At the Sensorium: Walter Benjamin's Artificial Heart as the Ghost in the Machine

Stephanie Polsky


Blueprint.

The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technical Reproducibility1 is regarded as Walter Benjamin's most 'famous' piece of critical writing. How this becomes the case, one can say, is a matter of leakages; what Peter Demetz described as "a matter of 'transforming what had been ... a rumour amongst the cognoscenti.'"2 How such a transformation of the text occurs is then largely a function of rumour. For Avital Ronell, rumour in Benjamin takes on both an internal and external function - as that which is an internal thematic in his writing and as that which externally appears to have a "decisive rapport to any 'after-my-death' discourse which still needs to be understood."3 Therein Art in the Age of Technical Reproducibility becomes a most peculiarly ordered text. A text ordered from locations beyond in many ways.

This was not lost on Hannah Arendt who edited the collection in which it first appeared. The rumours surrounding Benjamin's death indeed function as the Mechanics, the Technique if you will, for bringing this and other of Benjamin's texts back to life; back from a place of critical condition. So now we get onto the ground of the phantasmatic, (as if this ground could have been abandoned at any point and still be in accordance with Benjamin's experience) and in so doing re-animate the conditions onto which Benjamin projected his text in its 'originary' moment. Exactly when Benjamin started to conceive of writing it is again largely a matter of speculation. What we do pick up on fairly quickly is that for an essay famous for its popular relevance to visual theory and art history in the Twentieth century, what we are mostly receiving from the text are a series of sonic transmissions very much homed in on the Nineteenth century. Nonetheless, having an aural, as opposed to visual, homing signal will allow us to more readily track Art in the Age of Technical Reproducibility in its mode of a body transporting itself through a proto-fascist aesthetic terrain.

In reading the text as a body, and thus as a field party to multiple operating systems, offers us a way into a much deeper sort of reading than what is available when reading on the level of the optical symptom alone (the decline of the aura). It is precisely within a field restricted to vision alone, where this essay is routinely sent to convene with such short-sighted prescriptions. When Benjamin's essay is read as a criticism of modern society's lack of vision, it appears to invite scholars to develop a more technically advanced system of lenses to correct the problem. Critics have adopted this sort of myopic approach to the essay time and again, with the result being that Art in the Age essay continues to trouble the field of Art History decades after its initial publication. I wish to argue here that there is a more comprehensive way of viewing the work. Indeed, when examined through a more holistic bodily approach Benjamin's focus in fact becomes subjective, rather recognizable, that is to say belying something more than what is merely informed by the gaze. Indeed, in Art in the Age what Benjamin is most "attentive" to, is a series of body types; as opposed to the more common reading of the essay as only concerned with viewing styles. The bodies that Benjamin chooses to examine in the essay run the field from primeval man to medieval man, from image-maker to spectator around 1900, from director to actor via Hollywood, and back again via Pirandello's proto-Fascist direction; ultimately to home in on the blasting appearance of the Fuhrer himself. Benjamin's circuitous, systematic analysis of these specific bodies, ultimately groups into something more than that which can be seen, nor that which can be reconciled through optical allusion alone.

Benjamin's analysis of the bodies in question attempts not only to jump the difficult hurdle of metaphysics by distancing recognition from subjectivity: it also attempts to surmount the metaphysical bar set up between life and death. To that end, Benjamin from an unknown before-my-death location seems to have installed certain deployment mechanisms within the essay for a post-apocalyptic autopsy of the various bodies, should their worst outcomes take place: the end of man, which means extermination, the final solution. Indeed, the bodies of gravest concern to Benjamin, (those in popular circulation at the time of the essay's inception), might have only achieved rumoured significance amongst the cognoscenti in terms of their potential to self-destruct in the future. Few predicted the contours of the blast that would level them.

This is perhaps why Art in the Age of Technical Reproducibility is regarded so widely today as being an essay which is proto-typical; that is to say one whose message is delivered before there is an audience of understanding. Today again we stand at the crossroads of rumour and technology, as the winds of progress howl around those bodies who for the time being would describe themselves as post-modern figures, or if you will allow me, post-man figures; messengers who are seemingly beyond the call of finitude.4 As Avital Ronell says, "Finitude can only make itself known through the other's mortality."5 Therein the Nineteenth Century twilight critic Benjamin is not allowed to pass away in the twilight of the Twentieth. Instead he is given the late Twentieth prosthetic tool of calling, waiting to keep him on the line... of judgment - of prophetic appraisals of what might befall us even now at this later hour of History. What is on the line is in some respect contingent upon Benjamin's ability to hold the line, the party line, transferred retroactively into his account as Communist by his new carriers: ostensibly a set of rogue academic operators. Indeed, the caller I.D. of Communism raises Benjamin's voice to the level of political commentator within those calling circles; Benjamin a visionary ahead his time, suspended forever within the act of transmission.

For the moment I want to put a post-mortem on Benjamin's post-apocalyptic label and get on with the sobering task of transmitting a very different sort of rumoured title for him, one that has Benjamin as participant observer, as auto-surgeon to an era in which bodies are increasingly monstrous and signals are routinely crossed. Understood in this context, Art in the Age of Technical Reproducibility can be then thought of as a mechanic text, up and running in the service of (re)producing perverse bodies. "How noisy everything grows."6

Benjamin's narrative flow in Art in the Age of Technical Reproducibility is caught up in a surge of information technologies, including the typewriter, the radio, the newspaper, the phonograph, and the movie camera. It seems that the prostheticisation of the body at this time emerges as just another topography of discursive circulation: "It is attained chiefly by the cardiac strength of great thoughts, which drives the blood of language through the capillaries of syntax to the remotest limbs"7 What is most curious for our purposes here, is that Benjamin never records his own version of the story in Art in the Age, that is to say that at no time do we directly read his account of events. Rather he puts into circulation Valery, Pirandello, Baudelaire and Freud, to record as it were the thoughts for him. Benjamin here has been a-counted for, he is everywhere and nowhere. As such he becomes a phantasmal recording device himself: a repository of techno-body murmurings. It is precisely this dispersal of his authorial identity - his 'polyphonic' writing, his adaptability, his mobility - that reminds us that he is somehow 'Other' to this text, a distanced and strange element circulating about technically in other people's experiences.8 If we get any information about Benjamin's whereabouts whilst composing this essay, it reports itself from an undisclosed location and operates something like a psychic fax, a phantasmatic tele-gram patched into the sensory circuitry of his reading receivers, which include Lacis, Adorno, and Horkheimer. Who are these solicitors of Benjamin, and what is this cluing us into in terms of his ideological locations whilst transmitting this message? What is this telling us about Benjamin? He is a man who desires ... to be heard ... though at a distance. Indeed Benjamin spends much of his critical energies on setting up and preserving these throughlines of communication, any failure, as was the case with Asja Lacis, must be shut down and re-routed to control his operations. This essay aims to get inside the circuit board of Benjamin's discursive networks and determine which technological advancements signal both his intimate critics and the lay reader of the essay to at once resist and comply with the call up options now available and the consequential 'foreign' relocations of sensory stimulation these technologies will demand of them.

