Benjamin’s Aura: Stevens’s Description without Place


[Paper submitted for publication in a collection on Benjamin and Aura]


The notion of aura irradiates Benjamin’s writing. It emanates from his reading of German Romantic thought during 1917-1922; its reappearance in the 1930s suffuses his Marxism with an ambivalent Messianism. The underlying concern in both instances is the question of how art mediates truth through semblance. If Benjamin’s concern is refracted through the notion of "Description without Place" in the poems of Wallace Stevens, the results are mutually illuminating, because

It is the theory of the word for those

For whom the word is the making of the world. (301) 1

In Benjamin’s earliest use of the notion, Prince Myshkin from Dostoevsky’s The Idiot is described as surrounded in his Russian existence "by an aura of complete isolation", which manifests itself as the "visible colors of the spectrum emerge from the surrounding darkness" (158). 2 Benjamin retains the general sense of aura as "a subtle emanation or exhalation from any substance, e.g. the aroma of blood, the odour of flowers, etc." (OED 2.a). In his nuance, aura manifests the materiality of the sensory, but only in order to dissociate itself from the particularity in which it comes into being, as perfume from a flower or light from a star (80). In his 1919 fragment, "On Semblance [schein]", Benjamin deals with a related preoccupation, more mystically, through the notion of "the expressionless" [das Ausdruckslose]. This is a featureless personification—necessity as Ananke—whose "sublime violence of the true" (224) breaks semblance (i.e. appearance, mutability, phenomenality) into fragments that bespeak the totality of truth, symbolically. That is why, in The Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947), Horkheimer and Adorno describe aura as "the expression of manna": "the appearance of the whole in the particular". 3 Stevens may not have used the word, but a poem we shall return to later, "The Bouquet", recognizes the process for what it gives:

The infinite of the actual perceived,

A freedom revealed, a realization touched,

The real made more acute by an unreal. (386)

The need for the auratic in Benjamin’s early writing is expressed in terms of an aesthetic necessity. Novalis had developed an idea that Benjamin adopts as a methodological premise. Novalis treated the coming into existence of a work of art as the form of a solution to what the writer recognizes as an aesthetic problem. He called this the "a priori ideal" for a work of art, "a necessity for being in the world" (19). Benjamin treats the "a priori ideal" as a kind of force field. The aura becomes its center, and "all things and people gravitate toward this one center [which] constitutes the content of the novel" (78). In the 1914 essay on Hölderlin, the necessity is referred to as "the poetized, [das Gedichtete] (18)", which is "the artistic task" whose fulfilment creates a "synthetic unity of the intellectual and perceptual orders" (19). In the 1919 fragment on "The Theory of Criticism", literature is said to enter into the profoundest relation with philosophy through their affinity to what is referred to as "the ideal of the philosophical problem", of which "aura [Strahlenkreis]" is the manifestation (218). The phrase "the ideal of the philosophical problem" is used, the reader is told, "because it refers not to the immanent form of the problem but to the transcendent content of its solution" (218; cf. 333-34). Aura is thus rendered as a materiality that escapes it origins in order to manifest itself as the visible symbol for a transcendent solution. The auratic sustains multiplicity in totality, and the coherence of the beautiful in the unity of the true (219). The 1919-1922 essay on Goethe’s Elective Affinities explains "only in the domain of art do the ur-phenomena—as ideals—present themselves adequately to perception, whereas in science they are replaced by the idea" (315). So aura is ur-phenomenal, an intuition of the true in the beautiful that subsists in art and has not gone over into complete transparency, as in the ideas of science. In his Beethoven fragments, Adorno reminds us that "art is not transcendence, but an artefact, something human, and ultimately: nature. Aesthetic appearance means always: nature as the appearance of the supernatural". 4

