Walter Benjamin

(1892-1940 / Berlin)

Walter Benjamin Quotes

  • ''Memory is not an instrument for exploring the past but its theatre. It is the medium of past experience, as the ground is the medium in which dead cities lie interred.''
    Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), German critic, philosopher. repr. In One-Way Street and Other Writings (1978). A Berlin Chronicle (written 1932, publ. 1970).
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  • ''The only way of knowing a person is to love them without hope.''
    Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), German critic, philosopher. repr. In One-Way Street and Other Writings (1978). "Arc Lamp," One-Way Street (1928).
  • ''All human knowledge takes the form of interpretation.''
    Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), German critic, philosopher. letter, Dec. 9, 1923, quoted in Susan Sontag, "Under the Sign of Saturn," introductory essay to One-Way Street and Other Writings (1978). Briefe (Frankfurt, 1966), no. 126.
  • ''Work on good prose has three steps: a musical stage when it is composed, an architectonic one when it is built, and a textile one when it is woven.''
    Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), German critic, philosopher. repr. In One-Way Street and Other Writings (1978). "Caution: Steps," One-Way Street (1928).
  • ''These are days when no one should rely unduly on his "competence." Strength lies in improvisation. All the decisive blows are struck left-handed.''
    Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), German critic, philosopher. repr. In One-Way Street and Other Writings (1978). "Chinese Curios," One-Way Street (1928).
  • ''To be happy is to be able to become aware of oneself without fright.''
    Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), German critic, philosopher. repr. In One-Way Street and Other Writings (1978). "Fancy Goods," One-Way Street (1928).
  • ''Gifts must affect the receiver to the point of shock.''
    Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), German critic, philosopher. repr. In One-Way Street and Other Writings (1978). "Fancy Goods," One-Way Street (1928).
  • ''He who observes etiquette but objects to lying is like someone who dresses fashionably but wears no vest.''
    Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), German critic, philosopher. repr. In One-Way Street and Other Writings (1978). "Fancy Goods," One-Way Street (1928).
  • ''The construction of life is at present in the power of facts far more than convictions.''
    Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), German critic, philosopher. repr. In One-Way Street and Other Writings (1978). "Filling Station," One-Way Street (1928).
  • ''Separation penetrates the disappearing person like a pigment and steeps him in gentle radiance.''
    Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), German critic, philosopher. repr. In One-Way Street and Other Writings (1978). "Flag...," One-Way Street (1928).

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