But of course this is not all. In Art in the Age, as will make up the foreground of my arguments here, the narrative forces us to re-connect Benjamin's sexuality back in through codes of desire which are attuned to that of the modern city dweller. However, as we attempt to tune into this station there is some interference, which comes in from Paris, embodied in the text Some Motifs on Baudelaire. In this setting, Paris, Benjamin first recasts himself cybernetically, whilst at the same time rehumanising himself by his ability both to love and to grieve despite his dislocated and indeed isolated position there. Through Paris, Benjamin is forced to confront a particularly modern set of traumas related to his entrance into urban life: 'he experiences a kind of sexual shock that can only beset a lonely man.'9 The subliminal introduction of Benjamin's personal attempts to recover a lost love object into Some Motifs on Baudelaire's main narrative body through an analytical over-exposure to Baudelaire's ostensible lost love object: the passante, demonstrates not only how longing is able to pierce Benjamin's urbanite conscience, but also how it functions to reveal 'the severe stigmata which life in the metropolis inflicts on love.'10 The city is the setting where desire and sexuality - more often than not it seems - violently collide on the street. In Paris in particular, desire becomes an uttercommerce conducted through a whispered traffic of drugs, gambling and prostitution.

An intoxication overcomes the person who tramps through the city streets for a long time without a goal. With every step the going gains in force; the seduction of the stores, the bistros, the smiling women, grow ever narrower, ever more irresistible grows the magnetism of the next street-corner, a distant mass of foliage, and a street-name. Then comes the hunger. It will heed nothing of the hundred possibilities of stilling it. Like an ascetic animal he strides through an unknown quarter, until, in the deepest exhaustion, he collapses into his room, that strange to him, lets him in coldly.11

This is a description of urban life written by Walter Benjamin, yet it could just as easily have been recounted by Baudelaire himself. Such an account might sound reminiscent of the flaneur's journey through the streets, but this urban type made a home on the streets by dwelling within them as one might dwell within the interior spaces of a home; the crowd serving as his guest visitors. That blissful state of flanerie is a denial of the other, hellish side of the urban phantasmagoria, the neurological tearing apart of a subject's consciousness. One who dwells in the city experiences persistent and unrelenting exposure to shock as a norm of modern life. The jolt movement of the machine comes to mimic the way in which we might also come to automatically perform our most intimate sensory contacts. Thus bombarded with fragmentary impressions, the subject senses too much and registers nothing. The simultaneous overstimulation and numbness that is characteristic of the new organisation of the human sensorium, eventually takes on the form of anaesthetics. Benjamin then in some ways becomes a natural figure for this most unnatural setting. That is to say he has adapted prosthetically, i.e., realigned his means of sensory nourishment, so that sustenance and desire collapse within an inseparable logic of bodily apparatuses. The introduction of anaesthetics makes possible the distraction of the subject, whilst the insertions of various technological prostheses are being carried within his sensorium. This nearly undetectable surgery takes place routinely in the massive operating theatre that we come to identity as the modern metropolis. The city itself becomes a giant prosthesis, with interchangeable arenas all geared toward the scintillation of the bodies who are drawn into it.

What at first appears as a paradigm for a desiring machine, is ultimately, ironically rendered incapable of performing its task. This is precisely for the reason that it loves too much. In the end Benjamin produces an outpouring of melancholia and regret that overrides his urbanite programmatics of hellish disavowal and unfeeling.12 As far back as Moscow, he cannot transfer Asja's call to be taken to the other side, i.e., to proto-fascistic Berlin. He pleads to himself, "I cannot do it .... I love her too much." Later on, Asja will make an unauthorised journey to Berlin, despite Benjamin's reservations about her coming there. On this visit, he will be compelled to put an end their sexual relationship commenting, "This is not love, but hydraulics." Again the mechanisations falter in the always near-to-obsolete model Benjamin.

The world that Benjamin had entered into in the Twentieth Century demanded that street crowds and erotic encounters, mechanical reproduction and sexual gratification, physical sensation and psychic shock, no longer bear any fundamental separations. If Benjamin as urbanite is recast out of various and overlapping prosthetic inferences, and is determined (at least technically), to operate within such conditions, then we must seek to understand both his productivity and his failure in adapting prosthetically to such a tumultuous environment. We must do this in order to appreciate Benjamin's discursive contribution to desire and fear of the Other in the modern metropolis.

Benjamin's negotiations of these perilous discursive throughways are by no means direct. This has left many critics in an uneasy position, that of never being sure where Benjamin is leading us, or for that matter whether he was attempting to provide us with any direction whatsoever through the thorny terrain of modernity. This dis-ease which comes as a condition of receiving Benjamin is not without cause. It comes at least in part from Benjamin's decision to employ a delivery system of 'deceptive reception' in order to get his message across.13 This was particularly true with regard to technology, and indeed one cannot ignore Benjamin's radio broadcasts from 1929-1930, if one is to try to get hold of Benjamin's message to a proto-fascist Berlin.

Jeffrey Mehlman is his book on the subject of Benjamin on the radio, Walter Benjamin for Children14 , covers the ground of the content of his radio programs, so I will not linger in that region of reception. What concerns me here is not so much what Benjamin says, but how and where it might come across to the listener. It seems to me that Benjamin's strategy of deceptive reception is most concerned with dislodging the position of the listener as a passive recipient of his address. By making his own position undeniable in regard to the narratives he was transmitting, he is able to progressively unsettle his listener over the course of the story. The listener becomes unsettled to such an extent that he is forced by the end to carve out a responsive position. The attentiveness that Benjamin summons from his listener is purposefully not an immediate one, meaning that the listener is not meant to be fascinated by Benjamin's tale. Rather the cryptivity of his ideological position throughout the length of this account is intended to distract the listener, and thus to compel him to survey the story both backward and forward in order to locate Benjamin's standpoint within it. In the course of this survey work, the listener finds himself confronting his own ideological positioning. During the course of this exercise he is in effect re-casting the broadcast through his own biases of recollection. If Benjamin's strategy proves successful, the listener will not feel the need to linger in the archive of Benjamin's intentionality, but instead will unearth some greater insight into the operations of his own character.

