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Memory, Modernity, Repetition: Walter Benjamin’s Ethico-Political History

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter the author speaks about Walter Benjamin's "Critical Theory of history" in order to gain insight into a historical thinking which would be responsive to singularity. Nature and history are not simply fused with each other; "rather they break apart and interweave at the same time in such a fashion that nature appears as a sign for history and history wherever it seems to be most historical, appears as a sign for nature. The idea of natural history, in Benjamin and Adorno, offers a critical counter-concept to the concept of universal history and to the ontological concept of historicality a la Heidegger. Storytelling embodied a structure of experience whose ground is permanently eroded by what Benjamin calls modernity. The time of involuntary memory is convoluted, intertwined time, as opposed to historicism's boundless time. Benjamin's historical materialism is traced through the involuntary memory.

Keywords: involuntary memory; modernity; Walter Benjamin



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