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Benjamin: The Prophet in Exile

   The combination of the oppression of the real order and the adventurous spirit leads to "exile," which ends in returning home, or rebuilding. But if there is no home, or no home to build, then there is no choice but to live in exile forever.

  The Frankfurt School, as an exiled group of thinkers, after the end of World War II, they all cultivated "positive results" and are no longer in exile: Horkheimer is the president of the university, Adorno is an academic authority respected by the government and mainstream society, and Marcuse has become a Western university student. The idol in my heart, Fromm is already a dean in the field of psychology... Really a success. There is only one exception, Walter Benjamin, the most original thought in the Frankfurt School. In 1940, while fleeing, he took poison and committed suicide. Although, the Frankfurt Institute, which has moved to the United States, is eagerly awaiting his arrival; although, in Palestine, the Hebrew University is still providing salaries for the teaching positions that he has not taken up; although, he has come to the French border... but , but he used his own hands to fix himself on "exile". This is a very symbolic event. For him, for the intellectual history of the 20th century, and for Western cultural civilization, its implications are still being commented on today.

  The exhausted physical life is no longer in exile, but his thoughts, his spirit, are like ghosts, wandering in exile in the world of thought, in academia, in the world of culture and art, causing bursts of noise, bursts of admiration, and even bursts of Spasms. As the 20th century gradually faded away, everyone in the Frankfurt School seemed to be gradually fading out and heading for the curtain call, and only he became more and more radiant. Before his death, his influence was limited to a small elite circle. The only means of making a living: writing, was not even enough to survive, and he had to rely on stipends from the Frankfurt Institute and the Hebrew University in far-flung Jerusalem. And now, he is called "the Prophet". From the West to the East, from scholars to artists, from professors to university students, people read him, talk about him, and draw from them the ideas, courage and strength to venture into exile. The famous American female philosopher Susan Sontag once lamented that "the free intellectual is an extinct species", and called Benjamin "the last free intellectual in Europe"; the famous American scholar Frederick James Son called him "the greatest and most knowledgeable literary critic of the 20th century"...

  His "exile" was multi-faceted and multi-layered. The academic authority, the domain of schools of thought, the social system, the order of real life, and even the circle of relatives and friends seem to be unable to fully accommodate him, forcing him to wander and wander on the fringes of large and small fields. Perhaps, in the depths of his heart, unconsciously, he is not willing to be incorporated, melted, and integrated because of his surrender, thus losing the edge of his thinking and the impact of his wisdom.

  After obtaining his doctorate, he successively applied for teaching positions at Heidelberg University and Frankfurt University, all of which ended in failure. In his job-seeking thesis "The Origin of German Tragedy", the professors commented: "A quagmire, I don't know what to say...". Interestingly, a few decades later, this book has been called the great classic of 20th century literary criticism by academics. He tried to enter the Frankfurt Institute and submitted a paper "Baudelaire's Second Empire", which studied the crisis of capitalism from the perspective of Marxism. In his reply, Adorno believed that Benjamin had not achieved what he thought. The realm of Marxism, in Benjamin's text "does not see the mediation of the whole social process . His ingenious treatise, "Works of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," was also regarded as an endorsement of popular culture, and was met with head-on criticism. It is also interesting that, decades later, this treatise has become a canon of contemporary film theory. Whether it is his study of Baudelaire or the study of film, it is now recognized as the most important academic achievement of the Frankfurt School. Moreover, with the changes in the background of the times and the development of ideological trends, whether it is Loventhal, Marcuse, or even Adorno, these most staunch critics of popular culture, have more or less revised their theories, Move closer to ideas that Benjamin proposed decades ago, and admit that his ideas are wiser.

  He hated the Nazi regime, which persecuted Jews, and fled Germany earlier than other members of the Frankfurt School, trying to find refuge in France, Denmark, Spain, Italy, the United States, and Switzerland. But he is also an uncompromising critic of the democratic systems of these countries and a firm critic of capitalist culture, and his ideas are an important part of the "critical theory" of Western Marxism. During the Great Depression of the capitalist countries, Western civilization seemed to be in decline, while the Soviet Union seemed to be thriving at that time; therefore, he went to Moscow in 1926, hoping to find light, and even prepared to settle in the Soviet Union and contribute himself to the construction of the Soviet Union the power of. However, after arriving in the Soviet Union, he was greatly disappointed. This was not his ideal home. The Soviet dream was shattered, and he returned to Paris within a year. One of the most important reasons was that he found that Soviet intellectuals had been incorporated into the system of political power and had lost the courage and strength of free thought, which he absolutely could not agree with. He was deeply interested in the philosophical thought of Judaism. His close friend, the Jewish theologian Gershon Schullem (1897-1982), and his wife Dora were the backbone of the Zionist movement. He also longed to go to Palestine. . But he didn't make it in the end, and even the research seat in Jerusalem that Shulem won for him, he postponed year after year, and finally let it go. Perhaps, he thought, the institution of Israel after the founding of the state would not be much better, and it would not necessarily be his home.