Unfortunately Mehlman's study attempts an archival reading of the broadcasts, and therein fails to identify this crucial dynamic built in to Benjamin's programming technique. Mehlman remarks in his introduction that he finds Benjamin impromptu style of broadcasting unnerving. His close friend, Gershom Scholem, asserts that Benjamin never operated with strict loyalty to a script, but instead wished to tell the story in 'natural' speech, in the fashion of a storyteller. Mehlman's anxiety about Benjamin's potential meandering in his radio broadcasts is further underlined by his almost obsessive concern with the preservation of the broadcast scripts. Indeed, he feels the need to trace their genealogy in considerable detail; this task comprising nearly the entire breadth of his tract. What Mehlman fails to appreciate, and indeed many other critics of Benjamin have failed to do the same, is the significance of the spoken word in Benjamin's philosophy. If there is a key to unlocking Benjamin's message it may not be found in further writing or translation, which Benjamin always held as impure acts, but instead might reside in a credit given to spoken language. This leads one to wonder out loud, that maybe after all Benjamin was trying to tell us something. Telling us in the way he told Hannah Arendt: that "the truth is an exclusively acoustically phenomenon."15

If only we could have understood this at an earlier stage in our readings of Benjamin. But then again we did. Hannah Arendt knew it prior to the publication of Illuminations. This concept is also echoed through Benjamin's diary entry of 7 August 1931, when he evokes the possibility of committing suicide in a radio studio.16 Who is to say that Benjamin's eventual suicide in 1940 was not also something of an attempted broadcast, or at the very least something that intentionally took place in a space of trans-mission. Not having tuned in to that possibility on either occasion, that is to say at a time when Benjamin had not or had committed what he referred to as "the deed," has forced us to makes amends for our inability to listen, to go on standby, to tune in to rumour where no recording can be found.

Benjamin would remark, "One who listens too hard cannot see."17 This is not a bad thing. It is a far worse thing for us to continue to invest a false belief that the archival scripts can aid us, when in fact they are little more than a prosthetic stimulant acting on a slumbering truth which lies encrypted in the deadened word. What I have been communicating to the reader up until now has been said to prepare the ground for the appearance of truth's illicit dealer: rumour. It is through this corruptible agent that we will be lead back to the appearance of Benjamin's radio scripts at a later time - in Moscow. For the time being there are other manifestations of rumour that must be dealt with. Rumours which will incite a difficult path for Benjamin from where the Art in the Ageleaves off, right up until his reckoning with The Theses for a Philosophy of History. Rumour, like Benjamin in all this, will be forced to travel, to modify, and to purge itself along the way. What becomes less obvious is how it will come to outpace Benjamin, whilst ironically turning up as his agent in the final hour, Benjamin's reckoning as a Philosopher.

There is a rumour, that is to say an unconfirmed story, that Walter Benjamin wrote Art in the Age of Technical Reproducibility with the hope that it might be used to secure employment for him in Moscow as a cultural critic.

There is another rumour circulating about Walter Benjamin, the one that said someday he would be a famous critic, though not in his 'natural' lifetime.

The first was most likely started by Benjamin himself. We have reason to believe this second rumour was started by Hannah Arendt. The first word of Arendt's introduction of Benjamin is "Fama" - rumour's proper name.18 But at the time this rumour is being circulated Walter Benjamin is already a ghost haunting the cultural register. Avital Ronell has said that 'Haunting allows for visitation rights without making itself at home,'19 thus Benjamin is first seen lurking in publication, posthumously, in his native Berlin. Yet it is not until Arendt recovers his texts for an American audience that Benjamin's fame finally speaks. Still, this post-mortem manifestation of Benjamin in New York comes without presence, without him ever having made it to Zentral Park. There is something else however that transports Benjamin's fame to America: 'an infinite nearness'20 to his subject.

Benjamin believed that had it not been for the Nazi takeover of Berlin, this city, and not New York, would have been the cultural capital of the Twentieth Century. Therein, had Benjamin survived and come to New York, perhaps a volume entitled Transit would have become his second major project after the Passagenwerk. But information such as this never gets above the level of speculation, never meets the ear as anything more than hearsay. So here we will say it, again perhaps though from a different position of entry, as the other source: the origin of all rumours is the ghost itself.21 A rumour, like a ghost cannot exist in the singular, at all points it must join up with an utterer. The phantom utterance itself co-orginates from something that resembles the transmission of a rumour text.22 The question then emerges as one of transport. To get at that question we must come to understand the nature of the 'originary' transporter of the text: Walter Benjamin (a) live.

But what is so special about Walter Benjamin? Is it not Benjamin himself who commented in the Art in the Age essay that 'Today there is hardly a gainfully employed European who could not, in principle, find an opportunity to somewhere or other comment on his work, grievances, documentary reports, or that sort of thing.'23 This statement is ironic of course, insofar as Benjamin himself could not seem to secure gainful employment doing just 'that sort of thing.' Benjamin carries on with this train of thought surmising that 'the distinction between author and public is about to lose its basic character. The difference becomes merely functional; it may vary from case to case.'24 Benjamin seems to have been holding on tightly then ... to the wrong case. Here again we are back to the function of rumour, that is to say the stuff all professional reputations are ultimately built on.

We could say that Benjamin was not a good self-promoter, or that he was a bad networker. What we are really getting at is this perplexing issue: why couldn't Benjamin get his professional distinctions to stick in the memory of others? According to Benjamin's opinion on the subject, 'what matters is that the part is acted not for an audience but for a mechanical contrivance ...'25 Benjamin wrote for the newspaper; a mechanism which could not be relied upon carved out an impression for him on a vast number of circulated pages. He feels himself a frustrated actor with too small a part, so much so that he summons another author Pirandello, to act as a sympathetic critic of his performance. Pirandello classifiesBenjamin, in an anonymous personal ad, as someone who 'feels as if an exile - exiled not only from the stage but also from himself. With a vague sense of discomfort he feels inexplicable emptiness: his body loses its coporeality, life, voice, and the noises caused by his moving about ..."26 A grateful, though somewhat confused Benjamin takes a bow, similar to a crowd of others who have received the same diagnosis: "If jostled they bow profusely to the jostlers."27

However, Benjamin is not entirely at ease with this manoeuvre and seeing as Pirandello has been spending time in the not-so-distant past with the Futurists, Benjamin is wary of his attraction to manifestos pertaining to the modern condition. Benjamin has a strong aversion to anything that might come off as 'a processing of data in the Fascist sense,'28 and decides to look elsewhere for his prescriptions in the future. Still this ideological co-mingling between Pirandello and Benjamin lets us in on a secret of Benjamin's: a lifelong dyspraxia when it comes to distinguishing rumour from prosthetics in terms of classifying his own body.

