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Modernity And Shock

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Chapter Summary

Benjamin's sensibility to shock was shared by many of his European contemporaries in the first half of the twentieth century, a time when the traditions of the past appeared dead and replaced by the supremacy of the contingent. Especially in the wake of the First World War, a view of modernity became widespread in which an acute sense of shock was central, but even before that portrayals of modernity as an arena of shock were common. In Japan as well as in the West, modernity was not yet wholly familiar. People were confronted by the problem of having to adapt to modernity as to something unfamiliar while in many cases maintaining a strong attachment to premodernity and lost nature. The author attempts to map some of the principal themes of Benjamin's account of modernity by highlighting the following key concepts: shock, aura, porosity, heightening of consciousness, and hell.

Keywords: aura; Benjamin; First World War; Japan; modernity; shock



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