In Benjamin, the equation of temporality with decay and impermanence inhibits the phenomenal aspects of aura from participating fully in the world of materiality. Aura evanesces from the material as from the untrue. But its apparent unreality in the material world is doubly illusory, for in the world of phenomena it materializes itself only as an intimation of truth, as a dream-image seducing the poet in each of us into the distance. Its beauty as semblance is like a cloak that can be shed, to reveal a truth featureless to the sensory. But in the realm of phenomena aura can be mistaken for hallucination and chimera, for a fata morgana, the Sirens, or a will-o’-the-wisp (223). In an idealist perspective, true beauty is transparent—or rather—it is truth, divested even of beauty that is transparent. Beauty to which emotion is attached grows turbid "like the transparency of a fluid in the concussion by which it forms crystals" (349). Hence "beauty cannot appear in an aura of transparent clarity. Its most exact opposite is emotion" (348). The extinguishing of semblance liberates truth even from beauty, "For semblance belongs to the essentially beautiful as the veil" (350).

The image of the veil introduces into Benjamin’s discourse about aura an analogy of the gaze. For Benjamin, "the beautiful is neither the veil nor the veiled object but rather the object in its veil" (351). The veil is essential because, as in the Judaic perspective, "the divine ground of the being of beauty lies in the secret" (351). The veil represents "the necessary veiling of things to us." The auratic both reveals and conceals the truth in beauty and the truth beyond beauty. That whose essential nature consists in remaining concealed cannot be looked at directly. The auratic is that which resists the direct gaze while intimating the secret of the truth to the gaze. Benjamin had been preoccupied with the relation of the gaze to language and speech well before he used the notion of aura or the "a priori ideal" or "the expressionless". The Goethe essay places language in an intermediary role between the auratic and the human: "Truth is discovered in the essence of language" (353). One of his earliest essays, "The Metaphysics of Youth" (1913-14) reveals how language too, like aura, both reveals and conceals, speaks and is silent, gazes and yet averts its eyes: "Language is veiled like the past; like silence it looks toward the future" (10). The gaze represents a form of recognition: "Things perceive us; their gaze propels us into the future" (11). The dissertation on "The Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism" (1919) expands on the idea: "To observe a thing means only to arouse it to self-recognition.... observation fixes in its view only the self-knowledge nascent in the object; or rather it, the observation, is the nascent consciousness of the object itself" (148). In the aura, the gazer and the gazed-upon become one as a form of nascent self-knowledge. In brief, one could say that Benjamin’s first engagement with aura shows us how the momentum imparted by the "a prior ideal" and "the expressionless" to "semblance" moves it toward a disclosure of concealment in the self-recognition of the gaze. It is committed to the belief that "truth is the content of beauty", and entails "a destruction of the work in which its external form achieves its most brilliant degree of illumination". 5

In Stevens, a related constellation of ideas is expressed through the poetic device of prosopopoeia, which functions as a two-way metamorphosis between a figure for a present absence and an absent presence. The auratic bridges what "Saint John and the Back-Ache" calls "the dumbfoundering abyss / Between us and the object, external cause" (375). In "The Woman in Sunshine", the warmth and movement of an autumn day are evoked as a woman whose presence is more definite for being "a dissociated abundance of being" (382). A semblance of personification unifies the sights, sounds, odours and touch of the season. Yet this semblance also manifests a being beyond the season, its metonymies, and their mutability. That, the poem suggests, is a more true form of being, because—paradoxically—it is "invisibly clear." In other words, the woman is auratic. A similar feminine presence is evoked auratically in "Debris of Life and Mind" 295-96). As in Benjamin, the "truth" is an essence that achieves sufficient temporary form for human consciousness to nominalize it as semblance, only for semblance to achieve an "apparently" more true existence in disembodied transparency. Prosopopoeia thus makes an affirmation of self-abnegation. It is through the nothing that is not there that we come to recognize the nothing that is (8).