Benjamin admits that Pirandello's remarks on the actor in his novel Si Gira were limited to the 'negative aspects of the question' and to 'silent films only.'29 Still, Benjamin argues that this 'hardly impairs their validity.'30 It appears that Benjamin is once again picking up corrupted signals from Pirandello; whose comments are at once rendered phantasmal and dumb by Benjamin-as-receiver's classification of them. Benjamin's interpretation of Pirandello's criticisms brings on a sort of retardation effect, a disability, if you like, that must take centre stage when trying to distinguish rumour from prosthetics. Whereas rumour is an augmentation of the phantasmal, prosthetics tend to align themselves with dumbness. Both of these field a troubling position for Benjamin whose understanding of himself and his situation are drawn out of uncertain permutations of silence and haunting coming into his writing.

Benjamin's peril takes on its linguistic contours at the definitional cross-points of rumour and prosthetics. Rumour acts as an artificial part of language, whereas prosthetics act as an artificial part of the body. Both of these terms operate on the registers of the phanatasmic - as a missing part which is infinitely near - very much like the filmic apparatus, which functions precisely in the service of conjuring phantasms of sound and vision all around us. Benjamin takes this sort of thing very personally. Rumour is destructive enough to one's character already without the additional complication of prosthetic attachments such as this, which tell the truth and the untruth about the body simultaneously. It was enough to jar one's nerves, and for better or worse this sort of jolt really got Benjamin's attention.

Contrary to popular criticism the city was not enough to hold Benjamin's imagination; it was technology which held him enraptured. 'Our taverns and our metropolitan streets, our offices and our furnished rooms, our railroad stations and our factories appeared to have been locked up hopelessly. Then came film and burst this prison-world asunder by the dynamite of the tenth of the second, so that now, in the midst of these far flung ruins and debris, we calmly and adventurously go travelling - With close-up, space expands; with slow-motion movement is extended.'31 So we think we have located the man with the movie camera, Vertov on the set. If we pronounce this too quickly however, our language could become fouled. Benjamin never in his life picked up a movie camera or for that matter any televisual technology. Indeed his receptors seem to have been blocked toward engaging in any transcriptive activity outside writing. We must remind ourselves that Benjamin's legacy lies in manuscripts, and that the hand coming after the eye is Benjamin's only true form of gesture. Benjamin is a painter if anything, indeed following Baudelaire's prescription as a Painter of Modern Life. This is not to say that Benjamin disdained the new media outright, it is surely the case that he was attracted to Vertov's project (if not Hollywood's), especially as it manipulated space and movement. However, Benjamin the journalist could never get this sort of recording device into his own hands. Eventually, the pen had become a prosthetic extension of his own limbs, and surely given this condition of development one could not be expected to produce and record at the same time.

This lack of immediate response in his writing troubled Benjamin, because shock was a vital enabler of his critical projects. In a letter to Adorno, Benjamin describes his heart racing when he first read Aragon's Le Paysan de Paris, the book that inspired Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century: "I would never read more than two or three pages in bed of an evening because the pounding of my heart was so loud that I had to let the book fall from my hands!" What a warning!" 32 Benjamin's limited ability to cope with intense cardiac stimulation meant that in the role of author as opposed to producer, he often required supplementary assistance in the recording of shocking experience. Such tasks he left to his primary actor, Baudelaire, whose penchant for parrying shock meant that Benjamin could stand at the sidelines bolstering his efforts through the trope of quotation. It was as though he were obsessively cramming for some test that he hoped dearly not to have to take himself in the future. Indeed, Benjamin decided to take the position of spectator up, as the audience to events 'takes the position' of the camera; its approach is that of testing.'33 Benjamin made himself familiar to all sorts of testing: testing of faith, testing of patience, testing of reality, and eventuallytesting of his heart for congenital failure.

Benjamin had made intimates with testing all his life. Testing is associated with temptations, in the sense that one is tested by society to overcome one's more scurrilous ones, but the danger of some temptations is not always readily apparent to the masses. Benjamin had one particular internal demon to ward off, whilst modern society seemed ever so willing to embrace it; this was the killing off of the aura. 'Every day the urge grows stronger to get hold of an object at very close range by way of its likeness, its reproduction ...34 To pry an object from its shell, to destroy its aura, is the mark of a perception whose 'sense of the universal equality of things' has increased to such a degree that it extracts it even from a unique object by means of reproduction.'35 Benjamin himself identified as the mollusk being pried from its shell and forced to line up on the scale of universality. He understood that he was born of another era, an era in which uniqueness guaranteed one an esteemed place in the order of things. Now everything seemed to face mass reproduction and mass distribution, and all of the tiny distinctions he had attached to his person so carefully over the years were threatened to be ripped away by the mighty winds of 'progress.' Benjamin couldn't face head-on his own obsolescence, at least not at this stage of his thought. He no more favoured novelty over reproduction, and had nightmares that his distinct writing style might someday lead him to be dragged through the streets of America as the last European.36 How to be heard as an important critic and not seen through stereotype became a preoccupation for Benjamin; something that gave a prehistory to his employment dilemmas.

