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Read "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" by Walter Benjamin

Please read with an eye for passages that you find compelling and would like to discuss, and hopefully close read.

Another thing:

If you are frustrated with any of the authors we read because they seem too distant from their words or their meanings seem clouded by verbosity and needless erudition, my advice is to read ahead and not worry so much about catching everything. We will work through these texts together. Additionally, don't let not finishing the reading keep you from coming!

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  • Janna

    I think we had a really good discussion yesterday and some interesting points discussed. Overall a great meetup!

    February 11, 2012

  • Ben A.

    Thank you all for coming. I really enjoyed our discussion and am very impressed by how it progressed and how everybody participated, given that there were so many of us. It was a truly thought-provoking discussion, and I look forward to the next one.

    February 11, 2012

  • Kam

    fantastic thoughts, everybody! Inspiring.

    February 11, 2012

  • john b.

    Very stimulating. The dialogue moved around nicely, everyone voicing their different perspectives on Benjamin. No consensus was reached, of course, but (at least for me) a greater interest in critical thinkers like Benjamin was aroused. There were differing opinions over whether Benjamin thought film and photography was more hegemonic vs. liberating; which served to add fuel to the conversation.

    February 11, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Just a reminder that you can bring snacks ;-) Also, a very appropriate next reading might be Adorno's The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception (listed as further reading to Benjamin's essay).

    1 · February 10, 2012

  • Ronen

    Here's an essay by the pianist Glenn Gould that touches on similar ideas:

    http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/glenngould/028010-4020.01-e.html

    February 10, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    This is a marvelous article which opens up so many vistas of discussion that we can't exhaust them in a single meeting! How do you understand this quote from Part XIV: "In the decline of middle-class society, contemplation became a school for asocial behavior; it was countered by distraction as a variant of social conduct." I've posted more of my own questions and discussion starters under Discussion, under "Benjamin Questions". If someone wants to start answering pre-meetup, great!

    February 10, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    However, do not try this at home - a contemporary of this Chinese painter, the Chinese poet Li Bo actually drowned in a river trying to catch hold of the reflection of the moon, about whose beauty he had so often sung!.... ;-)

    February 10, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Benjamin mentions a Chinese legend about a painter but does not tell us the story. Here is the legend in question: "There was once a painter who one day painted a landscape. The artist was so delighted with his picture that he felt an irresistible urge to walk along the path winding away towards the distant mountains. He entered the picture and followed the path towards the mountains and was never seen again by any man."

    February 10, 2012

  • Sharon G.

    re the cyberflaneur article. What a perfect extension of Benjamin's ideas: from the impact of technology on art and aesthetic theory on to the very heart and soul of social relations. Thanks so much for posting! Sharon G.

    February 10, 2012

  • Janna

    Yeah, the marxism parts were a bit much for me but man, what an interesting read! Can't wait to discuss!

    February 10, 2012

  • Ben A.

    ah but the discussion will probably be both exciting and inspiring

    February 10, 2012

  • Kam

    Marxism Marxism BO-ring. Not inspired.

    February 10, 2012

  • Ben A.

    Walter Benjamin, the flaneur.
    Check out this article about the cyberflaneur.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/opinion/sunday/the-death-of-the-cyberflaneur.html

    February 9, 2012

  • Kam

    Will?? try?? again?

    February 9, 2012

  • Ben A.

    Persist!

    February 8, 2012

  • Kam

    Does this thing get any easier to read? I can't make it past the first three sentences.

    February 7, 2012

  • Kam

    Kewwlll Zach!

    February 4, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I wish I could attend but unfortunately I'll be out of town on this date. Hope to attend this group again in the future. -Tom

    February 3, 2012

  • Zach

    It looks like the entire essay can be found here: http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm

    January 28, 2012

  • Zach

    "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" is an essay that can be found in the collection 'Illuminations.'

    January 28, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Have been meaning to read Benjamin for ages! Thank you for an excellent choice, once again!

    January 27, 2012

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