There are other parallels: Stevens’s figuration of "The priest of nothingness who intones" (594) corresponds to Benjamin’s "expressionless". "The Auroras of Autumn" asks, in a wish expressed as a question, if there might be "an imagination that sits enthroned", "which in the midst of summer stops // To imagine winter?" (360). One could read that as Stevens’s equivalent for Benjamin’s "expressionless". However, Stevens’s idealism is much less uneasy with phenomenality, more uncertain of a truth beyond semblance, willing to live with Aristotle’s skeleton just as well as with Plato’s ghost (288). The poet as an old man sitting by a tree finds that the motion of the river enters drowsily but easily into his sleepy dreams (427). The poet in bed who thinks he hears birds whistling outside is not sure if he has really heard them or imagined or dreamt that he heard them; he doubts if he could ever be sure (451). The poet as listener does not know which to prefer, the beauty of inflections, or the beauty of innuendos; the blackbird whistling, or just after (75). Stevens used as a refractive index for Benjamin’s notion of aura makes one realize how much the realm of the beautiful as semblance in Benjamin is subjected to the scrutiny of the ideal as the ethical. Reciprocally, to read Stevens with a Benjaminian inflection is to reacquaint desire with pain after its long and beautiful sojourn with nostalgia and the celebration of the ephemeral. It could never be the case where one could say, "Let be be the finale of seem" (50). Fredric Jameson’s remark that Benjamin’s humanist thought is characterized by "the premise of some original unity of experience" applies to Stevens as well.6

There are numerous recognitions of the auratic in Stevens, most of which accept the image of transparency that Benjamin renders as translucent. Here is "Owl’s Clover":

The spirit’s episcopate....

in which the mind

Acquired transparence and beheld itself

And beheld the source from which transparence came... (158)

And here are two more descriptions without place:

A transparency through which the swallow weaves,

Without any form or any sense of form,


What we know in what we see, what we fell in what

We hear, what we are, beyond mystic disputation,

In the tumult of integrations out of the sky… (439-440)


No radiance of dead blaze, but something seen

In a mystic eye, no sign of life but life,

Itself, the presence of the intelligible

In that which is created as its symbol. (448)

Steven’s closest engagement with semblance as truth occurs in "Description without Place", a kaleidoscopic poem in seven meditative sections that circulate the speculation that "identity is merely a thing that seems" (297). The first section ruminates over seeming as a form of being. Stevens’s familiar motif of a feminine personification is invoked as a "green queen". The "illustrious nothing of her name" engenders seeming, freezes it, like Benjamin’s "expressionless," in the twilight zone between non-being and being, obsolescence and incipience, memory and desire. But the poem is not content with such asseverations. It asks rhetorically, "What subtlety would apparition have?" "Except for delicate clinkings not explained" (297). In Stevens, the premonitory sound of something withheld from the gaze is proleptic. It symbolizes the cyclicity of renewal in decay: "a wizened starlight growing young" (301). The idea might appear too Nietzschean for Benjamin, but Stevens assimilates its Shelleyan provenance quite readily.

In early Benjamin we come close—not to cyclicity, but—to the notion that "past things have futurity" (13). "The Metaphysics of Youth" speaks of "the shudder of temporality with which we assault the landscape" (13). Fields and mountains are "our past experience" and we humans are "their future" (13). History is thus transposed to geography, and memory becomes a landscape opening up vistas before the gaze. The act of writing a diary becomes "the history of our future existence." This paradox corresponds to one of the rare ingestions of historical figures into the world of the poem by Stevens. Nietzsche and Lenin are introduced in the third and fourth sections of "Description without Place" as historians of a yet-to-be-realized future. Stevens makes clear that to speak of a description without place is to refer to a wished-for shape to the unmapped territory of the future. The auratic thus enters time as a prolepsis of possibility. If a particular shape for the future is possible, it must, in a sense, be true as a seeming which has not yet come into its own as being. Nietzsche and Lenin are chosen as instances of forceful augury, whose will shapes the colours of possibility into specific constellations of being. Both dismiss "the integrations of the past" (299) as museum pieces; Nietzsche "gildering the pool" acquires aura as his reverie masters the discolorations that circulate the recurrence of the obsolete and the incipient. Lenin, disturbing swans from the lake and drowning the chariots, is a Messianic figure, which clears the paraphernalia of past mythologies in order to scatter the bread of the future over the waters of the possible. Tomorrow’s regions are accessed today as "apocalyptic legions" (300).

