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 :: 1982-1940, German Critic, Philosopher

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He who seeks to approach his own buried past must conduct himself like a man digging. He must not be afraid to return again and again to the same matter; to scatter it as one scatters earth, to turn it over as one turns over soil. For the matter itself is only a deposit, a stratum, which yields only to the most meticulous examination what constitutes the real treasure hidden within the earth: the images, severed from all earlier associations, that stand --like precious fragments or torsos in a collector's gallery --in the prosaic rooms of our later understanding.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Self-knowledge]

 

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Death is the sanction of everything the story-teller can tell. He has borrowed his authority from death.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Story and Story-Telling]

 

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The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side of truth, wisdom, is dying out.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Story and Story-Telling]

 

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Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector's passion borders on the chaos of memories.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Things and Little Things]

 

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Any translation which intends to perform a transmitting function cannot transmit anything but information -- hence, something inessential. This is the hallmark of bad translations.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Translation]

 

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Nothing is poorer than a truth expressed as it was thought. Committed to writing in such cases, it is not even a bad photograph. Truth wants to be startled abruptly, at one stroke, from her self-immersion, whether by uproar, music or cries for help.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Truth]

 

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The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Past]

 

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The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Photography]

 

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He who asks fortune-tellers the future unwittingly forfeits an inner intimation of coming events that is a thousand times more exact than anything they may say. He is impelled by inertia, rather than curiosity, and nothing is more unlike the submissive apathy with which he hears his fate revealed than the alert dexterity with which the man of courage lays hands on the future.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Prediction]

 

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Living substance conquers the frenzy of destruction only in the ecstasy of procreation.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Procreation]

 

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Opinions are a private matter. The public has an interest only in judgments.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Public Opinion]

 

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Quotations in my work are like wayside robbers who leap out armed and relieve the stroller of his conviction.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Quotations]

 

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The only way of knowing a person is to love them without hope.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Relationships]

 

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We have long forgotten the ritual by which the house of our life was erected. But when it is under assault and enemy bombs are already taking their toll, what enervated, perverse antiquities do they not lay bare in the foundations.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Life and Living]

 

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Genuine polemics approach a book as lovingly as a cannibal spices a baby.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Literary Criticism]

 

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The adjustment of reality to the masses and of the masses to reality is a process of unlimited scope, as much for thinking as for perception.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Masses]

 

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It is precisely the purpose of the public opinion generated by the press to make the public incapable of judging, to insinuate into it the attitude of someone irresponsible, uninformed.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Media]

 

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Like ultraviolet rays memory shows to each man in the book of life a script that invisibly and prophetically glosses the text.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Memory]

 

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Memory is not an instrument for exploring the past but its theatre. It is the medium of past experience, as the ground is the medium in which dead cities lie interred.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Memory]

 

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Opinions are to the vast apparatus of social existence what oil is to machines: one does not go up to a turbine and pour machine oil over it; one applies a little to hidden spindles and joints that one has to know.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Opinions]

 

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