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 :: 1982-1940, German Critic, Philosopher

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Only he who can view his own past as an abortion sprung from compulsion and need can use it to full advantage in the present. For what one has lived is at best comparable to a beautiful statue which has had all its limbs knocked off in transit, and now yields nothing but the precious block out of which the image of one's future must be hewn.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Experience]

 

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The construction of life is at present in the power of facts far more than convictions.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Facts]

 

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Taking food alone tends to make one hard and coarse. Those accustomed to it must lead a Spartan life if they are not to go downhill. Hermits have observed, if for only this reason, a frugal diet. For it is only in company that eating is done justice; food must be divided and distributed if it is to be well received.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Food and Eating]

 

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Gifts must affect the receiver to the point of shock.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Giving]

 

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These are days when no one should rely unduly on his ''competence.'' Strength lies in improvisation. All the decisive blows are struck left-handed.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Complacency]

 

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The art of the critic in a nutshell: to coin slogans without betraying ideas. The slogans of an inadequate criticism peddle ideas to fashion.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Critics and Criticism]

 

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Books and harlots have their quarrels in public.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Debate]

 

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The destructive character lives from the feeling, not that life is worth living, but that suicide is not worth the trouble.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Destructiveness]

 

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He who observes etiquette but objects to lying is like someone who dresses fashionably but wears no vest.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Etiquette]

 

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Separation penetrates the disappearing person like a pigment and steeps him in gentle radiance.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Absence]

 

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Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Advice]

 

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The greater the decrease in the social significance of an art form, the sharper the distinction between criticism and enjoyment by the public. The conventional is uncritically enjoyed, and the truly new is criticized with aversion.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Arts and Artists]

 

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Reminiscences, even extensive ones, do not always amount to an autobiography. For autobiography has to do with time, with sequence and what makes up the continuous flow of life. Here, I am talking of a space, of moments and discontinuities. For even if months and years appear here, it is in the form they have in the moment of recollection. This strange form -- it may be called fleeting or eternal -- is in neither case the stuff that life is made of.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Autobiography]

 

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To be happy is to be able to become aware of oneself without fright.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Awareness]

 

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The idea that happiness could have a share in beauty would be too much of a good thing.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Beauty]

 

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All religions have honored the beggar. For he proves that in a matter at the same time as prosaic and holy, banal and regenerative as the giving of alms, intellect and morality, consistency and principles are miserably inadequate.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Beggars]

 

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Of all the ways of acquiring books, writing them oneself is regarded as the most praiseworthy method. Writers are really people who write books not because they are poor, but because they are dissatisfied with the books which they could buy but do not like.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Books and Reading]

 

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The power of a text is different when it is read from when it is copied out. Only the copied text thus commands the soul of him who is occupied with it, whereas the mere reader never discovers the new aspects of his inner self that are opened by the text, that road cut through the interior jungle forever closing behind it: because the reader follows the movement of his mind in the free flight of day-dreaming, whereas the copier submits it to command.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Books and Reading]

 

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Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Bores and Boredom]

 

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Not to find one's way in a city may well be uninteresting and banal. It requires ignorance -- nothing more. But to lose oneself in a city -- as one loses oneself in a forest -- that calls for a quite different schooling. Then, signboard and street names, passers-by, roofs, kiosks, or bars must speak to the wanderer like a cracking twig under his feet in the forest.
~ Walter Benjamin - [Cities and City Life]

 

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