In Steven, such figurations are "a sense // To which we refer experience," while remaining aware of "The difference that we make in what we see" (300). In contrast, Benjamin’s first adumbration of the auratic prefers a sense beyond our experience. He would rather have the difference that we make subtracted from what we see. The Stevens poem engages with the Messianic as a political and polemic force. It takes up persons from history as types of the auratic. In contrast, Benjamin’s auratic surrounds objects rather than persons. Stevens’s meditations treat consciousness and perception outside the realm of poetry; Benjamin begins with the recognition that aura appears in all things but focusses more specifically on the work of art as a specialized form of mediated perception of the auratic.

The gaze provides a link between Benjamin’s early and later use of the notion of aura. Protocol V to his experiments with hashish during March 1930 notes that "the distinguishing feature of the genuine aura is: the ornament, an ornamental periphery [Umzirkung] in which the thing or being lies fixed, as if confined in a sheath", adding that van Gogh’s late paintings "could be described as all things painted with their accompanying aura". 7 The sheath is the concealment within which truth resides, which the work of art unconceals to the gaze. Drugs enhance "the sudden awareness of having penetrated ... that hidden, generally inaccessible world of surfaces constituting the ornament" (Protocol X). Ordinary perception presents the object as a single configuration of identity; drug-influenced consciousness can perceive "a multiplicity of configurations" (ibid.). "Hashish in Marseilles" (1932) continues the visual metaphor of the gaze. Karl Kraus had used the notion of the gaze in relation to language: "The more closely you look at a word the more distantly it looks back". Benjamin comments: "How things withstand the gaze". 8

This introduces a new significance, that of resistance or distance. The focus shifts from how the work of art elicits aura from objects to how aura withdraws from the world of objects. Where the gaze of the artist could bring about a self-recognition in the object that brought out its unique aura, now objects evade the gaze because self-recognition is denied. In 1931, Benjamin’s "A Small History of Photography" compares an image of modernity—a photograph of Kafka aged six, staring out with "immensely sad eyes"—with the earliest photographs of the nineteenth century. In them, "people did not yet look out at the world in so excluded and god-forsaken a manner as this boy. There was an aura about them, an atmospheric medium, that lent fullness and security to their gaze even as it penetrated that medium" (247). 9 The new affect that marks Benjamin’s writings of the 1930s is that of a critique that represses nostalgia. Outwardly, he constructs (or succumbs to) a myth of cultural dispossession in which photography (and then cinema) play the roles of agent as well as witness. Because of "the deepening degeneration of the imperialist bourgeoisie", "the aura" was "banished from the picture" (ibid. 248). The essay applauds "Atget’s Paris photos" as "the forerunners of surrealist photography" because "he initiates the emancipation of object from aura which is the most signal achievement of the latest school of photography" (ibid. 249-250; cf. Illuminations 226,). That is the second affect. Once upon a time art evoked aura. Then, in the field of historicity, the auratic fled from the world of objects. Now it is treated like a haze that has to be cleared. In a curious twist, Benjamin new attitude enacts the same move Stevens ascribes to Lenin—renovation:

He looked for what was unremarked, forgotten, cast adrift, and thus such pictures too work against the exotic, romantically sonorous names of the cities; they pump the aura out of reality like water from a sinking ship. What is aura actually? A strange weave of space and time: the unique appearance or semblance of distance, no matter how close the object may be. (One-Way St.250)