Still very much caught in the midst of such a dilemma, in Art in the Age Benjamin stages an occupational duel between the magician and the surgeon:

The surgeon represents the polar opposite of the magician. The magician heals the sick person by the laying on of hands; the surgeon cuts into the patient's body. The magician maintains the natural distance between the patient and himself; though he reduces it very slightly with the laying on of hands, he greatly increases it by virtue of his authority. The surgeon does the reverse; he greatly diminishes the distance between himself and his patient by penetrating the patient's body, and increases it a little by the caution with which his hand moves among the organs. In short, in contrast to the magician who is still hidden in the medical practitioner - the surgeon at the decisive moment abstains from facing the patient man to man; rather it is through the operation that he penetrates into him.37

Benjamin's rather lengthy distinctions belie his position as in line with the magician, a progenitor of the surgeon, no less, but one who keeps his 'natural' distance from the patient. To describe these characters as polar opposite points to the photographic apparatus once again, but this time curiously its manifestation through the technique of X-ray. X-ray, (as the photography which is able to penetrate the body), is a deep sort of photograph the erases the boundaries of the skin. This is of great concern for Benjamin as any degree of touch is met with anxiety, and it was indeed Hannah Arendt who commented that Benjamin was quite comfortable with having his photograph taken, and yet was wary of any form of direct physical contact involving actual touch.38 X-ray, as a photographic form, compromises Benjamin's agreement with technological; that is for all technological processes, including the healing arts, to keep a safe distance away from his person. The camera for its part is required to confront the subject head on, whereas with X-ray the patient can never be made aware of a focal point for the lens; the technician is left with the power to probe the body at will without the necessary respect accorded to the gaze in standard photographic technique. Benjamin himself never took a photograph and yet his fixation on the photographic apparatus is such that it borders on talisman. The X-ray for Benjamin would then come to represent a dangerous amplification of photographic technology such that the aura of humanity would be left ruptured at several ambiguous points. Moreover, as a result, the warmth of bodies would eventually be left to ebb out. Again we find Benjamin with a leakage problem. This problem will require Benjamin to switch operating systems from the heart to the head.

The Twentieth Century offers us a nervous system that is not contained within the body's limits.39 Susan Buck-Morss asks us to imagine this system as an aesthetic rather than biological phenomenon whose matrix is formed by a combination of self-consciousness, external sense-perceptions and internal banks of memory and anticipation. As the elements combine in various forms what emerges is a "synasthetic system."40 If the "center" of this system is not the brain, but the body's surface, then subjectivity, far from bounded within the biological body, plays the role of mediator between inner and outer sensations - the images of perception and those of memory.

What is important to gather from this is how 'this synasthetic system is "open" in the extreme sense. Buck-Morss: 'Not only is it open to the world through the sensory organs, but the nerve cells within the body form a network that is in itself discontinuous. They reach out toward other nerve cells called synapses, where electrical charges pass through the space between them. Whereas in blood vessels a leak is lamentable, in the networks between nerve bundles everything "leaks."'41 If we take this as a text book case of synasthesis, ("as"- a dyslexic take on synthesis if you will in dialectical speech) then we begin to take the shock-operation (as in Nazi seizure) Benjamin is attempting to describe to a higher nuclear power in terms of our consciousness of the situation at hand. This discontinuity in terms of information transmission might actually come to assist Benjamin in his dilemma insofar as it is able to imbricate breakage, or rather break-in, into the mimetic system of fascism, in particular, as it corresponds to representation. Leakage when transferred from the cardiac unit to the neurological one, suggests the possibility of evading arrest for Benjamin, at least for the time being. A stroke, which corresponds to clock-time, is close enough to Chocklebnis, or 'jolt,' to pass by the sensors relatively undetected, while still maintaining a surface appearance of system(at)ic order.

Benjamin can continue to function on this circuit for some time, but ultimately the stress of sensory evasion will catch up with him. 'Under extreme stress, the ego employs consciousness as a buffer, blocking the opening of the synasthetic system. If we understand that the conception of the 'synasthetic system' is compatible with Freud's understanding of the ego as "ultimately derived from body sensations, chiefly from those springing from the surface of the body," this place from which "both external and internal perceptions may spring," the ego "may be thus regarded as a mental projection of the surface of the body."'42 So what we have emerging here is a clogged artery to begin with. The ego mimes this clog up, as Benjamin has put up numerous sites of stoppage between his brain and bodily sensations and for far too long. Benjamin's ego developed in this way suffers from foggy lens and in thus unable to sufficiently manufacture a project for Benjamin whereby he could 'isolate present consciousness from past memory.' Buck- Morss advises that 'Without the depth of memory, experience is impoverished.'43 Benjamin takes this advice to heart and continues to feed off artery clogging foods as a means of filling out a self-image which is necessarily attenuated with each Nazi round of bodily purity testing. Having to go through these repetitive moments of examination without seizure has a cumulative effect on the aesthetic system which in Benjamin's words "is brutalizing. Mimetic capacities, rather than incorporating the world as a form of empowerment, or 'innervation,' are used as a deflection against it."44 Once again light is being used to manipulate the patient.

In the Twentieth century the patient must take hold of the methods involved in conscious, intentional manipulation of the synasthetic system. Buck-Morss describes the situation thusly: 'To the already existing Enlightenment narcotic forms of coffee, tobacco, tea, and spirits, there were added a vast arsenal of drugs and therapeutic practices, from opium, ether, and cocaine to hypnosis, hydrotherapy and electric shock.'45 This brings us back to the heart of the matter, as a subcutaneous level no less. Many well-known Nineteenth century figures became drug addicts. Freud's experiments with cocaine no doubt give us some insight into the significance of rausch in this era.

Benjamin's idol Baudelaire becomes his drug-pusher for using hashish, after Benjamin catches him using opium on several occasions. Hashish quickly emerges as the anecdote for civilization for Benjamin. After using it he claims that he will never be hungry again, as there will always be hashish. Like shock the Nineteenth century can never get its fill of the outside as already inside appeal of being stoned, or caned if one wants to apply a colonial dressing to our register. These conditions of course imply a desire for a death-in-life or at the very least a deadening of experience. Add to this constellation electro-shock therapy, i.e., a procedure by which certain areas of the brain are deadened, and you have a society, which will flip-the-switch on ego any way it can, making distraction virtually everybody's drug of choice.

Buck-Morss asserts that such an annihilation of the ego is accomplished through a flooding of the senses, as opposed the more obvious route of a numbing of the senses.46 A constant flow of sensation without any apparent gaps produces subjects in great numbers who are no less the reality addicts. Technology then becomes the pusher par excellence for various apparatus which promise to extend the human senses, increase the acuity of perception and force the universe to give over the lot in terms of humanity's ability to penetrate its workings. Quickly, however the ego gets hooked and becomes so insecure that it must perpetually rely on technology to supply it a defensive insulation against too much information pumping through the synasthetic system. Distraction becomes the sensory monitor, leaving fascination to peddle in the black market; the space which exceeds societal regulation. Benjamin, as we have seen from his days working with Verkehr(trafficking, prostitution, and street-work) prefers to circulate in haunts which cater to fascination.

