
  • Introduction to Part I 29
  • I - Baroque Drama and the Quest for Autonomous Politics 35
  • 2: Carnival Industrial Culture and the Politics of Authenticity 53
  • 3: Aesthetic Dictatorship 83
  • 4: Medusian Politics 109
  • 5: Modern Visual (Culture and the Politics of Phantasmagoria 141
  • 6: Perseus's Paradox 164
  • Two - Rethinking the Spectacle 175
  • Introduction to Part 2 177
  • 7: Fascist Aesthetics Revisited 187
  • 8: Benjamin's Actuality 213
  • Notes 239
  • Index 269
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 278

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.