Cinema and Experience: Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno (Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism)

Cinema and Experience: Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno (Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism)

Language: English

Pages: 408

ISBN: 0520265602

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno—affiliated through friendship, professional ties, and argument—developed an astute philosophical critique of modernity in which technological media played a key role. This book explores in depth their reflections on cinema and photography from the Weimar period up to the 1960s. Miriam Bratu Hansen brings to life an impressive archive of known and, in the case of Kracauer, less known materials and reveals surprising perspectives on canonic texts, including Benjamin’s artwork essay. Her lucid analysis extrapolates from these writings the contours of a theory of cinema and experience that speaks to questions being posed anew as moving image culture evolves in response to digital technology.





















is to come that speaks from the gesture of the child” (206). At first sight, this vision of acting appears different from Benjamin’s notions of adult acting within a rule-governed artistic institution, be it the traditional stage, experimental and epic theater, or the cinema.7 As discussed earlier, the artwork essay elaborates at length on the screen actor, who faces his or her audience (“the masses”) in its absence, performing instead before an apparatus and a group of specialists. The

instant one tries to grasp it” (AT 72). At one level, the objectivation of this aporia, the paradoxical unity of the vanishing and the preserved, constitutes the “temporal nucleus” of artworks and lends their experience a “processual” character (AT 177). It also endows artworks with an anamnestic archaic dimension: inasmuch as they strike the beholder as a momentary, sudden apparition of an other, they are “truly afterimages of the primordial shudder in the age of reification; the terror of that

MIT Press, 2000). 119. We might take this possibility to have found its most inventive realization in more recent artistic practices, for example, the analytic, dissociating, and transformative engagement with film and film history in electronic and digital video, interactive storage modes, and multimedia installations—in work as diverse as that of Ken Jacobs, Douglas Gordon, Zoe Beloff, and Harun Farocki, to mention only a few. See, most recently, Christa Blümlinger, Kino aus zweiter Hand:

released in the desired emotion”; Millennium Film Journal, no. 3 (Winter–Spring 1979): 36–37. Eisenstein repeatedly uses the term innervation in “The Montage of Attractions” (1923) and “The Montage of Film Attractions” (1924), in S. M. Eisenstein, Selected Works, vol. 1, Writings, 1922–34, ed. and trans. Richard Taylor (London: British Film Institute; Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1988), 33–38, 39–58. On Eisenstein and Klages, see Oksana Bulgakowa, “Sergej Eisenstein und

forms of subjectivity symptomatic of modern mass culture and the social and economic conditions that both enabled and regulated them. If he discerned in the cinema a powerful agent of these changes, he also imagined it as a sensory-perceptual dispositif that allowed a new kind of audience to grasp and engage with the discontinuities and contradictions of modern experience, and to do so in a public and collective form. COMPETING MODERNITIES, NARROWING OPTIONS I have traced Kracauer’s

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