This means that Benjamin negotiates getting hold of organs off the street. The organs the authorities are providing are prosthetic ones which take over where the old ego left off, providing easy to cross intersections between inner and outer, with the features of both perception and defence already installed with each ideological one-size-fits-all model. These leave Benjamin cold, and running scared into darker and darker alleyways looking for some way to remedy a leaky heart without resorting to a soft brain. After World War I, and the advent of the terminology of trauma known through Freud and others as "shell shock," a figure like Benjamin who, as we recall patterned his shell of memory after that of a mollusk, was hardly going to remain in a place like Berlin, which after the war had incorporated shock, in shelled and exposed forms, as the norm of modern living. However, it was not until after 1933 that Benjamin finally lost his nerve to remain in the city.

What finally shatters Benjamin's illusion of a tactical route out of Berlin through modes of fascination is that by 1933 the Nazis had invaded this tactical ground as well, and they were coming ever closer to regions where they could no longer be readily seen. Indeed, the Nazis were getting hold of Berlin through another circuit board altogether: sound. The fascist automaton would soon be replaced with a newer model; the Nazi audiomaton. Benjamin was tuned into this news all along, but somehow his empathy with A Berlin Childhood, made tuning out all together impossible. Dr. Benjamin called in to do his usual programme. If memory serves me, Adorno was also a listener that day, but what he heard was not storytelling but opera.

The Nazi proto-deployment of sound was orchestrated at first by Wagner, a notorious anti-Semite to begin with. Adorno picks up on this transmission in In Search of Wagner, and discovers the idea underlying his compositions is one of 'totality': the Ring attempts to, without much ado, nothing less than encapsulate the world process as a whole.'47 Wagner also creates an illusion of unity in terms of the message of the opera by situating the orchestra as hidden from the public by constructing the pit below the audience's line of vision, to conceal the fact that ordinary men had produced this omnipotent sound. Wagner's production values are setting the course for the installation of prosthetic organs which cannot be easily detected by the onlooker. Adorno, as horrified spectator (later to be in harmony with Buck-Morss' disturbed reception of the scene), warns that 'The task of his music is to hide the alienation and fragmentation, the loneliness and the sensual impoverishment of modern existence that was the material out of which it is composed: "the task of [Wagner's] music is to warm up the alienated and reified relations of man and make them sound as if they were still human."48 Wagner as composer must curb the cutting, shrill sound of fascism, melding them down and then re-mastering them to have a human tone. Wagner himself speaks of "healing up the wounds with which the anatomical scalpel has gashed the body of speech."49 Again, the surgeon remains shrouded in anonymity, his knife as his only signature onto the corruption of public speech acts. It reminds one of Jack-the-Ripper; also an anti-Semite taking on the tongue of the Jew in order to cut him out of the political body. Wagner was in essence just warming-up the instruments for Nazism.

Wagner seems equally hooked to anesthestics in and out of the operating theatre. Let's remind ourselves where we are for a moment. We are at the edge of the Fascist stage. Andrew Benjamin alerts us to the fact that 'The present is being construed as being marked by an insistent loss, (something cut out or missing, prosthetic ) and by sustained denial of that particular responsibility which is demanded by the eternal. (Precisely because this sense of loss has yet to be determined the precise nature of the lost Object -here yet to be instantiated 'eternal' - that will be an important link between melancholia and Fascism... Fascism needs to be understood as 'futural.'50 In a most disturbing way, we are rejoined to Benjamin's program - already in progress - at a point where his body can be seen as patching into the Fascist switchboard, by way of a fuse of melancholia present in both of their radio scripts. This means that Benjamin can't get away from Fascism as readily as one might think. This is due partially to the fact his prosthetic serial numbers match up to theirs, insofar as they too are culturally pre-programmed to play off German tragedy when summoning the masses to pay attention.

Benjamin tries to counter-act this effect, by insisting on keeping a human heart beating inside all of the machinery of modern life (that is to say auratically; as authentic to the body). This move toward preserving authentic suffering has ironically worsened his situation, making him a compatible donor to the Fascists' stockpile of eternal organs. These organs now branded essential by the Fascists, becoming yet another way of sorting out efficient from inefficient bodies, healthy bodies from diseased ones. Information offered by bodies such as Benjamin's, who purport to contain inside themselves any remnants of authenticity, are classified as degenerate and therefore a threat to the progress of the Volk. What is a Jew but an authenticated degenerate?

The Nazis will store these bodies in still another way in the not too distant future for use in denouncing modern art as a degenerate organ of aesthetic practice. Only a Jew could express such heart-felt guilt, such a messy out-pouring of emotion, only a Jew could celebrate to that degree the awkwardness of such feelings. A Jew/artist in such a position can never stand up for the nation, but can only be called upon to bend over further into submission.

A petrified Benjamin goes to see his (meta) physician Baudelaire desperately seeking a remedy for this most unfortunate of overlaps. This is when Baudelaire really gets the opportunity to hook Benjamin onto drugs, but in a most surprising fashion. 'Drugs are excentric and deappropriative.51 They are the outside already inside, thus they reverse Fascism's potential appropriation of Benjamin's quandaries. By injecting a foreign body and in particular a French body Benjamin dodges the recognisability of his own body as German. By using French topographies to express his inner experience, Benjamin distances himself from the threat of further incorporations in any nationalist body. This is both good and bad. Later on when trying to lay claim to a body of French nationalism, Benjamin will be blocked at the border and told as a German he must turn back (into a German presumably). To which Benjamin responds: I'd rather kill myself. But this is sidetracking us from this current excursion into potential drug (ab)use. Before this takes place Benjamin is compelled to do something he is not naturally inclined to do, get on top of Baudelaire's body and transmit through him a vital message: "Injection only produces the squandering of our existence that we know as love. With introjection one is incapable of fearing any future solitude, for the loved one would always remain. Introjection!"52

Before Baudelaire can slow him down, Benjamin has gone off in a fit of mania, determined to introject every Object he has ever loved before Fascism cuts the routes to all potentially resistant strains of escapism. This is where we find an emergent Benjamin, at the level of subcutaneous, the level of porosity, below skin level, trying to get under Fascism's skin...