That the aura should be treated as already distanced is the change the idea has undergone since the 1919 essay on Goethe. The new attitude struggles with an ambivalence. The mystical and annunciatory belief in truth as a secret half-concealed and half-disclosed by the art-object had acknowledged distance as a necessary part of respecting a mystery. Some of that connotation remains. But it is overlaid by a new sense of distance as an irreparable separation. A new diagnostic vocabulary of the reification of culture and the decay of objects into commodities takes over. When Benjamin feels charged with revolutionary materialist fervor, the aura looks like the torn pellicle of the epoch of the Renaissance "cult of beauty" (Illuminations 224) and of Benjamin’s phase of idealist metaphysics. But when the Lukácian and Brechtian zeal is less insistent, the aura recovers the potential to reassemble the sheath through which the translucence of Messianism reveals itself as the redemptive force that was once supposed to transmute natural history.

In the 1930s, however, materialist hopes prevail over metaphysical memories, and in the spirit of the Surrealists, Benjamin celebrates the augury of universal utopia in a manner that buries aura under the weight of technological reproducibility:

The stripping bare of the object, the destruction of aura, is the mark of a perception whose sense of the sameness of things has grown to the point where even the singular, the unique is divested of its uniqueness—by means of its reproduction. (One Way St. 250)

The new argument is sustained through "The Work of Art in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (1936), and "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire" (1939). It is their orientation towards aura that is most often associated with Benjamin, even by the Adorno of Aesthetic Theory (1970). 10 The 1936 essay revises Benjamin’s orientation towards the art-object in the context of its mechanical reproducibility. Not only does a mass-produced copy pluralize the original, not only does it offer itself independent of the unique time and space of the original, but it offers itself as a substitute for the original without itself having lived through the original’s history. This, to Benjamin, shatters tradition, and it is at this point that he introduces the notion of the aura: "that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art" (221). 11 He treats the decline of aura as symptomatic of a contemporary crisis brought on by mass movements, which are also seen by (the Marxist in) him as the augury of a "renewal of mankind" (221).

The argument of the essay reveals an ambivalent tension between his newfound commitment to Marxist ideology and his abiding affiliation to the belief in art as the disclosure of mystery. Even as the belief in the class struggle for proletariat emancipation welcomes the mass dissemination of art promised by mechanical reproduction, the elective affinity with the hermetic laments the desacralization threatened by the same processes. The political value of art is set against its ritual function, its cult appeal against its exhibition value. The repression of the earlier attitude can be sampled from the following analogy: Benjamin equates the modernity of the cameraman with a surgeon intent on penetrating the patient’s body; in contrast, the painter is like a magician who heals "by the laying on of hands" while maintaining "the natural distance between patient and himself" (233). Many years later, Adorno could still retain that sense of nostalgic desire: "aura is reminiscent of a hand that tenderly, almost lovingly, strokes the contours of an art work, articulating and softening them at once" (AT 305).

In the 1939 essay on Baudelaire, emancipation has disappeared from the horizon of the future. A nostalgic reading prevails, in which Baudelaire is treated as a symptomatic figure: "the disintegration of the aura makes itself felt in his lyric poetry" (189). 12 The 1936 essay treated the idea of beauty as antiquated. In 1939, the thirteenth note resuscitates what had always been Benjamin’s view: "Beauty in its relationship to nature can be defined as that which ‘remains true to its essential nature only when veiled’.... one would define beauty as the object of experience in the state of resemblance" (199). The 1936 essay treated the art-object embedded in uniqueness as subject to a historical decline from elitist ritual to the politics of the masses. The 1939 essay restores to uniqueness the "primary quality of the ceremonial image" (188). Proust had alluded to the notion that "objects retain something of the gaze that has rested on them" (188); and Valéry had worked the notion into dreams: "In dreams … The things I see, see me just as much as I see them" (188-89). Benjamin had always taken the issue a step further. The gaze retained was, for him, the gaze returned: "looking at someone carries the implicit expectation that our look will be returned by the object of our gaze. When this expectation is met ... there is an experience of the aura to the fullest extent" (198). What does not return the gaze, except blankly is the condition of metropolitan bourgeois modernity: "Baudelaire singled out his having been jostled by the crowd as the decisive, unique experience" (193). The essay pauses at the melancholic recognition. It thus brings the ongoing dialectics at work in Benjamin’s writings between a recognition of the historical decay of nature in time and its ameliorative redemption by art to a temporary and contingent end. The reader of Benjamin is left gazing at the aura defining a body of thought impelled by the belief that