  He has several good friends: Adorno, the standard-bearer of the Frankfurt School, the famous dramatist Brecht, the theologian Schullem, the famous German philosopher Ernst Bloch and so on. He worked hard to maintain his friendship with them, even appearing submissive in front of these tough, domineering friends, even when misunderstood. Once a friend is in difficulty, he immediately "draws his sword to help." For example, when Brecht's "A Novel of Thirty Cents" was published and was besieged by critics, Benjamin came forward and praised the work for showing a very high level of thought and a rare ironic power. The author's level of irony is comparable to that of Nietzsche. What's even more interesting is that these friends of his are either mortal enemies, puzzled for life, or never communicate with each other. When Benjamin interacted with Brecht, Adorno advised Benjamin to "restrain from the precipice". He considered Brecht an uninformed "vulgar Marxist". Schullem even rudely threatened that Benjamin would have to cut off relations with Brecht again. In the 1950s, the Adornos compiled and published the Selected Works of Benjamin, as well as the Collection of Letters. It should be pointed out that it was because of the publication of these books that Benjamin truly had a worldwide influence. And Bloch lamented after reading "my friend died again". Hannah Arendt, a well-known female philosopher who is also a close friend of Benjamin's and the flag bearer of the feminist movement, denounced Adorno's people as "gang of villains". Benjamin endured silently, and went back and forth between these friends at his leisure, helping them, inspiring them, enriching them with his own wisdom and thoughts, and at the same time drawing strength and wisdom from these friends. As time passed, these friends all felt the preciousness of Benjamin. Whether it was Brecht or Adorno, when they carefully studied the manuscripts left by Benjamin, they all seriously reflected on their own thoughts and academic views, and made corrections.

  There also seems to be a constant exile between Benjamin and the opposite sex. His first love was the sister of one of his high school classmates, named Yura, and the two had a marriage contract. However, in the fall of 1913, Benjamin met Dora, a highly intellectual Jewish descendant from Vienna, Austria, at a seminar in Berlin. The smart and beautiful Dora immediately attracted Benjamin with her elegant demeanor and decent conversation. Dora also fell in love with Benjamin at first sight. The two broke off their previous engagements in 1917. wedding in Berlin. Soon after the marriage, the relationship was in crisis. Moreover, when Benjamin met Yura again, the relationship rekindled, and the two remained lovers until Yura married in 1925. Later, Benjamin dedicated the essay "On "Affinity" to Eura as a gift. Meanwhile, his wife, Dora, has been in a relationship with Benjamin's high school friend Shane for a while. Their respective infidelities set the stage for the breakup of the marriage. In the spring of 1924, when Benjamin came to the picturesque island of Capri in Italy, he met the most important woman in his life, the female director Asia Lacis from the Soviet Union. Lacis is young and beautiful, full of youthful vigor. For Benjamin, Lasis, a confident and independent new woman full of the flavor of the times, has a special attraction to him, like a rainbow illuminating his boring life. In a letter to his friend Scholem, Benjamin wrote: "I met a Russian revolutionary who was the most wonderful woman I have ever met." In the preface to Benjamin's "One Way Road" Dao: "This road / was called Asia Lacis Street / She as an engineer / made the whole street pass through the author." Perhaps Benjamin's trip to Moscow in 1926, and his visit to Lacis Fascinated has something to do with it. But the reality of the Soviet Union made Benjamin disappointed, and soon, Benjamin returned to Paris in dismay. In 1928, Lacis was sent to the Soviet office in Berlin to be responsible for film work. The sudden appearance of his former lover made Benjamin's cool enthusiasm burst out again. He ignored the opposition of family and friends and insisted on working with him. Lasis lived together and helped Lasis obtain permanent residency in Germany. In 1930, in order to marry Lasis, Benjamin filed a lawsuit for divorce. After paying a lot of money to his wife Dora, this bitter marriage came to an end, which also put Benjamin into a financial dilemma. . And Lasis only stayed in Germany for more than a year, and finally broke up with Benjamin because of personality and ideological reasons, and returned to the Soviet Union. The two have never seen each other again. After Benjamin and Dora divorced, they broke off their relationship for a time, but the two sides gradually resumed contact, but they did not reunite.

  Benjamin devoted his life to writing and thinking, but he could not be included in any academic system or discourse system. As Richard Wolin describes: "He was poet-theologian and historical materialist, metaphysical linguist and politically devoted wanderer, . . . in Nazi Germany he was a Jew. ; in Moscow he was a mystic; in joyous Paris he was a cool German. He would never have a home, a homeland, or even a career - as a literati, academia did not recognize him as one of them A member. Everything he writes ends up being something unique". Hannah Arendt said: "He was very knowledgeable, but he was not a scholar; his subjects included texts and their interpretation, but he was not a philologist; he was fascinated by theology and the types of theological interpretation, but He is not a theologian...he is an unclassifiable person." It is because he cannot be classified that he can or has to be "in exile" forever. For him, being incorporated into a system or system means the shrinking of vitality and the decline of creativity. He is a genius, and his genius combines the insight of a metaphysician, the explanatory power of a critic, and the profundity of a scholar. Most of his writings are not complete and seem to be fragments. In fact, they are self-disciplined beings, some samples that cannot be copied because of their uniqueness. Their secrets can never be understood through imitation, but can only be obtained through the reader's undivided efforts. Therefore, to grasp and understand it is Heavy, serious, hard work.

  Brecht once wrote a poem in memory of Benjamin:

  The bad news comes, before the butcher,

  you do it yourself to end yourself

  , eight years in exile, and the wicked rise,

  and finally face the impassable border,

  people say you have passed a passable border

  ...

  The future is hidden in the darkness of justice and strength, and you can see through the

  powerlessness of the fire

  , so you destroy the suffering body


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