This time however, Benjamin has developed a thicker skin. He learned from Baudelaire a second tactic. Crassness. Better to be crass at times than to be sonorous.53 Benjamin appears to have shut up - after getting into the habit of introjection. Derrida gives us some clues into Benjamin's turn from loquaciousness on the subject of Fascism to a more discreet appraisal of the threat before him: "To learn to fill the mouth's void with words is actually the first paradigm of introjection ...."54 In other words speech is the first mechanism developed to unconsciously incorporate the image of the other into the psyche whereby aggressive energy is focused upon this image rather than the object itself. We know from Freud that the desire words and nourishment are founded along the same psychic pathway, the pleasure principle. According to Derrida, "Thus the absorption of food in a literal sense becomes introjection in a figurative sense. To pass from one to the other is to succeed in transforming the presence of the object into an auto-apprehension of its absence."55 Fort/da. But it is not that simple, as Derrida explains there is a lot more at play here. "The language which is substituted in that absence, as a figure of presence, can only be comprehended within a 'community of empty mouths' (Introjector-Incorper)."56 Here Derrida moves the discussion from the subject to the State's appetite for Fascism.

With concurrent formation of the State, alongside the subject, comes to stand the significance of boundaries and territories, German vs. Jew, purity vs. contamination. Derrida asserts: "On the borderline between the outside and the inside, itself a system of edges, the buccual orifice plays this paradigmatic role in the introjection only to the extent that is the first silent spot in the body, never totally silent, and only speaks through supplementarity."57 Jews as those who are not recognised as citizens are doomed to remain silent before the State, whereas Germans as those who have citizenry hold their tongues for fear they will lose this beneficial gift. The gift is always in danger of forfeit; this inspires paranoia amongst the crowd. This paranoia is brought to the extreme, prefigures a consumptive psychosis, which is then consequently brought out from a location of fantasy into a place of reality. Derrida tells us that, "This general rule also informs the additional limitation and the catastrophic reversal that will occur with the fantasy of incorporation. The fantasy transforms the oral metaphor presiding over introjection into a reality; it refuses to accept (or finds itself prohibiting), along with introjection, the metaphor of the substitutive supplement, and actually introduces an object into the body."58 Thus it is fantasised that a foreign element found in the Jew's body has found its way inside the body politic. This fantasy is projected in such a way as it inspires a fear that individual bodies will thus be corrupted through proximity to this necessarily weaker element concealed in the Jew. Presumably such contamination is communicable through various avenues of language including journalism, writing, theatre and radio. Curiously the purported remedy is transmitted by the Nazis through the very same cultural veins. It seems the same contaminant infects our discursive strategy, from either direction, almost put to the lips through every timeless spell of paranoia.

An increasingly dumbstruck Benjamin spends his days now locating other German Jewish mouth pieces to join him in spreading rumours of a coming Fascism far and wide to a greater mass of bodies. Figures like Kafka, Freud and Kraus, with their progressively louder voices, emerge in Benjamin's writing as signaling devices. The fact that Kraus eventually capitulated to Austrian Fascism59 makes his profile something of an emergency broadcast with Benjamin's collection of works. Returning to the Art in the Age essay we have seen Benjamin attempting to employ poets and actors to approximate a warning call in the ear of the reader. This sort of prosthetic operation, a very early one when he started writing it in the Twenties, was unfortunately not radical enough. It would take the Thesis on the Philosophy of History to map out the extent of Benjamin's prosthetic alteration in attempting to cope with the harder, more armoured body of Fascism.

They say only the strong survive in these situations, but clearly there are tactics for the seemingly weaker to sustain themselves even through dangerous times. Rumour has it that these bodies are powerful in ways that are not easily recognised by the established forces. Benjamin for his part was busily, though quietly, setting up a prosthetic network based on aesthetic criticism that would carry his message beyond the reign of Nazism. He knew that through all the shouting rhetoric and traumatic spectacles of power, the Nazis would eventually fall, to something they could not foresee, the spectres of their victims. Indeed in attempting to carry out the most formidable campaign of spectacle the world has ever known, the greatest moments of distraction in the second half of the Twentieth Century would emerge from trying to understand the plight of their 'victims' and their 'survivors'. Benjamin knew that there wasn't going to be too much distinction; all the qualities of man had been lost even before the Fascist took real hold on the world theatre.

Instead, Benjamin hedged his small allowance for art on places like Paris and New York, where indeed in the Twentieth Century it has found its biggest audiences. Adorno said there could be no art after Auschwitz, but as usual in things forecast by Benjamin, Adorno received the reversed signal. There could only emerge from the earth once more, anything resembling art once the viral infection of Fascism had run its course through the body of the Twentieth Century. After that, there would emerge "an infinite amount of hope, but not for us"60 its victims and survivors.

One wonders if Adorno was listening to his radio when they declared an end to the war. One wonders if it was not then that he rang up Hannah Arendt and suggests that it was time Benjamin got recognition as a hero coming out of the war; a hero by very virtue of submersing himself within modernism, and absorbing all its currents despite a weakened heart. Hannah Arendt would probably have only been half convinced by these remarks. According to her, Benjamin mostly just stayed out of it, focusing on aesthetics instead of real politics. Therein a fama memorialia fashioned by Arendt for Walter Benjamin could only come from an essay like Art in the Age of Technical Reproducibility, something which seems to be overtly political. Benjamin would never wish it to be remembered as simply that. To forestall such a conclusion he would install a mechanism within the essay that sounds out something entirely different if the reader listens carefully to the story as it is being told: as one essentially coming out of a technically sophisticated speaker who early on had picked up the frequency of Fascism both in the Art and the Age. This gives body to Benjamin's subject in ways much further than Arendt's carryover of his critical voice ever could. End of Transmission.


Notes

  1. Entitled "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" in the English language collection Illuminations, Intro. Hannah Arendt. Trans. Harry Zohn. London: Fontana Press, 1973. Recently this essay has been re-translated using the title as "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technical Reproducibility," which is meant to be a more accurate translation of Benjamin's intentions for the essay. These versions are available in the texts Walter Benjamin, " The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility: Second Version," in Selected Writings Volume 3, 1935-1938. Ed. Howard Eliand and Michael W. Jennings. Trans. Edmund Jephcott, Howard Eland et al. Cambridge: Havard University Press, 2002, pp. 101-133 and Walter Benjamin, " The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility," in Selected Writings Volume 3, 1935-1938. Ed. Howard Eliand and Michael W. Jennings. Trans. Edmund Jephcott, Howard Eland et al. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002, and Walter Benjamin, " The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility: Third Version," in Selected Writings Volume 4, 1938-1940. Ed. Howard Eliand and Michael W. Jennings. Trans. Edmund Jephcott, Howard Eland et al. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003, pp. 251-283. These texts are not utilised for this essay based on my preference for the earlier translation into English, which shares a contextual relationship to Hannah Arendt's Introduction to Illuminationswhich I consider vital.