The deeper the remoteness that a glance has to overcome, the stronger will be the spell that is apt to emanate from the gaze. (190)

How does Stevens’s poetic world refract Benjamin’s? "The Bouquet" (384-87) represents his most sustained meditation on the interaction between objects and the gaze. The gaze fixes the bouquet as a subject for a still life. It is acknowledged as serving the function of "metaphor / Crowded with apparitions" (384). Stevens is less concerned to ascribe secrecy or distance to the object than to acknowledge the human input in terms of will and desire. The object gazed at is "a growth / Of the reality of the eye, an artifice" (384). As with Benjamin’s "expressionless", this necessitous gaze holds objects as "things transfixed, transpierced and well / Perceived" (385). The phenomenal becomes a form of description without place, a realm of necessitous possibility (rather than incipient futurity): "The Place of meta-men and para-things" (384). It is recognized that what the meta-men behold is "the idea as part / Of the image" (385). An earlier poem, "Examination of the Hero in a Time of War", makes the same point, that the object as para-thing "is not an image. It is a feeling":

The heron is a feeling, a man seen

As if the eye was an emotion,

As if in seeing we saw our feeling

In the object seen and saved that mystic

Against the sight, the penetrating,

Pure eye. (248-49)

The bouquet,

Regarded by the meta-men, is quirked

And queered by lavishings of their will to see. (386)

This contrasts revealingly with the analogy we have already encountered: for Benjamin, beauty to which emotion is attached grows turbid "like the transparency of a fluid in the concussion by which it forms crystals" (349). Beauty is grit in the eye that wakens the gaze to dreaming. Stevens is the more willing to see the auratic as an affect engendered by the universally human; Benjamin the more willing to historicize and periodize the human impulse as successively hermetic, ritual, ceremonial, and decayed. In "Note on Moonlight", Stevens watches himself watching:

It is as if being was to be observed,

As if, among the possible purposes

Of what one sees, the purpose that comes first,

The surface, is the purpose to be seen,


The property of the moon, what it evokes.

It is to disclose the essential presence, say,

Of a mountain, expanded and elevated almost

Into a sense, an object the less... (449)

The point is to recognize, as in "So-and-So Reclining on Her Couch", that the contemplation of the auratic entails

the flux


Between the thing as idea and

The idea as thing. (263)

Stevens is not without a sense of the elegiac that pervades Benjamin. Here is an example:

Snow sparkles like eyesight falling to earth,

Like seeing fallen brightly away. (261)

He also makes passing acknowledgement of the outmodedness of past ways of looking at objects, the theme that divides Benjamin’s second engagement with aura from the first:

Only the rich remember the past


There they sit, holding their eyes in their hands. (207)

But this is sardonic. Stevens is more preoccupied with ahistorical change, especially with the phenomena of weather. For him, time is a local effect measured in motion. For Benjamin, time is the medium in which the decay and fragmentation of nature is manifest, and achieves self-recognition. For Stevens, it is the human that achieves self-recognition.

between himself

And things beyond resemblance there was this and that intended to be recognized (438)

