From Uneasy Dreams: Walter Benjamin and the Aesthetics of Idiosyncrasy
Anca Pusca, ed., Walter Benjamin and the Aesthetics of Change,
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
Walter Benjamin and the Aesthetics of Change is an eclectic collection. Presenting a series of Benjaminian analyses of political and aesthetic phenomena including architecture, film, mass cultural kitsch, fashion, photography, posters, the art market, and political economy, it provides some fascinating insights into his writing, and into the links between politics and perception. Such eclecticism, however, should not divert us from the philosophical unity of Benjamin’s work, and in this review essay I begin to show how locating such unity will require us to think through the philosophical problem of idiosyncrasy. As this collection indicates, Walter Benjamin was probably the most idiosyncratic of 20th Century thinkers of comparable influence; understanding his theory of emancipation as awakening will mean attending to this fact.
University of Sydney
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