  2. Peter Demetz's introduction to Reflections p. vii. as cited in Ronell, Avital. "Street Talk" in Ed. Rainier Nagele Benjamin's Ground Laid Bare, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998. p. 122.

  3. Ibid., p. 122.

  4. Jean Luc Nancy quoted in Avital Ronell's Finitude's Score. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 1994. p. 257.

  5. Ibid., p. 2.

  6. Taken from the introduction of Walter Benjamin's essay on Karl Kraus, and journalism in One-Way Street and Other Writings, "Karl Kraus," Intro. Susan Sontag, Ed. Hannah Arendt. Trans. Harry Zohn, London: Verso, 1992).p. 258.

  7. Ibid., p.269.

  8. Quoted from Vambery, 1904 in Geldhill, Ken. "Vampires in the New World" in Reading the Vampire . London: Routledge, 1993. p. 304.

  9. Benjamin, Walter. "Some Motifs in Baudelaire," in Illuminations. Ed. Hannah Arendt. Trans. Harry Zohn, London: Fontana Press, 1973.p.166.

  10. Ibid., p.166.

  11. Taken from Walter Benjamin's Passagen-Werk. In Susan Buck-Morss "The City as Dream World and Catastrophe" October 73, Summer 1995, p.7.

  12. This description of shock and urbanity is indebted to Susan Buck-Morss' comments in her aforementioned essay.

  13. Mehlman, Jeffrey. Walter Benjamin for Children. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. p. 12.

  14. Mehlman, Jeffrey. Walter Benjamin for Children.. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

  15. Originally located in Hannah Arendt's introduction to Illuminations, quoted in context from p. 53. Benjamin, Walter. "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," Illuminations. Trans. Harry Zohn. Intro. Hannah Arendt. London: Fantana Press, 1973.

  16. Mehlman, Jeffrey. Walter Benjamin for Children. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. p. 33.

  17. Benjamin, Walter. "Franz Kafka" in Illuminations. Trans. Harry Zohn. Intro. Hannah Arendt. London: Fantana Press, 1973. p. 141.

  18. Ronell, Avital. "Street Talk" in Rainer's Nagele's Benjamin's Ground Detroit: Wayne University Press, 1988. pp. 119-145. p. 120.

  19. Ronell, Avital. Dictations. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986. Preface p. xvii.

  20. Ibid., p. xvii.

  21. Ronell, Avital. "Street Talk" in Rainer's Nagele's Benjamin's Ground Detroit: Wayne University Press, 1988. pp. 119-145. p. 134.

  22. Ibid., p. 134.

  23. Benjamin, Walter. "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," in Illuminations. Trans. Harry Zohn. Intro. Hannah Arendt, London: Fantana Press, 1973, p. 225.

  24. Ibid., p. 225.

  25. Ibid., p. 222.

  26. Ibid., p. 223.

  27. Benjamin, Walter. Charles Baudelaire. Trans. Harry Zohn. London: Verso, 1997. p.134.

  28. Benjamin, Walter. "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Illuminations. Trans. Harry Zohn. Intro. Hannah Arendt. London: Fantana Press, 1973. p. 212.

  29. Ibid., p. 222.

  30. Ibid., p. 222.

  31. Ibid., p. 229.

  32. From the Introduction by Susan Sontag to Walter Benjamin One Way Street and Other Writings, Trans. Edmund Jephcott and Kingsley Shorter. Verso: London, 1992. p. 25.

  33. Benjamin, Walter. "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." Illuminations. Trans. Harry Zohn. Intro. Hannah Arendt. London: Fantana Press, 1973. p. 222.

  34. Ibid., p. 217.

  35. Ibid., p. 217.

  36. From the Introduction by Susan Sontag to Walter Benjamin One Way Street and Other Writings, Trans. Edmund Jephcott and Kingsley Shorter. London: Verso, 1992. p. 23.

  37. Benjamin, Walter. "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." Illuminations. Trans. Harry Zohn. Intro. Hannah Arendt. London: Fantana Press, 1973. p. 227.

  38. Buck-Morss, Susan. "Asethetics and Anaesthetics: Walter Benjamin's Artwork Essay" in October 62 November 1992. pp. 3-42.

  39. Ibid., p. 14.

  40. Ibid., p. 14.

  41. Ibid., Footnote 47. p. 16. Taken from Freud, Sigmund The Ego and the Id 1923 . Ttrans. Joan Rivere. New York: W.W. Norton, 1960. pp. 15 and footnote 16.

  42. Ibid., p. 16.

  43. Ibid., p. 17.

  44. Ibid., p. 18.

  45. Ibid., p. 23.

  46. Taken from Susan Buck-Morss' "Asethetics and Anaesthetics": Adorno, Theodor, In Search of Wagner. Trans. Rodney Livingstone. London: NLB 1981. p. 100.

  47. Ibid., p. 100.

  48. Ibid., p. 89.

  49. Benjamin, Andrew. Present Hope. New York: Routledge, 1997. pp. 93-94.

  50. Ronell, Avital. Crack Wars. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993, p. 29.

  51. This pseudo-quotation is inspired by Avital Ronell's dialogues in the back of Crack Wars.

  52. Quotation taken from Ackbar Abbas' s essay "On Fascination" in New German Critique Winter 1997 Number 40 pp. 43-62.

  53. Jacques Derrida, "Eating Well," or the Calculation of the Subject: An Interview with Jacques Derrida," in .Who Comes After the Subject? Eds. Eduardo Cadava, Peter Connor and Jean-Luc Nancy New York: Routledge, 1991. p. 113.

  54. Ibid., p. 113.

  55. Ibid., p. 113.

  56. Ibid., p. 114.

  57. Ibid., p. 114.

  58. Abbas, Ackbar. "On Fascination" in New German Critique Winter 1997 Number 40 p. 45.

  59. Benjamin, Walter. "Franz Kafka" in Illuminations. Trans. Harry Zohn. Intro. Hannah Arendt. London: Fantana Press, 1973. p. 142.