For Benjamin, the object (generally the art-object) is looked at with a double gaze. One eye is drawn to the distance, where the auratic resides securely. The other (as with the Surrealists), allows "its gaze to roam freely over" "the ruins of the bourgeoisie" (Baudelaire 176). 13 Benjamin sees Baudelaire as the alienated allegorist gazing in the role of flâneur, "over the growing destitution of men in the great city" (Baudelaire 170). "The Bouquet" ends with a little narrative that provides a counterpoint to the "conciliatory gleam" in Baudelaire’s eyes. A car drives up, a soldier enters the room, bumps the table, and the bouquet falls on its side. The poem stops at the observation:

The bouquet has slopped over the edge and lies on the floor. (387)

The point is not simply that Stevens is understated and laconic. The conclusion offers no lament. It had never supposed that the still-life arrangement was anything but an arrangement that could change, contingently. It accepts the fact that we invoke such arrangements—our auras—because we live in change. By accepting change at a level either below or above the historicity that concerns Benjamin, he sees nature as defined by time, not trapped or destroyed in it. Conversely, the comparison underscores the degree to which Benjamin in his last years had sustained an insight into history as a dialectical process in whose understanding the degeneration of aura could be enlisted as an aperçu:

Every epoch not only dreams the next, but while dreaming impels it towards wakefulness. It bears its end within itself, and reveals it—as Hegel already recognized—by ruse. (Baudelaire 176)


1 Page references to quotations from Wallace Stevens refer to Stevens: Collected Poetry and Prose, ed. Frank Kermode and Joan Richardson. New York: The Library of America, 1997.

2 Unless otherwise indicated, page references to quotations from Benjamin refer to Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 1 1913-1926, ed. Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings. Cambridge, Mass., and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1996.

3 Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, tr. John Cumming. New York: Seabury Press, 1972, 19.

4 Theodor Adorno, Beethoven: The Philosophy of Music, ed. Rolf Tiedmann, tr. Edmund Jephcott. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998, 78.

5 Walter Benjamin, The Origin of German Tragic Drama, tr. John Osborne. London and New York: Verso, 1977, 31.

6 Fredric Jameson, "The Theoretical Hesitation: Benjamin’s Sociological Predecessor," Critical Inquiry, 25: 2 (Winter 1999).

7 Walter Benjamin, "Protocols to the Experiments on Hashish, Opium and Mescaline 1927-1934: Translation and Commentary", tr. Scott J. Thompson.

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The phrasing in this translation differs slightly from that by Rodney Livingstone in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 2, 1927-1934, ed. Michael W. Jennings, Howard Eiland and Gary Smith. Cambridge (Mass.) and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999, 327-336.

8 Walter Benjamin, Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings, ed. Peter Demetz, tr. Edmund Jephcott. New York: Schocken Books, 1978, 144.

9 Walter Benjamin, One-Way Street and Other Writings, tr. Edmund Jephcott and Kingsley Shorter. London and New York: Verso, 1979. Also, "Little History of Photography", in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 2, 1927-1934, ed. Michael W. Jennings, Howard Eiland and Gary Smith. Cambridge (Mass.) and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999, 507-53.

10 T. W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, ed. Gretel Adorno and Rolf Tiedmann, tr. C. Lenhardt. London: Routledge, 1984, 66-67, 82, 82-83.

11 Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction". The original German essay appeared in Zeutschriften für Sozialforschung, V, 1, 1936; tr. Harry Zohn, Illuminations, ed. with an introduction by Hannah Arendt. New York: Schocken Books, 1968. Parenthetical numbers refer to this translation. The essay is also translated as ‘The Work of Art in the Epoch of Mechanical Reproduction’ by H.H. Gerth and Don Martindale, Studies on the Left, I, 2 (Winter 1960): 28-46.

12 Walter Benjamin, "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire". The original German essay appeared in Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, VIII, 1-2, 1939; tr. Harry Zohn, Illuminations, ed. with an introduction by Hannah Arendt. New York: Schocken Books, 1968. Parenthetical numbers refer to this translation.

13 Walter Benjamin, Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism, tr. Harry Zohn. London, New York: Verso/New Left Books, 1973, rpt. 1997.