Welcome back Rachel to the podcast by joining us for our reading of Walter Benjamin’s theses on The Concept of History. Moved by our joint out loud reading at the start and end of the podcast, Rachel, John, and B explore the ways that history, for Benjamin, has become a tool of conquerors–a condition that only historical materialism has the ability to articulate. Yet, can historical materialism become an orthodoxy, homogenizing the past it wishes to liberate? And what other kinds of orthodoxies, ways of reading, and disciplinary attitudes foreclose desubjugating the knowledge of history? In the process of thinking through these and other questions, we explore themes and concepts of messianism, temporality, teleology, agency, class struggle, fragmentation and wholeness, redemption, and more; we also touch on queer temporality, Adorno, Foucault, Levinas, Kathi Weeks, and Lukács.
Of course, Our Tumblr Friend from Canada has plenty of questions, and a cameo from Sid Issar, featuring advice on: a pesky roommate tension; how NOT to reproduce power in the pronunciation of proper names; and how being powerful is not, in itself, always already problematic.
Requests for texts for us to discuss? Advice questions for the show? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Like our Facebook page. Get the mp3 of the episode here. RSS feed here. This episode’s music by B and by Jordan Cass.
- “On the Concept of History” and “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” at marxists.org
- Walter Benjamin biography at the European Graduate School
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy comprehensive entry on Benjamin
- Susan Buck-Morss’s book on Benjamin and the Arcades project, Dialectics of Seeing; explore multiple Benjamin-inspired visual constellations at her website
- Write up on Radio Benjamin (Verso, 2014) at The Guardian
- Alex Ross in The New Yorker on Benjamin, Adorno, their correspondences, and critique of pop culture